Plug Into Your Audience | International Franchise Association

Plug Into Your Audience


Three digital marketing strategies franchise brands need to establish for a successful 2019.


By Alex Porter, CFE


It’s often a popular assumption that e-commerce is supplanting the traditional shopping experience, where consumers purchase products and services in physical locations. But the reality is that consumers still overwhelmingly prefer to buy in-store. In fact, just 8 percent of the $3.7 trillion spent annually in the United States is through e-commerce, according to Deloitte.

It’s true that consumers are making their final purchase in brick-and-mortar locations, but it’s also true that they’re using their digital devices to decide which businesses ultimately receive their hard-earned cash. Knowing this, franchise brands must reach potential customers on their online devices and understand how these connections affect their offline behavior.

If your franchise brand wants to stay ahead of the competition in 2019, these three digital marketing tactics will expand your reach and increase revenue by driving purchase-ready consumers into your locations.


“Just 8 percent of the $3.7 trillion spent annually in the United States is through e-commerce.”


Digital Assistants

Voice search was once a novelty, but the rise of the Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri and other voice-activated applications has solidified the technology as a force to be reckoned with. According to comScore, 50 percent of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. According to Alpine.AI, as of January 2018, there are more than a billion voice searches per month.

All of this means that franchise brands need to have a voice search strategy for 2019 and beyond. Optimizing for digital assistants and voice search is different than traditional SEO, but not necessarily more complicated. Franchise brands should start adjusting their content to reflect how users speak to their voice-activated devices as opposed to how they type. For example, a text user looking for pizza places in Des Moines might type: “pizza Des Moines”. A digital assistant user, on the other hand, is more likely to ask, “Where is the best pizza in Des Moines?”

In addition to modifying content based on speech patterns, franchise teams and their strategic partners should create a list of common questions or problems from potential customers. This list should guide the creation of voice-query-based content that directly answers questions and provides solutions. This delivers the most helpful information to consumers who are ready to make a purchase while also signaling to Google that your content is the most relevant to the searcher’s needs.


Video Is In

If your brand isn’t incorporating video into its marketing plan, you’re already working from behind. Cisco’s “Visual Networking Index” report predicts that video will account for 82 percent of all consumer internet traffic by 2021. That’s a reflection of the public’s preference for video over text. According to Wyzowl, 72 percent of consumers prefer to learn about a service or product through video when placed next to a text option on the same page.

Video production can be intimidating and time-consuming for franchisees, but high-quality camera phones are making matters easier. Not only is the barrier for entry lowering, but localized video also is creating valuable opportunities for franchisees to connect directly with customers in their area.

Consider creating an explainer video that quickly details how your product solves a problem for your audience. Adding a layer of paid advertising on social media is also a great way to get your video and brand in front of a hyper-targeted audience.


“If your brand isn’t incorporating video into its marketing plan, you’re already working from behind.”


Marketing Attribution

Marketing attribution is a digital tactic that allows brands to see what marketing channels are influencing consumers and determining the value of those channels.

Before consumers make a purchase, they’re exposed to multiple touchpoints. These touchpoints might include a television ad, e-mail promotion, Instagram video, or any other marketing tactic that they encounter on their path to purchase. Marketing attribution assesses how these touchpoints work together and which touchpoints are most effective in producing a sale.

Once this data is gathered, brands can make adjustments in dedicated budget toward specific channels – optimizing the brand experience for consumers at all phases of the sales process. This tactic gives brands a systematic, data-driven marketing strategy that can be quickly evaluated and adjusted based on their business goals.

FASTSIGNS International, Inc., a custom sign and visual graphics franchisor with nearly 700 locations in 9 countries, has already incorporated many of these tactics into their marketing initiatives.

“Digital marketing is a key component in our multi-channel, multi-touch marketing plan,” said FASTSIGNS Senior Vice President of Marketing Drue Townsend. “Through advanced attribution models, we’re able to see how users get to our website, whether it’s though a pay-per-click ad or reading a blog post on one of our social media channels, and this helps us understand where to focus or improve our marketing efforts.”


Digital Design

Now more than ever, brands should focus on how people in the digital age are making decisions. Consumers simultaneously live in the real and digital worlds, moving from their mobile devices into physical stores in a matter of hours.

Incorporating these three tactics into your digital marketing plan for 2019 will ensure that your brand connects with these consumers when it matters – making your franchise locations their first and final choice.


Alex Porter, CFE, is CEO for Location3 Media. Learn more about Location3 Media.