Google Ads: Does Your Self Storage Facility Need Them?

October 19, 2022

google ads
7 min

Should you be running Google ads for your self storage facility?

Running digital ads such as Google ads—particularly search-based ads—can help get your business in front of the right customers. Just because they’re effective, though, doesn’t mean they’re right for everyone.


How do Google Ads work?

You’ve seen tons of Google ads. Your life is probably absolutely riddled with them, right?

Still, it’s helpful to break down what they are and how they work.

Did you know there are technically many different types of Google ads? There are at least three or four actual categories of ads, and each category has its own subcategories depending on how you organize the types.

When it comes to self storage ad campaigns, there are two categories that are probably the most important to consider, and one is much more effective than the other:

  1. Search ads
  2. Display ads

search ads have 4.4% conversion versus 0.57% for display ads

Search ads are probably the most straightforward of the bunch, and I doubt you even need our help to guess what they are. Just in case, though, search ads are the advertisements that pop up at the top of a Google search page.

These ads are the first results that a user sees when searching on Google, and that gives them powerful visibility. Combo this with the fact you can tailor the ad to appear only on relevant searches—Google wants to do this, anyway, for their users’ sakes—and it’s hard to denounce the effectiveness of a Google search ad campaign.

Display ads are a little trickier. These are the ads you see on banners and other places across web pages. They have a wide reach, but they also have a significantly lower conversion rate.

Viewers of a search ad just have much higher intent on finding a related business.

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Should your self storage business run Google ads?

If you’re just here to answer the question of whether or not you should Google ads are right for your self storage facility, we’ve put together some guidelines.

We should probably establish the right perspective on using ads before we do, though!

Not every facility needs ads. Digital ads cost money, and it’s only worth spending that money if you get an appropriate return on the investment. It’s highly possible your self storage facility is in a market where it will lease up and survive very successfully without ever spending money on a Google ad.

always be able to track whether the money you spend is worth it

If you do decide to run self storage ads for your business on Google (or any other platform, for that matter), make sure you can track the return. This is the same across every marketing channel: always be able to track whether the money you spend is worth it.

Download our Self Storage Marketing Playbook eBook here for free.

Now that we have that all established let’s take a look at a few different scenarios. Your facility may not fit neatly into these categories, but you should be able to use the information to figure out your own ad strategy. 

Find the one that best fits your self storage facility and go from there!

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New Facility, Competitive Market

If you've got a ton of units to fill and you’re in a market with a lot of competition, you should be using Google ads to give yourself an edge.

Units to Fill: Most-to-All
Lease-up Status: Early stage, brand-new facility
Competition: Dense competition, many REITs, metro area
Expected Spending: High

The kind of facility we’re talking about here is likely to be completely new. Because of this, you have nearly your entire selection of storage units to fill, and you probably want to do it as quickly as possible.

To make matters worse, you’re in a dense urban area with numerous competitors. Some of those competitors are almost definitely going to be REITs, which are notorious for aggressive marketing and benefit from strong search engine authority.

In these cases, just nailing your local SEO and Google Business Profile perfectly might not be enough for your timeline. Google ads will help you skip the line on search and get in front of your customers as they’re looking for storage.

Start your budget higher to get ahead of the game, and then look to dial it back as you fill up.

Pug Pro Tip: There are some other steps you should take at the start of leasing up, even if you do run ads. Make sure to get your digital marketing strategy in order!

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Low Occupancy, Competitive Market

Whether you've bought a struggling facility, you’re still in lease-up, or there’s some other reason your occupancy is suffering. You probably want to consider Google ads.

Units to Fill: 20-40 per month
Lease-up Status: Late stage, around 60% occupied
Competition: Mid-sized market with decent competition
Expected Spending: Mid-range

If your facility is in a mid-sized market—a small city such as our very own home here in Knoxville, TN—you’ve likely got a decent bit of competition, including REITs.

To help with your lease-up, you should probably budget for Google ads as part of your marketing efforts. It’s not as critical, so you might be able to squeak by without spending on ads. But if you see rentals suffer, don’t be surprised.

On the bright side, if you do spend on digital ads, your ad budget can be smaller than if you were leasing up a brand-new facility. If you’ve been running ads since opening and you’re approaching the 60% occupancy range, you may want to consider dialing back your ad budget as well.

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High Occupancy, Little Competition

If occupancy is at a comfortable level and you don’t see a lot of competition, you may not need Google ads at all!

Units to Fill: ~10 per month
Lease-up Status: Stable, around 85% occupied
Competition: Mid-sized market with decent competition
Expected Spending: None-to-Low

Your occupancy is looking good, and you’re basically out of the real lease-up period. 

Maybe you’re in a rural area with few other self storage facilities, or maybe you’re in a slightly denser market but not struggling with occupancy despite not running ads. In either case, Google ads are pretty much optional for you at this point.

5 ways ebook

You may want to just save money and not touch digital ads at all. However, there’s always the chance another self storage facility decides to kick up the dust and begin its own ad campaign. If this is the case—or if you see your rentals suffer for other reasons—you may want to consider your own self storage Google ad campaign.

Basically, keep an eye on what competition you do have and judge your need for Google ads based on how good their website, SEO, or own ads are!

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Nearly Full, Any Competition

Congratulations on being full!

Units to Fill: Less than 10 per month
Lease-up Status: Full, around 95% occupied
Competition: Any
Expected Spending: None-to-Low

You did it. Your self storage facility is basically full.

Why is 95% full? Well, you may be missing 5% of your max occupancy, but this allows you to get new tenants at higher street rates. At the 95% mark, you’re as physically full as you really need to be while still giving yourself the chance to increase revenue.

In this scenario, Google ads are completely optional. Depending on the competition in your market, you may consider Google ads as still important to help backfill units after move-outs, but it’s not likely to be necessary. 

And in the case that it is necessary, you can probably reduce your ad budget quite a bit compared to the lease-up period.

It’s not unheard of to run ads year-round, regardless of occupancy, but this is something you should carefully consider and—as always—track the return on your spending.

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What if my self storage facility doesn’t fit any category?

That’s alright!

Figuring out if you need ads isn’t as complicated as it probably feels.

If you look at the categories, you can probably see the common themes. Let’s spell them out, though, to make it more straightforward:

high competition + low occupancy = more ad spend

The lower the occupancy and the stronger the competition, the more you should spend on ads. The higher the occupancy and weaker the competition, the less you should spend on ads. At some point, Google ads become unnecessary once your occupancy is high enough and your competition is weak enough!

Keep track of your occupancy and density of competition, and always keep an eye on how well your competition manages its own digital marketing campaigns.

That’s all there really is to it!

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See some of my other favorite posts here!

At StoragePug, we build self storage websites that make it easy for new customers to find you and easy for them to rent from you.

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