Facebook Introduces Support for the Hashtag

Last Wednesday, Facebook hopped on the hashtag bandwagon. Joining Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, Facebook now offers the use of hashtags to its users. The rollout is still in progress, so some users are already have this function  and others have yet to receive it.

What exactly is a hashtag?

A hashtag is the pound symbol (#) in front of a word or hashtagsElementslocalphrase. The hashtag will categorize your message by a single word. The word/words that you have prefixed the hashtag with will be grouped with like phrases, or tags. This is particularly useful in microblogging social media sites such as Twitter. When your only option is 140 characters, summing up your idea with a hashtag can add important context to your short message.

Facebook users can use this feature by searching or selecting a hashtag to see what others have commented about the same subject. For example; “Our company has just updated their blog about the use of hashtags #elementslocal.” When one selects #elementslocal, other posts containing this tag will show up in a new window. This is a great way to see what is trending in the online world.

This feature is beneficial to users, but Facebook itself also benefits from this release. Not only does Facebook have access to a user’s name, age, address (and any other information one offers on this social website), now the topics of conversation can be used for advertising purposes. Because the tags group together messages and like minded topics due to the keyword, Facebook can monitor trends that become popular among users.

Within the next few weeks, Facebook expects to have this feature rolled out to all users, with rumors of the use of hashtags on the mobile app as well … look for more about #hashtags, #mobile and #FranchiseMarketing from #ElementsLocal.

Penguin 2.0 Roll out

Guest Blogging Post-Penguin 2.0Search Engine Optimization is big on researching keywords, keeping up with the latest trends, instituting best practice methods and studying algorithm changes that search engines put into place. The biggest word this month is about the new Penguin 2.0 webspam algorithm that is now officially out.

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team announced the roll out on Wednesday May 22, 2013. “About 2.3 per cent of English-US queries are expected to be affected to the degree that a regular user might notice,” Cutts said. “The change has also finished rolling out for other languages world-wide. The scope of Penguin varies by language, e.g. languages with more webspam will see more impact.”

Penguin is created to differentiate websites containing spam in order to add weight to those who are legitimate. These changes were implemented in order to decrease the rankings of poor quality websites that are using manipulative linking practices. The new Penguin 2.0 is a more aggressive Google algorithm aimed at decreasing the keyword value of links using unnatural anchor text or in other words, using keyword rich text to point towards a website in the hopes of higher rankings for those linked keywords.  Natural links generally have a company’s brand name within the anchor text instead of exact match keywords.  Penguin 2.0 dug deeper into interior links this time into pages such as category and article pages.  Websites using these manipulative linking techniques will be penalized with this update.  

Exact match keyword stuffed anchor links can be now be considered another Black Hat linking method. Other Black Hat linking methods that may get hit by the Penguin 2.0 algorithm updates are:

  • Link Farms: groups of websites that all link to each other in order to appear to have more genuine inbound links
  • Blog Comment Spam: comments filed on blogs merely to place links to other websites
  • Doorway Pages: landing pages used with the intention of enticing searchers with keyword phrases not related to the main content of the website.
  • Paid Links: purchasing many links on many low quality website or few links on high quality websites to give the appearance of more inbound links


Penguin uses Google’s spiders to tell if a website violates the Google Guidelines. The spiders can also tell if a site is badly written with grammatical errors or has content that offers little or no value. They will also distinguish websites that are up to date, from those that are obsolete.

What should we expect to see in the next few months in terms of SEO for Google? Check out this video.

Will your site be affected by  Penguin 2.0? If your site is full of unique organic reader friendly content then keep on keepin’ on.  If not, penalties could be in your near uture.

Have questions about SEO? Leave a comment on this article and a member of our SEO team will get back to you when they can.

For more info and helpful hints in everything social media, franchises and marketing: follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and, (of course), stay tuned on our blog.


The Next Revolution in Google Ranking May Be Author Authority

Do you want to know the next big thing from Google? Buy the new book, The New Digital Age, coming from Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, the director of Google Ideas. This book talks about the future, both physical and digital, and discusses the promises they bring the world.

