Why Franchises Need to Adopt Mobile Marketing and How to Do It

In a world where consumers demand personalization and localization, it’s crucial for businesses of any size to be engaged in a full digital marketing strategy.

However, to remain relevant and top-of-mind, it’s especially important for businesses to be on the leading edge of digital marketing, including mobile marketing. The mobile conversation has been growing larger, and with more Google searches taking place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 of the world’s most populated countries, that number will only continue to grow.

The implication of mobile marketing’s rapid growth on franchises is significant, especially since franchises have been recognized as slow to adopt mobile marketing. In fact, fewer than 50% of all franchises responding to a G/O Digital-FRANdata survey feature mobile site optimization, and even fewer utilize apps, mobile offers and text messages in their digital marketing strategy. Overall, franchises can be slower to adopt new trends, which can result from the volume of stakeholders involved in major system-wide decisions; prioritization of other digital marketing efforts; or, in the case of mobile, a lack of knowledge.

Mobile marketing typically requires higher investments and more complex systems to implement, which can be tricky for franchises. However, the lower rates of adoption do not mean franchises don’t understand the significance of mobile marketing’s impact.

The implementation of a mobile marketing strategy really depends on how a franchise is set up at the corporate level, where, in larger organizations, the marketing plan is frequently created and all but executed for franchisees. It falls on the corporate office to ensure all digital marketing channels and platforms are optimized. And since many larger brands already have an overarching corporate marketing strategy, franchisees don’t get a say in the mobile strategy or mobile site’s appearance.

For smaller or less complex franchise brands, keeping consistent messaging across locations can be challenging, especially when franchisees are responsible for carrying out a marketing plan in a self-guided way. It thus isn’t surprising that many franchisees might not be first to jump on new mobile marketing tactics.

So what does this mean for franchises as a whole?

Like any business, a franchise has to develop basic mobile marketing strategy,  beginning with looking at mobile as its own marketing plan. Not just a channel, mobile requires much more attention due to the very specific behaviors of mobile consumers.

In October 2015, Google announced that mobile searches now exceed desktop searches worldwide. Given the search engine giant’s influence on how businesses are discovered online, it’s important for franchises to pay attention and adapt to mobile technologies in the marketing strategy.

Though the mobile conversation is still somewhat new, franchises need to understand how picky today’s users are. It’s simply not enough to have a site that’s visible on a mobile device. Pinching and moving the page doesn’t make for an optimal user experience, and customers will abandon a site if they can’t find what they’re looking for almost right away.

Franchises need to overhaul their sites to feature adaptive technology so when a user looks at the site on a mobile device, it’s optimized for the smaller screen. They also can limit the number of internal links and reduce the amount of content, while still featuring keywords for which the site is trying to rank.

Messaging also is very important on mobile; it should be aimed at a user who is on the go, rather than stationary at a desktop computer. Mobile offers based on the user’s location benefit franchisees and serve click-to-call capabilities.

In addition to an excellent user experience and correct messaging, it’s worth noting the ongoing updates to Google’s and Facebook’s mobile algorithms. “Mobilegeddon,” Google’s mobile algorithm update launched in early 2015, shifted the way websites appear in search results, based on their mobile-friendliness. According to Search Engine Land, preference is given to sites that are mobile-optimized, feature accurate location information, load quickly and don’t utilize Flash animation.

The next step – and one of the most important ones – in being found online is claiming your franchise locations’ maps listings and ensuring their accuracy. We’re in a “nearby” culture, where we want to be able to find the closest business, with its contact information, ratings and description. Maps listings are notoriously tricky for franchises, given multiple locations, past owners of specific locations and shifting contact information.

Franchisees should claim their maps listings; update location addresses, phone numbers and hours; and generally clean up any old or inaccurate information. This information plays into the search engine algorithms and customers’ ability to locate a franchise’s business.

Given the growing prominence of mobile, franchises need to seriously consider integrating mobile into their overall marketing strategies. Despite the difficulty in implementing a brand-new strategy spanning franchise locations, prioritizing marketing dollars toward mobile will yield positive results and increased ROI across the board. It’s time franchises adapt to technology that is quickly becoming a fixture in consumers’ everyday lives.

As G/O Digital Director of Franchise, Lauren Reid oversees the continuing development of the company’s franchise business. Before joining G/O Digital four years ago, she managed retargeting campaigns at eBay Enterprise, and she has a retail management background. Reid has worked with a wide assortment of national and SMB clients, including Kmart, Sears and 1-800 Flowers. She graduated from Arizona State University with a B.S. in Global Business Leadership and Management.


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