Franchise Businesses Take Advantage of Local Search and Social Media to Drive New Business

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Franchises learn how to create Findability, Usability and Profitability in online marketing.

find-ability (how easy it is to find their brand online), usability (how easy it is for consumers to engage your brand) and profitability (how easy it is to convert leads into customers).

At this year's 51st IFA Annual Convention Franchises learned from industry leaders, fellow franchise executives and the likes of Ford Saeks that online marketing is about local search, mobile and social media.

The buzz this year was all about how franchises can leverage social media, local search and mobile apps. However, it was very promising to see that no one lost sight of the primary goal behind these tools: bring in local leads for franchisees. Saeks said it best when he said “your website is your social proof.”

Franchises clearly see that a comprehensive approach, from website to social, is needed to take advantage of online marketing. Below are ELEMENTS, Inc’s top 8 takeaways from the 51st annual IFA convention.

1. While at the previous year’s IFA Convention franchises were most interested in how to drive traffic, in 2011 those same franchises are now more interested in how to convert that traffic into leads or sales thereby create a positive impact with their already existing traffic. This is a direct reflection of how franchises are tightening their belts in these tough economic times by making the most of what they have already have. Rather than spending time and money generating new traffic that will effectively be thrown at a wall to see what sticks, spending time on conversion optimization through variant testing and data driven improvements can lead to a significant increase in overall leads both in the present & future.

2. Franchises are generally interested in a three step process for online success which begins with find-ability (how easy it is to find their brand online), usability (how easy it is for consumers to engage your brand) and profitability (how easy it is to convert leads into customers). If any of the links in this chain are broken the franchise risks never being found by potential customers, never converting those potential customers into paying customers and not being able to retain customers nor create brand loyal fans.

3. Another thing ELEMENTS noticed is that by and large franchises are becoming savvier in the realm of online marketing. Instead of franchise decision makers questioning whether they should have online marketing campaigns consisting of social media, pay per click advertising and search engine optimization, they are now asking how they can best utilize those campaigns for maximum profitability.

4. When it comes to social media, franchise companies are beginning to consider ROE (return on engagement) more appropriate than a typical ROI. This is a new way to look at social media where the end result isn’t merely net sales or leads but can be measured instead by other factors including reach after reposts, number of subscribers and positive or negative sentiment. Social media campaigns judged merely on their conversion numbers look bleak, but by engaging customers in an open environment franchise companies can improve customer service which leads to improved customer sentiment and the creation of brand loyal fans.

5. Another big point of interest with franchises noted at the 2011 IFA Annual Convention was how effective your store locator is. Franchises have realized that not only can their locators help a potential customer find a local franchisee place of business but can be much more than that today. Locators can be integrated into a franchise website, have maps and directions, and also work seamlessly across both websites and mobile devices. We also saw conversations around exterior locators like a mobile or a Facebook app and Google Places.

6. While at the previous year’s IFA Convention franchises were mostly overwhelmed with local search and search engine optimization, in 2011 franchises there was a better understanding that it’s not a store locator or searches done solely on Google Maps. There was a general understanding of local search and the importance of it in Google’s new merged ‘Everything’ results that often place local results above national search results.

7. Mobile apps and mobile optimized websites were another big topic of discussion at the recent convention. Most franchise companies want a way to direct mobile users to their local franchisees which is exactly what the ElementsLocal™ mobile locator app does. Other franchises want their websites to be optimized to fit on a mobile device should one be detected. As mobile traffic continues to increase franchise companies want to make sure they are positioned to take advantage of this fluid demographic.

8. Perhaps the most important thing ELEMENTS took away from the 51st IFA Annual Conference was the testimony of corporations and noted speakers alike who claimed that success in all areas including social media stems from a good & valuable web property… “your website is your social proof,” as Ford Saeks said. Without having a useful, easy to navigate, attractive website at both the local and corporate level none of your mobile apps, pay per click marketing or social media campaigns are going to be as effective as they could be.

About ElementsLocal™
ElementsLocal™ provides online marketing solutions to franchise companies looking to leverage local franchise websites, email campaigns and social media marketing. The ElementsLocal™ platform can be seen at which includes a virtual tour of the franchise solution software. Based in San Luis Obispo, CA, and founded in 1999, Elements clients include Maaco, Glass Doctor, Sport Clips, Paul Davis Restoration, Jiffy Lube, Weed Man and Curves.

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Jeremy LaDuque
805-547-1160 x 201
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