(This is a Guest Post from one of my marketing partners, Chris Anderson, who’s the Co-Founder of Empowerkit.)
Nine times out of ten, franchisees aren’t marketing gurus. They’re far from it. Like all small business owners, franchisees struggle with how to market at the local level to drive sales…and the complex nuances of online “inbound” marketing have only made things harder.
The forward-thinking franchisors embrace new trends on the web, seek out cutting edge solutions, and hustle every day to find and optimize repeatable strategies that scale — to steadily move the lead generation and sales needle for their most important stakeholders, franchisees.
But these innovators are the minority. Most just accept the status quo, letting franchisees figure things out on their own, as long as they don’t break the rules. This corporate mindset is not always out of blatant neglect, though. Online consumer marketing is really tough to nail, and since it’s a moving, multi-faceted, evolving target, many franchisors just don’t have the know-how or resources to keep pace.
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Here are five straight-forward tips on how you can give your franchisees an edge in this ultra-competitive market:
1. Frequently Updated Local Websites
A local website should be the lead generation hub for franchisees online. Cookie-cutter landing pages for locations are the norm, though, and they’re becoming obsolete, fast. Search engines ignore them, PPC budgets go down the drain, would-be customers expect more and click away, and franchisees are getting frustrated. To have a viable local web presence, give franchisees a way that they can post regular content updates – even if it means rethinking your policies and strategy.
2. Content Strategy
Giving franchisees an easy to manage way of updating their sites is only the first step. They also need your guidance on what types of content they should be posting, how they should be creating it, and what will affect the biggest impact. Consider giving them ongoing examples, ideas, and templates for things like white papers, videos, blog posts, and more.
3. Attracting Traffic – SEO & Social Media
The content on the local sites should also be optimized and distributed to attract the most traffic. Do some keyword research, or bring your SEO consultant into the equation, to give franchisees ongoing tips on what keywords to focus on, and how to work them into content seamlessly. Social media is a whole other animal unto itself, but suffice it to say you should lead by example. Find the best networks where prospective customers are active, and then get a game plan together that aligns the content strategy with social sharing and engagement, while also laying down some policies to keep franchisees compliant.
4. Convert Visitors to Paying Customers
There’s no point in driving traffic to a website if you can’t convert visitors into paying customers (or at least get them to opt-in to your marketing database via a newsletter sign-up or free download). Make sure the calls-to-action are clear, compelling, and easy to spot no matter where someone is on the local sites. Get creative – maybe you can tie some premium content (like a white paper, or video series) to a lead capture. You don’t know how many times I see local franchisee sites that make you dig to find the contact info, and expect you to pick up the phone or send an email to learn more.
5. Analyze & Optimize
Have an analytics system hooked up to the local sites so that you can track what’s driving traffic and conversions, among lots of other important data. Have someone who knows how to properly review, sort, slice and dice the data, and meet with him periodically to review what’s working, what’s not, and what changes need to be made.
Overwhelmed? Don’t worry, it’s not so bad once you sink your teeth in and actually get started. Inbound consumer marketing does take ongoing investment and resources, but when done right, the ROI proves the value.
Feel free to contact Chris to setup a demo of Empowerkit – a specialized service for managing local franchisee websites – or just discuss questions you have about franchise consumer marketing online.