Franchise Marketing Playbook
July 15, 2020: We updated the Franchise Marketing Playbook with relevant information for marketing during COVID-19.
Get the updated Franchise Marketing Playbook now:
Franchise marketing starts at the top. As a franchisor, it’s up to you to set the tone for your corporate brand and help franchisees find ways to translate that tone for local marketing campaigns.
Historically, franchise marketing has leveraged print, radio, and television advertising to promote local services. Maybe you’re still skeptical about digital marketing. Here’s some food for thought:
- Brandify reports that 74% of consumers perform at least one local search online per week.
- HubSpot says 72% of consumers who perform a local search visit a store within five miles of their location.
- Of the more than 2 trillion Google searches that happen each year, about 46% of them are for a local business or service.
The more franchisees you bring on board, the more complicated it becomes to manage online listings, websites, and marketing campaigns for all those locations. This guide will break down each facet of digital franchise marketing and offer up expert advice to make the most of your marketing team’s resources.
Corporate Marketing Programs
Often, the franchisor controls certain aspects of marketing for all franchisees, and sometimes this can lead to a contentious relationship between the corporate office and local owners. But there are good reasons for splitting marketing responsibilities this way. We’ll dive into those reasons more in the sections below.
There are three areas of digital marketing where corporate control is often a good idea: local listings, online reviews, and website management.
Local Listings Management
Online business directories offer companies a great opportunity to help consumers find their business and make purchasing decisions. Online directories include platforms such as:
- Google My Business
- Facebook business pages
- Yellow Pages
- Angie’s List
Many franchisors control system-wide local listings because it’s easy to centralize and standardize this type of information. It’s important to ensure that customers can find their local franchise and access the right information, wherever they’re searching from. Customers are increasingly looking to shop locally. Having correct and consistent business information displayed in local listings is also a valuable search engine ranking factor for the associated franchise website(s). Plus, local listings are a good way to build backlinks, which are another ranking factor.
Benefits of corporate-controlled local listings include:
- Franchisees’ basic information (such as business description) isn’t all that complicated, so franchisees shouldn’t have to customize anything.
- It’s one less thing for franchisees to worry about.
- Corporate control of all franchise listings means that any lessons gleaned from one profile can be applied to all the others.
- A listing is a relatively low-importance customer touch point (unlike the sales call, for instance) and therefore can easily be handled at the corporate level or outsourced to an agency or local listings tool.
At the same time, there are potential drawbacks to corporate control of local listings:
- Corporate may have to update any information like business hours or pictures, unless they give franchisees access. (But giving access also comes with drawbacks.)
- Paying an internal employee (or outsourcing to an agency) to manage listings can get expensive; for some tools you might be looking at $30 per month, multiplied by hundreds of franchise units.
Online Reviews Management
Online reviews drive clicks in local search engine results pages (SERPs) more than any other factor, and 86% of consumers count on online reviews when considering their options at local businesses. Therefore, good review management practices are crucial to driving online marketing in a positive direction.
How to Encourage People to Leave Online Reviews
- Tell your service employees to ask customers for reviews, saying that their boss will give them a $5 gift card or another internal reward. It’s a good way to encourage reviews and give customers the satisfaction of leaving a “tip” of sorts.
- Request a review as soon as possible after the job is completed. Depending on the business type, staff may use a tablet that immediately asks for a review when the customer signs. Or they may collect the customer’s email address and send an auto-generated follow-up with easy “Leave a Review” links. In retail shops, the cashier should remind the customer at the POS to leave a review.
- Avoid asking for a positive review. It’s best practice to allow your customers to leave a review with any star rating they choose. If you want to guide more positive reviews than negative ones, you may simply curate the list of customers you ask.
How to Respond to Reviews
We cannot believe it’s 2020 and some businesses are still not responding to reviews – or, worse, they’re responding by getting angry, defensive, or passive-aggressive. Rather than writing a brash response to a negative review, acknowledge the customer’s experience publicly and take the conversation offline. Briefly respond to all the positive reviews too so your customers feel heard. The little time this takes is worth it.
Here is a great example of how not to respond to a negative review:
Here’s an example of a well-written response to a negative review:
Notice that the owner validated the complaint, suggested a solution to the issue, and asked the customer to give the restaurant another shot.
Tip: Do not shut down your profile because you get a negative review. If you get a bad review, embrace it as an opportunity to grow, educate your customers, and provide better service.
To help keep track of review management tasks, consider using a tool such as BirdEye (which also integrates local listings management) that notifies you when you get a review, collects reviews from different platforms on one dashboard, and makes it easy to solicit and respond to reviews.
Corporate Control of the Website
This is easily one of the most contentious points of the franchisor/franchisee relationship. Sometimes franchisees can’t change any of the content on their website. Sometimes they can only change a portion of it. Sometimes a franchisee sees that their competitor’s website is outranking them in search, so they go out and build their own website because clearly the corporate site is not cutting it.
Corporate control of the website – including any location-specific subdomains or localized pages – is an excellent way to maintain brand consistency. Why, after all, is corporate spending all that money on national TV ads, radio spots, videos, and everything else if customers then find a rogue website with branding that doesn’t match? That inconsistency is not a good experience for the user.
If a franchise owner argues that they want to express their unique personality by updating the website, a franchisor may explain that website consistency builds brand trust and that the franchise owner may still control their local social media presence.
Other reasons that corporate control of the website is good policy:
- If a franchise owner creates a rogue website, it’s likely to compete with the corporate website (or a local subdomain/localized page) for relevant keywords – which means you both lose.
- A rogue website is not supported by corporate, which means the franchisee has to manage it or hire someone else to do so. This is an unnecessary expense and commitment, as website support is (in most cases) already included in the franchise agreement.
- Corporate’s controlling the website means that lessons gleaned from one franchise page can be applied to the whole system, which lifts everyone up. For instance, if corporate performs conversion rate optimization (CRO) testing and finds that the local franchise homepage template converts better with more contrasting colors around the contact form, that change can easily be rolled out on all franchisees’ web pages.
- Rogue websites make it impossible to get an accurate picture of which channels are bringing in quality leads. Corporate may retain one or several marketing partners, who may be working in different channels (such as paid advertising, SEO, etc.) to drive traffic to the corporate and local franchise website pages. If all those pages feed one source of performance data (like a single Google Analytics view), these marketing partners can accurately analyze and report on corporate and local page analytics. But if franchisees have gone rogue, the data will be disconnected and lack actionable insights.
Our team has supported many franchisor/franchisee relationships, and we’re not here to take anyone’s side. Instead, we offer a neutral take on what works best for customers and prospects, for data analysis, and for the success of both parties.
Franchise Website Structure
Creating and managing a corporate website can become a massive undertaking. Depending on how many franchises you have and how many pages each location requires, you could end up building and maintaining thousands of pages of content.
But don’t panic. Stick to the standards of good franchise website structure, and your digital team will have no trouble keeping all those pages updated, relevant, and organized.
Website Design and Branding
Whether franchise pages are included on the corporate website or in a subdomain, each franchise page should stick to the same design and branding standards as the corporate pages. This way, there is no doubt for visitors whether they are viewing one of your company’s franchise pages.
We recommend that corporate retain ultimate control over franchise pages, while allowing franchisees some access to edit their pages. Maintaining corporate control of franchise pages allows the franchisor to:
- Track franchise page performance.
- Ensure that brand standards are adhered to.
- Redirect pages for closed franchises.
- Update information for franchises that change the services they offer or move locations.
- Publish new pages for new franchises in a timely manner.
- Implement schema markup to help Google better interpret on-page content.
- Optimize the website for humans and search engines.
Information to Include on Franchise Homepages
Franchise homepages should always include the location’s full address and contact information in an easy-to-find spot (the header and footer are great options). Also, consider linking from these pages to the individual franchise’s social media accounts. Virtually all content management systems make it possible to display branded social buttons that are recognizable to users.
The franchise homepage is also a great place for the franchisee to showcase what makes their location unique, trustworthy, and better than the competition. Encourage your franchisees to “toot their own horn” in a way that will speak to their local audience.
Local Service Pages
If your franchise is a service-based business, you’ll want to build out local service pages for each franchise. These pages offer a great opportunity to optimize for long-tail keywords that target people searching for specific services near them.
For example, if you have an electrical services franchise in Dallas, you could build out separate local service pages targeting keywords such as:
- electrical repair Dallas – 140 searches per month
- Dallas landscape lighting – 140 searches per month
- same day electric service in Dallas TX – 70 searches per month
Users searching for local services are already working their way down the sales funnel. They are closer to making an appointment than the average website visitor. Therefore, use the franchise service pages to clearly explain how your franchise can solve their problem – and how you can do it better than the other guys.
Franchisees and Their Web Pages
What elements of local franchise pages should be locked down, and what should franchisees be able to edit?
There are some pages that franchisees should be able to change. With hundreds of local-specific franchise pages and only so many resources available on the corporate side, it makes sense for corporate to share website management tasks with franchise owners.
Franchisees should have the ability to:
- Post to their blog.
- Update pages specific to their business that will change over time, such as pages that highlight their staff or a gallery of completed projects.
- Publish local specials, promotions, and coupons.
The franchisor may also decide to grant franchisees access to local service pages. Some content management systems will allow franchisees to save their content updates as drafts, which can then be approved by corporate before those changes go live on the website.
Publishing Unique Content on Franchise Pages
When you are faced with the prospect of creating hundreds or even thousands of pages for all franchise units, it can be tempting to replicate the same content over and over.
This is a bad idea.
If you have 50 franchise units that all provide the same service, and you use the same content on all 50 of their local service pages, they will all be competing for organic search traffic – whether they share the same domain or not. We call this “keyword cannibalization,” a search engine optimization (SEO) problem that’s worsened by duplicated content.
Instead, start with a template for those service pages, and create unique, localized content for each franchise unit. This is a great opportunity to involve franchisees in the content creation process. After all, they know their local consumers better than the corporate team does. Let them lend a hand in building their own page content.
Tip: Send a survey to franchisees to get a sense of what services are most important to their businesses. Ask what they feel sets them apart from their local competitors. Include any other pertinent questions, and use that survey data to build unique local pages for each franchise.
Until you get all those local pages written, it’s a good idea to implement canonical meta tags on franchise pages that do not contain unique content. Canonical tags tell search engines what is the “master copy” of a page that contains duplicate content. Consider making the national service page the canonical URL for all those pages until you can get them optimized for local search.
Building a franchise website is a wonderful opportunity to target local keywords and help franchisees cultivate a reputation for excellence. But the franchisor must maintain some control over the website in order to ensure that voice, tone, and branding remain consistent. When the right balance is struck, both parties will be happy with the results.
How National SEO Informs Local SEO
The corporate franchise office can lay the foundation for great SEO – especially when national pages and localized content are on the same domain or a domain-subdomain setup. This foundation includes ensuring the website is technically sound, and that all the right pages are ranking in search engine results for important keywords. Valuable keywords may include the brand name, the industry category, service/product-based terms and informational queries.
If the franchisor provides this groundwork, franchisees get a huge competitive advantage – which is a valuable selling point for franchise development! It means new franchisees can immediately get leads from corporate SEO efforts.
With the SEO base only partially built, the question becomes: How can we build on what has already been established?
Take Cues from National Keyword Targets
Whoever is managing your national SEO has already done some keyword research. Check out the homepage and other important service/product pages. What words are used in the page titles, headers, and throughout the body copy? Consider modifying these keywords on the local franchise pages. For example, if your national homepage is targeting “portable containers,” a local-specific summary page/homepage could target “Orlando portable containers.” If this is executed properly, your national homepage and local homepage can both rank for “portable containers” without interfering with each other.
Tip: This strategy puts a lot of faith in whoever is managing your national SEO campaigns. We always recommend checking search volume for geo-specific keywords to validate the keywords you’re targeting. However, you won’t always find significant search volume for geo-specific keywords, especially in smaller markets. In those cases, you can default to a formulaic approach: [Location + Keyword] or [Keyword + Location].
When Does It Make Sense to Create Local Service Pages?
Most franchise brands offer most of the same services at all locations. So it makes absolute sense to explain the service on a local service page – including any details unique to that location – and link to the national service page for more information. This is a great way to reinforce keyword targets through internal links and avoid the pitfalls of thin or duplicate content. But instead of using the same anchor text for every link, switch it up to improve your chances of ranking for other variations of your keyword target.
Tip: Sometimes, a franchisee will offer a service or product that isn’t available across the entire system. Creating a page for this service is a great way to test the waters. For example, a franchisee may create a page for financing options. If that page receives droves of organic traffic from users outside its service area, then it might be a good idea to roll out financing options across the entire system. This is an example of how micro can inform macro.
Audit Your Backlink Profile to Find Opportunities
A backlink is a hyperlink on an external website that links back to your website. A website’s backlink profile is considered one of Google’s top three ranking factors. The more quality backlinks your website gains, the better its chances of improving search visibility by moving toward the top of the search engine results page (SERP). Backlinks primarily benefit the page that’s receiving the backlink, but they positively impact the entire domain. Therefore, backlinks to national pages, like a well-written blog, can also benefit the local franchise pages on that domain. The same is true the other way around. Encourage franchisees to build links.
A rising tide lifts all boats.
Tip: The easiest way to build links is to link Google My Business pages, social profiles, and other local listings to associated local franchise homepages. We also recommend auditing the entire domain for backlinks so that franchisees can learn from one another. For example, you may find a dozen links from various chambers of commerce. If so, the corporate office could recommend that franchisees pursue backlinks from their local chambers of commerce.
The franchise website platform is often thought of as two separate experiences: the local and the national. It is paramount that these two experiences inform each other – micro informs macro, macro informs micro. The three examples we provided are certainly good places to start improving this macro-micro relationship.
Paid Media for Franchises
Paid media marketing helps franchises generate leads and expand their audience. However, if a paid strategy is not carefully planned and executed, the corporate office may compete with local franchise owners for impressions and clicks.
To avoid this wasteful problem, the corporate office can focus on paid media campaigns that raise general brand awareness. Local franchise owners should focus their paid media efforts on the specific products, services, and other value that people in their community want. This involves geographically bound campaigns built around specific keywords and interests.
This guide explores all the details of managing paid advertising for your franchise, system wide.
What Is Paid Media?
Generally speaking, paid media is advertising appearing on one or more mediums, including:
- Search ads, which are shown in search engine results based on keywords.
- Display ads, which are visual ads appearing in certain display networks. These are commonly referred to as “banner ads” and are based on audience intent or affinity.
- Social ads, which are often seen as the “Sponsored Content” on your favorite social media platforms.
- Video ads, which appear predominantly in YouTube advertising.
Businesses typically pay per click on their ads, though this can vary by the platform and ad type.
Corporate Franchise Paid Advertising
For the franchisor, it is most beneficial to run paid media campaigns in the most widespread geography possible and to use messaging that reinforces the brand’s value and general product/service category. To maximize the efficiency of your advertising budget, consistently export the zip codes (or other geo-identifier) of your franchise’s active service areas. Target only those active locations in your chosen advertising channel.
Tip: Don’t forget to run and apply this zip code export on a periodic basis as your franchise locations change, due to openings and closings.
This is how awareness is generated by the franchisor. Someone becomes in need of your product or service, recalls seeing your ad, and then performs a local search for what you offer. Raising awareness of your brand is also how paid media can increase organic traffic to your website, which improves future ranking potential and has a positive impact on your franchisees.
Examples of Good Corporate Paid Media Ads
Corporate Social and Display Ad
Corporate Search Ad
Paid Media Ads for Franchisees
Franchisees know what people in their communities are looking for. They know how local interests and needs vary by season. Thus, the local franchise owner is the party best suited to use paid ads to directly generate leads and sales. They may start with advertising on search engines such as Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo.
Franchisees, or their local marketing partners, should create ad headlines that tell locals exactly how the business will provide a valuable solution. Selected keywords for ads should focus on search terms that match the product or service the franchisee offers. Each ad should link to the most relevant local service/product web page, which ideally contains similar keywords in the on-page content.
Tip: Review what search terms match your keywords on a regular basis. Use this information to maintain a negative keyword list composed of search terms that are not relevant to your franchise. This will save money!
Examples of Good Local Franchise Ads
Local Social and Display Ad (Franchisee Level)
Local Search Ad (Franchisee Level)
How to Coordinate Paid Media Efforts to Maximize Results
Though it may be a difficult subject now, it is possible for franchisors and franchisees to work together across all paid media marketing. The key is to create clear processes so each party adheres to their proper role in paid media. The franchisor creates awareness and brand excitement; the franchisee anticipates and responds to search intent to generate more leads and sales.
For example, in a residential maid franchise, corporate should bid on general terms like “house cleaner” to increase brand awareness. When franchise owners bid on “house cleaner + zip code,” it tells local consumers who they can count on to deliver those services in their neighborhood.
It’s also a good idea for corporate to share their keyword list with local franchise owners to mitigate overlaps.
Tip: Make your paid media process two-way rather than top-down. If a franchisee can share with the corporate office what is and is not working locally, those learnings can be disseminated throughout the company.
Paid media offers an excellent return on investment, if used strategically throughout a customer’s decision-making journey. Using platform-integrated analytics, franchises can measure the results of their ad spend, view audience insights, and refine their strategy nationally and locally. Finally, paid media gets messages out quickly, which can help ease big changes such as re-brands.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is often thought of as the toughest marketing beast to tame. And that goes double for franchises. How are you supposed to manage all those accounts while staying within brand guidelines?
It’s always going to be an uphill battle when you’re looking at it that way. Instead, focus on how social media gives your franchisees a platform for showcasing their personalities and connecting with local customers. And imagine how much SEO juice (i.e., social link signals) is packed into each of those profiles.
Yes, social media marketing can be difficult, and there is no magic wand you can wave to make it smooth sailing 24/7. However, we can get you started with these social media marketing tips for franchises.
Why Your Franchise Should Use Social Media
91% of brands use two or more social media accounts. But even mastering one social platform will benefit your franchise system.
So go ahead and dive head-first into social media marketing. When you stay positive and set strong guidelines, you’ll be able to use social media marketing for your franchise to:
- Answer customer service questions, complaints and problems.
- Build a community around each franchise location.
- Gain new leads.
- Build brand awareness and authority.
Pros and Cons of Social Media for Franchises
- Each franchise owner can build a community around their local business.
- Each franchise location can create unique, locally focused content.
- Individual business information is readily available.
- It can be difficult to maintain brand standards across dozens of accounts.
- Expenses can add up for sponsored posts and training.
But don’t let that scare you. With a little preparation, social media can be a valuable marketing channel for your franchise.
Setting Boundaries for Franchisees Using Social Media Marketing
To start franchisees off on the right foot with their social media marketing, franchisors should give them guidelines for choosing social platforms and getting the most out of social media marketing with the least effort.
You’ll ultimately have to determine what social media marketing strategy works best for your brand and your franchise system. Just remember that success is dependent on the audience you’re targeting, and it takes time to see results – so it’s important to act on data rather than personal preferences.
How Involved Should Corporate Be?
It can be tricky to determine how involved you want the corporate office to be in each franchise owner’s social media presence.
There are three routes you can take:
- Give franchisees guidelines, and let them handle day-to-day social media marketing and management.
- Create social media profiles for each location, and manage the accounts from the corporate office.
- Use only corporate accounts, with no social media profiles for individual franchise locations.
We prefer and recommend option one. Option two usually causes more headaches than solutions. Options two and three deprive each franchise owner of the opportunity to connect with their local market and build customer relationships.
Let’s dig into the logistics of giving franchisees control of their own social media accounts.
Provide Franchisees with Social Media Marketing Guidelines
It’s a good idea to provide franchisees with social media guidelines instead of rules because rules imply strict requirements. Strict requirements tend to take the fun and personality out of a franchisee’s social media activity, which can negatively affect audience engagement. Additionally, the “rules” would need to change constantly, as social media marketing evolves quickly.
Implement the following guidelines to ensure that your franchisees have fun and build a community on social media, all while staying on-brand.
Set up your franchisees for success with:
- Ongoing Education
If you’re going to give your franchisees mostly free rein on social media, educate them for success. Consider webinars, local presentations, and online guides to help get them started with social media marketing. They should head into this venture knowing what Facebook for Business is. Trust us – it’ll make everyone’s job (franchisor and franchisee) easier in the long run.
- A Corporate Brand Guide
Your franchise business should have a brand style guide. Sharing this with your franchisees will ensure they display the right aesthetic and use the general voice of your overall brand while sharing their own content on social media.
- Profile Assets
Design assets will help fully prepare franchisees to manage their own social media profiles. For example, consistent logo files and a high-quality featured image for Facebook will make each profile look clean and professional.
Move the needle by:
- Allocating Tools
Provide your franchisees with the right social media management tools for franchises.
- Sharing Content
Your corporate franchise office should regularly give franchisees content they can choose to share. This not only lightens their load but also expands overall brand reach. Plus, content shared directly from corporate is guaranteed to meet brand standards.
These guidelines and other corporate support will equip franchisees to showcase their location’s personality while staying true to the brand. Ultimately, trial and error may be necessary before you establish solid guidelines.
What Social Media Platforms Should Your Franchise Use?
Determining what social media platforms to use? Don’t lose sleep over the decision. Even a single platform, if used properly, can be enough for some franchise businesses.
There are three simple answers to this question:
- You (and your franchisees) should be on the social media platforms you want to be on.
- You should be on the social media platforms that you can manage effectively.
- You should be on the social media platforms your audience uses most often.
Think about it this way: Your franchisees are spending their own resources on social media marketing, so why not let them have fun with it? If they want to pour their effort and energy into Instagram, for example, they will most likely be able to curate a following. That said, it’s still helpful for a franchisor to suggest which platforms might be most effective for franchisees. The corporate office, after all, may have more data to determine where the target audience is most present and active.
Here are some general guidelines for choosing from major social media platforms.
You should use Facebook if…
- Your audience is in the 50+ age group.
- You are considering running ads on Facebook.
Most franchise businesses should be on Facebook.
You should use Twitter if…
- You’re eager to assist with customer service needs online.
- Your audience is younger than the average Facebook user.
- You have the resources to post multiple times per day.
Twitter is often best for a franchise’s corporate account, not individual owners.
You should use Instagram if…
- Your audience is younger than the average Facebook user.
- Your franchise’s services or products are highly visual.
- You have the resources to create engaging visual content.
Instagram is a growing platform, but it’s only effective if you have the resources.
You should use YouTube if…
- You create video content of any kind.
- You want to reach a younger audience.
Did you know 73% of US adults use YouTube?
You should use LinkedIn if…
- Your main audience is job seekers, industry professionals, or thought leaders.
- Your franchise is B2B.
LinkedIn users are already looking to connect with businesses like yours on the platform.
You should use Pinterest if…
- Your audience is primarily female.
- Your franchise’s services or products are highly visual.
- You have the resources to create engaging visual content.
Pinterest can drive quality traffic to websites, but it may be best for a corporate-only account.
Good Examples of Social Media Marketing for Franchises
If you’ve spent any time on Twitter, you know the corporate Wendy’s account has quite the reputation. But should you replicate popular franchises’ social media efforts? It depends.
Instead of seeking inspiration from any corporate franchise or local franchisees on social media, it’s better to look at brands with a comparable industry and business size or budget. It’ll help you get ideas for national or local content that is engaging and achievable.
This local franchise Facebook page has:
- An on-brand profile photo (logo)
- An on-brand featured image
- A recent post featuring corporate blog content
- A recent post featuring local content from a Christmas parade
- An easy-to-identify profile handle
Users visiting this page will have no doubt that this is the official Facebook account for Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Traverse City.
This social media profile has the following:
- An on-brand profile image (logo)
- A good description with contact information and a CTA to book online
- An identifiable username
- Stories and highlights showcasing work
- On-brand colors, images, and promotions
- Local content with personality – featuring employees and other self-generated images
While the on-brand content looks great, the highest engagement in this case comes from images of their own staff and community.
This Twitter profile has:
- A good Twitter handle that is recognizable
- A link to their local page on the corporate Ace website
- On-brand profile and header images.
- Regular tweets promoting their employees, local sales, and corporate promotions.
Corporate and franchisees play different, yet critical roles in social media marketing. When each party develops a helpful and friendly voice on the right social media channels, the two can inform and build upon each other’s successes. And when franchisees are equipped with the tools and knowledge they need to build a following, social traffic and conversions on the website will grow.
Email Marketing for Franchises
Is your franchise using email marketing to connect with prospects and customers, nationally and locally?
When done smartly, email marketing can generate a 4,400% ROI. That’s right – for every $1 spent on email, you could generate $44 of revenue.
If that doesn’t motivate you to lean into franchise email marketing, these stats might help:
- In an internet second, there are:
- 54,907 Google searches
- 7,252 tweets
- 125,406 YouTube video views
- 2,501,018 emails sent
- 174% more conversations are generated by email marketing than by social media
- 59% of marketers see the best ROI from email
Franchisors can leverage email campaigns to increase system-wide revenue – or even recruit new franchisees. Let’s discuss what your corporate office can do, and where franchisees should step in.
Corporate’s Role in Franchise Email Marketing
The corporate office should oversee the materials franchisees are emailing, not to control their every move but to provide a cohesive thread throughout a customer’s brand experience. Franchisees may utilize assets and general messaging guidelines provided by corporate, then weave in their unique and personalized content.
Here are some guidelines for structuring your email marketing program:
- Corporate should monitor email activity from a central email marketing hub.
- Corporate should train franchisees to effectively use the email platform they are provided.
- Corporate should give franchisees access to a library of approved images, logos, and email templates to ensure email consistency.
- Corporate should give franchisees a brand guide to ensure that national standards for design, voice, tone, and messaging are honored.
- Corporate emails should focus on brand awareness.
Building Your Email List
Help franchisees by including a website form that allows users to opt-in for email newsletters. This is an easy way to collect email addresses and build mailing lists of people who are already interested in your corporate content.
Another way to build your email list is to create resources and guides with industry-specific topics your audience may be interested in. Gate the resource with an opt-in form to collect contact information first. Attract people to these pages through social media or paid ads, then automate future touch points to nurture these prospects.
Additionally, you may try an in-feed newsletter opt-in form on Facebook.
Make sure opt-in forms are properly integrated with your corporate email platform and that you consistently provide the promised newsletter. If you decide to collect mailing addresses in the same form, the newsletter email list may also be integrated with local franchisees’ email dashboards based on location.
The Importance of a Great Welcome Email
Just as you would warmly welcome company into your home, you need to do the same with that initial email for new subscribers. For house guests, you would probably tidy up the house and maybe even prepare a treat to share. Same goes for your initial email to a newsletter subscriber or someone who downloaded a gated resource. Keep the presentation of the email clean and relevant to why they signed up. Thank them for being there, and give them the opportunity to click on a link (the “treat to share”) to a resource or promotion they would be interested in.
Other actions to take within the initial email include:
- Deliver the incentive you promised.
- Set expectations. For example, how often are you emailing them?
- Introduce yourself, and tell them more about you.
- Request to be added to the user’s whitelist.
- Include links to your social profiles and website.
Keeping Email Marketing Campaigns Organized
An editorial content calendar for corporate franchise content – from blogs to YouTube videos to social posts – lays out content themes for the year. If franchisees can see the planned content topics, they’ll know when to share corporate content that their local audiences would enjoy.
But how is this relevant to email marketing? Your cadence for publishing content, as outlined in a content calendar, determines how frequently you send email newsletters. The relevancy and timing of your newsletter and associated content determines your audience’s engagement with it – as well as their interaction with other parts of your website, like service and product pages.
Essentially, a content calendar takes the guesswork and stress out of building an email newsletter. Plus, it can help you plan cross-channel campaigns that feel cohesive.
Local Franchise Email Marketing
Local franchise emails (sent at the franchisee level) should focus on local services, special offers, and nurturing important local relationships. For best results, franchisees should begin by reviewing their email databases and keeping up on their list hygiene. Yes, even in email marketing, hygiene is important. Without a clean list of contacts, emails are not likely to reach the right customers.
List Segmentation & Customer Follow-Ups
Local franchise emails should be carefully worded according to where the customer is in the sales journey. This is why email list segmentation is so important. Franchisees can segment email lists between prospective, current, and inactive customers within their POS system or CRM platform. In some cases, segmentation may be facilitated by the corporate office to streamline the process for each franchisee.
Tip: Revenue from email campaigns increases 760% when segmented email lists are used.
Consumers are looking for personalized emails, and carefully crafting an email to speak to where the customer is at in the sales journey is vital. A savvy company speaks differently to someone who is new to the brand versus someone who has used the company’s services or products in the past. List segmentation helps keep readers happy, healthy and more engaged!
The most important local franchise email to send is a service/purchase follow-up. Those messages should be customized by the franchisee and/or their employees, showing a person’s name instead of the company name. The message should ask for a review and give the customer the opportunity to opt-in to the corporate newsletter (or local newsletter, if applicable). Additionally, these emails should include links to the franchise location’s web page and local social media accounts, making it easy for customers to further engage with the business.
Finally, franchisees should make sure that customers can respond to an email with questions and get a speedy response.