From the Wall Street article on the book some interesting items were outlined.

Will we be able to have anonymity? Not likely in the future, cyber union of countries where censorship and monitoring is the standard will swamp tech companies with privacy, security and user protection concerns, and cyber war will prevail. In fact just this week, cyber security topped terrorism as the highest threat reported by the US defense department.

But one of the most interesting concepts from the book is “Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”

The significance of that statement is if you are unknown to Google, you are irrelevant. To say the least, this is interesting, but for companies that want to continue to rank high, this will be extremely important.

Base on these statements the “<a href=”[profile_url]?rel=author”>Google</a>” may be a very important attribute in future Google algorithms. In fact early implementation may already be taking place. Information on the web will be tied to your online profile. So, content attributed to valid online profiles will rank higher than content, which does not have these attributions.

This means you should start building your author authority now!

How Bing and Yahoo will react to this is unknown, however social ranking will have to be addressed and while these organizations may not like the standard, it is here. As Google implements the standard it will also most likely drive adoption of this concept across the entire search ecosystem.  Since Bing has direct feed access to the Facebook cosmos, a true wild west divergence may begin to develop as the social media ranking come into play. I am not sure where this leads, but careful tracking of this divergence (if it occurs) will be mandatory for the success of any companies online marketing efforts.

So what will get measured.

There are relatively reasonable  items for Google to grab, Facebook likes on a piece of content, tweets and retweets, and Google + citations. Heck we all wear those statistics right on the articles as badges of honor. Google can simply grab them.

There are also secondary items that are relatively easy for Google, things like, the speed at which those numbers are growing, how many discussions are going on related to the content and how long it lasts, i.e. does it have legs. What other authorities are referencing your article

But for those of us who are concerned with rankings one of the key issues I see coming is Who owns the authority is it my company or me.

This probably means that companies will be investing in developing internal people with authority rankings. Processes, procedures and contracts will begin to develop around the authority and who owns it. Does an employee that has developed a high authority through investments by companies have the right to take that authority and take it to a competitor?

So if anyone felt online marketing and search engine ranking was complex now, stand by the future is online, and for you to succeed make sure you have people either internal or on your team that are keeping track of these trends and keeping you ahead of the curve.

How to Maximize User Buy-In for Franchise Clients You Service

As a follow up to our IFA Takeaway post, we thought this article from Dan Martin, CEO of IFx was appropriate. Maximizing your Franchisee’s buy-in is something  near and dear to every systems heart and this article gives you a great method of doing that.



The process flow necessary to achieve the highest franchisee buy-in incorporates franchisee (and/or FAC) INVOLVEMENT. It is critical for the franchisor to include their franchisees (or key franchisees or FAC) IN the process even if the franchisor knows that their franchisees will buy-into the innovation simply because it is the best thing for them.

Involving franchisees in the consideration of new products, services and/or innovations provides valuable input from franchisees. Further, politically it serves to empower franchisees.

The A-Z formula or process flow that relates to franchisee buy-in is based on INVOLVEMENT. The premise being: How often do franchisors turn to their franchisees and ask them what they think? Not often enough.

