With the staggering amount of internet data currently being generated, it’s no surprise that marketing tools and channels are such a critical part of our marketing lives. The sheer volume of data available to us means that marketing a product or service often requires innovative thinking: using cutting edge tools like social media, building interactive websites with mobile-friendly design, or coming up with new strategies for e-commerce.

A study by Hubspot found that companies typically use around 12 different tools at any given moment to collect and collate data from the various digital channels that they may be employing. But the collection and analytics processes can be both time consuming and confusing, and it comes as no surprise that over 60% of marketers want better integration between processes for sharing information between these tools.

Due to the influx of information now being taken in, it is becoming tougher than ever for marketing teams to recognise valuable insights from data. The number of data points available to companies has grown exponentially and marketers need an intelligent nerve centre that allows them to track digital moments and integrate with platforms such as Instagram and Facebook where their customers are spending more time than ever before.

It’s within this tech landscape that many marketers are recognising the importance of a digital command centre to allow their teams to identify and understand KPI’s that can help them determine the impact of certain ad campaigns, promotions, products or services. CMOs must ensure that relevant insights gleaned from digital channels, such as online discussions, go to the places in the organisation that can use them. Companies that use their digital command center’s intelligence, identify key moments and respond appropriately.

Setting up a digital command centre can be overwhelming, but for many it has been worth the focus, particularly in realising specific business objectives. Recently, more and more CMOs have begun to realise the potential of building a digital command centre, by extracting value from their investment in increased lead generation and consumer confidence.

In lead generation advertising, landing pages play a significant role in converting visitors into leads. A lead is someone that has given you their contact information and opted-in to whatever offer or service you are promoting.

A lead generation campaign’s success relies heavily on the landing page because it needs to be credible enough for prospects to give out their personal info and opt-in – otherwise they will move onto your competition. Here are five ways you can improve the credibility of your landing page:

1: Use real testimonials from real people with pictures or their organisations details

Customer reviews and testimonials on your landing page demonstrate that you have happy customers who use your service or buy from you regularly. If you have real testimonials from customers and not actors, this will lead to a higher conversion rate as prospects will be more likely to believe these are authentic.

2: Add Helpful FAQs

Providing answers to questions that prospects may already have will lead them to trust you more and convert faster because they feel like their doubts have been addressed.

It’s really important to be helpful, forthright and honest with your clients because it can dramatically increase the amount of leads coming your way. Providing FAQs is a great strategy to generate more traffic on your landing page – which you want for lead generation campaigns as an inflow of leads will make a sell much easier.

3: Show Your Main Features Above the Fold

If you offer features such as free trials, money-back guarantees, or flexible plans, then these features should be shown from the moment someone enters your site. This way visitors know what they’re getting into before completing the contact form and converting. It also reduces friction by increasing visibility

4: Display Trust Seals

Trust seals give a sense of credibility to lead generation landing page visitors and pages with trust seals convert better. There are a number of ways to display trust seals on lead generation landing pages, but experts agree that the most effective way is by using logos and badges from established organisations like TRUSTe or BBB Online with your lead generation advertising campaign’s logo.

This technique implies two things: firstly, your lead-generation ads have been approved as trustworthy; secondly, you’re not in it for the money alone – there must be something more important at stake than just getting people to click through. As such, this method works well if you want visitors feel confident about parting with their personal information when they buy products from you–they know where their data will go and what it’ll be used for (even though you may have already stipulated it in your lead generation landing page’s Privacy Policy).

5: Increase Page Load Speed for Greater Impact

Sometimes people are apprehensive about lead generation landing pages because it takes too long for the content to load. If this happens, then not only will those potential leads leave without converting but also those reading reviews may not want anything to do with your business after reading negative comments from others who experienced lengthy loading.

This is why lead generation landing pages with a fast loading time are more likely to perform better than those who don’t. But, if you’re not sure how long your lead generating landing page takes to load on an average computer, then try using the Google lighthouse page speed application that measures website performance and provide suggestions on how you can improve your landing pages speed.

You need to make sure your website is fast, informative and trustworthy. Ask yourself the following questions when it comes time to design a new site or update an existing one. 1: Do you have testimonials from real people with pictures? 2: Does your main features and benefits appear above-the-fold? 3: Are there trust seals displayed prominently such as VeriSign Secured Seal Certificate? 4: Have you tried using Google PageSpeed Insights Tool in order to optimise load speed times for greater impact?”

