As we speak, there are thousands of qualified potential franchisees searching the internet for their next business venture. If you’re a franchisor, that is good news. But not so fast – before you start to celebrate the digital age of selling franchises, you need to understand a thing or two about online marketing and recruitment of new franchisees. You need to know how to attract them to your business before they are lost to your competitors.
The following are a few of the tips and tactics you can use for marketing your franchise online.
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the most basic of strategies when it comes to digital marketing. Although basic however, it is vitally important to understand because almost all of your other online marketing efforts will hang off of this principal.
In short, SEO is how the web crawlers from Google, Bing and Yahoo! determine whether your site will be listed on the first page of the search engine results or the 50th. And here’s a hint – if you’re not at least listed within the first 2 pages, chances are that potential franchisee is not going to find you.
So how do you improve your ranking? SEO has several elements. Choosing the right keywords is important for starters. Free online tools such as Google AdWords can help you in this respect. Quality, original content is also key. Plagiarism and duplicate content are likely to get your site penalized or even potentially banned from the major search engines. Content writing should incorporate keywords without stuffing – remember your ultimate audience is still the potential franchisee who needs to find your content engaging and useful.
On page SEO strategy consists of having the proper Meta and title tags, having quick load times and good code structure for your website, whereas off page SEO consists of building links from quality sources to your website.
Optimizing your website is a slow but vital process in ensuring that your potential customer finds you.
Would be franchisees are often busy people who don’t always want to take the time to read through pages and pages of text before they decide if they are going to pursue a given franchise. Most of them want to narrow down their choices quickly before delving deeper into their research.
It is no wonder then, that the franchise world has seen a dramatic increase in the amount of online videos being used as sales tools by franchisors. Of course the largest online platform to view videos is YouTube. In fact, it can be argued that the site is the world’s second largest search engine.
There are two main ways that franchisors can use YouTube. The first is to create promo videos which can then be embedded into their own sites. The second option is to purchase advertising to pre-play on another video.
We recommend doing both. Remember to make an appropriate use of keywords in your video description and tags to make your video easier to find.
Paid Searches and Advertising
While SEO is still vitally important, it has been gradually giving way in recent years to more non-organic tactics. Two of the most popular and effective methods are Pay Per Click Advertising and remarketing.
Pay Per Click
Go to Google and conduct a search on just about anything you can think of, and you’ll notice that the very first results that come up have the tiny word “Ad” posted next to them. These are the results of Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising.
With PPC, instead of working to reach the top of Google (and other search engines) organically, advertisers can actually purchase the top spot. They do so by bidding on keywords. When an advertiser wins the bid and someone searches their keyword, it is their website that will show up at the top of the search results.
PPC advertising is quite effective, because it can be targeted to a specific customer base by factors such as location, time of day and even other demographics if they are available. Typically, a person who clicks on a PPC ad is someone who is looking to buy as opposed to someone who is simply kicking tires.
Another appealing part about this kind of online advertising is that the advertiser only pays when someone actually clicks on their link – thus the name “Pay Per Click”. And don’t worry about breaking the bank either – PPC programs allow you to set a daily budget.
Even if you have outstanding SEO, a compelling video on your home page and a solid PPC campaign on the go, there is a good chance that a potential franchisee will not take any action on his or her first visit to your website. In fact the majority will not buy or even send you an information request on their first visit.
So you need to make a good impression – and you need to find a way to make your visitor remember you after you’ve left. One very effective tactic is something called remarketing.
Even if you’re not familiar with the term, you have probably experienced this from other websites. You visit a site, and for weeks afterwards, it seems as though advertisements from that site are “following” you around the internet.
The way that this form of advertising works is actually quite simple. A script is placed on the home page or landing page of the site that places a cookie in a visitor’s browser when they come to that particular page. That cookie then displays a company’s banner ad on various web and social media sites.
Be Mobile Compatible
Of course, even the best digital marketing campaigns in the world are not going to be effective if they are not compatible with the device that your visitor is using.
The use of tablets and smartphones is growing at a rapid rate – much faster in fact than PCs and laptops. Today’s consumers want instant access to information wherever they are and it is estimated that over 3 billion internet users surf the web via smartphone. If you are already working with a good website design or digital marketing firm, you should already have a responsive website.
If you do not have such as site (or are not sure), you need to get this taken care of right away.
Person to Person
Despite the rapid rise of the digital age, there seems to be an equally rapid rise of community involvement in the business world. Franchisors must learn how to take advantage of this as well as more and more consumers are rediscovering the need for human interaction.
While large franchise shows are all fine and good, it is still important to get involved in the more local community events. Showing that you want to be involved in the community helps to both enhance your brand image and it is appealing to would-be franchisees who are looking for a business that take such a stance.
Of course, you can still incorporate online marketing here too – such as by posting about the event on social media and using the relevant hashtags.
As more and more businesses enter the franchise space, competition for the best franchisees is only going to increase. Knowing how to find and attract them online is definitely going to require a little research and a lot of hard work. The good news is, that those qualified would-be franchisees are online right now and are looking for a franchise like yours. You only need to help them find it.
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.Back