- Posted by Martin McDonald
- On February 26, 2018
2018 is in full swing and we’re fresh off the International Franchise Association’s annual convention in Phoenix. What an amazing convention filled with excellent thought leaders but more importantly it was a time for you to reflect on your brand, learn best practices and leave the Valley of the Sun with more information to help your franchise gain a competitive advantage. The successful franchises of 2018, will be those that change to adapt to the market. And make no mistake, it’s changing.
Here are some key takeaway’s from this year’s IFA Convention along with other trends we’re seeing in the space:
- When it comes to content marketing, most franchises are missing the boat and lack a true plan.
- Today’s digital users are savvy with their online research and highly selective creating more pressure to increase in-store visits and in-store revenue.
- @josephkhart CEO @DaleCarnegie, talked about the #OneCarnegie culture between corporate offices & their franchise network @#IFA2018: “Listen, engage & trust. Ask your franchisees for feedback because it will propel your business. People support a world they help create.” #dalecarnegie
While this year’s convention easily had another dozen rich snippets we can blog about (and we will soon!), below are some of the most important digital trends for franchising in 2018!
1. Conversational Marketing Drives Customer Experience
AI or Artificial Intelligence is here to stay. Businesses are slowly embracing conversational ads/voice search to enrich the customer experience but the ones you step up now, will win the race. With chatbots, Alexa ordering, Siri and Google Assistant, the rise of conversational ordering is a steep rise. People are talking their way through ordering products online through services like Alexa, Cortana, and Google. “Alexa” and “Ok Google” are a part of the daily conversation, heard in households across the nation. This changes how websites need to function and elevates the importance of semantic search for your SEO campaigns. You need to ask yourself, “is our brand ready for this?” We can help with a compliment audit (email: [email protected] to learn more)
2. Live Interaction and Streaming Over Social Media Platforms
Businesses must realize that building online communities through continuous live, and personal interactions/engagement with consumers are the key to brand loyalty. For example, Facebook live videos encourage real-time interaction with an audience. If your brand has a new location opening, Go Live! Show it to your social audience! Video has become a very important part of successful businesses; consumers need real connections with real people.
3. Consumer Purchase Behavior
Today’s consumers are very informed, knowledgeable and source information on products, options, and prices through trusted online social networks. It’s been reported that consumers conduct more research and due diligence before purchasing items in a store and will view upwards of 11 different sources of information (search, reviews, videos, etc…) before they pull the trigger. Also, consumers will demand customization to suit their exact needs and brands that adopt to this faster, will win more market share.
Consumers also reward transparency with their loyalty and are seeking businesses with knowledge to share and wisdom to impart. They want to know where your products come from and the reasoning for choosing vendors/manufacturers to the business. This knowledge needs to filter down to staff members as well; they need to be able to answer consumer questions relating to products, services, and processes. All of this information should be highlighted through a well-defined content marketing plan utilizing social seeding.
4. Marketing is Key
It is time to drive marketing initiatives that focus on solving consumer problems. Business needs to focus marketing initiatives and messages to problem-solving instead of feature offering. Remember consumers might not know they need your service until you point out the problems it can solve, in other words, educate, guide and advise.
5. Local Advertising is Still Important
Local advertising will now be more intense due to real-time data and location sharing on devices.. Businesses can now make marketing campaigns very specific, targeted and relevant. It is all about getting content to where your consumers are. Franchise systems need to use social media platforms to get in front of your local customers with relevant content, engagement and establish that social connection.
6. Focusing on Data Quality
Due to the recent explosion of big data, businesses have a vast amount of data available which can be seen as a challenge and opportunity. The key issue is to know which data is irrelevant to your business so that it won’t be considered or used. Businesses need to have a clear mindset on their goals and target audience to ensure accuracy and value of research and algorithms.
7. Perfecting Order Deliveries
If you live in the QSR space, you will need to adopt techniques and processes to increase process efficiency to shorten the delivery time to ensure ultimate customer satisfaction. With real-time delivery services like GrubHub, UberEats and more, the competition to keep your restaurant top of mind is becoming a priority and delivery times matter now more than ever. Delivery businesses are exploring delivery options to reduce costs – therefore leveraging deliver-to-store option would reduce costs, e.g. free delivery for customers, you attract them to the physical store, and there are no return costs involved if they aren’t satisfied.
This needs to be in your digital messaging as your customers are looking for convenience and something that makes their hectic lives, well, simpler. Take a look at McDonald’s. You can go inside, drive thru, order via Uber Eats or use their app to order and pick up. We all want simpler!
8. Mobility is key for all business models
Consumers are always on the move, and you want to be considered for the transaction even if they aren’t in your store physically. Therefore websites should be compatible with various devices and operating software, e.g., smartphones, tablets, etc. Mobile pay options are how the buying consumer is paying. By taking credit cards and “tap” pay, it allows your customers to purchase items in a simple and convenient way. Services currently popular are Square, ApplePay, Google Wallet, Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal.
9. Clicks vs. Bricks = Omnichannel
The importance of online interaction and presence, but a physical store presence is just as important. If businesses want to keep consumers frequenting their store, they need to provide an experience that they won’t receive online. Consumers still need a personal face-to-face interaction/relationship with businesses.
There is have a trend that customers will peruse items in the store but purchase it online elsewhere. By having a flawless online and in-store experience, you can steer those customers to the mobile experience where they can purchase online from your store. Consider leveraging coupons in your digital strategy. Old school tactic that still works in today’s digital world.
10. Stealth stores
It is important to determine if consumers prefer independent local businesses to larger chains. Some consumers may feel that big isn’t beautiful and they would rather support local, independent and unique businesses. Therefore, some bigger chains are developing creative ways to capture this market segment. E.g., Starbucks Coffee shop has unbranded stores disguised as local coffee shops.
In franchising, franchisors will find a local person in the community to have an independent store to ensure support from the community. This is disruptive franchising at its best!
11. Corporate social responsibilities
In the socially aware society, we are in and will continue to face in 2018, businesses realize the importance of giving back to their immediate community and building social capital. Customers will use their spending power with brands that give back in some way. Many times, customers are willing to pay more if they know their purchase or support of the business is helping the community.
No matter what franchise system you’re involved with, these trends will impact your brand! We hope that it is for the better and are here to help you navigate the franchise digital marketing and reputation management terrain. V Digital services can support your marketing needs ranging from web development, SEO to content marketing, publicity, reputation management and social media. When you’re ready, contact us at [email protected] or visit our web site at https://www.vdigitalservices.com/franchise-multi-location-digital-marketing/