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Digital Marketing for Franchises: 9 Tactics for Winning Customers Online

July 12, 2023 10 min. read
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Digital marketing can help franchisees reach and attract potential customers online, win new business, grow brand awareness, and stay connected with their customer base.

As the franchise owner, you can educate franchisees about how to market their service businesses online, using the nine franchise marketing tactics in this guide as a starting point.

When you help franchisees implement these tactics, you won’t just help their franchise business—you’ll help your entire company grow and thrive.

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing for franchises is any type of marketing that takes place online—for example, your business’s website, social media, and any online ads you run.

This type of marketing lets you share your message with potential customers through their computers and their phones, which builds brand awareness, attracts visitors to your website, and converts them into leads.

Digital marketing also gives you detailed metrics to show how your advertising is performing, which allows you to make adjustments and quickly improve performance.

1. Appear in online searches with local SEO

Local SEO (which stands for search engine optimization) helps franchises appear in location-specific search results when potential customers search for a service provider online.

Here’s an example of how local businesses often show up in Google search results:

Google Search Map Listing of Local Fence Businesses

To get started with local franchise marketing, franchisees need to claim their locations and create profiles on search engines like Google Business, Yahoo, and Bing. Their business profiles should include:

  • Business name, contact details, and operating hours
  • Full-color, high-quality business logo
  • Business description consistent with other franchises
  • Link to the franchise’s website or landing page
  • Photos of completed work

A completed Google Business profile will look something like this:

The Google Business Profile for CityScape Landscaping, which shows the map area, business name, address, and reviews.

2. Invest in online advertising

If you need to quickly drum up business, online advertising can be very effective. And unlike print ads, you don’t need a big budget.

With pay per click (or PPC) advertising, you only pay when someone clicks an ad. The more you or your franchisee is willing to pay for each click, the better the ad placement will be.

There are two main ways to advertise online—search ads and display ads. When a potential customer clicks on either type of ad, franchisees can bring them to their websites for more info about their services.

This makes online advertising for franchises a fast, relatively easy way to spread brand awareness, attract leads, boost website traffic, and generate revenue.

Search ads

Search ads are text-based ads that appear at the very top of search engine results for specific keywords (i.e., the search terms that users type in).

In a typical Google search, there are two types of ads—Local Services Ads and Search Ads: 

a Google search for a local fencing business. the results show local services ads on top and search ads below.

Google Local Services ads (LSAs) are located at the very top of the search results, just above search ads. With LSAs, you only pay per lead, not per click. This makes them a great starting point for new franchisees with a limited budget.

Pro Tip: If your franchisees sell products associated with your services, like cleaning supplies or maintenance tools, you can use Google for Retail to list those products on Google Shopping. This will help products show up in standard Google search results, too.

Display ads

Franchisees can use search engine ad networks to buy image-based ad space, where they can display targeted ads to ideal customers on the sites where they spend time.

They can either choose specific websites and pages where they want ads to appear, or let the network determine which sites to advertise on, based on their audience demographics.

Here’s an example of a display ad for an electrical business in Chicago, shown on a website that’s part of a search engine ad network:

A display ad for Chicago Electricians

3. Get into social media marketing

Your customers are spending time on social media, which makes it a great place for franchisees to share engaging content and run paid ads.

Social media marketing for franchisees will help them promote services, create leads and brand awareness, and build relationships and community.

Social media posts

Instead of managing a single set of company social media pages as the franchisor, consider letting each franchise have their own pages where they can create relevant content for their local service area.

This allows local customers to contact franchisees directly with any questions, comments, or concerns. They can also see location-specific hours, reviews, and other information.

Monitor franchisees’ social media content to ensure it’s good quality and on brand. You should also be tracking likes, comments, shares, clicks, and other performance metrics.

You can also share the occasional piece of franchisee content on your business’s main social media page. This shows franchisees you value their contributions and notice their good work.

Pro Tip: Write a social media policy for your franchisees to follow. They may not have social media marketing experience and need to know how to present (and protect) your brand online.

Paid social media ads

Similar to pay-per-click search engine marketing, franchisees can run paid ads on social media and set their budget and target audience to reach more ideal customers faster.

Here’s an example of what franchise advertising could look like on social media. All the franchisee needs is your company logo, quality photos, and a snappy tagline:

examples of facebook and instagram ads for a local fence company

These ads can send leads to a franchise landing page about their services or special promotions. That way they can track how effectively their social media ads earned new leads.

4. Build trust with a blog

When ideal customers are searching online for topics related to a franchise’s services, content marketing helps the franchise show up in search engine results.

This content often takes the form of blog articles and videos that educate, inform, and entertain potential customers about the industry.

