Franchise Advertising in 2018: Game-Changers in ORM and Review Responses

Making the effort to respond to reviews is an important customer service responsibility that often gets overlooked in big-picture franchise advertising plans.

In fact, review responses are so important that Google put together a list of best practices for responding, along with a dedicated response tool back in 2010 that operates through Google My Business. This tool automatically alerts business owners about any new reviews, and gives them the option to reply instantly using the same GMB dashboard where the notification appeared.

With these tools and guidelines in place, engaging audiences and building relationships through review responses has never been easier. And yet, more than 8 years after these assets were developed, franchisors and business owners still come to us with entry-level questions like:

  • Should I be responding to reviews?
  • Should I respond to positive reviews?
  • Do I acknowledge or argue negative reviews?

Today’s post is meant to set the record straight on review responses for ORM and franchise advertising in 2018. Read on to learn what makes review responses so important, and how to approach your

What makes review responses so important in 2018?

In the past, review responses felt like a little something extra that business owners could do to boost their franchise advertising and online reputation management (ORM).

But all that’s changed. As of May 11th, 2018, Google announced that they would be “launching notification to inform your customers when you respond to their reviews, with plans to release mobile push notifications at a later date.”

Now, any time a business responds to a customer review, that customer gets an email notification 5-minutes after the response is published.

So what’s the big deal?

First, understand that even before this update rolled out,most customers expected a response within 24-hours of leaving a positive or negative review. Now that customers know they’ll be notified within minutes of getting a response, we can assume that reasonable 24-hour window will shrink. Consumers now know that business owners are being notified right away, so failing to respond quickly feels a little like when a loved one leaves a text message “Read” without replying!

Put another way, this Google rollout signals a big turning point in customer expectations in regards to reviews. In the past, reviews were considered as a way for consumers to “have their say,” whether that’s to applaud your business or warn other potential customers away.

Now things are different; people want to be heard, but also answered. Consumers expect responses from businesses – especially if they left a negative review – and those companies who fail to make the effort come off as inaccessible, neglectful, and uncaring.

Your reviews are doing double-duty as direct lines to customers, and billboards advertising your brand’s approach to customer service. Don’t take your responses lightly!

Reframing our approach to review responses

The onus is on brands to factor review responses into their franchise advertising efforts, though franchise advertising firms like ours do include these services as part of the updated 2018 ORM package.

Positive reviews should be treated as thank-you notes, and responded to with gratitude, while negative reviews should be thought of as direct cries for help that require urgent responses.

As per Google’s best practices, review responses should be written according to the following guidelines:

  • Be nice and don’t get personal. This is a good rule of thumb for any aspect of your business’s customer relations. Don’t start typing out rebuttals to angry customer comments. Stay on-track with useful responses, and be courteous.
  • Short and sweet. Don’t burn too much of your franchise advertising time on review responses. Keep it short and sweet; users want useful information, but nobody wants to read 6 paragraphs in this context.
  • Be thankful, but always try to be useful. Responding to positive reviews with a simple “Thank you!” or “Thanks, we appreciate you!” is great, but working in new or relevant information is even better.
  • Be a friend, not a salesperson. Your reviewers are already customers, so stop trying to “convert” them. But do try to share new, useful, or relevant information about your business in the way a friend might.

Learn more about review responses and ORM tactics

Keep the conversation going – get in touch with our franchise advertising team at

Local SEO for Franchises: 3 Common and Costly Mistakes Brands Make

If you’re going to invest in local SEO for franchises, you’d better do it the right way.

To that end, today’s post spotlights 3 of the most common and costly mistakes we see brands make. Read on to learn some quick fixes and start making more out of your marketing budget in 2018.

  • Insufficient citations.

    Don’t worry, this has nothing to do with the kind of “citations” that may have gotten you in trouble on that old high school essay.

    When talking about local SEO for franchises, a “citation” refers to any time your company is being mentioned online. Simply put, a website, user comment, or online directory is “citing” information about your business.

    As was the case in your high school essays, these citations become more effective when they contain more information – but in this case, we’re talking about your business name, phone number, address, and website link, not author names and publishing years!

    The more citations your business has, the more likely they are to be noticed by potential customers.

    To build citations and improve local SEO for franchises, we recommend first and foremost making sure your PAWN is perfect – that’s your business’s Phone number, Address, Website URL, and Name. Obviously, this should contain no errors on your website. But you need to go further and proofread your entire local citation ecosystem. Check Yelp, Yellow Pages, social media, and other local business directories to ensure your PAWN information is correct and consistent before moving forward. Note that some directories won’t let you include a link, and that’s fine – use the NAP acronym instead.

    Next, search the NAP or PAWN information of your #1 competitor, and see which citations pop up. This is as easy as copy and pasting into a Google search bar and noting which websites are listed in the SERP. Once you have this information, you can seek out these citations and directories on your own, and submit your business’s information to bring you up to the level of your competition. This is a great option to improve local SEO for franchises since every region has different local directories.

    Beyond these beginner-friendly steps, your best bet for optimizing citations is to contact a team that specializes in local SEO for franchise (surprise – that’s us!). We’d be happy to talk citation tactics during your free consultation.

  • Leaving local reviewers hanging.

    As mentioned elsewhere on the blog this month, Google rolled out a new update in May 2018 that now notifies reviewers of a business owners’ response within 5 minutes of its publication. That’s changed the nature of online reviews, transforming what was once a way to simply have one’s voice heard into a consumer-owner dialogue. Nowadays, neglecting to respond to reviews left on your GMB, Facebook, brand website, or even third-party review sites is considered poor customer service. And worst of all, those unanswered reviews stay published and highly visible, like billboards advertising your brand’s inaccessibility!

    Leaving a simple expression of gratitude for positive reviews, or an apology/explanation in response to negatives ones, does double-duty for your business. Not only do you build stronger relationships with that individual reviewer, thus increasing their odds of returning to patronize your business or referring it to a friend, but also those review responses show the world your business cares about what its customers have to say. Of course, replying also sends that notification to the reviewer, which instantly ups the number of eyes on your business listing.

  • Poor on-site SEO structure.

    All the thoughtful review responses and consistent citations in the world won’t help you improve local SEO for franchises if your site structure is a mess. Unfortunately, this problem is extremely common in the franchising industry. And the solution goes much deeper than crowbarring some keywords into titles, hammering out some ALT text, and buffing up content quality. But that’s beyond the scope of this article – you can read more about optimizing site structure here

Learn more about local SEO for franchises – start your free consultation with a member of our team by calling 905 564 0020!