In order to understand the trends for franchise lead generation in 2015, you need to understand the current lead generation climate. A recent study found that seventeen percent of franchisees got their information about the franchise they ultimately invested in from franchise brokers. 32 percent got their information from referrals from professional and social networks, and 42 percent learned about the franchise from the Internet. And, this share from the Internet just continues to grow.
With this in mind, here are my top trends for franchise lead generation in the coming year:
1. Paid Search Will Be Well Worth the Cost
You will notice there is next to nothing separating the first ten organic search results and the top three paid ads when you look at the search engine results page. Because of their somewhat sordid past, paid searches have gotten the reputation of being expensive for their per-lead costs. But, with the new algorithms, that has all changes. In fact, in conjunction with good organic search rankings, some clients have experienced an over 40 percent jump in leads with paid searches.
2. Franchise Recruitment Websites Should Feature Articles
You can already see this in action. Clients have witnessed their leads increasing five, six, even nine-fold by better engaging the visitors who come to their sites. People who would have otherwise filled out an interest form are turned off by brochure style sites. Instead, they want sites that are full of articles that give information about every aspect of the franchise and what it is like to be a franchisee.
3. Approach Recruits as an Advisor or Facilitator
Getting potential franchisees to see you as a facilitator or trusted advisor begins with information transparency on your franchise opportunity website. You will break down any barriers to conversations that may exist, grow at a rate above the norm for your category, and earn candidates’ trust by designing your franchisee recruitment processes and website in a way that is consistent with how franchisees research businesses.
4. You Must Respond to Inbound Leads within Minutes
It used to be that franchise inquiries were returned the same day or within 24 hours at tops. Though this may work for an engaged client turned recruit, broker leads who are already interested, or a referral lead, it will not work elsewhere.
For inbound leads coming from your franchise portals, email campaigns, or company website, you give the prospect a similar experience to being ignored by waiters in a restaurant if you do not call them in less than 30 minutes. They become much less likely to answer your call if you take any more than 30 minutes. And, ideally, you will call them back in five minutes.
5. Portals Will Evolve to Be Similar to Pay Per Click
Franchise portals represent a significant portion of marketing dollars spent and remain a significant component of many lead generation strategies. Fortunately, portals are looking closely at how they can satisfy their customers. Franchisors are beginning to get more robust advertising options as the portals focus on helping produce closes.
For example, to help clients get results more tailored to what they are trying to accomplish, portals are providing an array of pay per visitor, campaign based, and pay per lead advertising strategies.
6. Copywriting Will Be Replaced by Brand Storytelling
Decision making and communication are based on storytelling. We use stories to make sense of our world and to relate to others. There has been a big push to help users find stories they are looking for when they perform searches. This has been the basis for the changes to Google’s algorithms in the past four years.
To help understand how a franchise’s business model works and to learn more about the brand, prospects type in key phrases or questions to get to stories when performing online research. They want genuine stories about the brand and experiences of current franchise owners.
7. Transparency Is Key
Franchise candidates want information they can trust before they are willing to take the next step of talking to a franchisor representative. The Internet is often their first stop. However, if your site is not transparent – providing startup costs; in-depth video interviews with the CEO regarding the organization’s purpose, future direction, and mission; and lengthy interviews with actual franchisees – prospects will turn to franchise brokers or their professional and social networks.
Generating leads for your franchise requires embracing the Information Age as more potential franchisees want fast answers and responses. This makes stepping up your digital marketing game more important than ever.
About the Author : Jamshaid (Jam) Hashmi
A serial entrepreneur with extensive background in franchising and interests in multiple online business channels, Jamshaid (Jam) Hashmi has played an instrumental role in the franchise development and success of an international franchise company. His most recent entrepreneurial interests include launching ClickTecs, a Digital Marketing company specializing in Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing as well as Website and Mobile Application development. In 2007 he co-founded Search Result, an online marketing company that supplies services to Internet Marketing Consultants. A sought after public speaker, Jam has been the featured keynote at many franchise conferences and international summits. He regularly trains ‘C’ Level Executives and supports both new and seasoned business owners on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Optimization, Mobile Marketing, Brand Reputation Management and Conversion & Measurement through web analytics. When he’s not scaling the heights of the Internet world, Jam ‘unwinds’ on extreme thrill-seeking adventures from the jungles of the Amazon to the highest summits. His passions include working with NGOs on humanitarian missions to areas around the world affected by disasters and poverty.