A. Consider a new product, service or innovation at the franchisor level

B. Build-in a component that benefits your franchise development efforts

C. Incorporate political, practical and legal elements at franchisor level

D. Incorporate political, practical and legal elements at franchisee level

E. Obtain buy-in from the franchisor’s management team

F. Incorporate tracking/analytics

G. Negotiate an individual or cumulative break

H. Provide the break back to the franchisee or;

I. Provide the break as a supplement to the National Ad Fund noted in FDD

J. Develop examples of the products/ service for FAC/ Beta Group

K. Indicate that their input in needed to determine viability

L. Encourage brand-specific input that based on political, practical, legal

M. Ecnourage input that you already know that answers to (trial lawyer)

N. Assemble Feedback

O. Make adjustments to the product/ service for pacification

P. Re-roll out to FAC/ Beta Group

Q. Obtain additional input/ testimonials

R. Channel introduction via existing franchisee(s) (not the franchisor only)

S. Name the product/ service so it’s unique to the brand

T. Refer to the renamed product/ service as an asset in operations

U. Implement the benefits for franchise development use

V. Provide self- analytic capabilities to franchisees to determine metrics

W. Incorporate micro and macro use reports (franchisees/ franchisor)

X. Incorporate micro/macro reports on cumulative break progress

Y. Further incentivise franchisees for breaks

Z. Publicize process, net benefits, analytics and breaks to franchise

About Dan

Dan Martin, CFE began his career in franchising in 1983. After a few years of working with some well known franchise organizations and franchise law firms, Dan decided to move to the next level and start his own Franchise Management & Marketing Firm that would ultimately result in a 300+ franchisor client base servicing 23,000+ franchisees in 23 countries. Dan has always recognized opportunities and capitalized on his knowledge of franchising and his desire to expand his knowledge base, as well as his company’s client base. Dan’s experience as both franchisee and franchisor is an absolutely invaluable combination that allows him the ability to recognize new opportunities, identify mission critical issues and develop powerful and practical strategies and solutions beneficial to virtually any type or size of franchise organization. For any inquiries e-mail Dan directly at dan@ifxonline.com

Thinking beyond SEO: Website Attention = Retention

Beyond SEO

Franchise online marketing strategy is as much about engaging the visitors on your website as it is about building traffic and search engine optimization.

The goal of online marketing is to convert leads into business.  Beyond all of the SEO work to get people to your website you must also pay attention to the content, layout and aesthetic appeal of your website in order to turn attention into conversion and even better… retention (which is driving people back to your site again and again).

Here are some actions you can take today that will optimize your online marketing:Franchise Online Marketing

  • Make sure that any links that lead visitors off of your website open in new windows. Do not direct traffic off of your webiste.  Ushering people off of your website is not productive.  By opening links in new windows,  your website will still be up when they close that window.  This is also applicable to your social media icons. Make sure they open in a new window as well.  Keep the traffic on your site as long as possible.
  • Be aware of the users display.  Remember, an increasing number of people are viewing your website on mobile, or handheld devices.  Recent studies show that mobile traffic is on the rise, so having a strategy for a mobile friendly website both at the national and local levels is a must for 2012.
  • Review your website for deficiencies regularly.   It may be just as easy as mending broken paths or replacing broken code. Again your site is only as legitimate as it is functional. Use websites like http://validator.w3.org/ to validate your website and find issues with it.

Following these simple suggestions will garner results. You will see a decrease in your bounce rate (visitors to your website who land on a webpage and leave without clicking deeper into your website) and an increase in the amount of time visitors spend on your website, the amount of content that they will read and ultimately the number of leads will you receive from your website.

Learn more about refining your Franchise Online Marketing by attending our Franchise Online Marketing Webinar on January 18th at 12:00 p.m. CST.  For more information visit : ElementsLocal Webinar – Franchise Online Marketing Tactics

5 Tips for Effective Email and Blog Titles

Have you wondered why some of your blogs get a lot of readers and some fall short? With all the information out there on the internet, your blog title and email subject line are more important than ever. Here are some tips that have been proven effective when it comes to titles:

1. “How to” titles clearly present solutions to common problems. Also, when you conduct keyword research, you will find that “how to x, y,z” ranks better in the search engines

2. “5 Ways” Blog Titles: Research shows that when a title contains a number it gets more attention. What’s also interesting- odd numbers are more effective than even numbers. People want to know right away what your blog contains and if it is worth their time to read it.

3. The Worst Way to/ Mistakes to avoid titles: people want to know the mistakes they should avoid so that they can succeed faster.

