Grow your own way with these proven tips and tricks for crafting an effective franchise marketing plan.

Here, we’ll break down these franchise marketing strategies:

      1. Have an integrated, multi-channel approach
      2. Prioritize local SEO
      3. Explore geofencing to get an edge over competitors
      4. Use ads to highlight what makes you stand out
      5. Understand the balance of national scale and local experience
      6. Encourage connection through your brand identity
      7. Show customers you care about their feedback
      8. Keep your ideal client persona top of mind
      9. Have a cohesive, repeatable plan

Thanks to the rollercoaster of the last few years, we’ve seen many businesses struggle, downsize, or shutter altogether. 

The good news: Lately, things are looking up. News outlets have recently reported that we’ve likely dodged a potential recession.

This is good news for businesses, particularly franchises with multiple locations. Statista reports show there are more than 790,000 franchise establishments in the United States, up from 750,000 just last year. 

These franchises employ nearly 8.5 million people and output more than $825 billion (compared to $670 billion in 2022). 

They also report that the top franchise industries today include quick-service restaurants, full-service restaurants, commercial and residential services, and real estate.

person working in a restaurant

People feel a stronger connection and sense of loyalty to businesses that share their same values. (Image: Unsplash)

What is franchise digital marketing?

Franchise digital marketing is an internet marketing strategy tailor-made for the nuances of promoting and growing a franchise business.

Franchise owners and employees know that with the rising popularity of franchises comes increased competition. For that reason, having a solid franchise marketing action plan is more crucial than ever. 

But what worked for franchises 5 or 10 years ago may not be what works best today. In fact, Sprout Social reports that 42% of franchise professionals “no longer feel traditional marketing channels, including advertising, direct marketing, and public relations, are worth the investment.” 

Those who do it right know that staying on top of the latest digital marketing methods can be the difference between growing your franchise business and going under.

Whether you own your own business or are a marketer partnering with a franchise, these best practices and expert insights will help you and other franchisors craft a solid digital marketing strategy for your franchise brand.

How much does digital marketing for a franchise cost?

Pricing ranges anywhere from $500 to $3,000 or more per month, depending on experience, goals, deliverables, and even your location. Some agencies charge hourly or by performance. HawkSEM charges a flat monthly fee that doesn’t involve setup costs or contracts.

9 Franchise Digital Marketing Success Strategies

 1. Have an integrated, multi-channel approach

Most franchise marketing will be made up of multiple approaches, from organic social media and search engine optimization (SEO) to local search ads and more. But if you’ve got all of these strategies working independently in silos, you may run into consistency issues.

Ideally, your overall franchise marketing plan should be greater than the sum of its parts. The best way to ensure cohesion is through effective communication. 

Especially when you’re running a multi-location biz, being as synced up as possible will ensure your marketing efforts are streamlined. 

“Make sure your Google Business Profile is updated and linked to your Google Ads account,” advises Linda Corzo, one of HawkSEM’s search engine marketing managers. “That way, you can showcase all locations and use local extensions, audience targeting, and location inserts for your ads that will insert the user’s city or state.”

Whether your marketing is done in-house or through an agency, you ideally want each part to be run by a team that’s constantly checking in and in sync with one another about campaigns and goals.  

Fun fact: HawkSEM partnered with printing services franchise SpeedPro to help grow their business through our digital marketing services like customer acquisition and corporate growth alignment. We were able to help them reduce cost per conversion by more than 30%, more than double conversion rates, and increase click-through rates more than four times over.

 2. Prioritize local SEO

Local SEO is all about using optimization techniques to attract customers in a certain area and boost your rankings in organic search results. So it’s no surprise that this strategy is key for business owners investing in franchise digital marketing

One of the first things businesses can do to get their local marketing SEO in tip-top shape is to make sure each location has a verified, accurate, and optimized Google Business Profile.

You also want to check that each local directory listing has the most accurate and updated information, particularly with things like store hours fluctuating during the pandemic. Other ways to set your local SEO up for success include:

      • Ensuring your site is mobile-friendly
      • Having a sitemap
      • Completing your Google Business Profile
      • Checking that all copy and content you publish is high-quality
      • Doing what you can to (ethically) foster customer reviews
      • Using local keywords on your site and landing pages

Pro tip: Search Engine Journal reports you can also boost your local franchise SEO through proper NAP (nap, address, phone) listings, leveraging location-specific keywords, and building local backlinks.

 3. Explore geofencing to get an edge over competitors

While geofencing is one of the newer digital advertising techniques to crop up in recent years, it’s already growing in popularity. 

As Intuit QuickBooks explains, “Geofences use virtual GPS points to trigger responses that send alerts to mobile devices when users enter or exit the geofenced territory.” Geofencing is a virtual geographic boundary, like an invisible fence. So when people are in a certain location, marketing actions can be automatically served up.

