When franchise prospects are doing their research to decide on which opportunity to pursue, they turn to the Internet to learn more about you and your competitions’ brands. The Internet influenced the decision of 42 percent of people researching franchises, according to a report released this year. However, when you factor in online advertising and the influence of social media on buying decisions, we estimate that you could probably even double that percentage.
Social media influences the future purchasing decisions of three out of four B2B buyers, one study found. Franchise prospects are bypassing the traditional sales process and going by word of mouth, online reviews, and the knowledge of their peers. With the effect the Internet is having on franchise success, franchising marketing online is more important than ever.
Prospects Are Looking for Content
By the time prospects reach out to you to receive more information about your opportunity, up to 80 percent of the purchasing process is already over. To find relevant content, your prospects are combing the Internet. The searches range from the hyper local keywords, such as “burger franchise in Michigan for under $200K,” to looking at their local market and a specific brand of interest to general searches, such as “sandwich franchise” or “best franchise opportunities.”
Your franchise needs to come up in these searches. Your prospects want to find trusted sources of information when they search online. Having a separate page on your main website summarizing the opportunity is no longer the best practice. Potential buyers want real insider info, a way to do their due diligence without a pushy salesperson calling five times a day, and comprehensive content.
Adapt or Become Irrelevant
About once every day, Google changes their search algorithms. This means you need to adapt your digital franchising marketing. Many franchise systems and marketers saw their search rankings plummet overnight after Google’s recent Panda and Hummingbird updates. However, relevant, consistent, awesome, sharable content that your potential franchisees want to see, like that produced by ClickTec’s team of expert SEO writers, continues to remain at the top of the search results despite any changes Google has made over the years.
As your site is developing content, here are some things you should be sure to include:
- Keep your blog updated continuously with about two to four posts per week. Video is also important
- Provide financial information. Prospects want to know if you are in their price range.
- Give an inside look at the inner workings of your franchise.
- Different parts of the sales funnel should be represented in your content.
- Offer a variety of downloads, such as e-books and brochures.
- Throughout the website, tell your brand’s story.
Once you have your content, it is important to also develop your distribution channels. This not only includes posting on Facebook, tweeting, or updating other social media, but it also includes paid promotion, which gives the organic momentum a bit of a boost.
Improving Content Marketing
Once you recognize the importance of stepping up your content marketing game, you may wonder what the best strategy is for developing an online franchising marketing plan and implementing it. In order to do this, you either need someone within your organization who has the knowledge and background to step up and own it, or you can turn to a digital marketing agency, such as ClickTecs.
A franchise system that has a dedicated content marketing guru on their side, whether it is a VP of Marketing or a third party expert, will always be more effective than a franchisor who does not. Once you find the person for the job, you need to take the time to determine your goals. Often times, these goals are any combination of retain customers, generate more leads, build your brand, or help generate more traffic to the franchisees.
What Resources Do You Have?
You may not realize it, but you possibly already have a lot of content that could be repurposed to improve your company’s SEO ranking. Find out if you have employees internally who already blog and see if they would be willing to contribute their writing to the site. Just be sure that the content is 100 percent original or else it may actually hurt your search page ranking.
You must be smart about where you spend your time if you have limited resources on your marketing team. ClickTecs often has to come in to help with tactics and strategy because several of our clients simply do not have staff that is knowledgeable in this emerging field.
If you are on the fence about whether or not you have the team to handle digital franchising marketing on your own, consider the following questions
- How often and how many newsletters do you want to create?
- Do you have the software and equipment to produce all the content you want? If not, how much will it cost?
- How many people on your team can dedicate time to creating quality content? And, do they have the skills to produce the content?
- Are there other projects coming up that are likely to deprioritize content creation?
- With what frequency will you update the blog?
A team with experience working with other franchisors in every area relating to digital marketing may be the best choice for you if you are finding that implementing a full digital franchising marketing plan is overwhelming. Calling in the professionals will pay off quickly with the increase is sales conversions.
The Bottom Line
Nowadays, your franchising marketing can be aided with so many different kinds of software, solutions, and strategies. It is essential that the goals of your franchise are matched by the solution you choose. As you may have gathered, there is no “one size fits all” solution. If you want a third party that stays ahead of the trends to help you navigate the content creation landscape or you just need a consultant, ClickTecs has the expertise and knowledge to make your franchise a giant online.
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.