Top 5 Reasons Franchises Should Embrace Hyperlocal Digital in 2017

As the marketing landscape shifts towards digital, our franchise clients are understanding the importance of how hyperlocal efforts can have a direct impact on a business. As franchises look ahead to 2017, below are the top five reasons why hyperlocal digital is a valuable investment.

1.) Everyone is a digital customer.

No matter if you own a restaurant, service-based franchise or retail business, customers no longer rely solely on the in-store experience. Today’s digital customer wants to be able to interact, transact and communicate across digital and social platforms when it’s convenient for them. And while some challenge it’s a generational issue, today, all customers are now comfortable with some sort of digital interaction and expect to be served up information, offers and news via online platforms.

As franchises continue to focus on the in-store or service side of the business, it’s important to also focus time and funds towards building a digital presence that works for your customer.

2.) Grow sales and leads through low cost of entry.

As the consumer looks to the Internet to choose a business to support, whether it be via a Google search or through their friend’s recommendation on Facebook, their search patterns are recorded. As such, digital advertising allows franchises to be extremely targeted, including allowing brands to target anyone in a zip code radius, specific personality traits or buying patterns.

Digital advertising, whether it be via paid search, social media advertising or display ads, allows a franchise organization or franchisee to reach customers in their target geographical area, select demographics and set budgets based on cost per lead. This allows franchisees to test various promotions or advertisements without spending thousands on traditional advertising methods. And, since digital advertising allows franchises full access to metrics, data is available to track ROI and determine direct impact on a franchise’s bottom line. This low cost of entry allows franchisees to be nimble and try a lot of different tactics at any given time.

3.) Reputation is your most valuable asset.

When it comes to choosing a brand, reputation remains one of the most important factors in turning an individual into a brand advocate. People historically made buying decisions on word-of-mouth and former experiences. It remains just as important today, only now shows up in a different form. Instead of conversations at the water cooler, potential customers are now searching review sites and turning to social media to see photos, learn about the brand and reading about customer’s interactions.

Hyperlocal digital marketing allows franchises to manage the reputation through providing accurate descriptions via local business pages, managing ongoing reviews and comments on review sites like Yelp! and respond to social media in a timely fashion. By investing in these digital platforms, franchisees can respond and provide real-time communication customers once they are outside the four walls.

4.) If you’re not first, you’re last.

Google yourself. We all have done it. For franchise businesses, all they want is to see their name in the coveted top spot during a search. But, being #1 doesn’t just happen overnight. There is a lot of brand building online, including some of the items previously discussed, as well as developing strategy that optimizes your site and brings more web traffic. More traffic = more customers.

Through hyperlocal digital marketing, franchises can develop a strategy to increase search rankings. Through content development, blogs, link-building and local PR efforts, each franchise location should be dedicating spend toward increasing their search presence. This strategy isn't an overnight sensation; it requires constant and ongoing effort.

5.) Fostering relationships can turn a one-time customer into a brand loyalist.

We all know that building a brand takes more than thousands of customers. Frequency of use/visits leads to better business and more money in a franchise’s pocket. That is why so many franchises invest funds in reward and loyalty programs. While we agree this is a viable and important investment, hyperlocal digital market efforts like email marketing and referral programs allows franchises to continue engaging customers and encourage repeat interactions.

Email marketing allows franchises to target by location, ensuring that the franchise is reaching their customer and serving up information that is specific to them. Each customer wants to feel like they are being served up emails from a local owner/community-based organization, so the more local the message the better. A hyperlocal digital strategy allows franchisees to determine the message and ensure its driving conversions.

In addition, digital platforms like YikYak, allow franchises to reward loyal customers and their friends for referrals. Through online tools, customers are encouraged to post offers or reviews in exchange for brand offers. These programs foster relationships and allow the franchisee to reward those customers that talk about them positively online.

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