Louie Beaupre, franchise industry executive and current Franchise Strategic Consultant at Parallel P...
A website is the hub of any business’s digital efforts. An ineffective website will undermine all other marketing efforts, no matter how much time, money and expertise are applied to campaign development. Yet, many franchisors leave the development and management of franchisee websites to the franchisees. The result? An incohesive, inconsistent, and fragmented Web presence that:
- Negatively impacts the franchise brand
- Creates inefficiencies
- Results in lost opportunity
A centrally managed website, which is a single website/domain that serves both the franchisor and the franchisee, offers scalability, efficiencies, brand control, and a better consumer experience. Together, these components all equate to more revenue for the entire franchise.
The Benefits of a Centrally Managed Website
Grow at Scale
A centralized website enables the growth of an online identity and the associated brand at scale, which is the main benefit of franchising. A centrally managed website enables franchisors to:
- Easily add new locations.
- Efficiently and consistently roll out promotions and new offerings across the network.
- Scale digital marketing marketing initiatives more effectively.
Prevent Fragmentation of Brand Standards
A brand is more than just colors and taglines. It’s an immersive experience that speaks to prospects and customers on a number of different levels. Creating a website that embodies a brand is no easy task. But, when it is done well, a website can have powerful implications on the franchise’s bottom line. Expecting franchise operators to create a website that accurately communicates the brand is a lot to ask of someone who may have no background in digital marketing, user experience, or design.
Even if they are armed with detailed brand guidelines, there are no guarantees they will follow them properly (or even at all).
Essentially, a franchisor-controlled website ensures that the franchise brand is delivered accurately and professionally.
Control the Consumer's Online Experience
Managing the customer’s online journey is critical to success. Poorly designed websites that are confusing, inaccurate, and incomplete will erode credibility and push prospective customers to the competition. These are the exact types of problems that often plague franchisee-managed websites.
Let’s face it, most franchisees don’t have the time or expertise to deliver an effective website. A centrally managed website gives control to the franchisor, who can put the right people in place to deliver a user experience that inspires prospects to take action.
Get the Most Out of SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) efforts also get a boost with a centrally managed website. This specifically relates to increasing organic traffic and maintaining a localized relevancy that ties into how users are searching for solutions online.
Domain authority (a key indicator of the potential website visibility within the search engine results) is far easier to build with a single domain than it is to build across a network of franchisee domains. This is especially true if the franchisee websites are utilizing the same content, which can limit or completely suppress their sites in search results.
Franchisors and franchisees share SEO objectives, and traffic from one can flow to the other with a shared Web presence. Without a central presence, franchisees are left to handle this on their own, which often results in competing SEO efforts. For example, locations in the same metro area can end up competing with each other, ultimately cannibalizing the efforts of both franchisees.
Better Data Analysis
One of the biggest challenges for franchises is data silos. Without a complete and cohesive view of the customer journey, franchise businesses are missing an opportunity to apply data-driven insights to future marketing efforts.
A decentralized Web presence will likely result in a decentralized Web analytics environment, which will require excessive administrative resources to patch together, if it can be patched together at all. With a centrally managed website, a single Web analytics tool can be used to monitor the performance of the site, providing the franchisor with a unified view of user behavior on the website – a critical component of any effort to optimize website performance.