4. Questions that pique curiosity

5. Powerful words that get readers:

  • Save (people always want to save time, money, failure etc.)
  • Avoid (people like to be warned)
  • Tricks/Tips (insider tips save time)
  • Discover (gives people an inside to something they were unaware of previously)
  • Shortcut (we always want to cut corners if possible)
  • Secret (another curiosity word)
  • How to Best Measure Your ROI Using Google Analytics

    Using Google Analytics

    Google Analytics is a free service that produces statistics about the visitors to a website. It can track visitors from which search engine or website they were referred by, email marketing, online PDF documents, and pay-per-click networks.



    1. Understanding Traffic Building Behaviors through Statistics

    If you know which online campaigns, keywords, and adwords are working and which ones are not, you can focus on the tactics that have been proven successful and change the ones that are not producing sales.

    2. How to Build Meaningful Reports

    Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) help you track what matters. Every industry is different, therefore goals are different. The best way to track KPI’s is to come up the ones that are useful in reaching your goal.

    Here are some examples of formulas used with these goals in mind:

  • Have more people visit the website: Visitors > Visitor Trending > Absolute Unique Visitors
  • Ensure there’s a return on marketing efforts: Traffic Sources > AdWords > AdWords Campaigns
  • Have more people buy products and/or services from the website: E-commerce > Conversion Rate
  • Have more people register to be a user on the site: Goals > Conversion Rate
  • Determine your newsletters’ effectiveness: Goals > Conversion Rate
  • Increase the percentage of returning visitors: Visitors > New Vs Returning
  • Increase the number of “branded visits”: Visitors > Visitor Trending > Visits
  • 3. Establish KPI’s that measure ROI

    Albert Einstein brilliantly said, “Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result”. The same concept applies to your online marketing efforts. How much return on your investments are you actually getting from your online marketing strategies?

    You need to determine what matters most to you (your conversion matrix) in order to decide what to track. Here are some examples:

    For Brand awareness, things to track include:

    • traffic

    • new visitors

    • time on site

    For Building leads, things to track include:

    • landing page success rates

    • website signups

    • newsletter click throughs

    For Sales, things to track include:

    • conversions to sales

    • abandoned cart percent

    4. What is your Return On Investment for each web initiative?

    • How much is email list acquisition?

    • How much did the newsletter cost to design?

    • How much did it cost to send out?

    Driving Leads Through Mobile Internet Technology: The importance of adding “mobile” to the marketing mix

    This article was published in Franchising World Magazine in August 2009. http://www.franchise.org/Franchise-Industry-News-Detail.aspx?id=47280

    In a world where technology has infiltrated the very fabric of our social culture, consumers have evolved to be human spam filters, adept at tuning out the constant messaging coming in from TV and banner ads, billboards, email newsletters and the like. With marketers now realizing that the age-old premise, “if you display it, they will see it,” may no longer be viable, the current buzz throughout board rooms, marketing forums and coffee houses is whether or not Mobile Internet Marketing is the next effective and practical progression in the marketing mix.

    As companies question the effectiveness of traditional “outbound” marketing initiatives like broadcast and billboard advertisements, which push a message out far and wide, hoping that it resonates with a few individuals, they’re putting more emphasis on “inbound” marketing strategies that organically attract potential and already interested customers through search engines, blogs and social media. This has spurred franchises to take a closer look at making their messaging more local. Franchisors have moved from national level marketing, to regional, and local, by way of localizing online presence for every franchisee, and are now faced with Mobile Internet Marketing and wondering where it fits and what benefits it offers.

    The shift from traditional marketing efforts to inbound, permission-based initiatives has also created the requirement that communication with potential customers become more personal. Addressing people by their first names and narrowing the message to focus specifically on what a potential customer has “signed up for” is replacing more impersonal, mass messages.

    Mobile Internet Marketing offers the next wave of inbound, localized, personalized marketing by providing a more intimate, targeted, and increasingly proximity-aware method of reaching consumers.


    And Mobile Internet Marketing is here now.

    Are you ready for the burgeoning mobile world?

