Every February brings about the International Franchise Association’s annual convention; a wonderful event that helps kickstart each year as we collectively examine both the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for everyone in franchising. One of the recurring themes that seemed to continually pop up at IFA 2018 revolved around how franchise brands can better support their franchisees with regard to operations, finance, staffing, marketing and more. When it comes to digital marketing specifically, my advice for increasing your customers is to begin by building a strong foundation that will allow your franchise brand to scale and manage your marketing efforts consistently, systemwide.
Better Analytics Data for Better Business Decisions
Understanding how online users actually find you online is the first step toward improving your digital marketing, but it’s also a step that often gets overlooked. While there are a number of enterprise web analytics tools available, Google Analytics is free to use and can provide the information you need to gain a clearer picture of what online sources are sending traffic to your website and what users are actually doing once they land there. When reviewing your account, it’s important to consider your overall business goals so that you can better customize your analytics reports and dashboards to display data points that are most relevant to the goals themselves. An example of this might be determining whether or not you are more interested in driving form fills on your website or actual phone calls to your franchise location(s)? Ensuring that your analytics website tags and tracking are implemented properly is critical to measuring online performance and ROI. Bad analytics data can actually hinder your business significantly, so before you get too far into the details surrounding specific data points, it’s imperative to start by aligning online tracking with your actual business goals and KPIs.
Make Sure Your Website Can Be Found Online
Another key foundational piece to successful digital marketing that is often overlooked is the implementation of basic Search Engine Optimization tactics. Time and again, franchises invest a great deal of work hours, energy and money into developing new websites without giving much thought to the actual factors that make websites index and rank well in search engines like Google. My recommendation is to start with the basics and ensure that your website includes proper technical markup including Title tags, Header tags, Meta descriptions and other necessary on-page factors that simply allow search engines to find your site and its content more easily. Speaking of content, your website content and copy should always include keywords and information related to your products and services – just remember that the relevancy of your chosen keywords is as important as the overall volume. For franchises, it’s also important to incorporate a landing page for each individual franchise location that includes localized content specific to each business location. If you’re thinking about a website upgrade, don’t ignore SEO – the most beautiful website in the world does your franchise little-to-no good in generating revenue if it’s not properly structured to rank well in online search results.
Franchise Business Listings – Expanding Your Digital Footprint
It’s fair to say that we’ve all used Google Maps, Facebook, Apple Maps or other applications to help us find information related to local businesses like restaurants, gas stations, yoga studios or coffee shops. Business listings in channels like Google My Business are often a key driver of customer traffic and revenue for franchises, but it’s surprising how many brands leave little time for optimizing the listings themselves. First and foremost, there is little debate that these listings should be managed at the corporate level. When listing data is updated and managed by one primary source – rather than each individual franchisee managing their own listing – there is more opportunity to establish consistent business information (Business name, address, phone number, website links) across the entire franchise system. This is critical to search engine ranking performance, which means the greater chance every one of your franchise listings has for appearing in user searches. Managing franchise business listings using this centralized approach also ensures branded content like photographs, logos, promotions and other key information is consistently distributed across all listing channels for maximum organic search ranking. As a result, your franchise listings rank higher, more customers find your businesses instead of competitors and your bottom line revenue from this key channel increases.
Like any key business initiative, a strong foundation is critical to helping your franchises maximize customer volume and revenue. When it comes to digital marketing, it’s imperative that you begin any campaign or program by establishing strategies that are supported by actual, quality data. A foundation that is rooted in an optimized analytics environment and brand website, and further complemented by optimized franchise business listings, is a foundation that will set your franchise up for success in reaching more consumers online and converting them into customers for your business.
As Director of Marketing, Josh is responsible for planning, developing and managing Location3 and LOCALACT brand strategies, with a focus on establishing new business partnerships among franchise systems and multi-location brands. He also works with Location3 client partners to establish key initiatives for increased franchise engagement and growth. He is an active member of the International Franchise Association and has previously been featured by the American Marketing Association, Franchise Update Media, MediaPost and more discussing franchise digital marketing strategy.