Franchise Marketing: The Ultimate How-To Guide (2022)
A version of this blog post was first published on the Unleashed Technologies blog.
This is the ultimate guide to franchise marketing on the web. So if you want to gain a better understanding of how to market from both a franchisor and franchisee perspective, you are in the right palace.
This guide will cover all aspects of digital marketing, including:
- Franchisor & franchisee marketing strategy
- National search engine optimization (SEO)
- Local SEO
- Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)
- Email marketing
- Online review websites
Before we begin, let’s take a few minutes to look at the franchise business model and your role as the franchisor or franchisee. Image
What is a Franchise Business Model?
In a franchise business model, franchisees (those individuals operating under another’s trademark and business model) have formed a legal business relationship with a parent company, the franchisor, by signing a franchise agreement.
In exchange for the ability to use the franchisor’s branding, proven business model, industry training, marketing assets, and operating systems, the franchisee agrees to most often pay an initial upfront franchise fee and ongoing royalty fees and follow certain franchisor requirements and guidelines.
Franchisors and Franchisees
- The Franchisor: The franchisor is the creator of the original parent company, trademarked branding, operating systems, training guides, and the overall business model that all franchisees will be operating under. The three main focuses of the franchisor are to assist their franchisees in continued growth, keeping brand integrity, and product and/service quality. Along the way, the franchisor may also want to sell more franchises.
- The Franchisee: The franchisee is the individual or partnership that purchases the rights to operate under the franchisor’s established business model, brand, and operating systems. The main focus of the franchisee will be day-to-day operations, client satisfaction, and marketing and promotion inside their provided territory.
Ultimately, the success of a business lies in the relationship built between the multiple franchise owners and the franchisor. Making the initial screening and interview process of potential franchisees paramount.
What is Franchise Marketing?
Franchise marketing can be split into two distinct strategies, operational franchise marketing, and franchise development. Both are going to leverage multiple digital marketing avenues as a way of growing their business. The goals for each of these strategies are different, but both are vital for the franchise.
The Two Types of Franchise Marketing
Operational Franchise Marketing
An operational marketing strategy looks at acquiring new customers, retaining existing customers, and building brand awareness and reputation inside the operational territories of both the parent company and all their franchises. Three key areas to focus on with operational marketing are:
New Client Acquisition
For any business, finding and converting leads into paying customers is at the top of the list of operational marketing. Make sure that you focus your efforts across multiple marketing channels and adjust as you see the ROI each channel provides. Pay-per-click advertising (PPC), citation building, and local SEO campaigns are fast ways to get your business in front of potential clients.
Your organization has spent marketing dollars and time to acquire clients. Now, you need to make sure you retain them. Remarketing to past clients is a very affordable strategy, plus you know they have an interest in your products or services. Make sure you capitalize on brand familiarity. Targeted email campaigns, social media, deals, and surveys are great ways to engage with repeat customers and keep them coming back.
Online Reputation & Brand Awareness
Getting your name out into the local community takes time. However, you can speed up the process by taking this traditional word-of-mouth process digital. With the rise of online review websites like Yelp, Angie’s, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB), you can quickly build a testimonial section of happy past clients. Online reviews submitted on Google via your “Google My Business page” (We will talk more about this later) will also help you rank better in local organic search results.
Franchise Development Marketing
The franchise development strategy focuses on how the franchisor is positioning itself to potential franchisees with the goal of selling more franchises in new territories, thus increasing overall revenue for the parent company. Three key areas to pay extra attention to with franchise development are:
A Strong & Consistent Brand
A strong and consistent brand is arguably the most important part of building a successful franchise business. First, a strong brand will make it easier to gain new clients for the parent companies’ franchise sales efforts and assist franchisees in finding clients at the territory level. Second, a strong and consistent brand helps build credibility and trust with potential clients, which segues well into my next key area.
Establishing Credibility & Trust
Reputation is everything, especially in the franchise world. You will ask potential franchisees to make a serious financial investment and enter into a business partnership. Building credibility and trust must be at the forefront of your marketing strategy. This can be accomplished by building social proof within the franchising industry through online reviews, awards, and testimonials from your current franchisees.
Show Deep Industry Knowledge & Experience
One of the reasons that people purchase a franchise business is because of a proven business model. A potential franchisee will have the opportunity to learn and implement a system created and battle-tested specifically inside their niche. This takes away the risks and pitfalls associated with starting a business on their own and allows them to lean on the industry knowledge and experience of the franchisor.
Now for the fun part!
Digital Marketing for Franchises
Now we have a clear understanding of the role the franchisor and the franchisee will play in the marketing process. Plus, the key areas you should be focusing on when developing your marketing strategies. Let’s look at all the digital marketing channels you will use to drive leads, sales, and revenue for your franchise!
Your website should be your most valuable marketing tool and the face of your business. For many, the website could be the first interaction with your company. Make sure your navigation allows visitors to find the information they are looking for. By having clear call-to-actions and online scheduling options, you are better able to capture valuable information about potential clients. Image
The website will be under the control of the franchisor. Branding, service offerings, locations, job scheduling, blogs, and general company information are all under their control. The website’s main job is to assist the day-to-day side of the business by helping visitors and potential leads find the franchise location in their area.
