Franchise Marketing Guide

Everything you need to know about marketing your franchise or multi-location business.


Introduction to Franchise Marketing

Franchising is all about consistency, but consistency is a two-way street.

While franchisors must create a profitable brand and business model that can be easily replicated, franchisees must help maintain brand reputation in order for it to retain its value.

Few things are worse for franchisors than franchisees who damage public perception of their brand. Yet protecting against this is increasingly difficult in today’s digital world.

Forty-two percent of franchise professionals no longer feel traditional marketing channels, including advertising, direct marketing and public relations, are worth the investment.

The question now is: How do can franchisors and franchisees work together to create a single cohesive marketing strategy?

To answer that question we worked with six leading organizations, in a variety of marketing fields, to teach you everything you need to know to help your franchise marketing. From social to email and A/B testing, this guide will cover everything all strategies from the lens of a franchise business model.

Joining us we have:

So jump around to the sections you need the most help with, or dive into the entire guide to turn your franchise organization into a well-oiled marketing machine. Remember, each section was written by a separate company, so the brand voices and structure will always be unique.

Chapter 2

Find, Serve and Satisfy Customers on Social Media

Sprout Social discusses how to engage with your current and prospective customers on social media to increase loyalty and sales at your franchise locations.

Social media is a critical channel for responding to consumer queries.

Sprout Social surveyed customers and identified social media as the second most utilized medium for addressing customer service issues or inappropriate behavior, second only to complaints in-person.

As a franchisor or franchisee that operates multiple (sometimes hundreds or thousands) of locations, you’re likely receiving more mentions than any other industry concerned with customer care, and fielding complaints that you probably have no connection to.

But if you can turn those negative comments into positive social interactions, you’ll increase your organizations overall revenue.

In fact, Sprout surveyed consumers and found 71% were more likely to purchase from a brand after a positive social media experience.

And for the companies with enough foresight to think beyond just revenue there is much more to be gained, like additional shares and impressions.

However, while the importance of social media is clear across all industries, it seems as though consumer goods, retailers and franchise marketers are those that need the most help, at least according to our surveys.

As you increase the amount of locations operating in your organization so too do you increase your reach on social.

By properly leveraging social media you can turn individual locations into well oiled marketing machines that span across the entire marketing funnel.

From content planning and promotion, to brand health and full-funnel analytics, to customer care and consumer and product insights—I see social as embedded across the organization, just as it’s become embedded across our lives.
Jamie Gilpin
CMO, Sprout Social

But with for those organizations that don’t properly approach social, even one mistake could customers against you.

How Should Franchisors and Franchisees Share Social Marketing?

Social media is the most transparent marketing channel online. Your organization needs a governing body, the franchisor, to ensure that those interacting on social media under that brand umbrella are posting appropriate content and engaging when necessary.

But the franchisors can’t and shouldn’t approach social alone for two main reasons: inbound message volume and outbound message relevance.

1. Inbound Message Volume

Due to the amount of inbound volume most brands see, it doesn’t make sense for the franchisor to handle all of the social media messages.

And since many of the messages being sent to a brand concern a specific franchise or region, it would take much longer for a social marketer with no knowledge of a certain location or promotion to answer.

2. Outbound Message Relevance by Location

Second, the team sitting at the corporate office can’t create content with the same level of relevance as those in the franchises. They may not have as much knowledge of the location, the clientele or promotions going on as those in the field do.

Since offering promotions and providing education content are two of the three top social behaviors that prompt purchase, this is a key execution to get right.

Another thing to consider when deciding the workflow between franchisor and franchisees is whether or not to create separate social profiles for individual locations or regions.

When it comes to Facebook your separate locations will almost always have their own page since Facebook has tools for each location to share reviews, directions, maps and more. Facebook makes it easier to find and manage your individual locations with Facebook Locations.

Other channels like Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn require more thought. The key things questions to consider are:

  • Does my franchisee or region have enough interest to support a separate profile?
  • Do your operators have the capacity to run those accounts?
  • Does your franchisee or region have the budget to create a meaningful presence?

Remember, just because a specific location doesn’t have their own presence doesn’t mean they can’t contribute to handling social for your main properties.

Social Media Marketing Tips for Franchisors

The key for franchisors is to strike the right balance between protecting their brands while empowering franchisees to engage with customers and share relevant content.

Though it may make sense to give individual franchisees permission to build their own social presence, we’ve all seen situations where poor social media experiences snowball and the entire brand suffers.

If a customer receives just one poor social experience from one of your franchisees, that person is 50% more likely to boycott your brand entirely.

Create Detailed Policies

A detailed social media policy will help franchisors avoid issues before they’re created. Detailed social policies are good for:

  • Setting expectations for appropriate and inappropriate behavior online
  • Guiding franchisees on social media strategy
  • Protecting the franchisor from legal issues given a social media crises

Create Customizable Templates

One of the biggest issues we see at Sprout Social is that individual locations want to share content relevant to their brand, but the brands don’t necessarily want to give them permission to share whatever they like.

If the franchisor creates templates that can be customized by the franchisee, those social posts created from the templates will be franchisor-approved and more relevant by location.

One way to do this is with a joint media library. Asset libraries allow franchisors to create a digital repository of pre-approved content that can then be shared to the franchisees.

Franchisees can either directly share those pieces of content or leverage image editors to make small tweaks that resonate with their specific audience.

