Franchise Digital Marketing: The Essential Guide

Digital Marketing
Franchise Digital Marketing: The Essential Guide
Article by Szabolcs Szecsei
Last Updated: May 24, 2024

For the outsider, franchise digital marketing may not seem arduous. Especially after establishing branding guidelines, devising a sound strategy online should be a fly-by-night, copy-paste occasion.

In reality, brand consistency should be upheld across every marketing channel, but enough creativity should be implemented to tailor campaigns for different locations. The latter can be demanding, especially when managing multiple locations across several states or countries.

We asked our marketing experts about the nuances involved in franchise digital marketing, and they helped us develop this comprehensive guide.

What Is Franchise Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing for franchises involves using different marketing techniques and channels to promote your franchise on the Internet. While many franchise businesses get off the ground successfully, only those with consistent branding and innovative digital strategies have the chance to become national, regional, or even global household names.

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The Importance of Franchise Digital Marketing

Just like any other business, online marketing for franchises is essential, benefiting both franchisees and franchisors by retaining their existing customer base and attracting new business. Effective advertising and marketing strategies are quintessential for these businesses to create and maintain a strong community presence that would pave the way for growth.

Just look at McDonald’s, one of the world’s most recognized franchises. With a brand value of $191.11 billion in 2023 and a total global ad budget of $388.9 million, it’s evident that franchises heavily invest in marketing across every available channel to connect with their audiences.

An effective strategy can improve brand visibility and awareness, sales, and customer loyalty. However, crafting the right franchise digital marketing strategy can be tricky. Having various stakeholders involved in the project complicates the process of creating cohesive messages and business images.

Digital Marketing for Franchises: 7 Most Effective Approaches

We mentioned having a strategy and discerned the importance of digital marketing for franchises, but how do you go about reaping the benefits? Here are seven practical approaches:

Cohesive Branding

Creating consistent and purpose-driven branding is the number one challenge franchise owners must tackle. Franchises have numerous stakeholders, each working independently to build a reputation for themselves in different locations. Because of these independent processes, establishing a set of branding guidelines is essential to prevent the business image from becoming diluted.

This is why it’s pivotal to cover essential brand information such as brand essence, which encapsulates the brand’s core values and origin story. Then, you have visual assets, like the brand logo, color schemes, product photos, etc. It’s important to also create editorial guidelines to enable consistent and cohesive messaging — whether it’s the general tone of voice or interacting with customers on social channels.

People like brands that are consistent in appearance, values, and ethics. Forging the right guidelines can minimize the risk of creating a confusing image or damaging a brand's reputation.

Design a Website

Having a website is the cornerstone of digital marketing success in the case of every business committed to growth. A professional website helps businesses draw attention to all the necessary information their customers need to know about the brand, products, and/or services.

Good franchise website design reflects everything outlined in your branding guidelines while catering to the needs of a wide audience.

Additionally, a good website will also have information on the following:

  • The franchise itself: The “About Us” section can be a great place to talk about your brand’s story, core values, career opportunities, and further franchising options.
  • Product information: In the case of a restaurant chain, you may share insights about menu items, local offers, loyalty cards, and reward programs, or mention nutritional and allergen information.
  • Legal information: Here, you can cover your terms of service, privacy policy, and trademarks.
  • Franchising: You may also provide additional information for entrepreneurs interested in becoming your franchisees.

Finally, ensure your website aligns with current trends, prioritizing user-friendliness, responsiveness, and accessibility. You may also consider adding a blog section to help visitors find answers to their questions and get a head start with content marketing.

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Don’t Skip SEO

Optimizing your site for search engines is also essential to digital marketing, as it helps you build brand credibility and gain more visibility online.

When talking about franchise SEO, localization is a top priority as it enables the capture of the attention of a more targeted audience. When investing in local SEO, start by structuring your website effectively. For instance, if you operate in multiple countries, you can opt for a folder structure on your site to cater to different regions under one domain or use separate domains for each local site.

