The franchisor-franchisee dynamic is one of the most unique relationships in the business arena. The franchise model requires unity while also encouraging autonomy, and that can be a complicated environment to maintain. Coordinating marketing initiatives within that model can be particularly challenging. But if both parties wish to succeed, they must strike the appropriate balance in executing key tactics that each is best equipped to manage.
This is especially true in managing digital strategy, where available resources often dictate the channel and scale of the tactic. At Location3, we manage digital marketing strategy for more than 100,000 franchise and multi-location businesses, and we’ve learned that open and clear communication between both parties is essential and should be used to establish expectations for marketing objectives at every level. Here’s a list of digital tactics that each side can focus on to build a relationship that benefits all.
Paid Search: Franchise brands can drive customers to individual franchise locations by delivering national paid search campaigns. These campaigns combine online ad copy and geographic targeting to connect with potential customers who are searching online for specific solutions. Managing these campaigns requires significant resources and expertise, making it a tactic fit for a corporate team.
Paid Media: The modern media landscape is complex and requires that brands use a variety of outlets to reach consumers. Using advanced targeting techniques and ad optimization tools, a brand team or partner is capable of serving ads to the consumers most likely to make a purchase based on demographics, location and preferred device. Whether it’s video, social media advertising or display, the franchisor should be responsible for creating efficient campaigns at the national level that drive both brand awareness and customer actions.
Technical SEO: While franchisees should incorporate basic SEO tactics into local content, brands should support them with a more in-depth SEO strategy. The foundational elements of SEO, including site structure, title tags, meta descriptions and backlinks aren’t as exciting as a new video campaign, but they set the stage for overall SEO success for all franchise locations.
Content And Social Planning: Coordinating content and social media initiatives at the enterprise and local levels is among the most complicated tasks in this relationship. In addition to strategic guidance, franchisors should provide a brand style guide for franchisees and establish well-defined guidelines for publishing content. Frequent communication between parties is vital for encouraging local content creation that simultaneously promotes the franchise location and the overarching brand.
Location Data Management: Distributing key location data across hundreds of channels and optimizing that data helps your customers find your locations. This foundational tactic is most effective when location data is centrally managed as opposed to leaving it to individual locations. A central management partner or technology platform is more capable of leveraging this data for customer acquisition.
Ad Tech Management: Increasing efficiency across the board, whether it’s data measurement, tracking return on investment, attribution measurement or customer relationship management, is only possible through technology. Effective ad tech management allows enterprise brands to monitor all of this data in one place — providing quick insights on past performance while guiding future strategy.
Local Content: Creating content at the franchisee level can seem overwhelming, but it’s important for franchisees to set aside time and/or resources to build out and execute a content strategy. Local content including blog posts, video and social media posts build trust and loyalty with customers in the community. I recommend using video because of its superior ability to engage viewers and convert them into customers.
Review Management: Managing online business reviews can be stressful, but reviews are a valuable forum for franchisees and their customers to share and validate personal experiences. When customers leave reviews, it builds brand awareness. When franchisees respond to reviews, it builds trust with local customers. When responding to reviews, franchisees should remember to keep responses short, be nice and thank both positive and negative reviewers for sharing their experiences.
Google Posts: Franchisees can promote events, products or services through Google Posts, a Google My Business feature that allows franchisees to publish text, video or photo content directly to Google Search and Maps. These promotional posts can inform and attract potential customers before they even visit your website. Be sure to keep the posts short and include a call to action.
Questions And Answers: Google Maps allows users to ask questions about businesses and places found in the app. Franchisees can respond directly to these questions, providing another avenue to connect with potential customers. Franchisees should answer the questions as specifically as possible and avoid “yes” or “no” answers as users can edit their question at any time.
Cooperation between franchisors and franchisees is critical to success, but not all marketing strategies are created equal. Franchise digital marketing is multi-faceted and requires a variety of skill sets. Franchisors should focus on national campaigns that require digital expertise and large budgets. Franchisees should focus on local campaigns that require area knowledge and a personal touch.
The result should be a highly coordinated enterprise plan that efficiently drives potential customers to franchise locations, where the brand-customer relationship is created and supported through local knowledge and service.