Use Approval-Based Message Flows

Leverage social media tools that require final approval before sending a message to your social networks so nothing unsavory is posted. This is key as bad customer service is one of the key reasons a customer would call you out on social.

Social Media Marketing Tips for Franchisees

One reason franchisors keep all of their marketing budget at the corporate level is that they may not fully trust the franchisees to know how to market their location. It’s can be a fair point as not all franchise investors have a significant marketing background.

Keep these tips in mind once you get access to a budget to start marketing on social.

Maintain Your Presence

If you’d like to create your own social profiles then you need to ensure they are kept up to date with relevant content. Going to a company website only to find the most recent post is from years ago can be a major turnoff for your potential customers.

Post the Right Content

Make sure you’re creating content that your audience engages with. If you’re not sure where to start, check out this chart below with brand actions on social that prompt consumers to purchase.

Note that just because offering promotions helps doesn’t mean that’s all you should share. Brand-building lifestyle content, customer stories and company news all help to build affinity with your audiences.

Social Media KPIs for Franchises

Before you dive right into creating a social media presence it’s importance to decide what will constitute success. This will help you decide whether your marketing efforts are worth the time.

Here are a few ideas for KPIs to get you started!

  • Response Rate: The number of responses, represented as a percentage, to messages that were identified as appearing to warrant a response. Your response rate can further be broken down by the day of the week or hour of the day to see when you’re most and least responsive.
  • Average Response Time: The average amount of time it took for you to respond to messages within the specified date range. Data from a recent Sprout Social Index shows that the average response time for brands in the retail industry is 11.3 hours.
  • Engagement: Total number of times a user interacted with a Tweet. The interactions include clicks anywhere on the Tweet, retweets, replies, follows, likes, links, cards, hashtags, embedded media, username or profile photo.
  • Follower Count: The total number of Twitter followers on the last day of the reporting period.
  • Organic Impressions: Number of times a user was served your Tweets in their timelines or search results on Twitter. Total does not include paid Tweets.

Still not sure where to start when creating goals and KPIs? Try basing your goals off of our recent data on the biggest goals for social marketers.

Sprout Social for Franchises

We’d be remiss if we didn’t tell you why our social media management tool is a great fit for the franchise business model, and you’ll see similar sections in each chapter.

A social media management platform has tools that make franchise collaboration on social media easy. Sprout Social’s tools were specifically built for large, multi-location teams to effectively manage their social presence.

The importance of social tools holds especially true if your franchise organization wants to get more done with social media but can’t look to increase headcount.

If companies intend to allocate more funds to social media activities, but don’t intend to hire more people, then putting the right tools in your staff’s hands is essential. Remove repetitive mundane tasks to free the time people need to execute concepts and strategies and to create great content. And most importantly, free up the mental space for them think holistically about the customer experience.
Jamie Gilpin
CMO, Sprout Social

Here are some of the many features key for the franchise model.

1. Smart Inbox + Brand Keywords

Bring all of your messages from all of your profiles into a single stream. Find opportunities to engage, tag incoming messages, join conversations, and respond to customers across Twitter, Facebook, Messenger, Google+ and Instagram.

2. Message Publishing

Posting an unapproved message can be a disaster for your brand, but it’s a problem that can be avoided. Whether you want to mitigate errant social posts, avoid grammatical errors or bolster an agency-to-client relationship, message approval provides a great collaborative opportunity for social publishing.

3. Advanced Permissions and Groups

Large teams in multi-location and franchise organizations benefit from an intuitive Group structure to easily organize users, teams and profiles by business need, language or geography.

  • Versatility With Groups: Use autonomous groups to organize teams and social profiles to fit your business, agency or clients’ needs.
  • Clearly Defined User Roles: Establish a hierarchy by granting specific profile and group access for each individual user or client.
  • Systematic Profile Management: Group profiles by business need, language or geography to streamline monitoring and engagement.
  • Insights Informed by Groups: Align your profile structure to reporting with the Group Report and view insights across multiple profiles.

4. Asset Library + Photo Editor

Sprout Social’s Asset Library simplifies collaborative publishing and asset management. With custom permissions, logical organization and seamless integration with the Compose window, the Asset Library helps your team publish high quality, engaging content.

  • Collaborate Across Teams Globally: Set permissions and easily maintain one place for your entire team to store, edit, and publish images.
  • Organize Your Images: Use tagging and filtering for quick and easy access to always find what you need.
  • Maintain Brand Consistency: Ensure that all of your posts are on-brand by providing team-wide access to the most up-to-date images.

Chapter 3

Help Your Franchisors Craft More Relevant Email

Did you know that email is one of the most effective channels available to today’s marketers? After all….

59% of marketers see the most ROI from email. – it’s the #1 activity on the internet.
#2? Using a search engine. And if you think about it, that’s not an absurd statistic. We’re all living in our inboxes. In fact, the average office worker receives around 30 emails an hour.

Email produces a 3800% ROI on average.
It’s a sound investment for marketers. While the number may swing up or down, the average ROI for email is consistently more than double that of other digital channels.

However, as a franchise marketer, you face a unique set of challenges when it comes to email marketing. To do your job effectively, you have to address the needs of franchisors with different skill sets, yet somehow maintain control of your content and brand image. You need to empower users across locations to collaborate and use email effectively, but still provide a cohesive experience to every subscriber.

Thankfully, these challenges can be solved with the right strategy. Let’s break it down.

How Should Franchisors and Franchisees Share Email?

Make sure you have a control center.

