The digital marketing landscape is continuously evolving, presenting new opportunities for savvy franchise brands to grow at the local level and beyond. Now that we’re well into 2019, it’s time to take a step back and revisit core marketing activities. This doesn’t always mean scrapping the old for the new, but it’s worth examining how we’ve leveraged certain advertising platforms in the past, how we’re applying marketing strategy today, and how we might be better served by shifting our approach in the future.
“You shouldn’t do things differently just because they’re different. They need to be… better.” -Elon Musk
Business is increasingly competitive. Whether your franchise is a gym, spa, tutoring center, or health food store, your franchisees depend on differentiation and data-backed marketing decisions to help them stand out from the crowd and focus on their bottom line. To retain and attract customers in 2019 and beyond, franchise brands are gravitating toward an omni-channel approach, focusing on providing a seamless customer experience as the backbone to their integrated, multiple marketing channel communication.
Here are 10 of the most relevant omni-channel trends we expect to help excel franchise growth this year:
1. Geofencing: Through GPS technology, we can draw a virtual boundary to define a location where we want to serve digital ads to smartphone users, such as a competing franchise, a store where qualified leads are likely to shop, or an event like a Marathon or Convention that they’re likely to attend. Once a target prospect physically enters that zone, we can continue to show them ads for up to 30 days. In addition to linking to a lead-focused landing page for conversion, this hyperlocal targeting even allows us to set a “conversion zone” so we can track if someone who saw the ad eventually visits one of your franchise locations.
2. Programmatic video: “Cable cutters” and “cable nevers” represent a generational shift—turning to video streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube instead of cable TV. These platforms present a cost-effective opportunity for franchise locations to deliver localized video ad content to their target audience
3. Second screen content recognition: We live in an era of mobile multi-tasking, casually scrolling through Instagram on our mobile devices while checking work emails on a laptop in front of your TV. Ads can be served to a smart phone based on recognition of content being watched on a separate TV screen. While it may be overly expensive and impossible to advertise on popular prime time shows, marketing through a separate device during shows popular with your prospects can be quite cost efficient and effective.
4. Artificial intelligence: Machine learning about audience, behavior, and results helps us systematically lower cost per lead for a more efficient and effective marketing campaign, meaning franchisees can get more for bang for their buck.
5. Voice search: Products like Alexa have become a household staple. When customers ask for a local product or service recommendation (“What’s the best gym near me?”), will your franchise location be mentioned? Boosting online presence through local listings, search engine optimized blog content, and community engagement via Yelp reviews and social media comments are contributing factors that can help improve voice search rankings.
6. Chat bots: The modern consumer expects instant gratification. They want information when and where they need it. With so many platforms to manage, it can be difficult for the staff of a local franchise business to be responsive on all platforms in a timely manner. Thoughtfully programmed chat bots can automatically respond to customers and prospects in a way that considers their behaviors and needs. These should be used as a supplement—not a replacement—to live customer service.
“Instead of using technology to automate processes, think about using technology to enhance human interaction.” -Tony Zambito
7. Email marketing: Email marketing is by no means new, but instead of using email to sell, franchise brands should move toward email as a nurturing device. Focus on making customers feel good about being customers. Showcase the experience with the brand. Potential new customers won’t want to miss out; your brand will sell itself.
8. Employee advocacy: Not only are employees’ part of what make a brand and each franchise location special, most employees also have their own network of social media followers. Are your franchisees’ employees equipped to effectively communicate your brand?
9. Social media metrics: Paid lead-gen campaigns can be measured in terms of direct ROI. What about organic social media content? We can spend an unlimited amount of time creating, curating, and publishing content, but how valuable is your Facebook profile? Are your Instagram posts working? Social media analytics can reveal top performing posts, trends in engagement, viral impressions through shares and extended networking, audience demographics, hash tag performance, Instagram Stories interactions, and more. In addition to enhancing future content, social media metrics can help you gain an emotional understanding of your customers and prospects that can help inform success of marketing on all other platforms.
“People spend money when and where they feel good.” -Walt Disney
10. Honesty and authenticity: In light of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and increasing public debate regarding Facebook’s use of personal data, franchise brands should strive for honesty. When using landing pages or lead forms to capture contact information, be clear about how their information will be used. Today’s consumer knows they are being marketed to, so there’s no need to hide your intent. That being said, in a world full of ads (and customers who have learned to ignore ads), bringing a more authentic look and feel to your digital marketing campaigns can help your brand stand out from the crowd.
Your 2019 Franchise Marketing Checklist
Are you ready for your franchise brand to shine?
- Platforms: Robust but integrated online presence. Continue using paid ads and organic social media content while incorporating new technology like programmatic video ads and chat bots.
- Targeting: Hyperlocal growth through geofencing for big-scale growth.
- Content: Be authentic and honest. Leverage real customers and staff.
- Data: Beyond cost per lead, use social media metrics to gain valuable emotional insight.
- Management: Collaborate with an agency partner for consistent success across hundreds of individual franchise locations.
Iluma Agency’s team of franchise marketing experts help franchisees execute global branding at the hyperlocal level. We’re excited to help brands take advantage of the digital marketing tools and trends that will directly benefit your unique needs and goals. Please contact us or book a call for more information about working with us.