Can inbound marketing work for franchise businesses?
There's no reason why not. Though it can be difficult to implement all of the tenets of inbound marketing across a business that has multiple franchises, the benefits of doing so are huge:
- Inbound marketing methods can deliver over 54% more leads than traditional outbound marketing
- Over 80% of business decision makers say they'd prefer to get information rather than advertising when making a decision
- Inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead than traditional outbound marketing
First things first, though...
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is about getting your audience to come to you. It's about deepening your relationship with your audience. And by building on that deeper relationship to turn your audience into eventual promoters of your franchise.
Here's how the two different models of marketing work:
Traditional outbound marketing interrupts to demand attention
It does this by being marketer-centric, by cold calling, spam emails, and ads that pop up wherever you seem to go.
Inbound marketing seeks permission
It does this by being customer-centric, by attracting attention through SEO, blogging, and providing content that is valuable to you.
Let's be honest - which one would you rather be on the receiving end of?
But what's the key to designing a truly effective inbound marketing strategy for your franchise? Let's take a look:
1.Build localised websites for each franchisee
As well as your overall brand website and content distribution plan, you should have local versions of each for every one of your individual franchisees.
Traditional thinking might question why each franchisee needs a website and content plan. The answer?
- You'll gain local insight - through the search terms that local people use, and by having a franchisee on the ground who interacts with local people.
- Use localised SEO practices - so you'll be able to better target your content to your audience.
- Build a local community - one of the key parts of any inbound marketing strategy will involve you building a community which can promote your franchise. Your local franchisees can build their own community much more effectively than you can.
The critical point of course, is that all these individual franchisee websites and your main brand site need to be cohesive - and all communication conducted in your brand voice. Individual franchisees should not be allowed to stray too far from your established persona.
2.Do the same with social media
Your central brand and all of your individual franchisees should have their own social media profiles and content too.
This is useful for a number of reasons:
- Customer service - local franchises can respond to local-level customer enquiries, comments, and requests proactively. They can also do so in a much more relevant and timely fashion that you would often be able to if you were always dealing with all customer queries from all of your franchises.
- Localised content - again, the ability to focus your content on a local level, including local events and local contests in it, and otherwise interacting with the local community.
- For PR purposes - imagine one of your local franchises experiences a PR disaster. How do you separate their actions from the "safe" franchises? Localised social media profiles will help you do it.
Choose social media platforms that fit in with your industry and market niche.
And, like with the localised websites for your franchisees, care must be taken to ensure that all franchise social media communication is conducted in the same brand voice.
3.Localise your message and content
Again we see the benefits of localising your content and your message. This lets you target your message to an audience which actually wants to engage with you. You can then tailor this message to convert prospects down your inbound marketing funnel more effectively.
The alternative is firing off a more general message which will by necessity convert less well - especially when transmitted to a less well-defined audience.
Your local franchisees should be able to take your overall brand message and voice, and run with it. This will involve tailoring it to their specific local audience.
To do so they'll need at the very least:
- Content creation expertise
- SEO skills
- Social media management abilities
If your individual franchisees don't possess the necessary infrastructure for this, you'll need to provide it.
4.Pay attention to the "delight" part of the inbound marketing funnel
The four stages of the inbound marketing sales funnel are generally listed as:
Although this less popular version has slightly clearer ring to it:
It's the fourth stage here that we really don't want to overlook:
Delighting your audience so that they become a community that is willing to promote your franchise is what inbound tactics are all about. But how do you delight your audience?
You answer the actual questions that they have. You provide value. You engage with them on a level which makes them feel listened to and appreciated. Inbound marketing is truly about creating that old fashioned feeling of customer satisfaction. And by doing so much more effectively than the competing franchise across the street.
Social media lets you do just that - which is why it's one of the key inbound marketing channels.
5.Consider referral programs to boost engagement
A key part of delivering that "delight" is keeping your customers happy. One of the best ways to do this is to increase the value of being loyal to you. How?
Referral schemes and other incentive-based approaches remain enduringly popular. Mainly because everyone likes getting free services or products.
An important part of effective inbound marketing, though, is not to appeal to this part of your audience's makeup initially. Engagement and trust need to be established at a certain level first before you start to gently leverage that trust to gain testimonials and recommendations.
6.Everyone needs to be on the same page
This is true of your entire marketing team - you can't have any old fashioned cooks spoiling the inbound broth.
But inbound marketing needs to happen for individual franchises locations too. Which sometimes can be difficult. There will almost always be someone who disagrees with these sort of tactics. The key to making this happen?
As with many other things: Education. Education. Education.
This doesn't mean only firing information and demands at your franchisees who don't want to immediately climb aboard. Like inbound marketing itself, this process will be best achieved through being receptive to feedback and responding to concerns and any issues that come up constructively.
7.Focus your inbound marketing content marketing on quality, not advertising
Traditional outbound advertising is getting less and less effective. Especially online:
84% of 25-34 year olds say they regularly leave websites because of intrusive advertising.
82% of readers will happily check out content from the largest brands - if it's relevant to them.
This means you'll need to build up your supply of quality content. This will be done by publishing and promoting content on topics that your target audience wants to interact with.
Your blog will be key here - companies with a blog generally get a whole lot more (sometimes as high as 50% more) website traffic than those that don't.
In case it hasn't already been rubbed home enough by now, simply throwing advertisements at your audience is no longer the way to succeed with modern consumers.
An effective inbound marketing strategy makes clients come to you.
How to Conduct Inbound Marketing for Franchises
Local Fame are the industry specialists in how to use inbound marketing channels effectively for franchises.
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