Opening a franchise has always been a great way for an entrepreneur to start a business. While it doesn’t have the same romantic ‘allure’ of building a company from the ground up, starting a franchise also doesn’t have the same level of risk involved with a traditional  start up. Franchise organizations often provide their franchisees with a number of services to ensure they get off the ground successfully, including benefits such as brand name recognition, operational blueprints, centralized customer service as well as marketing campaigns. The Insight Forge team has experience in helping franchise organizations blueprint and execute their online marketing strategy across multiple locations – primarily in the realm of PPC advertising and Search Engine Optimization.

The online marketing strategy for a franchise organization differs from promoting a standalone local business. Every task needs to be multiplied by the number of franchisees involved. There are some marketing ‘themes’ that must be carried across all franchise locations, while other details need to be caressed to an individual geographic level.

To date, there are a number of guides on PPC advertising and SEO strategies for local businesses. Local business owners have the benefit of a ton of resources to help them promote their shops, including websites, yelp reviews, search engine listings and more. Franchise Organizations, which essentially are a conglomerate of multiple local business, don’t have nearly as many online marketing resources. I’d like to turn this trend around by provide a short guide to online marketing for franchises specifically, including details on PPC advertising and SEO strategies.

Franchise PPC Marketing

When we talk about PPC marketing, we are primarily referring to Adwords marketing, given Google’s dominance of the search engine market.  However, Bing and Yahoo are making some headwind, so we don’t like to totally disregard other search engines.  The primary difference between an Adwords campaign for a single business and multiple franchises territories comes from a management perspective; maintaining multiple franchise territories in different locations requires honing in on distinct geographic permeations, while also maintain an cohesive  brand association.

Landing Pages: Anyone familiar with Adwords knows that landing pages are a big deal – they figure into quality score as well as your end goal of getting a conversion.  In other words,  a good or bad landing page can make all the difference.  The big issue with franchise landing pages is the constant battle to maintain brand continuity across multiple franchisees while at the same time providing adequate keyword differentiation for each  location.   This is equally as important for Franchise SEO, which we will discuss in the next post.   We recommend making a template of a landing page and segmenting each section into dynamic or static – which parts simply cannot change and which have flexibility from location to location.  Try to push for as much ‘dynamic’ material as possible, as this will give each landing page the chance to stand out and ‘sync’ with your campaign’s keywords and ads.

Keywords: Although you will have standard keywords across all of your franchisees because you perform one type of service, you need to make sure that every keyword fits specifically into each geographic location.  For example, although ‘rubbish removal’ and ‘junk removal’ are synonymous phrases – ‘rubbish’ is primarily used in Europe whereas ‘Junk’ is used in the U.S.   These types of distinctions need to be made on an individual keyword level – don’t simply import a standardized list of keywords from franchise to franchise and expect them to perform.

–   In regards to having multiple businesses in various locations, you will also have to consider two types of keywords – those with ‘geographic modifiers’ and those without.  For example, if your pizza delivery franchise has a location in Memphis, two variations of keywords could be ‘Pizza Delivery’ or ‘Memphis Pizza Delivery’.   Each of these types of keywords should be separated into different campaigns and targeted  on different geographic levels.

–  Competitor Keywords are another option to consider.  Although not often condoned, bidding on a competitor’s name has become a standard practice in the world of Adwords marketing.  For franchise PPC marketing, you need to consider ‘big’ competitors that are national and have locations across the board, as well as ‘mom and pop’ shops that will be dynamic per location.

Ads: For franchise Adwords marketing, you’ll want to make sure each of your different campaigns has ads that are as specific as possible to the franchise location.  This includes using geographic modifier keywords within ad titles and copy as well as in the display url.

Ad Extensions: Extensions are a great way to highlight your franchise location as a local business that will attract customers in the area.  In your campaign settings under ‘ad extensions’ you can add an address extension to your ads either through a connected Google Places account or by entering each address manually.  When your ad pops, it will have an address under it, which can help boost your CTR and quality score.

Geographic Targeting: Just as with a standalone local business, geographic targeting in your Adwords campaign will be an essential tool in adverting for multiple franchise locations.   You need to consider the service range of each individual franchise – literally how many miles away from their storefront can they adequately provide services to customers?   You also need to consider potential overlap between franchises.  For example, if you use broad match keywords for ‘Memphis Pizza Delivery’ and target the campaign to a national level, these ads have the potential of serving for another franchisee out of Boston with someone simply searching for ‘Pizza Delivery.’  You don’t want your franchisees bidding against one another.  Try to use exact and phrase match keywords to prevent this from happening, and if you need to use broad match to pull in more clicks in a smaller traffic area, try to use as many negative keywords as possible.

Although there are general themes you can import from one franchise campaign to another, in the end you’ll want to become an expert on each of your franchise locations.  How far reaching is their service area? What kind of words do the locals search for to find your service?  Who are the nearby competitors?

NEXT:  Franchise SEO Strategy, Franchise Google Local Listings, Franchise Social Media and more.

Insight Forge is your premiere San Francisco SEO, Adwords and Development shop.  For inquiries on franchise marketing campaigns or any general questions contact us: