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There are more than 150,000 franchises in America serving millions of Americans both online and in person. Despite this, there are some stark realities facing franchises in the digital age. For example, e-commerce grew by more than 15% in 2017 but the benefit of this increase in consumer purchases was mostly seen by online giant Amazon which currently accounts for as much as 43% of US retail sales. Increasingly, consumers are opting for online options and answers to their needs, wants, and desires. Discover how you can improve the efficacy of your digital marketing efforts by incorporating marketing automation into your franchise’s social media management strategy.

The State of Franchise Marketing and How It Can Be Improved

For example, in 2017, 85% of smartphone users reported using their device not only to locate retailers but also while they’re shopping in brick and mortar locations. Similarly, 90% of adult consumers report going online about a brand before deciding to business with them. Statistics like these make it clearer than ever that the onus is on franchise businesses to develop a clear, consistent, and branded approach to digital marketing and social media management alike.

Some statistics about franchise digital marketing in 2017 to keep in mindsocial media marketing for franchises

  • 5% of Retail Franchisees cannot post their own news on their local website’s blog
  • 7% of Retail Franchisors get more traffic from search engines than any other source
  • 5% of Retail Franchisee websites are parked under subfolders which is counter to SEO and web development Best Practices.
  • 8% of Retail Franchisors don’t provide on-site franchisee localization features
  • 8% of Retail Franchisors do not share an online catalog
    • 20% of these catalogs don’t contain prices, are digital copies of a previously released print catalog, or merely a list of partnered brands or sponsored services and products.
  • 6% of Retail franchisors don’t offer e-commerce options to franchisees on their local websites.
  • 9% of Retail Franchisors successfully pass Google’s mobile-friendly test
  • 1% of Retail Franchisors rely on Google Analytics to develop and track their marketing efforts
  • 1% of Retail Franchisors showcase their branding/messaging on Facebook
  • 55% of Retail Franchisors’ websites show slow loading speeds on Google PageSpeed
  • 3% of Retail Franchisors’ websites aren’t optimized for speed on mobile devices.
  • 1% of the top retail franchises in 2017 provided an online presence on the brand’s main site to franchisees
    • Of these, only 31.3% offer franchisees a full website
  • 3% of retail franchisors offering an online presence only offer one page of information about franchisees

Your brand may be basic, but your franchisee’s website shouldn’t be

The current ‘single page’ approach to presence provides little value to franchisees and franchisors alike due to obsolete, incomplete, or inaccurate information about the franchisee.

  • 7% of Franchisee websites are made of just one or less than five, landing pages.
  • Only 10.4% of retail franchisors present franchisees with a multi-page web presence. These pages contain only the most vital information and provide little by way of highlighting products, providing e-commerce capabilities, or even offering an online catalog.

Considering the current limitation experienced by franchisees, a full website is a highly attractive incentive for local franchisees. Keep in mind that offering this functionality also allows franchisors to justify higher marketing fees while reinforcing brand consistency, providing better SEO functionality, and lowering support costs in the long-term.

Blogging and providing regular news updates is still an obstacle for franchisors and franchisees

Almost 75% of retail franchisor websites feature an official blog or news channel but of these, almost half haven’t had news or updates in more than a month. While there is a baseline for certain kinds of retailers who don’t feel the need to constantly curate news or connect with their online audience, content marketing is key to a successful digital strategy.

By creating a stream of valuable content, you ensure:

  • The growth of organic lead optimization
  • Lower franchisee onboarding costs
  • Increases to web traffic qualified online leads
  • Increased customer loyalty

Almost 50% of retail franchisees don’t have a blog or news platform on their local website while 82.5% cannot post their own news on their local website’s blog.

This is key as publishing your own news and blogs is what allows franchisees to promote their business as well as their global or national brands with receptive local audiences. Most retail franchisees are also prohibited from publishing local updates, implementing a local content marketing strategy, publishing their own content via blogs, or are only allowed to share global news directly via the Franchisor brand.

This aspect of digital marketing for franchises seems to be a consistent failing for franchisors. Franchisees should be empowered with a clear set of guidelines and strong branded graphics assets so they may serve as brand ambassadors in local, national, and international markets.

Top 10 sectors for retail franchises in the US

Based on a survey conducted by Entrepreneur Magazine of the top 500 franchises in the US, the distribution for the top ten sectors for retail franchises are as follows:

social media marketing and management for retail franchises

  1. Clothing, accessories (16%)
  2. Retail (15.4%)
  3. Specialty Retail Stores (12.8%)
  4. Children & Baby Goods (7.7%)
  5. Computers & Electronics (7.7%)
  6. Health & Personal Care (7.1%)
  7. Home & Garden (4.5%)
  8. Pet Businesses (3.8%)
  9. Retail Business Services (3.8%)
  10. Sports and Outdoors (3.8%)

Is your franchise catalog ready?

Perhaps one of the largest lost opportunities for franchises is the lack of access to information on goods, products, and services offered. For example, less than half of the top retail franchisors provided their franchisees with a digital catalog either online or off. This practice (or lack thereof) is tantamount to hiding products, services, and pricing from public scrutiny—all of which are particularly harmful to your brand’s credibility in the digital age.

By simply setting up an online or digital catalog, franchisors can help gain website traffic, earn qualified leads, develop their customer relations management best practices, and page the way for the implementation of e-commerce functionality.

Integrating e-commerce is inevitable, but which solution to choose?

With online retail sales continuing to soar, it’s surprising to learn that only 22.4% of retail franchisees are utilizing e-commerce capacities on their local site while 55.1% of retail franchisors have adopted e-commerce on their main sites. While implementing a successful e-commerce strategy raises a number of legal, technical, and commercial concerns, the benefits far outweigh the rewards—as long as you take the time to figure out which e-commerce model will work best with your business.

While there are a few early favorites when it comes to providing franchisors with robust e-commerce solutions, most businesses in franchising rely on external and custom solutions (41.4%). While implementing or adding e-commerce to your offerings may take some custom development, investing in e-commerce solutions helps cement global brand consistency while allowing for customized controls and options at the local level.

Are you analyzing and tracking the data to ensure your franchise’s success?

While it should be a given that conducting a proper analysis of your online web presence or digital marketing efforts, you need a web analytics tool in place. Google analytics is one of the most robust and developed analytics platforms out there but reports indicate that, in general, the franchising industry is neglecting or failing to deploy analytics software.

  • 8% of the country’s top retail franchises report only using Google Analytics
  • 3% Use Google Analytics in addition to another SEO data tool or tracking software
  • 4% of the top 100 retail franchises in the US have no analytics in place (this number dropped from 4% in 2016)

Finding Franchise Success on Social Media Platforms

With almost 90% of retail franchisors showcasing their brands on Facebook, it’s clear that social media management at least is one area in which retail franchisors have been able to grasp and harness the commercial potential of Facebook and other social media platforms.

social media management for corporations

Top Three Social Platforms for Businesses (in Conversion Rates)

  • Facebook – 1.85%
  • YouTube – 1.16%
  • Instagram – 1.08%

Mobilizing your following on Facebook

Facebook is a necessary social channel for any franchise business because it allows franchisees and franchisors to engage a structured and on-brand approach to social media management that allows for the deployment of national messages tailored to local audiences. The power of personalization and localization is a potent one, especially when it comes to conversions. Some strategies for success include:

  • Implement a consistent content strategy to earn organic traffic from your followers
  • Limit your topics to main themes or topics and rotate them via a pre-determined schedule or calendar
  • Invest in making Facebook a pillar of your digital marketing strategy
  • Localize national messages by using Facebook ads

When used correctly, Facebook yields enormous influence and leverage for the franchise community;  it’s just a matter of up-front planning and execution to ensure your strategies have measurable results that will benefit your entire franchise.

Are You Ready to See the Benefits of Social Media Management for Franchises?

Balancing consistent brand messaging and local connections can seem impossible for franchises. Fortunately our holistic approach to marketing automation, social media management, and online reputation management strategies have been developed specifically for businesses like yours to achieve powerful traction via social channels. Connect with our team today to learn more about our tools, services, and partner program for your franchise operation.

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