If these five tips have been helpful then I hope you will check out our other articles ‍about how to improve lead conversion rates.

The renowned contrarian Bob Hoffman and other traditionalist Don Draper-style marketers may have a point when they say that advertising is being replaced by so-called ‘Maths Men.’ They may say this with a snarl of condescension, but the fact remains that digital advertising, and more particularly the digital feedback loops associated with it, is doing wonders for advertising creativity.

Current-day marketers know and understand that the advertising industry is in a state of flux. Gone are the circulation numbers to sustain certain newspaper titles and traditional TV viewership is busy taking a series of unrelenting body blows. The facts are inescapable. Today’s audiences are consuming their news and viewing pleasure via the internet and, as a result, advertisers are finding themselves in an unfamiliar environment where there’s little to no control over what people see and when they see it. Enter programmatic!

Programmatic advertising is becoming increasingly popular as a way to regain this lost control by using data to create targeted ads that will be shown at optimal times for specific audiences. While programmatic advertising provides better creative intelligence, it’s important not to get too carried away; it should NEVER be allowed to replace creativity and the human touch needed for effective marketing campaigns as data can only offer so much insight into an audiences’ preferences. Effective advertising is all about relevancy to the target audience and, with more people being exposed to this technology on both sides – advertisers and consumers – there may be a rise in creativity that could revitalise the ad industry!

Like all good things in life, there are caveats!

With the development of a more privacy-centric internet, lazy marketers who used broad “set-it-and-forget it” programmatic campaigns with no personalisation, will soon be left out in the cold. Apple’s new iOS privacy changes and the inevitable death of the tracking cookie has forced marketers to make sure that they understand their customers before they use generic messages. Forward-thinking creative agencies will make sure that they understand their clients customers with the first party customer data that they have at their disposal and then design creatives that each market segment would find relevant.

Through a series of strictly monitored campaign iterations, agencies can see what creative executions resonate with particular audiences and then make adjustments to ensure optimal campaigns for their clients, whilst always maintaining agency standards of quality. In a world where there are thousands of ads shown every second, agencies need this data-driven process if they want their work to be relevant!

Technology has made it easier than ever before for agencies to create campaigns tailored specifically for each audience that they’re trying to reach through onscreen media such as video or social media. The data feedback loops from each and every touchpoint the customers encounter through their digital journey, provide valuable insights to the agency. Information such as how consumers interact online when viewing the ads, allows the advertiser to unlock valuable information around consumer behaviour, including purchase and upsell opportunities.

At the risk of over-stating the obvious, the future of digital advertising is the practice of data collection and interpretation in order to generate relevant messages in a creative way. The specific target audience, as oppose to a generic spray-and-pray method like broadcasting to a broad market, will lead to more successful advertising.

To the advertising industry professionals who cling too tightly to the past and advertisers who are not creative enough with their campaigns, digital, and more specifically data, provides hope for all. To the “Mad Men” wannabes who bemoan the “fact” that programmatic has killed creativity, and to the “lazy” spray-and-pray programmatic advertisers, I quote Bob Dylan: “If your time to you is worth savin’. Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone. For the times they are a-changin’.”

Traditional print advertising is great and it’s been the cornerstone of retail advertising since the invention of the press. However, the sad fact of the matter is that every day brings new challenges to advertisers as they face severe limitations around their print campaigns. They’re currently hard-pressed to find ways to maximise their reach by printing less and, even before the Covid 19 pandemic, they’ve actively been looking for other ways to reach their audiences.

In 2006, the Association of National Advertisers reported that 40% of marketers increased spending on digital media and 38% decreased print by 20%.

The print industry has been impacted by a variety of new challenges that impair its ability to reach demand, such as the scarcity of papers and the high cost of imports due to the global shortage in shipping containers.

These limitations have encouraged many advertisers to increase their budgets for digital advertising instead, which provides more measurable metrics and allows them to better monitor insights such as:

1. Reach VS Distribution

Whilst advertisers are limited to the number of printed issues distributed, with digital it is possible to see how many unique people are reached at an impression level. Additionally, these new metrics may provide better insights and offer more accurate reporting than just “number of printed issues distributed.”

2. Personalisation that scales

Digital advertising provides the ability to target a specific audience better and scale up quickly where necessary, allowing full control over what content goes where without concerns about having enough inventory for print campaigns. This gives advertisers the opportunity to reach different audiences with tailored messaging.

3. Rapid testing of new messaging and ideas

Digital allows advertisers to explore what content resonates with people more than other forms of media, which should ultimately lead them to a better understanding of how best to communicate about their products or services. This means they’ll be able to reduce the time spent on finding the perfect creative message for each campaign since digital is so easily measurable by conversion rates, click-through rates etc.

Digital also allows advertisers to quickly tweak out messages that seem less effective in driving conversions or engagement between audience groups – meaning it doesn’t take long before you know which message or offer has proven most successful at generating results.

4. User share content on social media

Many people are looking to social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, for their news, which means that they are captive audiences ready to soak up information that is relevant to themselves. Added to this, digital content is extremely easy to share across these networks, without having to print out a physical copy of a brochure or catalog.

This has become increasingly prevalent as more and more people look to the convenience of simply going online to get the specific information they require. The ability to share information is an added bonus for users – they can instantly recommend products or services across a broad network of acquaintances, something which is not easily achievable with print broadsheets or catalogues.

5. Cross sell and upsell

Digital marketing has the ability to cross sell or upsell products to users who have bought specific items in the past. Marketers find that this is a great way of keeping these customers engaged with their company; it can also be made into an automated process which means that when customers come back, they are more likely to buy again, as well as recommend the product or service to others.

One is not advocating that marketers should not be using print but there is a strong case for using digital to supplement and amplify print campaigns. There is no arguing the fact that digital advertising has the ability to achieve more personalised content, is highly measurable and ultimately can provide precise metrics such as Return on Ad Spend (RoAS).

When faced with the question of what budget should be allocated for specific campaigns, advertisers should use digital to complement their print in order to drive deeper insights that are not available through print alone. This will help marketers extend their advertising reach with a relatively precise knowledge on the efficacy of their campaign.

In the modern age, it’s more important than ever to have a website. But just because you have one doesn’t mean that people will visit or buy from it. That is why digital marketing has become such an integral part of the world we live in today.

This article discusses 7 questions every business should ask themselves before creating their next website, and how these will help them fit into this new world without sacrificing what they do best.

1.  What do you hope to get from your website?

This is the most important question. What is the main objective you need to achieve with your new website? It might be to generate more leads, or sell more products.

What are your goals? Do you want people to sign up for membership on a blog or newsletter? Is it important for them to contact your company through the website? What about finding out how much they can spend towards an order online before contacting sales support? The answer will help determine what type of CMS framework is best suited for you and the features that should come with it.

2.  Who are your customers?

Who will be the primary users of your website. Is it for children? Adults? Young Professionals?

The first step to building a website is figuring out who will be using the site. What age group are they in, what gender identity do they have, and most importantly- what social media networks would best reach them.

If you understand your customers and where they spend the most of their time online you can build a website that delivers a more relevant experience to your prospecting customers.

3.  How do they access the internet?

When building a new website, you should be sure that your site is optimised for mobile phones. Users may become frustrated and leave your page if they are unable to download the content on their phone.

If you are targeting people using a mobile data connection like 3G, make sure that your site loads quickly and does not get bogged down by heavy images or video content. If your website is too complicated or takes a long time to load, it will be frustrating for users.

4.  Should you customise their experience?

If your audience is mostly Western, it may make sense to build an English language website. If you’re more of a global company or are targeting international audiences, then it’s worth considering other languages and their corresponding alphabets as well in order to reach the largest possible audience with one site.

5.  How often do people visit your website?

Its important that your content be dynamic and updated frequently enough so that visitors can find fresh information about topics they care most about while also maintaining some semblance of consistency from page to page. A blog post should probably be published at least once every week but frequency could vary depending on how often you have new things to share with readership categories like infographics or podcasts might warrant updates more often than say a static page about your company’s history.

6.  What questions are they asking Google?

Are they looking for a product, service or solution? If so, what are they trying to do and how can you help them with that? What information is needed to fulfil their need from your company and why should someone trust you over the competition? How will this purchase benefit them in the long-term? Who else has had success with these products/services or solved similar problems before? Where did they find out about it (what search terms were used)? Is there something unique about your website content that sets you apart from others?”

