These proven tips and tricks will help you craft an effective franchise marketing plan.
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
Let’s briefly state the obvious: The pandemic hit businesses hard.
Many struggled, downsized, or shuttered. But now, as the world slowly opens back up, businesses are working to rebuild — and that includes franchises.
Statista reports show there are more than 750,000 franchise establishments in the United States, outputting around $670 billion and employing 7.5 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.
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 paid 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.
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 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. 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 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
- 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 marketing techniques to crop up in recent years, it’s already growing in popularity.
As Inuit 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 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 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
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 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.
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.
This article has been updated and was originally published in September 2020.