    The mobile phone is unique in that it’s a convergent device that brings together voice, Internet and technology all in one place. Its very nature is that it’s always on, always with you, intimately aware of your favorite content and music, and always connected to your network of friends. Marketers will soon be able to leverage its location-based technology, as well.

    According to Nielson Mobile, we’ve reached “critical mass” in the mobile world, with 40 million people in the United States categorized as ‘”active” mobile users. Even more, 144 million of the total 254 million mobile subscribers have data on their mobile phone, which allows them to use text messaging and access the Web.

    This mobile phone penetration can be startling when you realize that in the U.S., there are more mobile devices than TVs and personal computers (PCs) combined.

    And even more interesting is the information on who’s using them. Despite the belief that the mobile world is made up primarily of young people, Nielson’s data shows that 11.8% of mobile users are between the ages of 18-24; 27.4% are 25-34; and a staggering 37% are 35-54.

    In addition, recent data compiled by M:Metrics shows that the world has surpassed the 3 billion mark on mobile phones, making brand marketers now fixated on this “third screen” (PC, TV and now phone) and curious about the marketing opportunities best suited for this new medium.

    Before delving into opportunities available to franchise marketers for appealing to new markets, crossing cultural barriers and satisfying current customers through the mobile phone, let’s explore exactly what Mobile Internet Marketing is.


    What is Mobile Internet Marketing?

    Mobile marketing begins with the mobile web, which refers to browser-based web services such as the World Wide Web or Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) using a mobile device such as a cell phone, PDA, or other portable gadget connected to a public network.

    Although newer mobile devices use standard browsers (one you would use on a PC), a WAP browser on a mobile device provides all of the basic services of a PC-based browser, only simplified to operate within the restrictions – such as the smaller view screen – of a mobile phone. WAP web sites are also written in a special language so that a WAP browser can access it. Both of these browsers are being used by people surfing the Net on their phones.

    In addition to browsing the Internet, people are also text messaging. According to the CTIA – the International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry, more than 110 billion texts were sent every month in 2008, for a total of over 1 trillion text messages for the year.

    Also known as a Short Message Service (SMS), text messaging can be used in several ways by marketers. When you “push” a text message out, you are sending a marketing message, such as a coupon or a client communiqué, directly to a potential customer, much like Expedia sends flight status updates via SMS. You can also create a “pull” message by communicating with someone who has actively engaged with a traditional marketing message. TV programs like American Idol have made this a popular marketing approach by running contests that require voting via a mobile phone. In this model, the initial message is conveyed through TV, radio or billboard advertisements and creates a call to action to text a code to a certain number.

    When discussing Mobile Internet Marketing, one cannot leave out the almighty iPhone. The iPhone has revolutionized downloadable applications – software programs you can choose to download to your iPhone that perform some action, similar to a program on your PC. The “App Store” for iPhone applications touts 50,000 programs, which have been downloaded one billion times. Applications include everything from games like Tetris to productivity tools to Loopt, which allows users to connect with friends by seeing where they are at all times.

    Palm and Blackberry have also come out with respective application stores for their mobile devices.


    The key factors of Mobile Internet Marketing

    Some fear that Mobile Internet Marketing will result in the mobile inbox becoming just as cluttered as the email inbox. However, the highly permission-based quality of mobile marketing makes it more relevant and targeted than any other marketing method, including email. It’s also believed that psychologically, consumers are more apt to “trust” mobile marketing because of the intimate nature and connectedness one has with their phone.

    In addition to the relevance mobile marketing offers to potential consumers, immediacy based on location, or presence-based marketing, adds to its effectiveness. If the Holy Grail of marketing is reaching the “right customer with the right message at the right time,” then mobile marketing may have found it.

    The ability for marketers to provide timely messages has already arrived. Take a pizza franchise, for example, that can text you a coupon code to order a Pizza at 5 p.m., just as you’re driving home from work. And for franchises that target the college audience, services such as eCampusCash may be appropriate, as they offer a multitude of coupons that they will text to potential customers’ phones. Customers then simply show the text to the business to use the coupon. And although it’s not here quite yet, text messages based on a customer’s location that pop up regarding a business they’re interested in when they’re in proximity, are indeed coming.

