When it comes to franchise development today, brands know that their franchise candidates are participating in extensive research—or due diligence—long before they ever reach out to a brand representative. In order to cut through the clutter and compel candidates to engage, franchise development sites must achieve two interrelated functions: optimize for SEO so as to move to the foreground over competitors clamoring for attention, and provide the highest-value information possible for their candidate audience.
Combined, both necessities translate to one thing: an excellent content strategy. Read on to see just what strategy developers should keep in mind while on their mission to drive lead generation.
Utilize Messaging that Highlights the Franchise Opportunity
Oliver Gunanto, Vice President of Digital for No Limit Agency, stressed that optimized FD sites showcase a strong strategy by never lose sight of their messaging.
“On franchise development sites, the messaging needs to be all about how to position the opportunity,” Gunanto said. “Tap into language that clearly showcases the financial value proposition and the investment required to join the system. Don’t make your candidate hunt for that information.”
Clearly crafted and strategically deployed messaging not only answers site visitors’ FAQs, but it also promotes SEO strength by aligning with the very search terms used by visitors in the course of their franchise research.
Additionally, a cogent franchise development site that demonstrates that the brand has a strong understanding of candidate concerns bolsters brand credibility and validation.
Strike the Balance: Don’t Withhold Important Information and Don’t Overshare
“On franchise development sites, brands have to find the right balance between sharing too much and undersharing,” Gunanto said. “If you share too much or rely too heavily on your business’s data to do the talking, you may close the door on an opportunity to have a conversation. People will make their own story around the data.”
On the flipside, if brands withhold critical information—like investment level, candidate journey, and so on—they “sacrifice SEO value that drives organic traffic, which almost always brings about more qualified leads because it drives traffic from people searching for the business opportunity, as opposed to boosted posts or paid ads capturing a visitor when they weren’t necessarily searching,” Gunanto explained.
Round Out Your Content—Don’t Exclusively Rely on Copy
“The way I look at it, the function of a franchise development site is to showcase others like the candidate who have found success,” said Eric Martin, Vice President of Franchise Development for lawn care services franchise Lawn Doctor. “So on my website, I want to see testimonial videos that showcase owners that we view as an ideal fit; videos where they share their story and serve as validators.”
In addition to videos, Martin said that a best practice is the option to access more extensive information, like brochures or discovery kits, upon providing contact information via an online form.
“Then you have the opportunity to engage that candidate and share your story,” Martin said. “It’s a human process—we all know that in franchising. It’s all about trying to get a good candidate to have the desire to have a conversation and buy into the research process, not one click that you treat as an automatically valuable lead.”
Scott Thompson is Chief Development Officer for swim instruction franchise Big Blue Swim School. In addition to testimonial videos and information kits to supplement copy, Thompson said that franchise development sites should include “infographics showing the candidate journey, plus territory maps, target markets and sold markets.”
Balancing visual and written language will keep your franchise candidate engaged and prevent them from getting overwhelmed—or worse, bored.
SEO Is Bigger Than Keywords: Think About Mobile and UX, Too
“People want to have a good-looking site, but you have to make sure that it’s set up in a way that lets it load quickly,” Gunanto explained. “Page speed performance contributes to SEO; Google doesn’t reward slow-loading pages. Plus, that drives up your user bounce rate.”
Another mistake Gunanto sees brands make?
“Not optimizing for mobile,” he said. “If you’ve built an FD site that’s a great desktop experience but as a mobile user, you can’t access certain functionalities like validation information, testimonials, etc., that’s no good.”
Cue spiking bounce rates.
Ultimately, brands that take care to prioritize these four best practices—utilizing messaging focused on the business opportunity; striking the balance between oversharing and withholding; supplementing copy with video and visuals; and optimizing for mobile and UX—have the best chance at grabbing the attention of their candidate audience and then compelling their engagement.
And that leads the way to powerful franchise development.