Being able to manage the email marketing for all of your locations in a central account is an absolute must have for franchises. For one thing, it means every franchisee’s contact info can live in a single system. Secondly, it allows you to set up sub-accounts—each with its own set of user permissions—and give users as much freedom as you would like, without ever losing your central authority. More control and more efficiency means better results across the board.

Share creative and content assets from corporate.

Another huge need in the world of franchise email marketing? Maintaining your brand identity and creating a seamless customer experience. So be sure to find an ESP (email service provider) that allows you to share creative assets—like logos, images, and templates—with one, 50, or all of your sub-accounts to ensure a consistent experience across the board. Bonus points if the ESP lets you lock down certain parts of the design to give you total control over what end users can and can’t edit, making it easy for them to stay true to your brand.

Keep an eye on local and global analytics.

It’s not necessarily a must, but it’s definitely a nice-to-have: A homepage dashboard allows you to see what’s happening across all sub-accounts and drill into individual sends with ease. The at-a-glance view of most recent activity and results lets you quickly identify which teams are nailing it and uncover the ones that could use a little help.

Email Marketing for Franchisors

As a franchisor, it’s important to ensure you maintain control over your brand identity but still find ways to empower users across locations to do their best work. How can you achieve both?

Set up user permissions.

From initial planning to actually pressing send, take stock of every person involved in your email marketing. Make sure they understand their responsibilities, then build those permissions into your account to ensure everyone has the right access to the right tools.

Build shareable templates.

To create a cohesive experience from your website to the inbox and beyond, invest in branded, mobile-friendly email templates your team can utilize for different needs as they arise.

Invest in onboarding.

As roles shift and new team members come on board, remember to invest time onboarding new users to your ESP. Whether it’s training developed in-house or a service purchased through your provider, it will be well worth the investment.

Email Marketing Tips for Franchisees

As a franchisee, you’re mostly likely the one actually sending emails for your particular location. However, you can’t just send any old email and expect to see great results. To fully take advantage of email, you need to be intentional about your strategy.

1. Defining your goals.

Below are some questions to ask as you plan each mailing. They’ll help you identify any gaps in your current process and help you avoid the pitfalls of sending “just because.”

THE AUDIENCE:
Question: Who are you sending the campaign to?
What this question will answer: Which segment of your audience will get value from this message? If you’re sending an email about a local event, for instance, only send to a segment of subscribers who live in that area.

THE BENEFIT:
Question: What’s in it for your subscribers?
What this question will answer: The sweet spot for email marketing is when you can find an overlap between your company’s goals and your subscribers’ needs. Sending solely based on company goals will result in an increase of subscriber churn.

THE ACTION:
Question: What action do you want subscribers to take after receiving this email?
What this question will answer: Knowing what you want subscribers to do as a result of receiving your email will help define the call-to-action (CTA) of your campaign. Remember to keep things focused: Emails with a single CTA can increase click rates by 371% and sales by 1617% (Wordstream).

THE RESULTS:
Question: How will you measure success?
What this question will answer: Email marketing isn’t just about opens and clicks. Determine what you want to accomplish with each email you send, then track the corresponding metric – items purchased, traffic to your website, etc. – to determine the success of that campaign.

2. Growing your list.

Before your subscribers ever get an email from your brand, they have to opt into your list. So how do you convince them to take that first step?

Provide easy signup opportunities everywhere. Look for opportunities to build your email list wherever you interact with your target audience: your website, social channels, events, brick-and-mortar locations (if you have them), etc. It’s all fair game as long as you’re offering something valuable for joining your list and delivering on that promise.

Don’t ask for too much information right away. Every field you add to your signup form will cause the conversion rate to drop by 25%, according to Privy. You can always ask for more over time once people are more familiar with your brand. Plus, if you’re paying close attention to your email metrics, you can discover exactly what types of content your subscribers open and click, so you can gather data that way and tailor their experience accordingly.

Keep your list clean and healthy. That means using legitimate list growth methods – again, do not buy or rent email lists – and providing lead magnets that will entice the right type of subscribers to sign up for your emails. Remember, a healthy email list is about about quality, not just quantity.

3. Welcoming new subscribers.

To promote long-term brand loyalty, you need to start your relationship with new subscribers off on the right foot. Welcome emails should be sent immediately when a subscriber’s interest is peaked—preferably, right after they sign up for your list.

Introduce your brand and tell your story. Your welcome email is your chance to build a following of brand advocates from the very start. Use this first email to control the perception of your brand and use subscriber-focused content to show people why they will want to stay connected.

Follow up on promised content and offers. Welcome emails get 4X the open rates and 5X the click rates of business-as-usual mailings. This is the highest performing email you could ever send, so don’t miss this critical opportunity to encourage action, whether it’s following your social profiles or checking out your online store.

Collect more information. Any “nice to have” information (like location or birthday) that was not collected upon signup can be collected in your welcome email. Ask new subscribers to set sending preferences, too, to ensure you provide the most relevant experience possible moving forward.

Email Marketing KPIs for Franchises

Bounces. It’s awfully tempting to skip over the bounces and head straight to the juicy numbers, like who opened and clicked. But it’s important to give your bounce list the once-over. Why’s that? It’s a good indicator of the health of your list and can help you weed out contacts with email addresses that are no longer valid.

Opens. We can sit here and spout out industry averages forever, but remember that the best benchmarks in the world are your own. Industry averages can give you a general sense of where you fall, but the most applicable numbers are the ones you generate. They’re segmented according to your industry, your audience, your content, and your frequency.

Clicks. In email marketing circles, we also know that things like click-through rates vary wildly not only from industry to industry, but even among mailings sent by the same organization. In our own mailings, for example, our click-through rate can dip as low as 3% in emails where getting people to click is not particularly important to us, and rise as high as 40% when it’s something we clearly set out to do.

Conversions. Using integrations and tracking, you can see the direct impact your email had on your goal. Whether it was items purchased, registrations driven, or traffic to your site, you’ll know exactly how far your send got you in relation to what you were trying to achieve.

Unsubscribes and spam complaints. This is the ultimate indicator of whether or not your emails are hitting the mark. If someone finds your content irrelevant, they won’t hesitate to unsubscribe or mark your email as spam.

Emma for Franchises

Used by top franchises like Liberty Tax, Orangetheory Fitness, and School of Rock, Emma’s Enterprise platform is your franchise’s marketing control center, helping create consistency across your brand, and empowering each location to do their most effective marketing.

All of your locations in one place.

Emma’s tiered account structure lets you create and manage individual accounts for each of your locations, enabling them to manage their own email marketing and freeing your corporate marketers up from handling local-level marketing campaigns.

Control your brand identity.

Share creative assets—like logos, images, offers, and templates—with one, 50 or all of your locations to preserve the consistency of your brand experience, all while enabling marketing on a local level.

Empower your team to create, send, and grow.

Emma’s platform makes it easy for your individual departments or locations to create and send email campaigns that look great, are customized to their audience, and drive results. And, Emma’s best-in-class usability requires less enablement and training with each of your sub-accounts.

Segmentation and automation powers your most targeted email ever.

Create dynamic, real-time segments built on your customers’ data (spending behavior, zip code, birthday, whether they’ve opened a mailing, etc.) and build automated workflows to automatically trigger super-targeted, super-effective campaigns.

Integrations with the services you use most.

Easily connect to other marketing platforms to gather invaluable customer data and use that data in Emma to power relevant email your customers can’t resist.

Chapter 4

Improve the Franchise Experience Online To Boost Your Bottom Line

Crazy Egg gives a brief intro of Franchise Conversion Rate Optimization before teaching you how to convert your online customers.

A Brief Intro to Franchise CRO

Most franchise websites are only running at ⅕ of their earning potential right now, thanks to low customer conversion rates. But the good news is, even small changes will make a huge impact on revenue.

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) may sound like a heavy or complex acronym, but the premise is dead simple: By making consistent improvements to your website design, you can increase the percentage of website visitors who take a desired action, and make more money.

For franchises like Marriott International, RE/MAX, Hertz, or H&R Block, those desired actions could be reserving a hotel room, scheduling an open house with a realtor, renting a car, or booking time with a tax preparation expert.

3 Key Advantages of Practicing CRO:

  1. It doesn’t require much technical skill
  2. Any company with a website can benefit
  3. Benefits compound over time

With CRO, the amount of improvements that you make to your website are limited only by your imagination. As Crazy Egg co-founder Neil Patel says:

The online marketing process never ends because you need to keep making adjustments to see what will provide the best results.
Neil Patel
Co-Founder, Crazy Egg

To be able to improve your conversion rate, you first need visibility into how customers move through your site, and what actions they take. Business owners and marketers often use Google Analytics to monitor their site traffic, but the sheer amount of data can be overwhelming.

We’ll explore how visual reports and session recordings are much easier to interpret, and can help answer questions about what’s stopping customers from completing your goals, later in the chapter.

A few final notes on the benefits of CRO:

  • Many franchise marketers find it tempting to mimic their competitors. But as Neil notes, “Understanding the target audience is key. There is no real formula, though. Something that works really well with Company A might not work for Company B.” CRO tools help you pinpoint your customers’ specific marketing preferences.
  • Another temptation is to do what you’ve always done to get new customers, even though technology has drastically changed the way that people interact with companies. CRO allows for rapid innovation that can help you give your customers exactly what they are looking for, and keep you ahead of the curve.

Best Practices For Franchisors

Step 1

Understand what’s happening under the hood of your website. Use visitor traffic and behavioral data to get a sense of your baseline, find key areas where customers are doing well, and where they are getting stuck.

The first part of the process is knowing what is going on so you can identify places to dig in. You can either start investigating at the macro level with landing page reports, or at a micro level with visitor session recordings.

Step 2

Insight is nothing without action. Use the new-found knowledge gleaned from your reports to A/B test your creative ideas and show that they are making a positive impact on the business.

Move popular content further up the fold to increase visibility, add links to static images with high click rates, or bring in entirely new elements (copy, landing pages, videos, testimonials, a photo gallery, etc).

Step 3

Rinse and repeat! Conversion Rate Optimization is an ongoing, neverending, continuously rewarding process. There is always room for improvement.

CRO Use Cases

Do you have landing pages on your main website that are dedicated to individual franchise locations?

CRO tools allow you to install customer behavior tracking on those specific URLs and share the reports with whoever you like. That way, your franchisees are benefiting from online visitor information that is tailored to their target market.

Do you have an agency or in-house team that runs your web-based advertising, direct mail, and social media marketing campaigns?

You can pass along the customer insights that you gather from your CRO analysis (like which calls to action get the most clicks, or what blog posts are most popular) to help boost the effectiveness of their efforts.

Do you have an idea for a new incentive program, a re-branding campaign, or even just a small adjustment to your homepage?

Rather than make gambles that may alienate your core customer base, we suggest running an A/B test first – that way you can validate your idea with real live customer responses, and be sure that your decision is the right one before you roll it out to franchisees.

Key Performance Indicators

To recap, Conversion Rate Optimization = digital design improvements that you make over time to increase the odds of customers taking an action with a positive outcome for your company (like a purchase, membership subscription, quote request, or an event registration).

There are many ways you can calculate your website conversion rate, but here is a very basic, high-level equation that will help you figure out whether your CRO efforts are effective:

Conversion Rate = (Number of times a website visitor takes the desired action)/(Amount of site traffic)

As you’re running visual reports and looking at how customers navigate your website, here are other metrics to keep an eye on:

  • Impressions
  • New vs. returning visitors
  • Referral traffic
  • Clicks, and click through rate

How Crazy Egg Helps Franchise Organizations

A franchisor’s brand is its most valuable asset. Customers decide which business to shop at and how often to frequent that business based on what they know, or like, about the brand. Once you’ve won someone’s loyalty, you have to make sure you don’t lose it.

As a franchise organization, you set the marketing strategy for multiple locations, which means that the results of your decisions — either positive or negative — are always compounded.

How can you be sure you are getting the best possible outcomes for your franchisees?

Crazy Egg is the world’s first and most trusted visual reporting tool for collecting information about audience behavior. As Neil explains, “If you don’t know who you are trying to reach and what their pain points are, it will be impossible for you to provide the right solutions.”

If you don’t know who you are trying to reach and what their pain points are, it will be impossible for you to provide the right solutions.
Neil Patel
Co-Founder, Crazy Egg

A/B Testing

With Crazy Egg’s A/B testing tools, you can prove out the value of any design or content changes to your website before you roll them out to your franchise locations.

Our intuitive A/B testing tools make it easier than ever to improve the bottom line of your business. Happy customers use Crazy Egg to:

  • Maximize event registrations (perfect for grand openings)
  • Improve conversion rates on paid ad landing pages (excellent for rewards program enrollment)
  • Get the most out of pricing page visits

As soon as we detect a winning variant with your tests, we’ll start sending more traffic to that winner automatically. This gives you as many conversions as possible without having to waste any of your hard-earned traffic.

Visual Reports

Traditional analytics tools are great at telling you what happened. Crazy Egg goes one step further and shows you why. Our visual data reports will help focus your attention where you can make the biggest impact.

Each of our reports can be filtered and exported, letting you share visually impactful data with individual branches or offices. You can also easily compare Snapshots, exploring the difference between Desktop and Mobile behavior, or comparing the before and after redesign of a page.

When you understand where people are coming from, what they’re seeing and using on your website, and where they’re getting stuck, it’s a lot easier to improve their experience with your brand – no matter what location they visit – and boost your conversion rates.

Chapter 5

Leverage Franchise Locations and Employees as Advocates

Bambu discuss how to leverage your franchisees and employees as employee advocates to increase your free online reach.

Employee advocacy is the idea that you can empower your employees, or in this case franchisors and franchisee employees, to share pre-approved content in order to increase your brand awareness.

Employee advocacy, thanks to social media, is a tool too powerful to ignore.

Did you know that brand messages get re-shared 24 times more frequently when shared by employees instead of the brand? Plus, according to Forbes, “customers referred by an advocate have a 37% higher retention rate.” The right message, posted by a genuinely enthusiastic employee to the right audience, can be a priceless marketing message for an organization.

As great as these simple social media actions are for positive brand messaging, there’s a more direct and strategic way to leverage employee advocacy. The trick is to keep the messaging authentic while targeting specific audiences and building a sustainable framework.

How Does Advocacy Benefit a Franchise Organization?

For franchises, employee advocacy brings a unique set of challenges and benefits. The company is, in a sense, more fragmented, and it can be tough to create a functional framework for employee advocacy across all franchises.

However, on the flip side, franchises stand to benefit dramatically if they can implement a thoughtful and strategic employee advocacy program.

Employee Advocacy Saves Money

Leveraging the owners, managers, and lower-level employees through a structured advocacy program is one way to reallocate marketing expenses that may not be as effective. This benefit has significant appeal not only for the company as a whole but for many franchisees who are trying to cut costs by scaling back their marketing efforts.

According to Entrepreneur.com, “franchisees might try to get out of paying for the advertising needed to attract customers, figuring they will get the customers anyway if other franchisees buy the advertising.” If too many franchisees do this type of “free riding,” the stores or restaurants collectively have fewer customers because no one is willing to spend the extra money on advertising.

If you’re having this problem, consider an employee advocacy program as a low-cost way to get everyone involved in marketing without eating into their profit margins too much.

Employee Advocacy Leverages Brand Knowledge

Whether they’re part-time, full-time, or salaried, franchise employees are the people most familiar with your company’s products and services. They know all the nitty-gritty details of the business; that knowledge can be an immense advantage to your marketing efforts.

There’s no huge learning curve for these in-house marketers; with a little direction and motivation, they’re ready to spread the good word about your business.

Three Ways to Manage Advocacy Efforts

Three different groups of people could potentially be in charge of your employee advocacy program. The model you select will largely depend on the type of franchise you’re involved in and the level of buy-in you have from your owners.

  • A National Marketing Board— In this scenario, the company has a marketing board that’s in charge of employee advocacy efforts across all franchises. The word on employee advocacy comes from the top down, and the local franchisees have to implement it as dictated by the board. This type of scenario could work well for franchisees who aren’t very motivated to take responsibility for their own marketing.
  • A Co-Op Marketing Board— In this case, representatives from the franchise owners work with the parent company to craft a marketing strategy that works nationwide. They also determine how employee advocacy efforts are handled (including creating a social media policy, brand messaging guidelines, etc.). This way, the company can still have leadership and a level of marketing control, while the owners have a voice and an interest in the process.
  • The Local Franchise— For some businesses, the best way to ensure full owner buy-in is to give franchisees the freedom to get creative and set up their own employee advocacy strategy. To keep this permissive model from backfiring, it’s important to offer training and help to franchise owners. They need to know best practices and understand specific brand guidelines before they jump into employee advocacy, particularly on social media.

How Franchise Organizations Can Start Leveraging Advocacy

Experts suggest that you begin your advocacy efforts in phases; it all starts with finding the most enthusiastic and engaged employees at each franchise location.

Find the Storytellers

You can find these folks by sending out a survey with a few questions about company products, or by encouraging employees at each franchise location to share something about their favorite product on a social media network. Ask your franchise owners to approach their most dedicated, enthusiastic, and verbally skilled employees about becoming advocates.

Entrepreneurial CMO Matt Sweetwood suggests that you offer some information about the upcoming initiative via email and ask for volunteers.

There should be an email sent to All@YourCompany.com with an explanation of what employee advocacy is, why it is done and what will be accomplished for the company. Ask staff to reply with their willingness to participate. I would not require any staff member to do it that doesn’t want to, but let them know there will be rewards for the people who do it the most.
Matt Sweetwood
CEO • C-Suite Advisor • Speaker • Life Coach • Lumix Photographer

Make it Easy for Them

Your company needs to make it easy for busy employees to share content as they’re on the go. Today that means implementing an employee advocacy platform with a mobile app (or optimized for mobile web browsers).

Curate relevant company and industry news, product updates, job openings and more. Whether you’re part of a nationwide company marketing group, a co-op initiative, or a franchise-level marketing effort, you’ll see better success when you supply your employee advocates with highly shareable content.

Maintain the Momentum

Consider offering small incentives for employees who continue sharing your brand message effectively.

Offer incentives to encourage reluctant employees to take the time to promote your company on social media, and to ensure active employees share messaging in alignment with your goals. For example, you could present a $100 gift card for every recruit that results in a hire, or offer incentives for sales leads that come through employee social media accounts.
Matt Sweetwood
CEO • C-Suite Advisor • Speaker • Life Coach • Lumix Photographer

Gift cards, parking spots, useful branded merchandise, or other benefits don’t take many dollars from your marketing budget, and they’ll be much appreciated by your employee advocates.

Advocacy-Related KPIs for Franchise Organizations

So how do you know who deserves those little incentives and rewards? Is your advocacy program really working? Here’s how to find out.

Mentions

Entrepreneur and CEO Meghan M. Biro explains the vital key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure. Look for mentions, “the number of times your company name, products, and services, or any other brand-related terms you have previously identified for monitoring, are discussed in online conversations.” she suggests. “Your KPI is the number of mentions over a fixed period, or from a particular social network.”

Your KPI is the number of mentions over a fixed period, or from a particular social network.
Meghan M. Biro
Entrepreneur | CEO | Speaker | Author | HR and Tech Evangelist

Leads

You also need to track social leads, which Biro suggests you do “through your website analytics, participation in lead nurturing programs, comments on your blog or website requesting follow-up,” and more. Keep records of inquiries by phone, email or text. Note whether new leads use specific phrases and keywords associated with a recent employee advocacy initiative.

Engagement

Track engagement, which according to Biro involves “the level of activity around your employees’ updates about your brand.” Are there comments and discussions going on? Have sales experienced a noticeable uptick? Have you noticed more shares of updates and images? More positive activity and involvement typically indicate that you and your advocates are doing something right.

How Does Bambu Help Franchise Organizations Like Yours?

Even with a broader understanding of the benefits and some ideas for getting started, you may feel unprepared to begin your own employee advocacy program. What if there were an easy way to jump-start the process and get employees involved?

Bambu gives franchise owners and employees a simple way to share carefully selected content across their social networks. From amplifying social media reach to improving internal communications to boosting social selling, this platform does it all. It unifies fragmented messaging, provides essential metrics and KPIs, and enables your employees to effortlessly transition to intentional brand ambassadors.

Watch as your franchise advocates amplify your messages and report on the success of your advocacy program.

Chapter 6

Drive Additional Visits and Conversions with Reviews

ReviewTrackers discusses the importance of online reviews for your franchise marketing and how to improve your review strategy.

Local is big.

According to Google, a third of searches are interpreted as “local.” So it’s time for franchises to be, think, and act local. It doesn’t matter how many franchisees are in your company: you need to integrate local into your marketing strategy to attract customers.

The Impact of Online Reviews

Online review management is one of the main factors that contributes to an effective local marketing strategy for your franchise. Why? The management of reviews is one of the main ways to create a local online presence to get customers into your stores.

That means any time a consumer is thinking about going out for pizza, they will see Google search results with a map. And on that map will be stars for all the franchises and local businesses near them.

Which review website has the most impact?

Google is the No. 1 site for consumers to find reviews about businesses, according to ReviewTrackers’ 2018 Online Reviews Survey.