    Another key factor to Mobile Internet Marketing is how social media ties in. Social media sites like Facebook and MySpace can now be updated on the go with mobile devices. And considering the mobile phone is one’s “constant companion,” it has become as integral to social media marketing as the Web itself.


    How to use Mobile Internet Marketing

    First, make sure your website is “viewable” to the mobile world. Your current website may not be as user-friendly on a mobile phone as it is on a PC. You should speak to your web developer to make sure your website is properly optimized for viewing on mobile phones. Some Content Management Software (CMS), like ElementsLocal™, allows you to update your own company and local franchisee websites, making it easy to revise for both the PC and mobile phone. Further, software like ElementsLocal even offers features that allow users to send text messages to their mobile phones from a company website, making it easier for a potential customer to continue browsing your business’ website, even as they move from their PC to their mobile phone.

    You should also consider whether your company even shows up in the mobile world. Having a presence in Google and Yahoo on a PC does not necessarily mean you’ll show up on a mobile device. For starters, people can access your business’ location in a multitude of ways on a mobile phone, from browsing the Internet and texting Google your business name to using an iPhone application that is designed for a specific use. The common element is ensuring you’re listed not only in search engines like Google and Yahoo, but also local search engines like Google Maps and online directories like the local online Yellow pages. These directories are used by major companies to attain your address and contact information.

    Once your company is “in” the mobile revolution, customer service can be dramatically improved. Again, using the example of Expedia texting you your flight status, take into account the possibilities of updating a potential customer with timely details about your company that they may find critical while they’re on the go. Always Best Care, an in-home senior care service franchise, is working on sending text message updates to clients’ loved ones with pertinent information about appointments. In the future, this service will also allow family members to pinpoint a client’s location via GPS using mobile technology.
    Messages like this can go beyond just customer notifications and into marketing messages. The immediacy of Mobile Marketing can greatly benefit customer loyalty and VIP programs. Think about a hair salon franchise that during slow periods sends out a text message offering a discount for customers who show up in the next hour.

    Advertising dollars continue to move to mobile phones, as well. EMarketer forecasts that advertisers will spend $3.3 billion on mobile advertising in 2013, up from $648 million in 2008, while Experian Marketing Services predicts that mobile advertising, including mobile search, social networks and location-specific services, will become a more viable marketing strategy as consumers continue to adopt smart phone technology.

    If nothing else, consider this. Think about the web firm that convinced you almost a decade ago to start building your email lists to stay ahead of the game. Call it déjà-vu or just good planning, but it’s critical to start building your text message list now. As a consumer initially responds to a campaign by sending a text message, a marketer also captures his or her cell phone number. This valuable information, given by the consumer with permission, can then be used for future marketing campaigns.


    The Conclusion on Mobile Internet Marketing

    As franchises continue to strive to improve communications with customers and create brand awareness in an increasingly technological world, it’s hard to ignore the benefits of mobile marketing. Any brand that ignores mobile technology could be losing potential customers to competitors who are leveraging the technology and, more importantly, missing an opportunity to take the next step in creating a local marketing presence both on the Web and the mobile phone.

    In conclusion, Mobile Internet Marketing does need to be a part of your brand’s overall marketing plan, and it should rank in priority with your corporate website, local websites, social networking and email messaging strategies.

    Mobile Internet Marketing can’t be ignored as a viable solution to keep your company on the forefront of leveraging technology to improve brand awareness, extend product and/or service offerings and, most importantly, provide greater value and service to your customers.
    Jeremy LaDuque is the President and CEO of Elements Inc., developers of ElementsLocal™, a software solution for localized websites designed specifically for franchises. He can be reached at (805) 547-1160 or jladuque@elementsinc.net.

