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September 19, 2023
The tide is receding - the pandemic storage boom is slowing down.
People aren’t beating down the door for storage anymore - so you've got to get creative to keep new customers coming! Like every other operator, you’ve got a small marketing budget that needs to work overtime.
So, do you choose to spend that money with SpareFoot? Or do you go with the pay-per-click Google Ads? Which will help your marketing budget go further?
Like any self storage marketing effort, you’ve got to spend money to make money. However, the efficiency of your marketing is the difference between a successful business and a struggling one.
We’ll cover the pros and cons of Google Ads vs. SpareFoot so you can choose the option that makes the most sense for your storage business!
SpareFoot is an aggregator - a website that collects information from different self storage facilities and then serves that information to potential renters.
Because SpareFoot is one website with a ton of information and SEO strength, they outrank almost everyone in organic search. That means they show up first in search results - excluding local search! - and this gives them the first bite at the apple.
Aggregators like SpareFoot will then offer to sell you their bite for a portion of your profits. This rubs a lot of operators the wrong way, but others find SpareFoot a useful method of generating business.
To use SpareFoot, you’ll need to set up an account and sign an agreement with them. Then, you’ll need to bid on their leads, similarly to how Google Ads campaigns work.
SpareFoot calculates bids in multiples of the rental value of the unit. If you bid 3.00, you’re agreeing to pay SpareFoot three times the monthly rental rate of whatever unit a lead rents. If a customer rents a $50/month storage unit through SpareFoot, you owe them $150.
The good news is, you’re only on the hook for this money if a customer actually rents from you. Some marketing endeavors end up costing you money and bring in zero renters, and with SpareFoot you’ll at least get some return on your investment.
You do end up paying over the odds for that certainty, though. The minimum bid that SpareFoot will accept is 1.75 - so you’re paying the first month and most of the second month to them. You only really start to make money after your customer has been there for 3 months.
And in high-demand areas, a minimum bid probably won’t get you any rentals at all. SpareFoot is incentivized to show the storage facilities that make them the most money.
You’re likely to end up paying 3-4x the value of a unit to get a rental. If that rental stays for a year, fantastic. If they only stay for two months, you lost a significant bit of cash while also tying up a storage unit and paying a manager to clean it.
In summary, SpareFoot works, but it’s expensive.
Use SpareFoot if:
Don’t use SpareFoot if:
Google Ads is a pay-per-click advertising method that shows custom ads for your business to searchers. Your ad campaign will be run through your Google Business account.
Since Google is 95%+ of the search engine market in the US, Google is the big dog in the online advertising world.
Almost all digital marketing goes through Google - your website only gets found because of Google and even SpareFoot would have very little value if it weren’t for Google sending people to its website.
Every business is fighting to get listed highest on Google. The entire profession of SEO is dedicated to making Google happy.
Google Ads is a way to pay to get to the top of the heap. Once you set up your Google Ads campaign, the engine will show your website (along with your marketing pitch) to searchers.
If the searcher clicks on your advertisement, they’ll be sent to your website - and Google will subtract the agreed-upon money from your budget.
As of 2023, the average cost for a Google Ads click for the big self storage keywords is around $10. The problem is that while this does send someone to your website, it doesn’t necessarily give you a rental.
In fact, most of the people who click your ad won’t rent with you. StoragePug estimates that most Google Ad campaigns will have to spend 2-3x the unit’s value to secure a renter.
While the individual clicks are much cheaper than what you’d pay SpareFoot, if your website doesn’t convert well, you can end up paying similar amounts to get a rental.
These numbers are just estimates, though. Depending on how competitive your market is, you may have to pay more than that to get a renter - but if your self storage website does a good job converting visitors into renters, you may pay far less!
In summary, Google Ads is often cheaper than SpareFoot, but not always.
Use Google Ads if:
Don’t use Google Ads if:
We recommend people use Google Ads rather than SpareFoot in most circumstances, but both marketing drives can work.
Many self storage operators use both when they need to fill up a facility - then they stop once the facility is at a good occupancy level.
Of course, there are other ways to attract new customers without needing to fork over a chunk of your new revenue each time.
Referral programs use word of mouth and an amount you set to generate new demand.
A strong website with good self storage SEO can get you the benefits of SpareFoot and Google Ads without costing money.
Physical marketing efforts can make a difference too.
The two biggest ways your customers find you are online and by driving past. Paid ads and SpareFoot can help you fill up a new facility quickly, but your online presence and your physical presence will bring you renters consistently over the life of your facility.
Optimize your self storage business with these helpful articles: