4 digital marketing challenges faced by franchises (and how to overcome them)
One of the biggest challenges facing a franchisee’s growth is their ability to execute a winning digital marketing strategy that is unfettered by a franchiser.
A struggle often exists between a franchiser’s need to control their brand, and a franchisee’s desire to market their business through their own strategies.
According to Jason Decker of Search Engine Land, franchises are failing at:
- Managing all the local business listings of franchisees
- Developing unique content for locations and their location pages
- Monitoring and engaging with customer reviews
From poorly managed PPC campaigns, to a general lack of digital marketing expertise by franchisees, let’s take a closer look at how you can overcome many of the most common franchise marketing challenges.
1. Fragmented strategies and goals
The largest issue for franchises is a poorly integrated digital marketing strategy. The franchise may have clear goals, but the goals of franchisees may be different. This creates fragmented marketing strategies.
The very nature of franchises is “structured”, however, when it comes to marketing, that structure often lacks. If there is no unified digital marketing strategy with clear guidelines in place, a mixed marketing message and fractured consumer targeting approach will occur.
Is it essential to have clear strategies and goals in place for franchisees?
“Franchising is based on conformity and uniformity, not freedom. As a franchisee, you do not really hold the reins,” Karsten Strauss of Forbes explained. “You may technically be the boss of your shop, but you must follow the orders of the home office.”
This doesn’t mean that a franchise should lay down the law without room for collaboration. Franchise HQ and the many franchisee branches need to work together in order to define branding and unified marketing message.
Providing a core marketing strategy that will serve both the franchise and franchisee will ultimately serve up increased growth and revenue for everyone involved.
Core marketing strategies for franchisees to integrate include:
- List of brand assets franchisees can employ for all marketing channels, like social media, website, and email direct marketing
- Monthly marketing calendars highlighting promotional opportunities and consumer events at the global and local level
- Develop or integrate an in-house platform where franchisees can access all marketing assets
2. Cannibalizing Pay Per Click (PPC) efforts
Franchisees, if not in sync, could end up competing against one another for PPC ads. This PPC cannibalism could result in lost marketing budget and poor ROI. This is not optimal for the competing franchisees or the franchisor.
What can franchises do to eliminate PPC cannibalism between franchisees?
Just as the case of overcoming fragmented marketing strategies due to different goals, a clear plan needs to be in place for PPC. Franchises need to set guidelines across their franchisee network to ensure the same logic and goal is in mind. Increase engagement and profit without competing against one another.
A few PPC campaign tweaks for your franchisees should include:
- Identifying the keywords each franchisee should bid on, and identifying keywords each franchisee should not bid on
- An overhaul of each franchisee’s geo-targeting. This should help with the overlap and potential for PPC cannibalism
- Encourage franchisees that may overlap in territory to work together when it comes to PPC campaign efforts
When two franchisee locations are simply too close to one another, they can consider combining their PPC efforts. However, many franchisees may be outsourcing their PPC to an agency. It is imperative that the marketing agencies of the franchisees in close proximity collaborate to ensure all strategies and bids are aligned.
3. Duplicate content and lack of unique content
When it comes to digital marketing, having unique content that is not duplicated anywhere else online is vital to ranking success and brand visibility. The same practice goes for franchisors and their franchisees.
“Undecided consumers who are researching their options might check out a website and social media presence more than once,” Dan Antonelli explained in Entrepreneur. “When they come back, seeing something new and relevant makes their visit a better experience — and shows that the brand is a professional organization.”
If you are providing one set of content for every franchisee website, or other online marketing, you should start to reconsider your overall marketing efforts. With Google penalties around every online corner, duplicate content or failing to produce unique, fresh content could land your franchisees and franchise in hot water.
How can franchisors ensure unique content for all franchisees?
Franchisors should provide marketing material for all franchisee webpages with guidelines for the types of content that can be created.
This franchisor provided information could then be redeveloped by each franchisee, putting a fresh spin on it to prevent duplicating content across multiple web pages. The content can also be ever changing when franchise level promotions, deals, and new products or services are released.
Content marketing strategies for franchisees include:
- Develop a master content marketing sheet that is accessible to all franchisees.
- Let your franchisees hire their own writers or content marketing agencies.
- Encourage SEO efforts for all content marketing campaigns, whether in-house or via an agency.
- Have all franchisees create their own unique content relevant to their local area and target audience.
“If each franchise has its own site, more content will need to be produced, but the content strategy behind each piece will likely be more or less the same,” Amanda DiSilvestro writes on Content Marketing Institute.
“You need guest posting, and you need content for the website or websites, and so your franchises need to know your expectations.”
4. Not localizing or segmenting email marketing
Franchisors and franchisees that fail to localize and segment their email marketing efforts will discover poor engagement and decreased revenue. It is imperative for franchisees to target the right customers in their local marketplace, and at the right time.
According to email marketing research by emailmonday, only 22 percent of retail emails are opened. Generic email lists lacking a local email marketing strategy simply will not do. In fact, the broad marketing messages will often repel potential customers, as well as ones who have interacted with your franchise in the past.
One of the factors behind this franchise digital marketing challenge is the lack of a centralized email marketing system. Franchisors can quickly lose control of their core brand messaging if a centralized system is not in place.
How can you ensure your message is not lost during franchisee email marketing campaigns?
The first thing franchisors need to integrate into their email marketing strategy is a centralized system. This could be as simple as centralizing all email lists for different customer requests, comments, and touch points.
Each of these centralized email lists can them be segmented for target audiences based on their specific locations. This lets you deliver geo-targeted and personalized emails marketing messages with a high level of consistency among all your franchisees.
Other email marketing tips for franchisors and franchisees are:
- Tailor your email messages to your customers in a way they will find them useful.
- Make email marketing more personal, and follow up if resources are available.
- Use email subject lines that relate to the local area.
- Ensure social media is integrated in your email marketing outreach, allowing customers to share your message.
- Use segmented marketing tactics like language, region, or other consumer demographics.
“Creating or updating your campaign to focus more on local marketing could be the answer you’ve been looking for,” as Amanda DiSilvestro previously wrote on Search Engine Watch. “There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that the future of email marketing is hyperlocal.”
The above digital marketing challenges franchises face can become problems of the past. By integrating a few easy concepts and by employing new marketing tactics, your local customer base will increase, and you will build a successful franchise.
What marketing strategies have worked well for your franchise in the past?