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Gabfocus Session | Let's Get Digital

Let's Get Digital: Understanding digital marketing, SEO, and Google My Business

Here in 2021, your website and digital marketing choices are key to a successful modern self storage facility. But, what should you actually be doing? In this Session, we'll get practical and specific about the marketing tools and strategies every self storage facility should have in place.

Featured Speakers: Ken Turley & Josh Huff
Moderators: Melissa Huff & Tommy Nguyen

Category: Marketing
Focus: Owners & Managers
Aired: September 16, 2021
Duration: 1:11:51


If you don't have time to watch the whole Session, here are some of our favorite parts:

  • At 7:25, Ken and Josh talk about who uses self storage, how different markets have different customer types, and how good marketing serves your area
  • At 11:20, Josh shares about Buyer Personas, and how the building of your customer archetypes can create better insight into their needs and preferences
  • At 13:35, our experts discuss how people learn about storage and where they go searching for the right facility
  • At 15:00, Ken reminds us "don't do anything unless you can track it" and that marketing is always a balancing act. It's never passive.
  • At 20:10, our panelists talk about what self storage customers care about the most and what they're looking for from the facilities they choose
  • At 30:45, Josh and Ken talk about awareness campaigns, how they're different than active marketing campaigns, and whether or not they're worth it
  • At 37:30, our experts break down the difference between paid and organic search strategies and remind us you have to "pick what works for your facility"
  • At 43:15, our panelists discuss Google My Business, why it's so effective, and what the most parts of your listing are
  • At 53:15, Ken talks about different marketing channels and how his team measures ROI
  • At 59:00, Josh and Ken talk about self storage websites and why conversion rates are your most important metric
  • At 1:01:05, our panelists answer the Question of the Week!

Question of the Week

We asked our experts: What are the biggest digital marketing misconceptions or mistakes to look out for?

"Just because it's out there doesn't mean you have to do it. We have a temptation to always want the newest thing. Stick to what works for you and specifically for the people you are trying to reach. See what they are looking at and be there so they can see you, your brand, and why they should store with you." - Josh Huff
"Something that happens a lot is that operators get a lot of information and then get overwhelemed, so they end up not doing anything. They get it in their head that marketing is this huge complex thing where they have to spend a lot of money or hire a digital marketing company. That's just not the case! It's a lot simpler than you think it is. The biggest mistake people make is to set it and forget it. They never set an adjustment period to look to see how it actually did. It could take you an hour every month to go back and see how things are going and what's working. It's not that hard." - Ken Turley
"The temptation to try everything is a bad one, but a huge mistake I see is that the website you send customers to not being good, user friendly, mobile friendly, or having the capabilities that other facilities have. It doesn't matter what marketing you're doing if you're falling short on your website. It'd be like having a horrible manager inside the office. You work on getting all the foot traffic, but if there's not someone there to treat them well, they'll turn around and leave. Your website is the same thing." -Melissa Huff

Gabfocus Takeaway

One size doesn't fit all. Every self storage facility is unique and exists within its own market, or even, a subset of its market. People usually rent near them! What that means for your digital marketing strategy is that it should be contextualized. Not just to your customer base, but also to the type of business you're running. Test and track constantly. Don't spend your whole marketing budget on one channel. Spread it around, start slowly if you can. Try and find the channels, messaging, and strategies that work best for your facility and market. And, when you can, prioritize trackable campaigns. Otherwise, how else do you know what's working and what isn't? The bottom line is that digital is here, and it's here to stay. No matter their age or market, more and more consumers are using technology to find the businesses they want to work with, and your facility and digital marketing presence need to be in place wherever they are looking.

What are Gabfocus Sessions?

Gabfocus Sessions are virtual workshops for self storage owners, managers, and operators. Brought to you by the team behind Gabfest: StoragePug and Affordable Storage Guys Management.

Each session features hand-picked industry pros who will dive deep into relevant topics surrounding our industry, share best practices, and explore trends in the market. It's our hope that these sessions help you navigate your self storage business better during these uncertain times.

Want to learn more about self storage? Join us on select Thursdays for Gabfocus.

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Questions Answered in this Session

  1. Who are the main customer types in self storage?
  2. How are they looking for or finding facilities?
  3. What do self storage customers care about when choosing where to rent?
  4. What are awareness campaigns or strategies? Are they worth it?
  5. Should I focus on paid or organic search strategies? What are the big differences?
  6. How should Google My Business fit into my digital strategy?
  7. How do I determine which digital channels to focus on? How do I measure the ROI of my campaigns?
  8. How important are a strong brand and digital presence in self storage?
  9. What makes an effective self storage website?
  10. What are the most important metrics to measure?
  11. What are conversion rates?
  12. Are there other important digital marketing channels in self storage?
  13. What are the biggest digital marketing misconceptions or mistakes to look out for?

Live Poll Results: What tools are most important to provide to your employees?




Meet your speakers

Got questions or comments for the panelists?

Our panelists will be happy to answer any questions you have. We hope you enjoyed this Gabfest Session. Talk soon!

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Resources from this session

Awesome Quotes

“Once your operation is in place, you can become more dynamic with your pricing, but that requires data. You need some method of being able to record the data that you need to know whether your price is in the right place - whether you need to move it up or start giving some concessions.” - Warren Lieberman
“I never want to downplay to what someone else is doing. I'm better than they are, then I'm going to be worth a higher price. That's what value is. If you go out to a restaurant and get really good service, would you go back? Yes! What if it was pricier? You'd still go back because you got better service and a better product.” - Jim Mooney
"It's good to be informed on your competition. I don't want to ignore them, but I don't want to respond too strongly to them either." - Warren Lieberman
"We did a survey of 10,000 facilities on their pricing. We found out that two-thirds of those operators didn't change the price of a single unit of the course of a month." - Warren Lieberman
“Rate increases and value pricing are the number one ways to grow your revenue.” - Jim Mooney
"Tenants in more convenient units tend to be less price sensitive." - Warren Lieberman
"The size of the unit is only one aspect of what people are willing to pay for." - Warren Lieberman


Foundational marketing strategies to have in place - whether leasing up or stabilized:

  • Website
  • Set up listings (Yelp, Google My Business, Apple Maps)
  • Social Media
  • Establish Local Partnerships

Lease up marketing strategies:

  • Lead Generating Strategies (like digital ads)
  • Aggregators (Sparefoot, Storagefront, etc.)
  • Awareness Campaigns (like billboards, flyers, and sponsorships)

Your average customer value
Find the average stay length of all tenants. Next take your economic occupancy and divide by how many units you have. That will tell you what the average customer pays.

Multiply the average length of stay by what the average customer pays, and that's the average value of a customer.

For example, if a customer stays for 12 months and pays $100 per month, then their value is $1,200.

Your average lead value

Figure out your closing rate (or conversion rate) i.e. how many leads do you turn into tenants? Multiply that by your average customer lifetime value to figure out what your leads are worth. 

Pro Tip: see which lead sources are converting the best. It may be that certain sources have a higher conversion rate, so those leads are worth more to you than a source that barely converts.

Typical Lease-up timeline

According to our panelists, it's typical to see a 3-4% increase each month, putting your facility at 36% after the first year, and 72% after the second.

Alternately, you can look at your lease up goals through the lens of your units, aiming for 20 units rented per month.

For Nick and StorageMax, they pro forma their economic occupancy at 85% with their sweet spot at 92%.

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