70% of local consumers click on organic online listings as opposed to paid online advertisements (SearchEngineJournal.com). Organic online listings are those that appear during a search due to their relevance to the search term. Paid online ads, or pay-per-click, are listings that the advertisers pay for every time a user clicks on the link. Imagine how you would feel if you were solicited by a company that asks you to join their network in order to generate online leads from prospective consumers. Sounds like a good deal right? Maybe, but let’s take a deeper look into what they are really asking. These companies are aggregators that solicit businesses to join their network. Aggregators want businesses to join so they can leverage the collective buying power and purchase ads/keywords to make their website appear higher in search engines.
What can you, as a self-storage owner, do? First, do your research. Make sure to understand what an aggregator is really asking for. Clearly understand their guidelines and fees. Also, explore how you can have a successful online presence by doing it yourself. Let’s take a look into the traps all business owners should be aware of when deciding if they will pay an aggregator for leads.
Beware of Aggregator Traps
Investment & Commitment: Aggregators focus on paid ads to generate leads to your website. This is a costly endeavor, however, the initial start-up costs are alluringly low. If you are not prepared to commit to a long term relationship by maintaining a monthly investment, you run the risk of going back to square one when your budget runs out.
D.I.Y Tip: Prepare a marketing strategy that includes your website paired with offline marketing efforts. Offline efforts will help you build a local presence and grow your brand.
Hidden Fees: Beware of hidden fees that are not expressed clearly during the initial campaign setup. For example, you may end up paying for the lead they generate beyond the initial campaign setup fee. Aggregators set up payment plans in different formats. You do not want to be charged per customer or per move-in. In other cases, aggregators charge per potential customer they send your way, or per click to your online listing. There are even others that charge a flat rate per month whether you get a customer, a lead, or nothing at all.
D.I.Y Tip: Create your own website for the most cost effective way to build an online presence. Organic, sustainable search traffic is a steady growth pattern, not a sudden massive bump. As long as you’re growing month-over-month, you’re doing the right thing.
Content: Aggregators don’t just pull information from credible websites. They compile information from anywhere they can find; this means your credible, upstanding business can be mixed up with potentially bad websites.
D.I.Y. Tip: By doing-it-yourself, you have creative control over all the content presented online. Anytime there are business changes, you are in control and updates are generally completed within a couple hours. For example, updating seasonal hours, services and promotions.
Results: Results vary depending on the expertise of the aggregator. Thoughtful consideration is required on your part along with a a proven track record by them. Remember, there are no guarantees within an online search, so you have to weigh the return of short term and long term investments.
D.I.Y. Tip: Keep in mind, aggregators are getting paid by businesses to buy keywords that drive online search engine rankings. If you have a company website, this is causing your online search ranking to be lower and hurts your online presence. There are ways to optimize your online presence without an aggregator. Follow this link in order to learn more about how search engines rank websites.
Andrea enjoys helping others as an Operations Analyst for the U-Haul Self-Storage Affiliate Network. Along with her duties as an operations analyst, Andrea manages the U-Haul Self-Storage Affiliate Network’s social media pages. She is currently studying at Gannon University earning her MBA in Marketing and has previous experience in marketing and event planning. In her free time she enjoys going bowling and has recently hit her highest score of 150.
Tak Lay is the Director of the U-Haul Self-Storage Affiliate Network. As a technology junkie, he is always trying to find new or alternate methods of using technology to make his job easier.