Franchises who can effectively overcome the challenges associated with digital marketing stand to gain an enormous competitive advantage. With more than 28 million Canadians using mobile devices to surf the net, text, email, shop and connect, franchises equipped for the digital and mobile marketplace are at an advantage.
Last year, 38 per cent of marketers increased spending on digital marketing and 64 per cent used social media as a critical enabler of products and services. To Laura Donovan, president of the national digital marketing company The Word Pro it’s clear that “digital marketing is taking center stage.” Franchises who can harness digital challenges like brand consistency, data overload and technological advances stand to benefit from this evolving digital landscape.
Challenge 1 – Keep Digital Marketing Costs Low and Brand Consistency High
When compared to traditional advertising, digital marketing proponents have touted its cost effectiveness, especially when using Google ad word campaigns where marketers set a budget and only pay-per-click (or impression). In fact, despite the availability of ad blockers pay-per-click remains a formidable and efficient tool for building brand awareness for virtually any brand.
As well, franchises are taking advantage of marketing automation software to keep their digital marketing costs down. These software applications help franchises empower franchisees to engage with customers on social media and through location-based website pages while maintaining brand consistency with branded marketing tools (including images, designs, logos, fonts, etc.) which are approved and controlled by head office.
Challenge 2 – Use Data to Give Franchise Locations a Boost
According to Sales Force Canada, a key advantage to digital marketing is the level of data that is available to marketers, which “gives us a view into the lives of our customers in a way that wasn’t possible in traditional advertising. This information can help us make smart decisions about many different areas of business in order to improve customer satisfaction. This demonstrates how crucial marketing is to all areas of the organization.” Franchises in particular have an opportunity to successfully segment their data to provide franchisees with information that will help them better engage and connect with locally based customers.
Sifting through all the data, however, is a challenge. “There’s a lot of noise for marketers to cut through. We don’t have a problem getting data from our digital efforts: The challenge is to decide what’s important and how to respond to it,” Sales Force Canada points out.
Franchises can’t expect franchisees to have the time or know-how to accurately analyze digital marketing data. Instead, take the lead to either analyze this data on behalf of your franchisees or provide training opportunities to help franchise owners use analytic data to their advantage. Whichever path you take, ensure you create a formalized process and maintain consistency across franchise locations. Keep in mind that maintaining brand consistency begins with organizational processes like these.
Challenge 3: Keep Up With Changing Technology
The digital marketing industry is fast-paced and technology is ever changing, which makes it difficult for marketing teams to keep up. The software, data and metrics that are available to marketers are always in flux. “Revenue growth was deemed the number one metric. [In 2015] marketers shifted their attention from traditional metrics (including conversion rates and return on investment) to metrics that better reflect customer satisfaction. These include engagement rate and sentiment analysis.” Knowing where to spend time and how to measure success is a continual challenge for marketers.
Franchises that can keep up with these changes are at an advantage. According to Hubspot, 35-50 per cent of sales go to the vendor that responds first. With this in mind, franchises that encourage franchisees to monitor social media channels and quickly respond are better able to manage consumer expectations and build a loyal customer base at the local level – something that is critical to the ongoing health of local franchises.
Digital marketing is a world of opportunity and challenges for franchises, especially those who don’t have the time, resources or staff to dedicate to this marketing sphere. Franchises that are able to provide guidance to franchisees through training and digital support can help their franchise network turn the challenges associated with digital marketing into opportunities to connect with local consumers and grow the franchise business.