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Extra Space Storage Uses Heat-Mapping Technology to Improve Customer Journey

September 14, 2016 | Marketing Technology


Brooke Johnson
Senior Manager, Marketing Optimization
Extra Space Storage

National storage provider Extra Space Storage knows the importance of optimizing customer journeys, but doing that requires developing a deep understanding of why customers exhibit certain behaviors online. Finding a technology that’s up to the task can be challenging, with vendors offering similar, often overlapping tools. Brooke Johnson, senior manager of marketing optimization at Extra Space Storage, spoke with eMarketer’s Maria Minsker about how heat-mapping technology delivers behavioral insight that the brand needs to create better customer journeys.

eMarketer: What marketing technology challenges are top of mind for you right now?

Brooke Johnson: We rely heavily on quantitative analytics to tell the story of our customers’ online experience and slice our traffic numerous ways. We can segment by new visitors vs. return visitors, for example.

We’ve been able to see what our customers are doing and where they’re going on our website, but we’ve had to make assumptions as to why, so we supplemented our analysis with user testing. Eventually, we decided we need technology to get an understanding of that “why.”

eMarketer: What’s your process for choosing technology for your marketing stack?

Johnson: We do extensive research. We get contacted by numerous companies on a daily basis, so we have an influx of opportunities to opt into different technologies. When we evaluate a vendor, we like to see if they have any similar industry case studies that show lift in [return on investment] ROI. As long as it doesn’t overlap with anything that we’re already using, we take a deep look to determine whether it’s the right fit for us.

eMarketer: What technology do you now rely on to show why customers are taking certain actions on the site?

Johnson: Clicktale is a key tool for us. It has heat maps and attention maps that show where people are clicking and scrolling. We can see in Adobe Analytics that a consumer spent 4 minutes on a certain page, where he or she stalled, what was interacted with and what was skipped. It helps us understand what’s working on our website and where we could improve.

“Clicktale is a key tool for us. It has heat maps and attention maps that show where people are clicking and scrolling.”

eMarketer: What are your thoughts on using a broad marketing cloud suite such as Adobe vs. a niche tool such as Clicktale?

Johnson: We see the benefit of both. We use Adobe primarily for testing and analytics. They have an amazing marketing suite, but we already have solutions in place that we’ve optimized and partnered with for a long time. We don’t want overlap. Adobe has a heat-mapping tool, for example, but Clicktale’s solution is more robust.

eMarketer: What are some tools that you consider to be marketing stack essentials?

Johnson: Having insight into metrics that show what’s happening on the website is critical. I check our dashboards every day to monitor the health of our website and ensure that things don’t look drastically different year over year, or month over month. We’re very analytical and we don’t make any decisions that aren’t supported by data at Extra Space. Having access to analytics, whether it’s Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics or another tool, is essential.

eMarketer: What’s the next technology priority for Extra Space Storage?

Johnson: We’re focused on segmentation and trying to provide a more one-to-one customer experience. Extra Space Storage has always been focused on customer service, but in the past year we’ve put a heavy emphasis on customer experience across the whole customer journey. We’re trying to figure out exactly where the pain points are for our customers and optimize those, but that requires creating segmented experiences. We’ve outlined different personas and want to make sure [we have tools in place to help] tailor those experiences.

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