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Written by Caroline Cox on Sep 14 , 2020

These proven tips and tricks will help you craft a franchise marketing plan that’s set up for success.

Here, you’ll find:

  • How digital marketing benefits franchises
  • Tips to make franchise digital marketing work for you
  • Why local SEO is key for franchises
  • How to turn one-time visitors into loyal customers

Recent data from Statista shows there are more than 750,000 franchise establishments in the United States, outputting around $760 billion and employing over 8 million people. They also report that the top franchise industries today include quick-service restaurants, full-service restaurants, commercial and residential services, and real estate.

Franchise owners and employees know that with the rising popularity of franchises comes increased competition. For that reason, having a strong 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 staying on top of the latest digital marketing methods can be the difference between growing your business or going under.

These 8 best practices will help you craft a solid digital marketing strategy for your franchise brand.

franchise digital marketing tips

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

1. Have an integrated, multi-channel approach

Most franchise marketing will consist of multiple approaches, from organic social media and search engine optimization (SEO) to paid ads and more. But if you’ve got all of these strategies working independently in silos, you may run into issues of inconsistency and working harder instead of smarter.

Ideally, your overall franchise marketing plan should be greater than the sum of its parts. The best way to ensure cohesion is through a strong communication practice. 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 new customer acquisition and corporate growth alignment. As a result, we were able to help them reduce cost per conversion by more than 30%, grow conversion rates by 220%, and increase click-through rates by 450%. Find out how we can help your franchise.

2. Prioritize local SEO

Local SEO is all about using search engine optimization techniques to attract customers in a certain area. So it’s no surprise that this strategy is key for franchise digital marketing. One of the first things you can do to get your local SEO in tip-top shape is to make sure each of your locations has a verified, accurate, and optimized Google My Business listing.

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 on your website
  • Having complete Google My Business pages
  • Doing what you can to (ethically) foster positive online reviews
  • Use local keywords on your site and landing pages

Pro tip: Content is another proven way to boost your overall SEO standing. Get creative and see what kind of local content you can add to your site, such as updates about new locations or employee spotlights.

3. Explore geofencing to get an edge over competitors

While geofencing is one of the newer digital marketing techniques to crop up in recent years, it’s already growing in popularity. As CIO defines it, geofencing is “a service that triggers an action when a device enters a set location.” So when people are in a certain location, marketing actions can be automatically served up.

This location-based 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, display, or all of the above — are a cornerstone to 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 campaigns
  • Create customized 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

Pro tip: Remarketing ads are also a solid choice for franchises. These search and display ads allow you to reach potential customers who are already familiar with your brand so you can convert them at a lower cost per acquisition (CPA).

franchise marketing tips

Local SEO is all about using search engine optimization techniques to attract customers in a certain area. (Image via 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 best results.

6. Encourage connection through your brand story

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 same 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 customers and prospects, 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 any philanthropic initiatives your company or its employees participate in — it’s 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 content 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. 

The takeaway

Franchise digital marketing isn’t without its obstacles. But this business type also offers great 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 is a great resource when it comes to implementing the above tips without overwhelming your current marketing team. For more on that, let’s chat

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

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