Optimizing Franchise Emails (Corporate and Local)
Setting Goals for Email Marketing
Once the franchise has a solid email list, it’s time to set goals for subsequent email blasts. If you send an email with no clear purpose, customers and prospects will not be engaged. Consider the following six questions to establish goals for email campaigns:
- What is the benefit for subscribers? Remember that the franchise’s goals are different than the subscribers’ needs.
- What action do you want users to take after receiving the email? Keep the call-to-action clear and focused.
- What is the sending cadence for this campaign? How often will you send emails, when, and to whom?
- Can you segment your list further based on the actions taken by users? How do you drive them deeper into the sales funnel?
- If they did open the email, then what happens? Think of what you can do to encourage email openers to keep engaging with your company. Do you want them to book a specific service or purchase an introductory product? Segment those users into an email list, and use subsequent emails to encourage the desired action.
- If they didn’t open the email, then what? Maybe the subject line didn’t hook them. Consider changing the email title in a way that might be more enticing to them, and resend the email later.
- How will you measure success? What metrics are you measuring based on this email campaign?
- We recommend measuring – at minimum – your email open rate, click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, bounce rate, and number of unsubscribes.
- Depending on what is important to you, you may want to consider other metrics to measure.
- Average annual email list attrition is 25%. Franchises must have a strategy to continually add new email addresses to their list and to re-engage low-activity subscribers.
How do you decide if an email campaign is a success? The average open rate for email campaigns is 21.33%. So, in theory, if you send an email to ten people and three people open it, you’re doing exceptional! From there, the average website click rate from that email is 2.62%. This validates the importance of having a healthy email list – because you want to make sure you are getting in front of enough qualified users.
How to Improve Email Performance
Once you’ve gotten into a rhythm of sending emails, how can you make them even better? Here are a few tips:
- Write intriguing subject lines. Try using the Zeigarnik Effect to your advantage. Using an ellipsis teases the content and intrigues people.
- Write quality content. 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with a company that provides recommendations that are relevant to their needs.
- Work on timing. There are metrics out there that can help you calculate the best times to send emails, but there is no silver bullet. It’s up to you to consider your audience and look at how they respond to the emails you send. Keep testing variations!
- Send emails from a person, not the company. Users are looking for human-to-human interaction.
- Practice good list hygiene. Keep those email lists up to date so you are not sending to people who have bounced repeatedly.
- Segment your list to get the right messages to the right people.
- Don’t buy leads. It’s easy to get lured into this, but you could get blacklisted!
- If you buy a list of email addresses, they don’t belong to people who have opted in. Those people are not interested in your franchise. These unqualified recipients can quickly mark your email as spam.
- The CAN-SPAM Act was developed by the Federal Trade Commission to ensure that businesses do not send mass and irrelevant commercial emails. There are heavy penalties if you violate this law.
- Format emails for mobile users. Mobile opens account for 46 percent of all email opens.
- Avoid spam filters. All-caps text, exclamation points, attachments, huge images, and red text can send your emails straight into spam filters. Build email templates that won’t be automatically marked as spam.
- Use video. Click-through rates increase 200 – 300% when there is a video in an email. You can increase traffic to your website by placing a video thumbnail image in your email with a link that opens the video on your website. Keep the video short, sweet, and relevant to the message in the email you sent.
Email marketing takes some heavy lifting in the beginning, plus continued maintenance. Once you find that sweet spot at the corporate level and your franchisees are aligned, you will reap the rewards of your hard-earned email lists.
Franchise Marketing Success Is in the Preparation
Successful digital marketing is built on strategy and enhanced with data. As a franchisor, setting your franchisees up for success can be as simple as providing them with the right materials to prepare for the changing world of digital marketing.
Everything from social media to paid ads to building a website is dependent on franchisors working with franchisees to create an on-brand and cohesive online experience.
The best way to help your franchisees excel online is to give them the tools they need and set them free. With Oneupweb’s help, and this Franchise Marketing Playbook, you’re off to a great start.
Over the past 20 years, Oneupweb has built a reputation for outstanding franchise marketing services, including franchise website development, SEO marketing services, paid media management, and more. With Oneupweb on your side, your franchise will see positive results across multiple traffic channels.
If you have more questions about franchise marketing, reach out. We’re happy to help.