Should Self Storage Operators Use Text or Email?

June 21, 2022

Self Storage Text vs Email
6 min

How does your email inbox look?

If you manage to keep it clean, kudos - if it’s currently reading 962 unread, welcome to the club.

As my inbox, and maybe yours, demonstrates, email isn’t always the best way to reach your customers. Your messages may get sent to the spam or junk folder, the notification might get cleared, and your customer may simply not notice their inbox total has gone up to 963.

Email used to be the future of communication. People used to get excited when their inbox lit up! Why? Because email is an incredibly convenient, accessible, and economic way to contact your customers.

Unfortunately, that ease of contact has turned into a negative. Spam, subscriptions, and bots have turned the email into a gigantic slush pile of nonsense. Picking out the important emails is both difficult and irritating, which has led to email open rates being as low as 20%

But how can you fix this? Should you only communicate through texts and calls? Is *gasp* paper mail the solution?


Is Email Dead Already?

Email was - and still is - a great tool for businesses. Newsletters, billing, and lead follow-up are all easier via email than they would be if done with paper or phone calls. Email can be automated through your Property Management Software, and almost 90% of marketers use email marketing.

So no, email isn’t dead. It’s just got a competitor. 

Short Message Service (SMS), commonly known as texting, has become a major form of business communication in the last few years. For the moment, text messaging get significantly better message open rates, which means your customers are more likely to actually see your message if you send it to them via text.

One potential reason for the difference is that customers are not yet accustomed to getting messages they don’t want through text messaging. This does make texting a great way to reach your customers - with message open rates over 90%, it’s too tempting to ignore.

Want to up your game with the latest software? Learn more about software with  our Self Storage Software Playbook.

But just because your customers haven’t been irritated into ignoring texts yet doesn’t mean you should be filling their phone with marketing, billing, and other communications.

Creating a great customer experience outweighs almost any other concerns. Happy customers are far more likely to do business with you again, review you positively online, and recommend you to friends and family. If your customers have a pleasant rental experience with you, that can be worth more than a six-digit marketing budget.

So, if you’re irritating your customers with text messages, you’re not going to see any benefit. In fact, it could set you back significantly.

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When Should Self Storage Operators Text?

So, if texts are opened way more often than emails, what communications should be texted?

The ones that you need them to open. This can mean marketing communications, vital documentation needs, and urgent alerts. 

One-time communications, such as your rental agreement, are great candidates for texting. You can be much more confident that your new tenant will actually notice that they need to sign the lease and other agreements.

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Text messages are also great for reminders and follow-up communications. So, you can send the rental agreement through email and let your tenant get to signing whenever they have time - then, if a certain time passes, you can send a friendly text reminder. 

You can also use text messaging to follow up on leads. If you make contact with someone but don’t end up renting them a unit, you can text them later to see if they’re still interested. This is a great spot to include a discount or deal that your tenants enjoy.

Personal text messages are a great way to request reviews as well. Try to send review requests shortly after having a good interaction with a tenant - you can even ask them in person if they’d mind leaving a review.

Text messaging should be more casual and personable if you have the resources to make it so. That can mean sending personalized messages by hand or it can mean crafting a friendly message to send en masse. 

Pug Pro Tip: Your customers see text messaging as a personal method of communication. Try to balance your texting between professional and casual to establish the perfect brand!

Regardless of what you send via texts, be sure that your customers have opted into this communication, and that they can easily opt-out if they don’t want to be contacted by text. The goal is to make life easier for your customer, and if you’re not able to do that via texting, don’t bother.

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Making Email Work for Self Storage

If the message you’re sending isn’t vital, leave it to email. For example, payment receipts, confirmations, and low-priority updates all work perfectly well as an email. If your customer needs to find their receipt, they can search their inbox.

Email is also great when you need to convey lots of information to your tenant. If you want to send the actual substance of your rental agreement (rather than a link to an online form), you should definitely do that in an email. SMS texts are limited to 160 characters - great for a snappy pitch and a link, not as great for long-winded legalese.

Want to up your game with the latest software? Learn more about software with  our Self Storage Software Playbook.

In most instances, email is a perfectly acceptable method of communicating with tenants. Email marketing is still incredibly prevalent - you may have noticed that StoragePug still believes in it! 

Many customers prefer to keep their commercial contacts in their email. If this is true of your customers, respect their preference. You could ask your customers how they would prefer to be contacted, or make an educated decision if you feel you know them well enough.

Keep in mind that email is far more prevalent and usually less expensive than SMS messaging. Some customers may be charged for every text they receive - not exactly a great customer experience. If you’re not sure, email is probably safe, if less likely to land you new tenants or get them to upgrade their rentals

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Key Points to Remember

  • A text is much more likely to be opened than an email
  • Texts are limited to 160 characters - if your message needs to be longer, consider using email
  • Be sure your customers have an option to opt out of receiving text marketing messages
  • Text sparingly - texts are opened more frequently because people get fewer junk texts. If you start to change that, your tenants will stop opening or receiving your communications.
  • Email still works well, but texting is better for some self storage communications
  • Software automation makes all communications more valuable by reducing the effort they take from you

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Learn more ways to improve your self storage facility with these:

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