Assume, for instance, that franchisors are only a single entity. In this case, their search engine optimization (SEO) and franchise marketing system would be the same as most other businesses. But the reality is that they have a network of franchisees. So using the traditional marketing approach can only lead to fragmented franchise digital marketing campaigns.
Single-Location SEO vs. Franchise SEO
SEO is a broad field that comprises a wide range of services. Its primary goal is to push pages/posts higher in search results to attract more visitors. For that to happen, the host, content management system (CMS) and content must conform to search engine ranking signals.
Generally, SEO consists of the following:
• On-Page SEO. Optimizing pages and posts to make them rank higher on search results.
• Off-Page SEO. Optimization techniques outside of a website to help improve search rankings.
• Technical SEO. Website and server optimization to help search engines crawl and index pages/posts.
At the very least, companies must apply those three SEO strategies to improve their search visibility.
But when it comes to franchise SEO and franchise marketing strategies, the amount of work involved increases exponentially, especially if the franchisees are in other countries.
Consider, for instance, local SEO, which helps businesses be more visible in local search results. The SEO specialists, instead of thinking about one market, now have to think of different customer segments, each with unique circumstances and nuances, including linguistic and cultural differences.
Local business listing, a strategy used in local SEO, is already difficult in one location. One reason is the hundreds of directories available in a local area or industry. So every new franchise location adds hundreds of listing directories.
Many SEO strategies and processes for single and multi-location businesses are the same. But there are also fundamental differences, such as adjusting the plan for each franchisee’s local circumstances. Unfortunately, these are more than enough to cause disruptions and fragmentation of franchise marketing strategies.
Marketers and SEO specialists can avoid fragmentation by integrating franchise SEO and enterprise marketing strategy into the entire franchise marketing system.
What Is Franchise Marketing?
Franchise marketing refers to the strategies used to raise brand awareness, drive revenues and enhance brand equity. It essentially comprises two parts:
• Franchise Development Marketing. While the franchise marketing plan used may be the same as for operational franchise marketing, the intention is not the same. Instead of customers, the main focus here is to attract new franchisees
• Operational Franchise Marketing. The franchise digital marketing strategies used are primarily to attract customers. These include, among others, search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, link-building, social media marketing (SMM), email marketing and content marketing.
Franchise marketing, as alluded to, is challenging and far more sophisticated than traditional business marketing. The main reason is that franchise businesses must develop strategies for the entire brand and customize franchise marketing services to adapt to specific franchisee locations.
What Is Franchise SEO?
Franchise SEO is the practice of improving search visibility by optimizing various elements of a website and its content. One thing that distinguishes it from typical SEO strategies is the franchising business model, which requires integrating a franchise focused marketing plan for individual franchisees or locations.
SEO and digital marketing for franchise businesses go hand in hand and comprise two main parts based on intent:
• Corporate or Enterprise SEO. The website and all content, including those on social media, incorporate best SEO practices for businesses. As the company grows, enterprise SEO becomes necessary to ensure efficient digital marketing for franchise businesses.
• Franchise Focused Marketing and SEO. Franchisees operate in different market conditions, especially in foreign countries and territories. So it is necessary to factor in those circumstances when creating an enterprise marketing strategy and franchise lead generation plans.
Apart from franchise and enterprise SEO, other services usually recommended by franchise marketing companies are the following:
Challenges of Scaling SEO and Digital Marketing for Franchise Businesses
The three top challenges that franchise marketing companies have to overcome are the following.
1. Scaling Too Early
Once deemed as a profitable franchise business, the reasonable expectation is that many entrepreneurs would want to become a franchisee. So, what happens is that some companies anticipate the need to scale up their enterprise marketing strategy.
Although preparation is crucial to success, investing too early in franchise marketing services might be too costly. Besides affecting balance sheets, the franchise business might not be able to cope with the demands driven by a full-service digital marketing agency, resulting in disruptions and loss of control over internal and external business processes.
Resist the temptation of scaling up at a rapid rate. Remember that there is also such a thing as over-marketing. So before ramping up enterprise SEO and franchise lead generation services, ensure each department has the personnel and enough resources to cope with higher demands.
As the company grows, think about how to take advantage of the economies of scale. For example, while maintaining a high productivity and service level, there are ways to streamline internal and external processes, such as using automation.
The problem of scaling up too early is not an issue limited to franchise businesses, as it can also affect a full-service digital marketing agency. So on the part of franchisors, they need to choose a third-party provider with a proven track record of handling large international organizations.
2. Inconsistent Brand Voice
Every location, especially in foreign countries and cultures, has nuances, which is why market segmentation is crucial to a franchise business model. A common practice is introducing or tailoring value propositions to identified target markets.
So what usually happens is that companies provide basic information about a new product to franchise marketing companies. Unfortunately, as the scale of business grows, the amount of work involved becomes more complex, thus diluting the original brand voice. Unless corrected, it worsens, compromising brand identity and reducing franchise marketing strategies’ effectiveness.
Both franchise businesses and franchise marketing companies must keep an open line of communication. Among the many things discussed and reviewed are the brand style guide, mission statement, core values and goals.
The franchise digital marketing team must ensure consistency across all channels, from the website to social media. So every content published must have a clear brand voice that effectively conveys the brand message.
3. Failing to Identify the Right Franchise Digital Marketing Channels
There are three components to running successful franchise digital marketing campaigns.
• Know the target market and which channels to reach them best.
• Using the best strategy to deliver brand messages and connect with the consumers.
• Measuring the metrics and revising franchise PPC advertising and marketing campaigns for best efficiency.
So one issue that franchise marketing services providers face is the inability to do one or more of the components mentioned above due to the sheer amount of work they need to do or lacking the right talent to do or manage projects.
The importance of communication between franchise businesses and franchise marketing companies cannot be overstated, as internal and external efforts are intertwined. So, for instance, both entities need to share and discuss specific customer segments and contact points/digital channels.
The enterprise SEO and franchise digital marketing specialists not only need to develop a specific franchise marketing plan for each target customer segment. They must also keep testing and analyzing performance metrics to improve every marketing campaign. One popular method often used in franchise social media marketing PPC campaigns, for example, is split testing ads to test which one produces the best results.
Use Data-Driven Approach To Create a Solid SEO and Franchise Marketing System
Proper planning is essential to scaling up SEO and marketing strategies. So on the part of franchise marketing services, there is a need to prepare to shift from a single-location SEO to enterprise SEO and digital marketing strategies. Not only that, but they also need to have the ability to increase their knowledge resources to cope with the challenges of scaling up franchise SEO to enterprise levels.
For more information on growing and scaling your business through franchise lead generation, contact us at 866-908-4748. Our franchise SEO specialists can present a free proposal on boosting your brand image to generate qualified franchising prospects and customers.