After organizing your pages, implement a comprehensive local SEO strategy consisting of Google My Business listings. Each location should have a robust GMB listing with consistent name, address, and phone number details. Conduct local keyword research to target specific location-based keywords and develop content that resonates with your local audience, such as blogs tailored to customer preferences or pages optimized for "Near Me" search results.

Embrace Paid Advertising

SEO focusses on long-term results, whereas advertising approaches like PPC offer quick lead generation. Display and paid search ads are successful franchise online marketing methods as they can help spread the word about new products or services quicker and boost traffic to your website.

Creating location-specific ads can be crucial to enticing your target audience, considering local customer values, ethics, language, and their distinct pain points.

A few other things to remember:

  • Use geo-specific keywords
  • Create location-focused landing pages
  • Experiment with different ad types
  • Conduct A/B testing for offers, copy, and images
  • Monitor camping performance and adjust if necessary

Leverage Social Media

Social media enables you to nurture your customer relationship and build constant engagement. Using the proper social channels can help you create a community around your brand and gain valuable insights and customer feedback, in addition to promoting your offers.

For community building, using Facebook and Instagram is invaluable. Meta’s comprehensive advertising features can help you create highly targeted “lookalike audiences” to make sharing data between locations easier.

Social media can also help you preserve your brand reputation and retain customer loyalty. Customers want to feel heard, and you should commit to connecting and engaging with them.

In addition to regularly reaching out to them, make an effort to pay more attention to social media comments, direct messages, and reviews. Users generally find it easier to use social channels to share their feelings and views with brands. Responding to them shows that you genuinely care.

Go All In on Content

Content marketing is an invaluable strategy that helps you continuously deliver value to your audience. It contributes to building credibility and authority; and when optimized right, it can also enhance your SEO efforts.

However, to get the most out of it, you need to understand the preferences and interests of your target audience. Take 7-Eleven, for instance, which has its own blog that talks about informative topics in addition to promoting its products.

Blogging is just one way to go about content marketing. You can also experiment with other media, such as videos, podcasts, visuals, and even email marketing.

It is worth noting that video content has spiked in the last two years. Users are the driving force behind this trend as 91% of consumers said they’d enjoy watching more online videos from brands.

Subway is a great example of a company embracing this. The franchise uses video to highlight its newest offerings and gets more intimate with behind-the-scenes footage to connect its brand with the audience.

Cover Offline Grounds Too

Although having a strong digital presence is necessary for all modern franchises, offline interactions should also be nurtured. As most franchises typically operate physically, they must connect with their customers physically too.

Think about franchise giants like McDonald’s or Pizza Hut that sponsor local teams, community events, and charities. Investing in building a deeper real-life connection with your audience can add a more humane essence to your franchise, boosting brand engagement and loyalty.

Franchise Digital Marketing Made Easy: Takeaways

Marketing for a franchise can be intricate, but if you manage to create a strategy that aligns with most stakeholders' visions and engages your audience, you will be on the right track.

It’s crucial to understand that some things that may work for one of your physical locations in state X might not yield anything tangible in state Y. But if you keep your branding consistent, test your processes, measure your success, and tweak your strategies to meet the needs of each individual market, you'll soon start to see the fruits of successful franchise digital marketing.

Franchise Digital Marketing FAQs

How can digital marketing help franchises boost engagement and brand visibility?

When done right, digital marketing can boost brand awareness by using targeted online campaigns across social media and other platforms. Interactive content, personalized messaging, and convenient communication on platforms such as social media can significantly help improve customer engagement.

What key digital marketing strategies should franchise owners prioritize to boost local presence and sales?

Franchise owners should optimize their websites for local SEO, create comprehensive Google My Business profiles for each location, and implement targeted social media advertising campaigns. Additionally, leveraging email marketing and online review management can enhance local presence and drive sales.

How important is content marketing for franchises, and what types of content are effective?

Content marketing is crucial in establishing thought leadership, building credibility, and engaging local audiences. Effective content includes localized blog posts, customer testimonials, video tours of franchise locations, and educational resources that address specific regional needs and interests.

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