    The Inbound Advantage: Tips to Evolve Your Franchise’s Marketing Strategy

     In a world where marketing messages abound in nearly every aspect of daily life, a new, discerning consumer has evolved – one adept at filtering and tuning out information irrelevant to personal interests. Rightly so, franchise marketing tactics need to also undergo a major shift, since traditional outbound techniques such as advertising and unsolicited email blasts are increasingly becoming blocked or ignored.

                    “Franchises should focus the majority of their marketing budget on inbound, not outbound initiatives,” said Jeremy LaDuque, CEO of Elements Inc., creator of ElementsLocal™, a new software solution for franchises that increases company leads through maximized search engine results. “When you push your message out far and wide with little discretion, you’re essentially crossing your fingers that it will resonate with a few individuals. Inbound marketing generates leads that are more abundant and credible, as potential customers seeking your services have been attracted organically through search engines, blogs and social media.”


    • Get Local. Instead of relying on just one national web site for the entire franchise network, provide cross-linked autonomous and brand-compliant web sites for each location. As the franchisor, you benefit from:

    o    A “network effect” of hundreds of web sites, each displaying relevant content about the company, being seen by search engines, which increases rankings and visibility

    o    An ability to leverage each franchise by allowing franchisees to customize (according to franchisor specifications)  their web site with local content and local e-marketing campaigns

    • Get Optimized. Some simple ways to get started with search engine optimization:

    1)       Focus the attention of each webpage to just a few keywords

    2)       Add relevant content about those select key words to that webpage

    3)       Add those keywords to the title and meta tags of that webpage


    Get Social. Social media is the fastest-growing segment of the Internet, and best of all, it’s much less expensive than most other marketing tactics. Get your franchise on board by:

    o    Participating in social media sites such as Facebook and You Tube. Start a corporate Facebook profile and seek out fans or upload informative – or even humorous – videos that have “pass-along” potential, such as an engaging company story or client testimonials. This will help attract more visitors to your web site, increase your exposure within a larger audience and boost your search engine ranking.

    o    Using a blog and/or Twitter to publish information about your business. Gaining “followers” or subscribers not only increases the audience for your company message, but also helps you gain valuable insight from the comments consumers leave on your posts.

    • Get Efficient. Inbound marketing efforts are highly track-able, so employ various strategies to monitor the efficiency of your efforts. This will allow you to repeat what’s working, discontinue what’s not, and gauge what’s providing you with the best return on investment (ROI). Some helpful hints:

    o    First, establish exactly what it is you want to track and make sure you have a way to measure what you want to track

    o    Use statistical programs like Google Analytics to monitor web site traffic behavior – from number of pages viewed to length of time on the site

    o    Use landing pages to track specific ad campaigns and/or marketing initiatives

    o    Track throughout – from campaign to conversion to sale!

                    “As franchises start to ‘think inbound’ in their marketing strategies, they’ll attract customers who are appropriate for and receptive to the company message,” said LaDuque. “This competitive advantage will not only save franchises money, but will also help them build lasting and loyal relationships with clients.”


    8 Marketing Strategies to Increase Franchise Sales

    ELEMENTS Inc.’s executive team, Jeremy LaDuque (CEO), Michael Boyer (CMO) and Steve Bridge (CFO), participated in six roundtables at this year’s International Franchise  Association’s (IFA) Annual Convention in San Diego. The roundtables covered lead generation, online marketing and optimizing follow-up on online leads.

    As we spoke with franchisors we discovered these invaluable strategies for increasing franchise sales:

    1. Market within your own franchisee network:

    Using what you have at your immediate disposal is always the most efficient and cost effective way of marketing amid an economic downturn.  Contact your franchisees to discuss any possible marketing opportunities that you may have in their respective regions.  This type of marketing can be a sensitive matter as you would need your franchisees’ cooperation and possibly customer lists. Make any campaigns of this nature symbiotic; it is essential to initiate a “win-win” scenario for both the franchisor and the franchisee.