7.  How big is your budget?

Your budget will determine the type of website you can create.

If you are on a tight budget, then think about what your business needs most from its site and design accordingly – for example, if SEO is important to you, prioritise that in the content strategy phase. If it’s not an option but mobile optimisation is high on your list of priorities, make sure this becomes part of the design phase.

Prioritising during each stage means less chance for errors to crop up later down the line as work moves towards completion which could result in costly backtracking and time wasting mistakes due to too many cooks stirring with no clear idea of where they are headed.

It has never been easier to get your digital marketing projects started. Schedule a free digital consultation today and let us help you maximise your Return On Ad Spend. Our digital marketing consultants will work with you to understand your project and utilise their expertise to improve conversion rates.

You want more customers. Generating leads to turn them into prospects is key, but without a large budget and full-time staff dedicated to lead generation it can be difficult for small businesses.

Luckily, you don’t have pay an arm and a leg for lead generation – there are plenty of ways around this with digital marketing! In this article we’ll go over 4 lead generating tactics that will help your business generate leads quickly and easily.

Use lead magnets

Lead generation is about trying to attract someone’s attention with your lead magnets, the content you produce that is typically used for free in exchange for contact information such as an email address.

This is an effective way of generating more qualified leads because you’re providing them with valuable, free resources and they have no reason not to provide you with their email address or any other personal details (within reason) when signing up.

The lead magnets can be anything from e-books on a certain topic which might cover how they were able to generate more conversions through marketing automation software like HubSpot, access to exclusive webinars about topics important in your industry such as digital advertising techniques, downloadable workbook templates detailing different sales processes within your company etc

Ask for a referral

Recently, I was talking with a colleague about what lead generation strategies work best for our clients. We realised that asking customers to refer their friends is one of the most effective lead-generation tactics we have available!

This strategy works well because it’s in consumers’ nature to want to share information and ideas with others they trust. They also don’t see referral requests as sales pitches so much as they do advice from someone who cares deeply about them…someone who can help make things easier!

Make your business discoverable

Posting blog posts on your website and linking them to other sites will lead to more search engine rankings, allowing people to find you in their feed when they use google or another search engine.

These type of articles also have the potential for social media shares: people may share it with friends who are looking for similar products or services as well as provide a link back to your site if someone is interested in checking out what you offer.

It can also lead to links from other websites that want you post content about related topics–and again increase web traffic towards your business! Blogging has a lot of benefits but one thing it does not do is take up time without giving something back so be sure this

Advertise your business

Google Adwords is a cost effective lead generator, and it has the added bonus of being very targeted. You can run ads to reach your ideal customer using demographic information such as location or age range.

Facebook Ads are another great lead generating tool because they allow you to reach people who have shown interest in your products and services by “liking” your page on their personal profile or clicking into one of your posts. The benefit with these platforms is that they offer an instant return on investment which means they’re also less expensive than traditional forms of advertising like radio, print media, etc.

Digital marketing may seem daunting, but not with the help of Bastion & Flowe’s in-house strategist to run your campaign. Book a free consultation today and see how we can work together to turn your investment into success and grow your business.

You might think you’re doing a great job as a digital marketing manager if your website traffic or facebook followers has doubled over the last year. But, is that really a good sign? What does it actually mean for your business to have more people looking at your site or following you on Facebook? How many of those visitors are converting into customers? Do they stick around and come back again and again? Vanity metrics can be exciting to point to if you want to appear like you’re improving but often aren’t actionable or related to anything you can control or repeat in a meaningful way.

Successful performance marketing is only as good as the metrics they gauge. These are defined as any type of measurement that can be counted and has a measurable impact on your bottom line.

Without performance metrics, agencies can’t be accountable to their clients and are flying blind. Performance data points like conversions or leads help them know how they’re performing against other publishing efforts from month-to-month so that all of your hard work isn’t going unnoticed – without accountability you could lose out on potential revenue!

A new study by Contently has found that the most successful brands are not focusing on vanity metrics like social media followers, likes and shares but instead they’re going for high-impact content such as quality engagement. The emphasis is put more heavily on getting customers to interact with their posts in a way that will have long term benefits rather than short-term gratification from constantly checking analytics reports about how many people liked your post or who shared it first.