How review management works alongside local marketing

Reviews can actually influence your franchise’s SEO rankings, too. Online reviews are one of the top factors that determine where a business shows up in local search results, according to Moz. Specifically, the pace at which you receive new reviews and the amount of online reviews you have for each franchise location contribute to where your franchise locations rank in search results. That’s why review management across all review platforms for every single one of your locations is necessary for franchises to be found.

Online reviews also encourage consumer trust. You will build customer trust if you are listening to what customers say in online reviews. There might be trends in reviews that are specific to the community. Let’s say you have a restaurant franchise. One of the many things you’re known for is your bagel sandwiches. But when you open up a franchise location in New York City, where the bagels are the best in the country, you do not meet the expectations of local New Yorkers.

By looking at the trends in online reviews, you see that multiple reviewers write that the bagels just don’t compare to local New York bagel shop bagels. So you take these insights and you get your bagels from the local bagel shop across the street.

Another way reviews give consumers a local feel? When businesses respond. When you respond to customers online and resolve their issues, you build relationships with them. In addition, consumers searching for a franchise like yours will see that you respond to customers and know you care. This helps create that local feel for consumers researching a business like yours: if they see a franchise owner cares about their neighbors, consumers will feel that they can trust you.

How Should Online Review Management be Shared Between Franchisors and Franchisees?

There are several things to consider when deciding on a workflow and responsibilities of online review management.

The first decision is whether or not you want the franchisee to manage his or her own review site pages. If the answer is yes, then you can provide educational tools to the franchisees for managing their reviews. If you choose to have the franchisees manage their own reviews, then you could host a webinar explaining how to respond to negative or positive reviews, for example.

You can also provide an incentive program for your franchisees. You could provide an award for the franchisee that responds to the most reviews in a year, for example.

If you don’t feel comfortable having franchisees take control of their online reviews, you have to make sure you still have online review pages claimed for each franchise — this includes Google My Business and Facebook. You then should create a process to manage all franchisee reviews. Be sure the process includes responding, generating new reviews from customers on a consistent basis, and looking for insights into the customer experience.

Best Practices for Franchisors

One best practice is to capture all possible customer data from online reviews.

Franchisors can capture this data by aggregating all reviews from review pages into an Excel spreadsheet or use a review management solution.

Hwy 55, Burgers, Shakes and Fries uses ReviewTrackers as a review management solution to manage reviews, as well as to gain insights into the customer experience.

Andy Moore, director of communications at 1950s-style diner Hwy 55, says that without an effective review management strategy, businesses might miss the feedback that is already out there.

The team at Hwy 55 thought their waitstaff was doing a great job of greeting guests in a timely manner after guests sat down, but the team was proven wrong after analyzing online reviews.

Moore’s team found that the term “waitress” correlated heavily with negative reviews. The team looked into the issue and found that at some locations, guests were waiting too long to be greeted by a waiter or waitress.

That enabled us to make that a priority in our training and onboarding process. We also used the opportunity to remind everyone in company-wide email the steps to greeting a customer and serving him or her as quickly as we can. It was interesting because we felt were doing pretty okay at that and then we realized that it actually was a real pain point for us.
Andy Moore
Director of Communications at Hwy 55

Best Practices for Franchisees

If the franchisee is taking ownership of his or her review management for his or her business location(s), then the franchisee should be sure to respond to every single review — both negative and positive reviews.

Franchisees should also ask for reviews. They can do this by sending emails to customers asking for a review on a specific review site.

Ziebart, an automotive aftermarket service, automates their review request process. They sync their point-of-sale system with the ReviewTrackers API. When a customer is at the end of their purchase, an email is automatically sent to the address the customer provided.

Larisa Walega, director of marketing at Ziebart International Corporation, says, “We’re encouraging store owners to show more initiative in asking for reviews from our customers. Starting the conversation and being able to direct the customer to leaving a review is helping tremendously. The process has been streamlined with the addition of the ReviewTrackers API in our POS software.”

We’re encouraging store owners to show more initiative in asking for reviews from our customers. Starting the conversation and being able to direct the customer to leaving a review is helping tremendously. The process has been streamlined with the addition of the ReviewTrackers API in our POS software.
Larisa Walega
Director of Marketing at Ziebart International Corporation

Ziebart has increased their monthly reviews by 262 percent through automating review requests. Their average star rating also increased from 3.6 to 4.4 stars out of 5.0.

What KPIs should franchise organizations look at in your channel?

Review Sentiment

The ReviewTrackers tool analyses keywords within reviews to provide sentiment analysis. Companies will know how customers feel about their businesses. The algorithm also gives businesses insights into the customer experience. For example, a restaurant can see whether or not they need to improve operations throughout all franchises within the company.

Franchises will also be able to see how each of their locations compare with one another with a report. Franchises can see which locations need attention and which ones are performing well.

Improve Star Rating

The more reviews you get, the higher your star rating.

The average star ratings for restaurants is 4.14, according to our research. For services, it’s 4.51.

If you’re not at the average star rating for each industry, our tool will help you increase the amount of reviews you have for each site by automatically asking for them via email or SMS.

How Does ReviewTrackers Specifically Help Franchise Organizations?

Most importantly, ReviewTrackers helps consumers find franchises.

Reviews are a key research tool for consumers. The management of online reviews will help franchises compete with local stores and with other franchises in the area.

ReviewTrackers helps franchisees and franchisors understand their customers at each location. Our algorithm analyses trends within reviews so you can see what customers expect at each location.

In addition, ReviewTrackers is easy to use. If you decide that you’d like franchisees to manage their reviews, then it will be easy for everyone in your company to learn how to use the tool.

A franchise is a business, but it’s a business that is part of a local community. Online reviews help franchises connect to and engage with their local customers.

Chapter 7

Use Digital Knowledge Management to Scale Franchise Marketing

In this section Yext demystifies Digital Knowledge Management for franchise marketing.

What Is Digital Knowledge Management, and Why Should Restaurant Brands Care?

Your digital knowledge is made up of the many facts about your business that live online. This includes your restaurant’s name, address, phone number, hours of operation, products, services, and especially, your menu. In other words, it’s the information about your restaurant brand — and about each physical store — that customers are searching for.

Digital Knowledge Management (DKM) is the process by which you source, maintain, and make your digital knowledge available to customers in the moments that matter.

When customers look online for directions to one of your stores, or to check your holiday hours, they’re looking for your digital knowledge. That’s information which you, the restaurant, know better than anyone else — so you need to be in control of it. Customers want to know if you have gluten-free menu options, and you’re the only reliable source who can tell them. So if you aren’t managing that digital knowledge, both at the brand level and at the store level, then you’re leaving your performance in search (along with your potential foot traffic) up to chance.

A Tale of DKM

Let’s say you’re having a grand opening. Perhaps it’s a new location in a market you’ve never opened in before. Or maybe you’re opening the first location of a new offshoot or sister concept, or maybe you’re opening a flagship store in a significant location.

Public Relations and a creative agency are both involved. You’ve printed up marketing materials, your c-suite, executives, and the marketing team have all flown in for the event. Members of the press, TV, radio, online media, and even influencers have been invited. Some of them may have even commanded a fee.

Pay Per Click advertising and social media ads have been placed, and perhaps you’ve even gone as far as buying radio ads and a billboard. The point is — this is a BIG DEAL. And you have spent several thousand dollars on this initiative.

The day comes and everything runs smoothly. All the guests have a great time, and the food turns out perfectly. Unbelievable looking photos of your brand, your food, and your restaurant space are starting to pop up all over the internet. Everyone feels good, and the event is considered a success.

Now imagine your target consumer starts to see the social posts, hear the ads, and gets targeted on social media. This customer is enticed to stop by the nearest location to try out your restaurant. They pop over to their search engine of choice (or their favorite restaurant review site, or to their voice assistant, like Siri or Alexa) and ask where to find those loaded curly fries… and they get the wrong answer. Or worse, the answer they get sends them to your competitor.

How successful was your campaign? We call this a leaky budget. That’s when money is spent with the best of intentions, around a really great idea, but a hole in your marketing means you don’t close the funnel — a great campaign has resulted in a customer who is either upset or eating down the block.

What could’ve prevented this? Digital Knowledge Management.

We are witnessing a major platform shift — the rise of AI services like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant. It used to be that when you searched for something, you got 10 blue links on a page. But now, they just give you an answer directly. Ask your favorite voice assistant “Hey Google, where’s the nearest McDonald’s?” There’s no web result there, just a direct answer!

For years, your website was the centerpiece of your digital experience — but now 73% of high intent traffic occurs off your website. These intelligent services (which also include Google Maps, Facebook, Yelp, and other search engines, apps, maps, social networks, chat interfaces, and directories) have created a new channel where customers can engage with your brand. This makes it just as important to manage your information across these services as on your own website!

Five years ago, one of the key KPIs for a restaurant marketer was driving clicks and engagement to a website. A customer would search for a brand, or come across a brand’s link, land on the homepage, and then navigate through the site to find the desired answer. But now, that has been completely flipped.

Today, the homepage tends to be the last page a consumer lands on when searching for specific information. More often, they will enter your website at the menu, the local page for the store nearest to them, or the hiring opportunities in their area.

So investing in Digital Knowledge Management means more people will see your brand when they search. On average, companies with no initial Digital Knowledge Management strategy that invest in DKM get 49% more views after 12 months. And companies that deploy a full Digital Knowledge Management strategy can see a significant increase in online customer engagement, high-intent actions, and ultimately return on their DKM strategy within 12 months.

How does Digital Knowledge Management work for restaurants?

Consumers are searching for what they crave, not your brand. 68% consumers search by either cuisine or food item (e.g., pizza, taco, or salad) — not by restaurant name. This means you need to make sure your digital knowledge is comprehensive, accurate, and up to date.

Step one, then, is to collect and organize that data. Typically, digital knowledge is scattered throughout an organization (marketing, operations, IT, and franchisees each have pieces of it). That includes menus, prices, credit cards accepted, limited time offers, hours of operation, and thousands of other data points. All of that information is sent to endpoints like the website, a POS system, menu printers, AdWords, agencies, and franchisee databases.

Once you’ve collected all the digital knowledge for your restaurant, consider investing in a centralized Digital Knowledge Management solution, to help you maintain and update that information — and enable you to publish those updates everywhere customers might search for it.

Consumer behavior is changing with technology. And change can be confusing. But with a solid Digital Knowledge Management strategy in place, you can take control over an important aspect of the customer experience — impacting the way customers engage with your brand before, during, and long after they visit your restaurant.

Conclusion

Whether you manage the marketing for a trendy new smoothie shop, create social content for a chain of gyms or run the marketing for a global fast-food conglomerate, you realize that your marketing approach is fundamentally different than that of your non-franchise counterparts.

However, by implementing some or all of these ideas, you will help you scale your business and drive new business to all of your locations.

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