Investing in keywords to have your franchise show up on the first page of a search engine can be a time-consuming process. It can be frustrating. It can require regular maintenance.
And it can cost a lot of money.
This is where pay-per-click (PPC) comes into play.
There are many long-term benefits to PPC, especially if your business does not show up in the first one or two pages of a Google search, and it can work very well if franchisors follow certain tips and take certain precautions.
“Invest in your SEO, but in the meantime, you can supplement the fact that you’re not on the first page by providing PPC,” 1851 Franchise Chief Brand Strategist Sean Fitzgerald said. “You’re paying to be placed there through search.”
Fitzgerald shared his thoughts on PPC best practices for franchises.
Own Your Category
“The first thing I recommend is to own your category,” Fitzgerald said. “If you are a pizza franchise, and you search ‘pizza franchise’ but you’re not on the first or second page, then you need to pay PPC to be there. Otherwise, when people are searching, they’re not going to find you.”
Keep Keywords Very Specific
Keywords should be kept very specific to your industry or the types of franchisee candidates a franchisor is looking for.
“If your keywords are too broad, you’re going to spend a lot of money every time someone types in ‘franchise,’” Fitzgerald said.
Not being specific can attract the wrong audience, as well as people who just frankly may not be interested in your particular franchise opportunity. If you’re a pizza franchise and you just pay to be in search of franchise opportunities, somebody looking to buy a lawn care service, for example, will click on your pizza franchise, see that it’s not a lawn care franchise, and won’t be interested, Fitzgerald said.
“You’ll be wasting a lot of dollars on people that are not your audience or not qualified,” he said.
Be Defined in Your Target Audience
It’s better to hit a specific market hard than to hit a large market sporadically, Fitzgerald said. The trick is to be very focused.
“If you’re going to grow in that state, trying to create a PPC campaign across the entire United States will be super expensive, but if you narrow it down, to say, four or five markets, and then focus your budget in those market areas, you’re going to have a much better effect because you’re going to have a higher concentration of impressions and clicks,” he said.
Messaging is critical, and having your messaging match the audience you’re trying to reach and what they’re searching for “can increase those click-through rates,” he said.
Testing is important to see which keywords perform better. Certain types of phrases work better than others that are universal in the industry, Fitzgerald said.
“Test the keywords that you’re using,” he said. “Test the messaging and ad that you’re using – change them up frequently and just see if one performs better than the other because those will tend to be beneficial.”
Landing pages must match the content your audience is searching
Try to have landing pages that match the content the audience is searching, Fitzgerald said. If a target franchisee is searching for pizza opportunities in Ohio, for example, and your landing page has franchise information specific to Ohio and markets that are available, that will be helpful. Providing good information that is relevant to the person doing the search will increase the opportunity for engagement, Fitzgerald said.
“It just enhances the user experience and is more likely to convert than just sending them to your homepage where the visitor doesn’t know what to do,” he said.
Remarket. Remarket. Remarket.
Don’t forget about remarketing!
Potential franchisees, Fitzgerald said, can find your brand and then get so busy in their day-to-day that they don’t get the opportunity to engage with your brand. Having reminder ads encourages potential franchisees to revisit your website and make your overall lead flow improve, he said.
“One of the things I think brands miss is that when someone visits your site, they know about you already, so they’re the best audience to reach,” he said. “So, if you’re driving people to your website, whether it’s through PPC or public relations or traditional advertising, don’t forget about remarketing because remarketing is a great way to keep you top of mind.”
Test smart — and small
That is, test small before you test big. Start with very specific keywords to your category, industry, markets and limit your budget.
“Once you see things starting to work, then you can expand your budget out from there because now you’ve got a good indicator of what’s going to work and what’s not,” he said.
He said he often sees people do the reverse — they spend a lot of money on a lot of keywords in a lot of markets, and then hone in to see what works.
“I’ve always approached it the opposite way because I didn’t want to waste budget on testing,” he said. “I wanted to test and then expand my budget out based on what’s working.”
And if you plan to outsource…
If you plan on outsourcing your PPC efforts, make sure to partner with a company that understands franchise development. Some firms have consumer PPC, but they do not have any knowledge on franchise development PPC. Working with a company that understands franchising and the ideal franchise candidate will have a better effect and the franchisor will spend less money, he said.
Not focusing specifically on franchise development PPC can be a huge problem.
“The audiences are completely different, the tactics are completely different and they may do a great job on consumer PPC, but franchise development PPC is very, very different, and I’ve seen brands spent a lot of money wasting it on keywords that are just way too out there that work great on consumer but don’t work on franchise development. So, they have an ineffective campaign,” Fitzgerald said.
Don’t forget to do regular PPC maintenance. Measure results by looking at Google Analytics and see which keywords are working.
“PPC is always a work in progress,” Fitzgerald said. “I recommend looking at it on a monthly basis just to make sure that there are any improvements that you can make. And utilize the tools because Google provides a lot of great insights into their reporting to help maximize your campaigns.”