By Oliver Brainerd
Shall we split the party? It’s an important question in several different contexts. And the answer depends on the context. Playing D&D? Heck no! Are you the opening lineup of a horror movie? Heck yeah, we’re splitting up the party! The original lineup for the Rolling Stones? Till death, at least! The Roman Empire? Well, they split up their armies into legions in order to expand.
There’s an art to splitting up a good thing so that it works better. When it comes to franchises, this means expanding locations to different areas. The better your locations do and the more franchisees you find, the more locations you open. However, the more locations you open, the more your marketing tactics and strategies have to change.
Marketing for Franchises
Marketing strategies for franchises necessitate a balance between brand continuity and geographic nimbleness.
On the one hand, unlike some other marketing, the brand is already in place. That’s why people love franchises. People like the brand enough to support multiple locations. From that perspective, running digital marketing for franchises resembles a marketing strategy for a big brand. Which, let’s face it, some franchises are huge brands anyway.
At the same time, in order to count as successful marketing, each location in the franchise needs a certain amount of individual attention. In that way, franchise marketing strategies look a little like small business marketing, reacting to the needs of their neighborhoods.
It’s a tricky balance to strike. The good news is that digital marketing tools are ideally suited to strike that balance. If you execute a digital marketing campaign right, you can perfectly balance the design requirements of brand consistency with data-driven adaptability.
There are a lot of straightforward marketing principles involved in creating effective digital marketing strategies for franchises. You need to ensure your messaging matches your brand. Adspend has to go into avenues with meaningful return on investment. Seasonal sales and campaigns have to be pertinent to the customer base of your franchises. All the data-driven fundamentals of digital marketing apply.
In our experience, when it comes to franchise marketing best practices, there are a couple of especially important areas to put energy into.
Conversion Rate Optimization and Reducing Cost Per Conversion
In most cases, franchises depend on profits based on customers walking through their doors. The goal of the best franchise marketing campaigns is to convert an online interaction into a paying customer. Whatever you allocate toward adspend, SEO, or other marketing strategies, your budget will bring a certain amount of people through your doors per dollar spent.
If you’re spending more than the value of the customer, it means there are improvements you need to make to your digital marketing.
There are a few techniques you can use.
First, examine your data. Analyze key performance indicators (KPI) pertinent to conversion rate optimization (CRO). (SproutSocial)
I really thought I’d left acronyms behind when I left the insurance industry. Sigh.
Anyway, here’s some of what I mean. KPI pertinent to CRO include:
Website traffic data
- Bounce rates–how long are users staying on your site?
- Internal navigation–are users navigating to different pages inside your website? Which ones and how much?
- Time spent on your site? Longer is better.
If your bounce rate is high, it means people aren’t navigating to many pages, and they’re leaving your website fast. So, it’s important to improve the user experience so that they engage longer with your site and they can be turned into customers.
There are a couple of non-technical fixes for these problems. For example:
- Ensure key information is at the top of pages.
- Too many words? Break up your talking points into sections and bullets so it’s more digestible.
Then there are some tech fixes to consider:
- How’s your website performance? Slow loading? Look weird on mobile? When sites take too long to load people become impatient and leave. Additionally, if your site isn’t optimized well for mobile, it might not leave the right impression.
- How’s your website formatting? Did you fall for that graphic designer’s pitch when they told you that a navigation bar at the TOP of the page was so two thousand and late?
Fix your website. Straightforward is always better in designing websites for franchises. Easy navigation, fast speeds, and clear verbiage are all beneficial.
A further note that’s franchise-specific: Each franchise location should have a dedicated page or subdomain on your website for SEO purposes. These pages can be optimized to appear at the top of Google search results locally while displaying crucial information about the location such as the store hours and address.
It’s important to gather information about where your website traffic is coming from so you know how to make the best marketing decisions possible. Website traffic analytics can reveal geographic data. That’s one cool thing about digital marketing. With some accuracy, we can analyze the traffic sources such as ads, social media, or Google search. We can also help guide marketing campaigns for specific neighborhoods.
Speaking of locations…
Get Feedback from the Feet on the Ground
No one will have a better understanding of the effectiveness of specific marketing initiatives than people on the ground. It’s super low-tech, but if at all possible it’s valuable to get feedback from franchise location owners and managers. As a company overall, you might be profitable. But you might be missing out on the profitability of some franchise locations that aren’t benefiting as much from current marketing strategies. (WebFX)
Your marketing company should make a regular practice of checking in with location owners or managers. They should be kept informed when you make marketing decisions. At the same time, it’s important to get a feel for how current marketing strategies are impacting their business.
If you have few enough locations in your franchise, visit them. If you have a lot of locations, calling them should be a high priority. There are so many tools that make it possible to keep lines of communication open with geographically dispersed groups, even if there’s a lot of people in them. Specific location realities should be taken into account when you’re designing your franchise marketing strategy and campaigns.
Franchise Marketing Best Practices
Fundamentally, marketing for franchises is a lot like any other marketing strategy. The difference is how many data sets you need to take into consideration before making marketing decisions. And then when you make those decisions, you need to make them on a more specific level than you might for, say, an online retailer.
Some other types of franchise marketing that may be different from other businesses include:
- Social media marketing for franchises. You’ll probably end up finding it prudent to create social media accounts for individual locations. This would be in addition to the social media presence for the franchise overall. (WebFX) Each location will have their own sets of events and promotions. They might sponsor a local sports team or want to run a giveaway. All of those things should be mentioned on social media.
- Determining franchise marketing channels. You’ll have to do a lot of geographic targeting for ads. You might find that your location built next to the retirement community will be less interested in your March Madness special than your location next to the state university. (GloFox) Therefore, each location will need their own ad account on Google ads or their own pixel for Facebook ads or Instagram ads. You want to keep your data clean so you can focus on the right types of customers that can differ per location.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many types of franchise marketing. They all have a few things in common. They’re cool because you don’t need to reinvent your brand. You’re all set there.
However, franchises are tough because they require such a complex approach to data and analytics.
So, then do you outsource it?
With so many accounts to manage and prioritize it’s good to work with an outside marketing agency that specializes in franchises.
ARC Creative Co. is a franchise marketing agency. We are members of IFA and IFPG. You can read a quick case study about how our ads helped a pizza franchise here. Talk to an account representative to see how we bulk discount our franchise services and still deliver white glove service. Click here to book a meeting.
Marketing for franchises isn’t a new science, but it does require a jiggering of basic practices to really dial in results.
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