If you’ve read our article about why every franchise needs SEO, it should be clear that SEO is non-negotiable for your business. Not only can you easily target people in your area, but it can help give a serious boost to your sales.
But how exactly do you create a successful SEO strategy? There’s an endless amount of combinations you can use to create an effective digital marketing strategy for your franchise, but here are 10 tips to help you get started.
1. Create a Google My Business Listing
When people make that general search inquiry, “[blank] near me,” they’re sent to a list or a map view of locations on Google. These results that show up are Google My Business listings, which is a tool that every single business on planet earth should use. Not only does it make your business easy to find, it’s a way to keep customers informed, offering information such as:
- Business hours
- Contact information
- Images of your store
- Links to social media or a website
- Customer reviews
Optimizing your Google My Business is critical for your new franchise’s survival. Your first step should be to check that you don’t already have a listing. Businesses that have been around for a few years likely already have a generic one on Google, so you just need to claim it as your own. After you’ve claimed it, put in as much detail and information as you can. This will be your first impression to customers, and you don’t want to leave anything up to interpretation about how great your business is.
2. Implement Local SEO
Now that you have an online presence with Google My Business, it’s time to optimize it for local SEO. Since franchisees are a brick and mortar establishment, you have to attract your leads to your physical location through the web.
Start with keyword research to find out what kinds of words and phrases a company in your industry should target. You’ll also need to throw in some keywords relating to your location. So, for example, if you were an auto repair franchise in Birmingham, Alabama, you might want to use the phrase “auto shop in Alabama” or some variant.
Another crucial part of local SEO is to have your contact information on your website. No one uses the yellow pages anymore, they expect to figure out how to get to and contact your business using a search engine. So be sure to make the name of your company, phone number, and store location address easy to find on your site.
3. Create Unique and Useful Content
Content marketing is an incredibly useful tool for establishing brand authority and credibility. This content, whether it’s a blog or a collection of videos, should offer something to your customers that they can’t find anywhere else. You want it to be so valuable that leads will come to you for your products/services over what your competition has to offer.
Content should be tailored to individual locations, but not deviate from the brand’s voice. This is a tricky balance to maintain, but it can be done. For example, Big Leap helped AlphaGraphics, a print shop franchise with over 260 locations across the nation, accomplish this by creating individual content pages for each service area.
Think about what questions leads are asking about your industry. Perhaps there’s a how-to guide or an informative article you can create to answer these questions. Plus, this content helps your SEO, allowing you to broaden your keyword list with expansive words and phrases.
4. Be Active on Social Media
Almost half of the world’s population uses social media, which makes it obvious why so many businesses use it for their marketing. With so many people checking their phones every day, they’re bound to come across your ad on social media.
So how do you use social media in a digital marketing campaign? For starters, monitor conversations about your brand and interact with your customers. Social media is also a platform to promote your business with high-quality visuals. And just as contact information is important on your website, it’s equally important to include on your social media pages. Make sure all of your businesses’ information is updated so no one gets lost.
You can also create an account dedicated to a specific franchise location, which you can use to highlight special deals and talk about people in the community.
5. Inform Customers Through Email Marketing
Email is tried and true and one of the oldest yet most reliable communication networks. No, people don’t think emails from a franchise are all spam. In fact, emails see significant returns in a marketing campaign, averaging an ROI of 3,800 percent.
Email is the perfect place to get a really personal connection with customers. With a marketing automation platform, you can easily set up an email marketing campaign. For example, you can insert the name of the recipient to offer them special deals, inform them of upcoming sales, and give them discount codes. Email marketing is also a great way to gather analytics to see who opens the emails and what forms of content compels a customer to take a specific action.
6. Manage Online Reputation
With everyone able to voice their anonymous opinion online, managing your online reputation can become difficult. This is especially true for franchises, as one may be compared to the franchise in another location and claimed to be lower or higher quality. You can’t control what people say about the franchise online, but you can control how you respond.
A good reputation management plan will have a keen focus on review sites, like Google and Yelp to know what is being said about the franchise. You should make an effort to respond to every review, particularly the negative ones. Try to come up with a solution to their problem. It’s also good practice to encourage patrons to review the franchise on these sites, as a good review score is very helpful for search ranking purposes.
7. Create a Brand-Consistent Website
This is a fantastic option if you have the resources. When it comes to your website, promotional ads, or anything else that visually represents your umbrella company, you have to be sure to keep the branding consistent. If your website doesn’t match the company persona, it can confuse your site visitors and make for a less-than-ideal user experience. Matching the brand is in your company’s best interest.
When creating marketing materials for your franchise location, be sure to check with the umbrella company for any assets they have for you to use. Often times they’ll send you the files of logos, approved color schemes, and general brand guidelines.
One of the best ways to manage franchise websites is to keep the domain under corporate control. Otherwise, a franchise’s website would end up competing with the company’s main website for specific keywords and web-traffic, creating a lose-lose situation.
8. Make Your Website Mobile Friendly
If you don’t want to alienate more than half of internet users, you should optimize for mobile. Mobile users make up a huge portion of web traffic, nearing around 50 percent. So a company’s digital presence has to be just as impressive on a smartphone as it is on a desktop. This is often overlooked, and a website that runs great on a computer may just be a hot mess on a smartphone.
Most web hosting software will have an option to see what a website looks like on mobile. From there, you can make any changes to improve the website’s appearance on mobile while maintaining its design on desktop. Decrease image sizes to improve the loading time. Also, consider what resources your parent company has to offer. If they offer a mobile app, you can promote that within your stores.
9. Analyze the Performance of Different Locations
If you’re a franchise owner with multiple locations, you’ll want to know how each of the storefronts are fairing. Chances are, there are a couple of shining pupils and also one or two that could use some work.
By comparing the locations on review websites and analyzing their revenue, you can identify ways on how to improve. For example, you may decide to amplify marketing efforts to draw more attention to a struggling location. If it’s a reputation issue, talk with the negative reviews to find the issue. You may even want to consider transferring a more stalwart employee to the location in need.
10. Embellish With PPC
After all efforts have been made to improve organic reach and traffic, it’s time to start augmenting your results with paid search. These methods include PPC, or pay-per-click, which is an option on search engines to put your website at the top of the results with the tag “ad” next to it.
This tool should not be used to replace traditional SEO practices. Organic search should be the bedrock of your digital marketing strategy, with paid search being the garnish on top to get the most results possible.
When crafting a PPC campaign, you’ll need to decide where you want to advertise and what keywords you’re planning on targeting. That way your ad will pop up for an applicable search query. You’ll settle on a price point, or how much it will cost per click, and then just let the ad work its magic.
You can make the necessary tweaks to improve the ad’s performance as you see fit. It’s smart to optimize the landing page that links to the result, so customers will always get what they are looking for.
Establish an All-Encompassing Marketing Strategy
Implementing these 10 tips can create an incredibly holistic approach to establishing the right digital marketing strategy for your franchise. Every corner of your franchise’s digital presence should be accounted for, so you can stand up to the aggressive competition of other franchises and local businesses. Contact Big Leap today to see how we can help you put these tips into practice.