Getting your franchisee sites up and running can be hard work but, if done right, the effort can really pay off. Still, contrary to some people’s beliefs, the job doesn’t stop there: a site needs to be maintained on a regular basis. Again, this is a collaborative effort that needs both parties involved. As a franchisor, you should provide a strategy that your franchisees can follow to keep their site on point.
Why is site maintenance important?
Some franchisors think that keeping up a site is not necessary. They may even think that it’s a waste of money and time. Nonetheless, you need to remember that this is a marketing strategy and like any other strategy, it needs to be looked after so it stays relevant and up to date. Here are some of the main reasons why you need to update your site regularly:
1. To get found!
SEO is improved with regular updates. A static page that doesn’t offer any new content may soon get lost in the search pages. A research held by Marketing Sherpa, shows that with a solid SEO strategy (which more than likely includes content updates), you can effectively increase your traffic by 57%.
Furthermore, if your franchise has a lot of competition, there’s no way a potential customer will look for you all the way at the bottom where there are some good enough options at the top of the results.
2. To convince!
Users want to find relevant and updated content. That’s why conversion rates are usually better in sites that do take good care of what they’re putting out there. Plus, an abandoned site may be a little bit fishy. Remember that visitors need to trust your business for them to convert.
3. To engage!
Your main concern should be your customers or potential clients. How do they feel about your service or product? By engaging your visitors with your content, there’s a bigger chance that they may want to convert. According to a research by Marketing Sherpa, content creation is the single most effective strategy for SEO. This is partly because relevant and valuable content is more likely to catch people’s attention.
Imagine you’re a mom on the go that needs to get her children on a after-school activity and you find a dance school in your city, st. You go online and find this:
How would you react to this? There are no scheduled classes for 2013 and it’s February already! More over, there are some that say “coming soon” under Registration in Progress, meaning that this site hasn’t been updated since before the fall season in 2012.
As a potential customer, you probably consider that there aren’t going to be any classes for spring 2013 or that the school could have closed down, or that they don’t pay attention to providing their clients with the right information. Either way, you’ll probably move on. That’s one lead who will be spending her money on another business because of bad site maintenance.
What to look after in your franchisee sites?
Updates! Updates! Updates!
Your content, specials, testimonials, deals, among other things need to be put up to date consistently. Nothing can be more off-putting than, as a customer, finding out that the information you’re looking for is not there (or that it’s dated from 2 years ago!).
Updates can be small: like changing the testimonials so that visitors can learn the opinions of your customers or even change an image.
But, the most recommended step to get your site noticed is updating with constant blog posts. Yes, blogging may be the answer to all your problems because it can generate 7 times more traffic than a static page.
For example, a “Tips and Tricks” blog can be helpful to you and your visitors because it gives them the inspiration that they are looking for. Furthermore, it can reel more visitors in because people are searching for real and engaging content that speaks to their problem at hand.
If you need more ideas about how to update the content in your site, check out this “Content Solutions” post!
SEO & Analytics
Search Engine Optimization are a set of techniques used to get to the top in the search pages so when people are looking for something related to your business, they find you first. This needs to be maintained because markets change and you need to be up to speed.
More over, if you have a content strategy, you know that SEO is pretty tied-up with it: you need content to build up SEO and you need SEO so your site gets seen. This means that, with the updating of the content, you need to do keyword research, title and content optimization. Remember that every page in your site is a new chance to rank and be found for a different set of keywords.
Analytics is a tool that helps you know what is working in your site and how you can take advantage of it. Basically, it gathers up relevant data for your business: how are they getting to your site, are your ads working to get them there, what keywords are they using, what makes them convert, what generates leads, what sells and what makes them click away from your site.
All of this questions are of great importance for any company that’s looking to grow and be better for their potential leads. Tracking specific conversion events may give you a different clue of what they’re looking for in your business. The information is there for you to take it and use it to your advantage; you just need to track it.
Over time, franchises may change their logo, design, slogan, personality, what have you, and their sites need to keep up to be compliant with the new branding. Be it the franchisor, the marketing team or the franchisee need to make sure that there isn’t any misrepresentation from when the site was created.
Furthermore, if the franchisees are developing content for the site, there should be a routine check-up to go through the material and make sure it fits with the brand.
It’s a good idea to verify that all links and videos are working from time to time. This way you avoid a customer going through a bad experience at your site. A bad review can spread faster than a good one!
Strategic Planning for your Franchisee Website Maintenance
As a franchisor, you need a strategy to maintain your franchisee sites and here are some tips to help you achieve that.
- First and foremost you need to have a clear goal: do you want to increase traffic? do you want to produce relevant content? do you want to increase leads? conversions? By setting a specific goal with a defined schedule, you will be on your way to creating a strategy that leads your franchisees in that direction.
- Next, spread the word. Your franchisees, everyone at corporate, etc., should know what they’re working towards. Furthermore, let them know why content and SEO is important in this plan. If your franchisees aren’t tech savvy and don’t have the time to write up or update a site, they may need a bit extra help…
- Providing templates of value-driven content (along with some guidelines) to your franchisees is a great way to ensure brand compliance while maintaining franchisee sites. With this, they can customize said information to fit the local audiences better (because who knows the local audience better than the franchisees who serve them?).
- With that said, be careful with duplicate content since it can be seriously penalized by the search engines. Furthermore, visitors are looking for local answers to the problem at hand so make sure that those templates are seriously customized.
- Franchisees need to be lead by example, meaning the corporate site should also needs maintaining on a regular basis (weekly or biweekly). This can get them motivated to do the same. Plus, it may give them good ideas on what to update next and how to do it.
- A good idea regarding SEO is to hire an expert: to track and research keywords that can be applied to local scenarios. This way you lift off a weight off of your franchisees shoulders. Plus, keeping SEO in check can be easier said than done, and if you want to be seen, you need to do it right!
- Last, but definitely not least, there needs to be a support system for the franchisees. As you may know, communication is very important to ensure a successful business. This strategy needs to be reinforced in your franchisees from time to time so they don’t forget what they have learned and it’s importance.
As you may know by now, just getting a site up is not enough. If you want it to work best for your marketing purposes, you need to constantly care for it.
A system like Empowerkit’s may be able to help in this area because it makes updating and maintaining a site very easy. With this franchise-friendly CMS, you can give your franchisees the freedom to have a presence online, while you’re still in control of what they’re getting out there.
Whichever way you choose to fulfill this task, make sure you do it on a regular (weekly or biweekly) basis!
If you have any questions regarding this post or Empowerkit, feel free to ask!