    A simple but effective example of this would be to arrange a marketing plan in which you send postcards or coupons to customers of the franchisee.  Your coupon offering could say “Franchise opportunities in your area” on the back. This type of initiative will not only promote the brand, but will provide customers with motivation and incentive to visit the franchise location as well.

    A secondary benefit of this type of marketing is that you are establishing an “exit plan” for franchise owners. By courting interested parties looking to purchase franchises you are providing opportunities for franchises looking to exit. This also helps create a level of trust between the franchisor and the franchisee. This method of marketing was brought up time and again at IFA this year as one of the first and foremost ways to increase franchise sales.

    2. In Store Advertising:

    You can gain great advertising opportunities by harnessing the popularity and frequency of visitors to your franchise locations.  Again, find “win-win” scenarios for you and your franchisees and work with them to expand your lead generation opportunities.

    3. Networking:

    Networking is still one of the most important marketing solutions available in your arsenal. As the saying goes, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.”  There are several ways that you can use this method sell more.  Anything from opening up the old-school rolodex to email marketing, and social networking sites (LinkedIn) are all effective strategies proven to lead to more franchise sales.

    4. Local Media:

    Local press is an important tool for creating lead generation.  In today’s precarious economical state, any publication of new business is hailed as a positive step for the economy and will be welcomed by all factions of media.  Be sure to announce that your franchise is interested in expanding locally, but emphasize the benefits and positive impact that a franchise will have on local consumers and economy.

    5. National Media:

    If you have the means, national press will provide your franchise with the highest exposure possible, however this is something that only a few franchises at the IFA convention were able to leverage. One innovative example of this case is the 10 Till 2 Part Time Placement Service company, which was able to attract national attention with their novel idea of providing part time work to people whose family obligations do not allow for a full time position. This type of creative thinking can lead to exciting results.

    6. Internet Marketing:

    The internet is an obvious and powerful tool which can be used in a myriad of ways to promote your franchise.  In fact, everyone at IFA attested to owning a website while working aggressively to refine their internet marketing strategies.  The majority of internet marketing strategies for franchises involved pay-per-click advertising scenarios. Pay-per-click marketing strategies are favored because advertising with the most popular search engines directly (Google, Yahoo, MSN…etc), still provides faster positive results while also supplying detailed and track-able information to help you optimize your marketing campaigns.

    Yet another important aspect of internet marketing is catering to organic or natural search results, and many franchise companies were interested in further developing their organic marketing campaigns.  We introduced our ElementsLocal solution that directly addresses this growing need for organic results. ELEMENTS launched the ElementsLocal software last year to answer the three-fold need franchises have:

    • Reduce pay-per-click costs
    • Increase leads
    • Protect brand identity

    Simply put, the ElementsLocal software does all three of these by providing each franchisee with their own unique website. This larger network increases organic search results and provides the franchisor with BrandSecure tools to protect the brand.

    7. Portal Websites:

    Web portals present information from diverse sources in a unified, streamlined fashion and provide yet another powerful lead generation tool at your disposal.  Portal websites such as Franchise Gator or MatchPoint provide prospective franchises with multitudes of information about franchising as well as powerful search capabilities to further explore potential franchising opportunities.  These systems have been specifically designed to help franchisers, overcome many marketing hurdles.

    8. Tradeshows

    Tradeshows are a great way for current or prospective franchise owners to learn a great deal about the industry through face to face interactions with many other franchise owners.  Tradeshows also provide a significant opportunity for existing franchise owners to enhance brand and product visibility, promote new and existing products, generate leads, and drive sales.

    These strategies and techniques should help you give you some ideas for marketing your franchise and franchisees. Attending the IFA Convention opened our eyes to the exciting opportunities we have to better market your businesses online. We truly enjoyed the time we spent with franchises, discussing what works and what does not work for them. Remember that significant results to your online marketing and advertising takes time and energy, but it’s worth the effort when you can measure that investment and see a return. Employing even a few of these strategies should help decrease your costs and increase your success.