The Franchise Website: The Strong Hub in the Wheel of Marketing
A fast casual approach to franchise growth
Franchise digital marketing – a complex wheel of digital channels with seemingly endless possibilities, assuming a reasonably robust marketing budget. From blogs and social media, to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay Per Click advertising (PPC) and everything in between, more than 70 percent of franchise lead generation comes from digital media and PR.
Given the complexity and myriad of options, some organizations fail to understand the most important part of a franchise marketing effort, the place where each of these digital spokes is housed – the franchise website. A well-developed site is the clearinghouse for any and all marketing efforts, designed to identify value propositions for site visitors and a venue to capture potentially hot leads.
When it comes to the restaurant industry, specifically, fast casual still accounts for less than 10 percent of the total market, but the options have grown tremendously (approximately 500 percent) since 1999. Knowing the importance of a franchise website, the question often emerges – how can a fast casual restaurant franchise create an effective recruiting site that delivers the highest quality leads?
From placement of images to the text in the navigation menu, constructing a fast casual franchise website should be done through the lens of how it will influence ongoing marketing efforts. This means rich and updated content, multiple audience-specific landing pages, social media channel navigation, and seamless opportunities to set up conversions with a call to action and industry trend information.
A quality franchise website has anywhere between six and 10 pages, not including a homepage, each featuring unique content that strategically drives an action for the viewer. For example, a testimonials page provides validation for the viewers inquiring about a franchise opportunity, while an FAQ page enables potential leads to qualify themselves without needing additional information.
It’s also important to understand how people are viewing a website. Today, 1.2 billion people are accessing the web from mobile devices - 80 percent of the time from a smartphone and 57 percent on tablets or other mobile phones. Translation - mobile optimization is no longer optional when it comes to building a franchise-recruiting site.
Update the menu
A website is a living, breathing marketing vehicle that can have a profound impact on potential franchise sales. For it to live and breathe, however, new and compelling content must be steadily generated. No, that doesn’t mean making consistent changes to the “contact us” page, but rather prioritizing a content marketing effort through a fresh and informative blog. A well-crafted blog section demonstrates franchise credibility with industry research and expert commentary.
Plus, every new blog post is one more indexed page on the website, and one more opportunity to be discovered and increase SEO and organic website traffic via search engines.
Fresh and organic ingredients
It’s no secret; SEO is one of the most useful tools for franchisors searching for increased lead flow, and for good reason. More than 71 percent of Google searches generated clicks on the first page of search results, with a steep drop off on pages two and three, at just six percent.
The simple point - getting to the top of organic search results, or close to it, dramatically increases the chance of being found as a viable franchise opportunity. The tougher reality is that search engines are constantly changing and updating algorithms that can negatively impact the organic search results of a franchise website.
How does a franchise combat those changes and stay on top?
- Research: Develop a baseline of the most relevant and popular keywords for the franchise opportunity, see what the competitors are doing, and test!
- Optimize: SEO is highly dependent on an active social presence and freshly generated content, so ongoing development and optimization is a must.
- Prioritize: Don’t overstuff the franchise homepage – think 300 to 500 words – keeping the most important information “above the fold” for visitors.
Finishing the dish
The franchise website is the biggest hammer in a franchisor's proverbial tool belt. With the variety of channels available to generate leads, it must be the hub that captures and strategically drives franchise sales. Each channel delivers potential leads with differing motivations and mindsets, but the goal always remains the same – furnish more information on the franchise opportunity in order to encourage lead capture.
Optimizing a franchise website is a challenge, of course, but remember that no matter the road searchers take, the website is the destination. Ensuring it’s ready to welcome all visitors is essential, and following some basic principles and best practices will pave the way for a fast casual franchise sale.
Matthew Jonas is the President of TopFire Media, an award-winning integrated public relations and digital marketing agency specializing in franchise marketing and consumer branding. Together with the leaders of iFranchise Group and Franchise Dynamics, Jonas established TopFire Media to provide a strategic and synchronized method for digital marketing in the franchise industry. As a digital marketing strategist with more than a decade of in-depth experience in SEO and PPC, social media publishing, conversion based marketing, inbound marketing, sales management, and online lead generation, Jonas has built a career dedicated to delivering an integrated marketing approach that achieves client success and long-term relationships.