There should also be a “franchise offering” or “own a franchise” subfolder dedicated to marketing, promoting, and providing education materials around franchise offerings. This section will be the main starting point for potential future franchisees.
The franchisor will plan, implement, and control national search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns. Adherence to technical SEO best practices, dedicated service or landing pages, product offerings, and keyword-targeted blog content will be a part of their responsibility.
An SEO roadmap should be established and executed to ensure a steady flow of organic traffic and leads to the website. Organic traffic is a preferred traffic source because it is free and reduces dependency on paid traffic sources subject to price increases and volatility.
While national SEO campaigns assist in driving targeted traffic and leads to the website from abroad, it’s only half the puzzle. Local SEO is going to help the franchisees capture sales dollars through geographical location-based searches.
Local SEO efforts will be tied to both the franchisor and the franchisee. The franchisor will provide a dedicated page on their website for each franchise location. The parent company will control a significant amount of the content on these pages, but each should be structured to provide geo-based keyword opportunities for each location. Image
The franchisee should establish a Google My Business profile that links back to their dedicated location page. You need to make sure the entire profile has been completed. Particular attention should be paid to the name, address, and phone number (NAP). Make sure this matches exactly how the business is listed on the main website.
The local franchisees should also focus time on building local citations with popular and authoritative review-based websites. This helps in two ways, it gets your business in front of potential clients, and two reviews help build social proof inside your territory. Here are some of the top sites to start building citations on:
Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) can be used very effectively at the franchisee level to increase leads and conversions. PPC advertising allows you to target based on multiple levels of criteria, including zip code, key work query, and day and time. Displaying your advertisement at the top of Google or Bing search results as users are actively looking for your services.
Franchisors can also find value in leveraging PPC advertising to find new franchisee prospects. Advertising for prospective buyers will likely become expensive. Be sure you have a solid strategy inline and proper landing pages to increase lead generation.
Another powerful feature of PPC advertising is remarketing. Tracking cookies can be placed on browsers as users visit high-value pages. You can then remarket to those users as they move around online. Remarketing is also very cost-effective compared to regular search ads.
Finally, paid advertising isn’t only for search engines like Google and Bing. Depending on your market and niche, social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn may be an excellent place for franchisees to advertise for new clients. It is all about understanding your target audience and their behaviors.
Email marketing can be powerful for individual franchise locations if implemented and executed correctly. One of the main advantages of email marketing is that you have a direct line of communication with an interested target audience. The first step is to build a list of emails to market too. Fortunately, every time a client books online has a phone interaction or completes a transaction, you should capture their email. Some other ways of gathering new email addresses are:
- Specialty Squeeze Pages
- ChatBots & Exit-Intent Popups
- Special Offerings and Discounts
- Lead Magnets (think checklists, templates, and ebooks)
Next, start building nurture-based email campaigns and flows around products, educational resources, testimonials, thank you emails, abound carts, and the brand. There are many marketing automation platforms, like HubSpot, Acquia Marketing Cloud, Marketo, or Klaviyo, that make building and managing email campaigns simple.
Social media is usually where things become tricky. The franchisor should own all official branded social media channels. A content calendar should be created to keep a steady cadence of engagement with potential clients and highlight new locations and territories as they are filled or become available. A franchisee typically has their own social media channels to promote events, specials, and other activities to their local market.
This is particularly common on Facebook, Twitter, and more B2C platforms. Regardless, you will want to make sure all social media channels uphold brand guidelines, plus match the voice and tone of the parent company, as this is key.
Most franchisors provide a media kit to their franchisees. This kit will often include logos, cover art, and images approved by the franchisor for marketing, including all social channels. Each franchise location should engage with clients via social media, but be sure to keep the brand constant. Some franchise agreements will require that all social media posts be reviewed by the franchisor before they are posted. Please review your franchise agreement carefully.
Online Review Websites
As mentioned earlier, word-of-mouth is a perfect way to build trust and credibility. Online review websites are like word-of-mouth on steroids. Having a strategy in place that drives happy and satisfied clients to leave online reviews is critical. Each franchise location should actively be contacting clients after a service has been performed or a product has been sold to make sure they are happy with their experience. Typically, this is completed with a combination of phone calls and email marketing. Image
Online review websites also assist with local SEO. Reviews are one of the ranking factors Google looks at in the local search algorithm. It is also recommended to have clients leave positive reviews on Google and other sites to help humans and search engines choose your business over others.
Incorporate video into your content planning and creation whenever possible. Google owns YouTube, and they heavily feature YouTube videos in search results. For more information about video formats and how to mark up your videos to show in search, please check out “The best video format for YouTube”.
Wrapping It All Up
Understanding marketing for franchises is multifaceted and can be complicated. Hopefully, you learned a few great tips and ideas that you can incorporate into your digital marketing strategy moving forward.
Let me know what ideas you will incorporate first, by leaving a comment below!