Franchises can use Digital Marketing to Drive and Grow their Business

When thinking about your franchise marketing plan, how much of your efforts are focus Many franchise owners focus on the tried and true methods of flyers, magazine ads, television and radio to get the message out about their product or services. However, all these channels are slowly (and in some cases quickly) being supplanted by digital marketing. If you think that flyers are going to continue to be a good way to do marketing, you might want to take a look at how low the circulation rates are getting for your favorite newspaper.

If you have not explored digital marketing or are not a marketer by training, you might be nervous about jumping right in or wonder how you get started. You may even have heard horror stories of the costs associated with hiring agencies and consultants that might be great at being creative but don’t know a thing about your business. Do you really want to pay someone to teach them about your industry? Probably not.

However, the thought of going it alone, building your own website, electronic newsletters and email campaigns might seem quite daunting. The reality is that managing your own digital marketing program has become significantly easier as the available technologies have progressed. With tools like a content management systems (CMS), which allows anyone to update web content, and marketing automation tools (MA), which make designing and executing email campaigns easier, you actually have a host of tools to effectively manage your own digital marketing programs.

Let’s talk about CMS tools first. A good CMS gives you control over your website content without forcing you to go back to school to become a website developer. You’ve got better thing to do with your time, like run your franchise! What a CMS does is manage all the design and layout elements of the website in the form of templates or themes. All you need to do is choose the pages you want to add or update, pick the correct template and start adding content such as text, images and documents. When you are happy with the content, you simple hit a button and the CMS takes over and publishes it live to the website. Not happy with the content? Change it as often as you want or need to. A CMS gives you the ability to take control of your marketing programs and customize the content for your customers. Since you know what resonates with them, why not cut out the middle men?

Now, this picture I’ve just painted is a bit idyllic. Chances are that you are going to need some support to get up and running if this is your first time tackling digital marketing. In this case, finding a CMS provider that has customer support and digital marketing expertise that you can access makes a lot of sense. Even if you have the expertise in house, choosing a CMS with support means expanding the reach of your marketing team, allow them to do more without having to increase your staff. As you learn and become comfortable working with digital marketing tools, you’ll need less support but may want access to experts who can help you optimize your programs.

The other major arm of digital marketing is email or “marketing automation”. You may be thinking “What about Twitter and Facebook?” or “What about (insert other social media product here)?” Not to knock those channels but research has consistently shown that email marketing relevant information to your target market is one of the most effective strategies for driving real business. (Ref?) Notice how I wrote “relevant” in that last sentence. Spam, random list buying and flooding people with irrelevant messages is just not how email marketing is done these days. It bothers people and violates the anti-spam legislation of most countries. That said, regular email contact with clients and prospects who have indicated that they are open to email communication does drive awareness, brand recognition and increases sales. Additionally, email marketing has been commoditized and is virtually free. You don’t have to image having a virtually free way to let your customers know you’re having a special, that new product has arrived or you have new services available. With a marketing automation program, you can reach out whenever you have relevant information to convey.

Much like your first experience with a CMS, marketing automation can take some time and experience to get right. Getting the correct design and branding along with a system that allows you get your email campaigns out the door quickly is the key to success in email marketing. Your MA vendor should have the resources to get you started, and ongoing support to keep you on track.

With the right tools, support and a little knowhow, franchises can use digital marketing to drive and grow their business.