Franchise marketing is a two-way street.
While franchisors need to consider the needs of the local markets and cater to them, franchisees should help them build and maintain a consistent brand image.
So, the question is- can franchisors and franchisees collaborate to create a cohesive and recognizable digital marketing presence? Above all, can such a complex strategy work and resonate with local customers, without hurting the overall brand image?
Let’s find out.
Design a Franchise Website that Converts
A website is the backbone of your online presence. It’s your business’ identification card in the overcrowded digital marketing ecosystem, giving you the opportunity to build a strong narrative around your brand and set yourself apart from your competitors.
This is exactly why you need to invest in responsive design, one that meets the expectations of all visitors, irrespective of the device they use.
● A/B test all your creative ideas to understand what tactics work. This will help you see the areas with highest click activity, understand where your CTA sweet spot is, understand what kind of lead gen forms work for you, and so on.
● Ensure that your website is fast enough. The majority of your users will kick it if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds.
● Make sure your site is friendly to mobile users. Are your CTAs easy to tap on? What about your forms- are they easy to fill out and submit? Does your content fit the screen? How fast does your page load on mobile devices?
● Invest in logical website architecture. Not only does your site attract new customers, but it also inspires potential franchisees to buy into your company. Many big brands have separate pages designed for their potential franchisees. For example, The UPS Store offers veteran franchise opportunities, as well as retiree franchise, minority franchise, and women franchise opportunities, each of which has its separate section on their site.
● As for the franchisee sites, many franchise brands like McDonald’s let franchisees build separate franchise websites. However, maintaining consistency across multiple individual sites is difficult. That’s why you should consider creating microsites for each location. Each of them is optimized for the major local keywords, as well as contains the NAP information, customer and employee testimonials, locally-relevant meta tags and CTAs, directions, and so on.
Optimize your Website for Local SearchesWebsite design directly impacts user behaviors, engagement, and conversions. As such, it influences your rankings on Google. However, to make sure you rank high in the local search, here are a few additional steps to take.
● Optimize each franchise site for local keywords to appear high in the local SERPs. Keep in mind that most mobile and voice searches that are done to find local businesses are based on questions and conversational keywords, so optimize your site for long-tail and organic search phrases.
● Create locally relevant content around local keywords for each franchise location. If franchisees are creating their own content, create strict guidelines that will protect your brand image.
● Claim your Google My Business listings for each location. Optimize these profiles to the max with your major keywords, photos of your staff, NAP information, and maps. Still, remember that your franchise name needs to remain consistent across multiple listings.
● Register on all major local business directories to gain your visibility, boost local rankings, build trust with local customers.
● Create a solid link building strategy. Backlinks from authoritative local sites in your industry are one of the most significant elements of Google’s Local Pack.
Build a Recognizable Brand on Social Networks
Many popular franchise brands like Wendy’s, KFC, or McDonald’s invest lots of effort in building a solid brand image on social networks.
These channels benefit your business in multiple ways.First, with the help of AI chatbots and social media listening tools, you can provide real-time feedback and boost user satisfaction.Second, social networks are a treasure trove of customer information. Through interactions with customers, you can understand what their major problems, frustrations, and expectations are and provide better customer support.
Finally, social media marketing is a fundamental aspect of your online brand building. It gives you the opportunity to humanize your franchise brand, engage your target audience, and build stronger relationships with them.
The problem is that, as a franchisor, you first need to determine how your brand will “sound like” on social networks. For example, will you try to appeal your millennial audiences using emoticons, memes, and casual language? Maybe you want to be helpful like Domino’s Pizza or use sarcasm like Wendy’s. That depends on your target audiences and the goals you want to achieve.
The next challenge is adapting your tone of voice and messaging to local audiences. This is why many franchisors let franchisees manage their social media accounts on their own.
Now that you have numerous social media managers in different locations, how to maintain a consistent brand image? Just remember a huge problem Wendy’s faced when one of their social media managers posted the Pepe the Frog meme, known as a symbol of racism.
To avoid that, build solid social media guidelines franchisees need to use when building a presence on these channels. These handbooks should be detailed enough to explicitly answer all key questions, such as what type of content franchisees can share, what tone of voice to use, or how to create visual content for social media. The formats, size, filters, and logos need to be used consistently across all social media accounts.
When strategized right, digital marketing can benefit your franchise business in multiple fields.A solid, localized website increases people’s awareness of your brand and inspires them to visit your physical stores.Simple local SEO tactics will make your site more visible and build trust with your audiences.Social networks show the human side of your brand and let you provide exceptional customer support.As such, they can serve as a solid foundation for your franchise business.