Local marketing for franchise brands can be quite a challenge. With customers regularly using smartphones and the Internet to locate, choose, and buy products and services, franchise businesses also need to keep up with digital marketing techniques.
Four out of five consumers use their phones to shop, according to SCORE, non-profit from the US. They are also locating “near me” using their mobile devices. With these, businesses found in mobile search results gain revenue and more in-store visits.
What’s a franchisor to do for its franchisees? We’ve come up with local digital marketing strategies to assist franchisors in boosting consumer awareness as well as sales.
- SEO – Location Management and Local Listings
Google loves it when you go local. Thus, if you’re a franchisor, it’s a must to take a closer look at your franchisees’ online business listing (that to include their business name, operating hours, address, contact number, and descriptions on YP.com, Facebook, Google and other major sites). In doing so, you might also want to check if the contact details are consistent and updated for all locations. This will help avoid the littlest inconsistencies, which might then lead to missed out engagement opportunities and even lost sales.
- SEO – Landing Pages in Your Corporate Site
Local business listings are already very helpful in optimizing your search engine results. But if you really want to make your presence more known in the SEO world, consider providing microsites (for your franchisees) found on your corporate website. With this, your franchisees gain higher search engine authority too.
How? This is made possible by the “barnacle SEO” concept. The said principle entails linking oneself with a more authoritative entity (such as the corporate site) and reaping greater visibility. Using this system, franchisees may still customize their landing pages (while adhering with corporate branding guidelines). Similarly, the “rising tide” concept also follows, most especially since local pages with authority contribute to the whole value of the site.
- Take Advantage of Aggregator Apps/Sites
Being where your customers are is really beneficial whatever industry you are in. You have to be really visible in the different tools and apps that your customers are using. These include Foursquare, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and a whole lot more. Take your pick at the roster of aggregator sites and get discovered by your prospects more easily.
- User Reviews: Spreading Positive Word of Mouth
Consumers love consulting other customers’ reviews of establishments, products, and services. With this, you are in luck if you are making use of review sites, social media networks, and others. You can take advantage of the word of mouth you’ll get (most especially if it’s positive). Talk about repeat customers! To monitor your brand’s reviews and mentions and eventually help your franchisees, you may also get the help of the ever-free Google Alerts or even paid social monitoring tools. Through these, you don’t need to manually search for industry and brand mentions as well as trends. They’ll be delivered right at your inbox or when you log onto the software’s dashboard.
In driving customer feedback, provide your franchisees with printed marketing materials inviting customers to interact with them online. These may be in the form of point-of-sale signage, mail inserts, leave-behinds, table tents, and others. By seeing these, customers will also be reminded to share with their friends and family their experiences with the brand.
Now even if your objective is to gather as much positive reviews as possible, note that you cannot please everyone. Negative and neutral reviews are okay. Remember the “do not delete”rule, for the moment you take these vital issues maturely and professionally, the more your consumers will trust you. They will have a notion that you really take your business seriously.
- Paid Search: Banking on Creativity for Competitiveness
Google’s recent algorithm changes may have resulted to higher competition in terms of paid search. However, bidding on buyer-ready keywords stays as one of the most effective and fastest means of engaging customers willing to purchase already. Some just point out that there may be a friction between franchisor and franchisees if this strategy will ensue. According to franchising experts, this need not be the case. The two parties can come up with an integrated strategy by collaborating and communicating with each other.
Franchisee locations may be focused on with the help of Location Extensions. Likewise, through Customer Match or Remarketing List Ads for Search, brands can utilize previous behavior and customer insights to change messaging and bids. These, in turn, allow paid search to become a nice strategic option for many local businesses. Just use call tracking, analytics or unique coupon codes to measure performance and to get to know your online marketing investment’s value.
Thinking about using some or all of the strategies above? Feel free to do so. As you see, developing digital marketing strategies for franchise businesses entails understanding your business goals, customers, franchisees, and the environment you are in. When you do, you’ll be sure that you are catering realistically to the needs of your stakeholders.