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5 Ways to Win New Customers for Your Franchise

Building a strong business relies on developing relationships with local consumers. Whether you are considering becoming a franchise owner or are already a franchise owner, these relationships rarely begin when consumers walk through your doors the first time. They often begin at the brand level, where national advertising efforts introduce consumers to the products and services you offer. This brand awareness is crucial, but there is still more work to do before consumers make contact with you. 

For many consumers, the first impression they have of a franchise location isn’t made in person—it’s online. When consumers need to find information about products or services, they usually don’t start by calling or visiting the business. Instead, they reach for their smartphones and search. Three-fourths of smartphone users turn to search first to address their immediate needs, according to Google.

Start the relationship off right by providing the information consumers need when they need it. To do this, here are five strategies a franchise location can leverage to dominate local search results.

Local listings management

As you can see by this resource from Whitespark, the local listing ecosystem is an extremely complex web of search engines, data aggregators, local directories, apps, social media and other sites. The local search ecosystem chart

To make the process more complex for business locations, each of these properties continually push and pull business data to and from one another. This means that even if you submit updated location data to one site, that information might get bumped in favor of information from another local platform.

The best strategy to manage local listings is to regularly distribute updated and consistent location information to as many sites as possible. This can be time-consuming and costly for franchisees, though. Local search marketing agencies can be a huge resource in this endeavor as they have the systems and publisher relationships to widely distribute the data.

Build optimized local landing pages

To provide consumers all the information they need about a franchise, it’s important to build out specific landing pages for a franchise location. This landing page should have all the necessary information a consumer would need to contact the business. Local landing pages also provide searchers unique copy to differentiate the franchise location and help it dominate local search results. 

To put the local search benefits of landing pages into more concrete terms, let’s use a top franchise system, The UPS Store, as an example. Let’s say you own a The UPS Store location and a small business owner in your market conducts a search like “where can I print business cards?” The search results page will probably have a few paid ads at the top of the page, followed by the local map results and then organic results.

The home page for The UPS Store will likely rank high in the organic results. However, that business owner isn’t trying to figure out what service she needs. She wants to know where to go to get it done. Local landing pages provide her with a direct path to find the information she needs to get her cards printed. 

Localized blogging

Search engines love fresh content and regular blog posts are an effective way to feed them. Blogging can also improve search ranking for long-tail, conversational terms by answering specific questions from your potential customers.

Blogging is a huge time commitment, though. Time that franchise owners don’t often have. To get around this issue, you could hire a content marketing agency to manage the blogging efforts.

Paid search advertising

Paid search advertising isn’t just for big spending national brands—there’s plenty of opportunity and incentive for franchisees to get in on the game. According to Google, consumers who click on search ads are 27 percent more likely to buy something in-store and spend 10 percent more once they’re there.

When it comes to competing for paid search ad slots, the trick for franchisees is to be very specific and deliberate.

  • Leverage location geo-targeting so you’re only serving ads to audiences in your market.
  • Embrace long-tail keywords. These terms have less search volume but they are loaded with intent. (Going back to our example, this would mean valuing on a keyword phrase like “where can I print business cards?” more than “business cards.”) 
  • Provide searchers with additional ways to learn more about you with location extensions – information like your address, phone number and hours of operation.

Social media marketing

If you’re wondering what social media marketing is doing in a post about dominating search engine results, head over to Google and do a quick search for a brand name in your city. Chances are that among the first page of results you’ll find multiple links to social media pages. Other than profiles appearing in search, there are plenty of other reasons to maintain active local social profiles.

  • Consumers often go straight to social media to find local businesses and when they do, they prefer to interact with those local businesses. When both brand and location-specific pages exist, 85 percent of all consumer engagement takes place on the local pages, according to MomentFeed.
  • Social media sites play a significant role in fueling the local ecosystem. This means even if consumers aren’t using a franchisee’s location profile to connect with your business, it’s still important to maintain accurate information across the local landscape.
  • Most social media platforms allow advertisers to target by location, demographics, interests and prior behaviors to make sure you’re reaching out to the most valuable audiences in your market, targeting options are just the beginning. For example, on Facebook, you can choose from a wide-range of ad types, run lead generation campaigns that allow users to fill out a form directly on the platform and measure offline conversions by people who’ve seen your ads.

These strategies are just the beginning of the beautiful relationship between a franchise location and local consumers. Dominate search to get them in the door so you can do what you do best–provide exceptional customer service that makes the relationship even stronger.