This location-based marketing service uses smartphone info like GPS, WiFi, or cellular data to serve up ads, special offers, notifications, and more to those in a specific, “geofenced” area. 

While this can be costly, it’s a great tool for hyper-targeting. You can even leverage it to target those visiting the franchise locations of your competitors.

 4. Use ads to highlight what makes you stand out

Digital ads — whether paid search, social media marketing, display, or all of the above — are a cornerstone of most franchise marketing strategies

Paid ads in general can be a highly effective way to get the word out about things like new updates or improvements and to spotlight your value propositions.

They can also help position you as an industry leader by allowing you to highlight your brand’s unique offerings or benefits that differentiate you from industry competitors. 

When it comes to franchise pay-per-click (PPC) or paid search ads in particular, best practices include:

  • Leverage local keywords for various regional marketing campaigns
  • Create custom landing pages that address various search terms and locations
  • Explore both Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising
  • Conduct A/B tests for things like copy and imagery
  • Regularly monitor, analyze, and iterate according to ad performance
row of windows in a building from the outside

Local SEO is all about using optimization techniques to attract customers in a certain area. (Image: Unsplash)

 5. Understand the balance of national scale and local experience

Balancing a national mindset with local initiatives is one of the biggest hurdles for franchises to overcome when building and refining their digital marketing strategies. The national mindset is key for continuing to grow your brand and its reach. 

But it’s the attention to detail around more local, customized experiences that can turn one-time customers into evangelists.

When creating your strategy, use these two concepts as pulse checks to ensure you’re covering both bases. 

Do your plans reflect the overall brand’s mission and messaging? Are there enough region or area-specific targeting options? You want to be looking at both the forest and the trees for the best results.

 6. Encourage connection through your brand identity

With multiple locations, some franchises struggle to compete with businesses that have that more homegrown, “local” feel.

That’s where your brand story comes in. By highlighting things like your company’s mission, core values, and origin story, you can foster more empathy.  

People feel a stronger connection and sense of loyalty to businesses that share their values. Another way to do this is by highlighting the people behind your brand. 

As Entrepreneur reports, showing the human side of your company makes you most trustworthy in the eyes of current and potential customers, and can help you form meaningful relationships with them. 

Pro tip: When it comes to values, studies show that customers are more likely to purchase from brands that give back (and these brands often have higher employee retention rates). Don’t be afraid to highlight philanthropic initiatives your company or its employees participate in — it’s a win-win!

 7. Show customers you care about their feedback

Another way to foster a good relationship with your customers? Make them feel heard. Not only is being mindful of customer feedback good for your brand image, but it allows you to keep an eye on how your overall business is perceived. 

A great place to start is by adding a simple feedback form to solicit comments on your website. You can also repurpose positive comments or feedback by featuring the quotes on your social media. Social platforms are also great places for soliciting feedback.

Get creative by conducting a poll or asking for your followers’ thoughts on something like a new product, service, or logo design. (Spoiler alert: People love sharing their opinion.) 

And, of course, it’s wise to stay on top of your online reviews so you can address any negative issues or feedback swiftly.

 8. Keep your ideal client persona top of mind

If you’re doing all of the above and still finding difficulty connecting with your audience, it may be time to revisit your targeting. After all, everything from your ads to your social media posts and content marketing should speak directly to your ideal client persona (ICP).

Of course, as a franchise, your targeting shouldn’t be one size fits all. Rather, you want to be thoughtful about region-specific targeting options (which will depend on the platform you’re using).

It’s also a good idea to create optimized landing pages based on search terms your target audience uses most, such as “near me.” At the end of the day, you want to speak directly to your ICP using terms and language they understand. 

Pro tip: Don’t forget to include an attention-grabbing call to action (CTA) on your landing page for maximum lead generation.

 9. Have a cohesive, repeatable plan

Along with a repeatable business model, franchises can benefit from a solid launch plan that can be recreated time and again.

Through her experience working with top franchise companies, Corzo has seen just how important it is to craft a cohesive plan when you’re marketing a new franchise location.

“Make sure you have allocated marketing budget for that location, and create a plan for pre-launch, launch, and post-launch,” she says. 

Ideally, this plan includes:

  • The types of campaigns you’re running (brand awareness, for example)
  • Which channels you’re using (such as email marketing or the Google Display network)
  • What your campaign goals are
  • What your timeline will be for tracking performance 
  • A template to easily recreate it for future locations

The takeaway

Franchise digital marketing isn’t without its obstacles. But this business type also offers excellent opportunities for growth. The trick is to find a marketing plan that allows for strategic, manageable expansion that can be nurtured and maintained.

Finding a full-service digital marketing agency with proven digital marketing solutions is a great resource when it comes to implementing the above tips without overwhelming your current marketing team. To find out if we’re the right digital marketing company for you, let’s chat

This article has been updated and was originally published in September 2020.

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