Integrated Digital Strategies CEO Steve Galligan shares his insights on the current franchise development website landscape and what forward-thinking brands need to embrace—and avoid.
A robust franchise development website is one of the most important tools for educating and engaging with franchise buyers. And according to supplier Integrated Digital Strategies, these assets deserve the time and resources it takes to be done right. They’re not just saying that because it benefits their business, though. They’re saying it because it benefits yours—whether you’re an emerging brand, enterprise franchise organization or anything in between.
Integrated Digital Strategies approaches franchise development site creation with a three-pronged goal in mind: meets sales objectives with a personalized product that answers an ideal franchise buyer’s most important questions; showcases brand dominance through strong storytelling; and provides prospects multiple ways to inquire with a few short clicks.
Executing on this goal of moving a franchise buyer to action, though, is a multifaceted process.
“First and foremost, you need a standalone robust franchise sales website instead of a subpage within your brand site,” Integrated Digital Strategies CEO Steve Galligan wrote in an email. “Buyers are looking to dig in and learn as much about you as you want to learn about them. You don’t want to confuse the visitor and the search engines by blending your consumer content within your franchise sales site.”
A standalone franchise development site’s content will index for more franchise-related keywords and higher rankings, Galligan noted, which attracts qualified candidates to a given brand’s sales funnel in turn. “Of course, linking the sites together in the main navigation is an absolute must,” he stressed.
As franchisors explore the marketplace for a like-minded supplier to partner with in their franchise development website creation efforts, Galligan and his team at Integrated Digital Strategies recommended the brands ask the following questions:
- What percentage of your marketing services are focused on franchising?
- How will your services help us achieve our goals?
- How do you define success when it comes to building a digital marketing program?
- What data do you provide to demonstrate the success of a campaign?
- How do you integrate the many facets of digital marketing into a well-rounded program?
Doing so, the company said, will help brands find the supplier partner with the precise level of expertise and knowledge necessary to execute their vision in a way that generates meaningful results. It will also help brands avoid outdated practices that can negatively affect their conversion rates, such as weak calls to action and stale imagery.
“It’s not surprising to still see franchise sales websites that do not show a phone number or a clear call-to-action form,” Galligan wrote. “However, it’s the quickest, easiest, and most impactful improvement we can make for a brand. A form to fill out and a touch-to-call phone number should live front-and-center on all pages of your site, especially the home page. Prioritize what happens ‘above the fold’ and streamline navigation to the most important topics.”
The use of stock imagery as a site’s core design element is a close second as far as irksome tactics are concerned, according to Integrated Digital Strategies. “Using custom, branded imagery conveys how you’re going to invest in your franchisees and sets expectations of what they will be doing, wearing, and learning. Stock models and generic imagery do not reflect the franchisees you are looking to attract,” Galligan noted.
On the other hand, the current trends Integrated Digital Strategies sees as capable of making a real impact are video, video and more video. More specifically, video that tells a brand’s story, conveys what life as a franchisee of that brand is like and puts faces to a brand is most effective in converting candidates into franchisees.
“The same way we lean on stars and customer reviews when purchasing consumer goods, hearing testimonials from franchisees in a visual manner is a valuable element to include on a franchise development site,” Galligan wrote.
Regardless of where trends take franchise development sites in the future, there are things brands can be doing in the present to maximize the effectiveness of this valuable asset. Integrated Digital Strategies recommends investing in SEO from the launch of a new site to help it gain traction organically. Acknowledging this as a long-game investment play will pay dividends for franchisors willing to commit in the form of keyword searches when they’ve invested in the proper optimization for search engines, Galligan explained.
“Content and correct coding go a long way toward ensuring that your traffic is building your credibility up to first-page rankings,” he said, noting that this earned traffic will reduce your cost per acquisition over time.
Bringing it full circle, Galligan pointed again to the importance of linking franchise development site to consumer site through both’s main navigation. Calling it “an easy way to create a natural divide and still capture interested traffic,” Galligan emphasized this strategy will keep consumer leads in the proper place while simultaneously serving as a more informative resource for serious franchise candidates.
“Linking these separate entities allows the franchise development site to lean on the domain authority of the consumer site while it develops its own audience and SEO value,” he wrote.