Pro Tip: Want to do content marketing for your parent company as the franchisor? Consider creating content for potential franchisees, not just ideal customers.

Blog content

Blog content doesn’t just have to be company news—it can be articles that answer common questions or provide readers with useful tools.

For example, Vancouver plumbing company Plumbhartt uses their blog provide helpful, localized plumbing tips:

screenshot of a plumbing website exsample with a blog

If a homeowner in Vancouver was searching online for these tips, they’d be more likely to find and contact Plumbhartt than a business without a blog.

By using a free tool like this bulk keyword generator,  your franchisees can find similar search terms that are relevant to your industry and create the same type of content.

Video content

Search engine results include video content, so it’s a good idea for franchisees to create videos that go with their blog article topics. This is especially valuable for any type of “how to” content.

Video content also allows viewers to associate your brand with specific people, visuals, and music, which can help build trust in your business. Here’s one example of a video created by a local service business that shows up in Google Search:

Google search result showing video content

This video is broken out into stages so viewers can skip to the section they want. Or, because Detail Groove clearly knows what they’re talking about, viewers may just ask the business to do the detailing for them.

5. Stay connected with email marketing

Franchisees can use email marketing to send promotions, reminders, blog articles, and other useful information directly to customers’ inboxes.

When you provide your franchisees with branded, customizable email templates, they can regularly send valuable content to their email list.

You can even automate this with email marketing software like Jobber, which allows businesses to customize and automatically send targeted emails to clients.

When your franchisees use Jobber to create email campaigns, they can choose from premade templates that are built for specific goals and customers—and that include your company branding.

A customer re-engagement email from a landscaping company built with Jobber Campaigns. Surrounding it are email elements that can be customized and a rich text editor.

After editing the email with details on promotions or new services, franchisees can edit their client segments. This means they can choose what group of clients to email—like all clients or past clients.

They can even select clients using tags, job history, or by a particular service they provided.

Then, you can track your success over time from a simple dashboard. For every campaign you send in Jobber, you’ll see the number of customers who opened the email, clicked on a link, or converted into a job.

A graphic of email engagement results for a “Re-engagement campaign,” including open rate, click rate, and revenue.

6. Build a franchise website

As the franchisor, you likely already have a service business website. Each franchise needs one, too.

This is where all potential customers should eventually end up, whether they learned about you on social media or through another franchise digital marketing channel.

You can also decide whether franchise sites should be separate or if there should just be different location-specific pages on your site. For example, Dryer Vent Squad has one company site with individual pages for each location:

Example of a franchise service business website with pages for each location

Whichever option you go with, make sure each franchisee is using tools like Google Search Console and Google Analytics to track performance metrics like clicks, keyword ranking, new and returning visitors, and form submissions.

This will tell you how effectively each page is bringing in traffic and earning new leads.

7. Get 5-star reviews

Reputation marketing helps franchises build a strong reputation for the business by generating lots of positive reviews online. It can also help a franchise appear higher in a list of local search engine results.

Franchisees can start by setting up accounts on Google Business, Facebook, Yelp, Angi, HomeAdvisor, and other lead generation sites

From there, they can ask customers to leave reviews and respond to them. This shows that franchisees care about providing great service and are happy to solve any problems.

8. Develop local marketing strategies

While franchisees can follow your parent company marketing strategy, each location may have different audiences, tactics, and services. That’s why each needs its own franchise marketing strategy.

Franchising marketing strategies should include:

  • Audience research to understand your ideal customer
  • Analysis of how your services solve customer needs
  • All advertising tactics they plan to use (like the ones listed in this article, plus any non-digital marketing, like flyers or lawn signs)
  • Planned budget and amounts allotted for each tactic

You’ll also need to see all franchise digital marketing results. In addition to clicks and page views, check to see how many leads became paying customers and how much the franchise earned as a result.

Pro Tip: Use your field service CRM to learn more about your customers, like service preferences and geographic areas. You can then share this information with franchisees as a starting point for their franchise marketing plan.

9. Create a consistent brand

Your service business brand is the way the world thinks and feels about your business. It makes it easier for you to impress customers, attract employees, and stand out from competitors.

The most trusted and recognized brands are consistent across all of their marketing. This means every web page, social media post, flyer, and email needs to look like part of your brand.

To guarantee this consistency, create brand guidelines and train your franchisees to use them. Your guidelines should cover how to use:

  • Business name, logo, and taglines
  • Fonts and colors
  • Photos, images, and illustrations

It’ll be even easier for franchisees to keep your brand consistent if you also provide approved logo files and design templates for them to use.

With your detailed training and dedicated support, marketing a franchise online can be simple, straightforward, and successful for your franchisees.

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