Unlike the mother of a school friend who invoiced a 5-year-old British boy in January for not showing up to her child’s birthday party in December, Salt Lake City-based Extra Space Storage doesn’t hold grudges when Americans who’ve made reservations for units don’t follow through. Instead, the company’s marketers try to figure out what’s going wrong so they can fix it.
One huge problem was none of the company’s emails were mobile-responsive, even though 61 percent of Extra Space Storage’s customers were opening messages on mobile devices, says ESS Marketing Coordinator Jennifer Stamper. That was the first task they gave to Redwood City, Calif.-based marketing software and services provider StrongView in October 2013.
Fortunately, the storage company was already taking care of redesigning its mobile site to reflect customer personas. Logical, fast-paced reservation holders get the persona of “Gaston,” or competitive, direct and goal-oriented. The “spontaneous” RSVPs are from “Will Ferrell,” who is fast, emotional and lives moment-to-moment, so he can be persuaded by a good deal or a promotion. Methodical “Mr. Spock” is slow and logical, and, finally, “Mother Teresa” is humanistic, slow and emotional. This lead may be more persuaded by reviews.
So even as StrongView was ramping up its solutions, Extra Space Storage was testing the new mobile site against a control in March 2014. Melissa Burdon, ESS director of optimization, says the site saw a 23 percent rise in conversions, so the company rolled out the persona site in April 2014 and only continues to see conversions grow.
“Our mobile site redesign was a big win for us last year,” Burdon says.
Because the mobile site test was such a success, Stamper says it only made sense to incorporate mobile-responsive design into the Extra Space Storage email reminders to reservation-holders.
“We worked with StrongView and their design and production team to incorporate not only mobile design, but this is also where we incorporated the four personas into our email templates,” she says. “We wanted to make sure that we were speaking to all of our customers within one piece of copy.”
ESS can also segment the leads and target them primarily based on their expected move-in dates.
Since then, Stamper says, open rates increased 3.1 percent overall and 8.59 percent among mobile device users.
Even though the email redesign coincided with the mobile website redesign, Stamper says ESS decided to change the objective of its messaging to increase its move-in rate through engagement with its content, rather than optimizing to increase clickthroughs.
“We saw rentals go up, which is the biggest success,” Burdon says.
Stamper says the 50 percent year-over-year increase in conversions is directly attributable to the emails.
In January 2015, the company added SMS marketing to the reservation messaging mix. With just 90 days of data, Stamper says nearly 60 percent of Extra Space Storage unit aspirants had opted in for messaging.
For the British boy, the happy ending was spending time with his grandparents instead of at the birthday party. For Extra Space Storage, it was getting reservation-holders to come to the party.