Smart use of SEO and PPC can make a big difference in your results
SEO and PPC are mysterious, smoke-and-mirror tools for business owners. They are attractive and complicated and offer great return if intelligently executed.
However, franchisors appear to get deluged with a staggering amount of bad advice and mixed messages from vendors.
Here is the approach Brand Journalists uses with high growth clients such as Huddle House, Marco’s Pizza, Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, ChemDry, Team Logic, Christian Brothers Automotive, and other franchisors.
Step 1: Start With a Content Rich Franchise Recruitment Website Which Answers Franchise Candidates’ Key Questions
Any franchise opportunity site has one job; to attract qualified visitors to the site and convert them into “leads” — people who fill out the form requesting information or who call on a trackable phone number (for leads on mobile devices).
Franchise Opportunity Websites should convert 5% of Unique Visitors to Leads. 1-1.5% of these should become franchisees. If your website is not converting 5% of unique visitors, THEN YOUR WEBSITE IS KILLING DEALS.
SEO and PPC does not in and of itself recruit franchisees. It drives traffic to your website and your website converts traffic into engaged leads…like a 1-2 punch. The more conversions (unique visitors who fill out the request form) you have, the more successful the SEO and PPC will be — as will any other marketing you do. But successful SEO and PPC starts with a Successful Website. Huddle House’s website (www.HuddleHouseFranchising.com) routinely converts at 5%-6%, which is far above the franchise industry average of 1.4% (according to Franchise Update’s annual franchise lead generation report). If you do the math, other franchisors would need 3 times the spend to generate the same number of leads and franchisees. Put another way, the average franchise opportunity website kills two deals for every one it generates. Wrap your head around that one!
Step 2: Tell A Better Brand Story
Tell your brand’s story on your website, and don’t skimp on the details. Because franchising is a high stakes game, buyers take the time to read. Brand Journalists attributes 80% of the effectiveness of franchise opportunity websites which convert at 5% to content (written word, infographics, and video). Brand Journalists attributes only 20% of the success of a website to design elements.
We maintain the franchisor has been fired from having that first conversation with the franchise candidate in favor of self-directed research and the content on your franchise opportunity website. In this new era of buyer controlled self-directed research, franchise candidates want to gather all the information they can BEFORE they engage with the franchisor — which is why we attribute 80% of the success of the franchise opportunity website to content.
Your franchise opportunity website is perhaps your one and only chance to control the entire narrative of your brand story to every highly qualified lead. Ultimately, how effectively you tell your brand story online determines not only how many leads you get, but also how many franchisees you ultimately recruit.
Generating qualified franchise buyers is not about generating clever catch phrases like “sink your teeth into this mouth-watering restaurant opportunity” or “clean up in the janitorial business” — it’s about making a solid case as to why your business is unique, profitable, and sustainable for the long haul, helping the franchise candidate understand what it takes to win as a franchisee of your particular business.
Step 3: Think Differently About Franchise SEO
SEO is not about rankings, links, landing pages, or programming tricks. SEO is about following Google’s core mission (because people use Google far more than other search engines): to deliver the most relevant results to people searching for information. SEO is driven by language and context.
Franchise candidates type in predictable questions and key phrases when they are trying to identify their best franchise options or eliminate franchise options to get to a short list. The entire effectiveness of every search campaign is contingent upon knowing the common questions and concerns franchise candidates have and the language are they using when they type into a search engine. Your website needs to be optimized for these searches, and your brand needs organic search visibility for as many of these terms as possible.
Every page and every article should look like a home page and be optimized to rank for an increasingly large numbers of terms. Often Google will find interior pages and articles before Google finds your home page, which means EVERY PAGE IS A HOME PAGE! This means constantly adding blog articles, landing pages, core pages, videos, infographics, and photos that are all optimized to answer the search engine questions your franchise candidates are asking.
Can you see the complex design and content implications? Can you see how the franchise opportunity website, SEO, and Pay-per-click are all joined at the hip? Can you see why these are not “generic services,” and require much skill and understanding to implement and why not every provider is the same?
Making effective use of SEO today is not just being found, that’s step one. It’s also about providing content that your customers want to read — content that reads like a magazine article rather than a medical journal.
Let’s assume you are a multi-concept restaurant owner and you are thinking about the total investment of adding a 24-hour diner to your holdings. You go to google.
How likely are you to check out what Huddle House has to say? How competent does Huddle House look right now as a franchisor?
Step 4: Franchise Sales PPC is All About Targeting
PPC is totally different from SEO. Pay-per-click advertising is best used for two specific goals:
First, to gain visibility for searches that you cannot easily rank for or cannot rank for at all. This would include competitive searches or searches that don’t relate to your brand, market segment, or industry. If someone searches for your competitor, you can purchase an ad that displays on that search and gain visibility. All buyers do competitive research, and using PPC for this is a smart use of your spend.
Second, to increase visibility for terms you rank for organically. When we pair organic SEO and PPC advertising, we generate 40% more leads than when we do them separately. The reason is simple: the two work together. Companies struggle to get one ranking on a key search page, but getting two or more builds trust and credibility with potential customers.
Our advice for PPC is similar to SEO: Use keywords that your customers use, don’t advertise on terms that don’t convert, and try to align your PPC with your SEO efforts. Follow this advice and you’ll get a dramatically better return. Otherwise, you’ll be amazed at how skilled Google is at absorbing your budget!