In the overly competitive digital marketing landscape, building a solid online presence on Google is difficult. For franchise businesses, it’s even harder. Franchisors need to tailor their strategy to local customers and, at the same time, centralize their marketing tactics to provide unique brand experiences.
Here are a few steps to take to grow your franchise business’ online presence.
Optimize your Website for Search Engines
As the number of businesses investing in digital marketing is growing, just having a nice website is not enough. To rank high and drive greater traffic to your site, you need to optimize it for search engines.
Your goal is to show up high in the SERPs. And, when I say high, I’m not talking about the fourth or tenth position. Stats say that more than half of searchers click on one of the top three Google results, so anything below them means you’re wasting your money.
So, what do you need to rank high?
- A functional website
Your franchise business’ website increases your online credibility and builds trust both with potential customers and franchisees. This is why it needs to be impeccable. Invest in user-centered website design, making it responsive, fast, and visually appealing.
As your franchise locations basically operate as individual small businesses, you should build indexable web pages for them. Each page should include details about the business’ name, address, working hours, a phone number, calls-to-action, and locally-relevant meta tags (titles and meta descriptions).
Most importantly, it needs to contain relevant information for your potential franchisees. This is what many famous brands do. For example. The UPS Store has a section for their prospect franchisees, where they provide the information about different franchise opportunities they offer, their brand support, and even their franchisees’ testimonials. KFC, McDonald’s, Burger King, and InterContinental Hotels do the same.
If your franchisees are managing their local websites on their own, in this case, you need to ensure everyone adheres to your branding rules and standards.
- Killer website content
Content marketing is valuable to your online presence in multiple ways. Aside from helping you increase your rankings by 434%, it also drives more traffic to your site and boosts your conversion rates. Above all, it helps you build strong relationships with your target customers. Precisely because of that, your content needs to be highly relevant to your niche, engaging, and helpful to the people reading it.
Now, building a content strategy for franchise businesses is different, especially if each franchise location has its own site and domain. In this case, franchisors need to ensure that the blogging consistency remains satisfactory. For example, you could hire a content marketing agency to create and optimize content for your business locations nationwide. On the other hand, if you’re letting franchisees handle their content strategies on their own, make sure you have a brand style guide to use.
- A local SEO strategy
As a franchise business, your goal is to put each business location in front of the right people. And, to do so, you need to have a solid local SEO strategy. Now, there are numerous local SEO tactics to apply.
Start by claiming and verifying your Google My Business listings for each location. It’s important that you optimize your listings properly, by adding all relevant business data such as your NAP information, business hours, maps and directions, photos, etc. Keep in mind that consistency is key, so ensure that your business name and description remain the same across all business locations.
Next, register on all relevant online business directories, like BBB, Yelp, Glassdoor, etc. Online business citations are an important part of Google’s Local Pack and they also help you collect customer reviews.
Local link building is also immensely important both for your rankings and online reputation. Your goal is to find authoritative local sites in your niche, create high-quality content tailored to their audiences, and earn backlinks. That’s one of the most powerful ways to boost your online authority and rank higher.
Humanize your Franchise Brand on Social Networks
Social media is one of the most important digital marketing channels for franchise businesses. It gives you the opportunity to create amazing loyalty and referral programs that build trust with your potential customers. With social networks, you can listen to your customers and provide them with exceptional support, too. Above all, you can humanize your brand story and make your franchise business more relatable.
Now, as social media marketing focuses on understanding your target audience and tailoring your messaging to them, consider letting franchisees manage their pages on their own.
The only problem with this approach is that there are many people managing multiple social media pages with your brand name. This can further lead to inconsistencies in your branding efforts. To prevent that, you should create social media guidelines that would provide explicit tips on branding and messaging franchisees need to follow.
Increase Brand Visibility with PPC
If you google “SEO vs. PPC” you will see a bunch of articles debating which of these strategies is more effective. What they usually forget is that SEO and PPC are two completely different approaches to digital marketing and that’s why they go hand in hand. While PPC increases your online visibility, generates qualified leads, and converts them faster, SEO is a long-term digital marketing strategy focused on the gradual rise of brand authority and customer loyalty.
Just like with SEO or social media, a solid PPC strategy requires franchisors to build consistent and unified tactics that will work well both on national and local levels. While franchisors should use paid ads to promote brand offerings, their local branches should create ads compelling to local audiences. They should focus on using locations (business city, neighboring cities, areas) in keywords and ad copies, creating recognizable and user-friendly landing pages, and using negative keywords to appear only in front of the relevant local customers.
The Key to Franchise Marketing is in Consistency
The toughest obstacle franchise businesses face is creating consistent and memorable brand experiences across multiple business locations.
Precisely because of that, educate your franchisees and help them understand why maintaining brand consistency is important. Your goal is to provide them with proper training programs and brand style guide handbooks that will teach them how to create digital marketing strategies that resonate with local audiences and yet, stay loyal to their mother brand.
Only by ensuring that all aspects of your franchise business are in line will you succeed in the competitive online marketing landscape.
Hope this helps!