While other tactics may get you some quick wins along the line (like amassing an impressive follower count), what really matters at this point in time are ROI measurements; “loyalty conversion rate” that shows how often followers buy something from you post-following.

ROAS is a measure of how successful your marketing and advertising investment has been and one of the most popular metrics for our clients. Given that it measures whether or not what you are spending money on has proven worthwhile and effective in generating revenue for your company, its importance to the long-term success of your business can’t be overstated.

Marketers who insist there’s no way to measure ROAS on specific campaigns are wrong – in most cases, where the customer journey is not incomplete, only two possibilities exist for when it might be difficult: either your solution is inadequate or your customer journey needs simplifying. Business of any size experience these pitfalls constantly because few can understand the process well enough and fewer still sketch out a clear path.

An agency can measure performance by looking at the data on websites, social media accounts, email lists, or any digital property that is up and running. Once metrics have been identified as critical for measuring success of digital marketing efforts are decided upon (i.e., monthly), an agency should set a goal in terms of what it wants those measurements to look like on average each month—this would be considered your baseline metrics.

We often find that marketers lack understanding when targeting customers who may visit a website but not engage or convert through their first interaction, irrespective of the platform. Companies and brands ideally need to engage with customers by building a complete customer journey that connects data from all touch points to create a single customer view.

To solve this problem and help companies improve their lead conversion rates, we’ve created a customer journey framework that details key metrics (or OKRs) for each customer touchpoint. By monitoring these metrics, digital marketing managers are able to avoid vanity metrics and drive better returns on ad spend (ROAS) by providing actionable insights via journey mapping, sentiment analysis and cross- channel analytics.

If you’ve read Jim Collins and Jerry Porras’ iconic book “Built to Last” (Harpers, 1994) you’ll be familiar with their concept of reject the tyranny of the “OR”  and embrace the genius of the “AND”. Obviously, in this instance, they were talking about what makes some companies visionary and steadfast whilst others whither and die, but it’s an expression that could equally hold true for the clash of advertising disciplines, specifically between the worlds of traditional and digital media.

Insofar as the ongoing debate of the pros and cons of various advertising media is concerned, there are invariably three different groups that hold distinct positions:

  1. The Tech Turks who tell us that digital is where it’s all at,
  2. The Righteous Fundamentalists who insist that traditional advertising media is still the only way to go, and
  3. The Savvy Centrists who embrace the genius of the “AND” and reject the tyranny of the “OR”.

As far as my own position is concerned, I’d like to think of myself as a Savvy Centrist with a digital bent, and I’ll tell you why.

Tech Turks are far too quick to shout out slogans like “print is dead” or “old school advertising is no longer relevant”, their justification being that digital marketing delivers more results at a fraction of the cost and every aspect of the campang is measurable down to a granular level (which is another problem in and of itself, but that’s a discussion for another day). What they fail to mention is that traditional media such as TV, Outdoor and Print are far more effective than digital media in creating brand credibility. Most traditional media has the unique ability to graphically show and creatively shout out just how strong the relevant brand actually is.

There’s a basic rationale here.

Even though the internet can be a scary place, any person who has just a modicum of digital skills is capable of posting an ad on Facebook or Gumtree. On the other hand, it is also fair to say that it is only those brands with a bit of substance and plenty of means who occupy media such as billboards, print or television.

Before the Righteous Fundamentalists get ahead of themselves, there’s a simple fact that they have to accept: In most cases, when done correctly, a digital marketing campaign will deliver optimal returns on marketing investment. I say this with absolute confidence, not least of all because Traditional Media is incapable of providing accurate numbers when it comes to calculating a return on investment.

There is a lot more detail one could go into but it’s pretty obvious that the most effective way one should approach the conundrum of Digital versus Traditional is to embrace the glory of the AND and do BOTH, budget not withstanding. I say this, not because I think it, but because I know it from practical experience.



In an attempt to measure the effectiveness of a true “omni channel” marketing approach, we partnered with Provantage, a Johannesburg-based advertising agency. The basic objective of the exercise was to ascertain what “lift” or AMPLIFICATION a digital campaign could exert on entries to an existing competition running across a selection of Traditional Media channels for and on behalf of a well known safety footwear brand.


The basic concept of the campaign was to drive entries via specific USSD strings linked to the different media channels, which included Out-of-Home Billboards, Transit TV, Community Radio, National Newspapers and a selection of popular Magazine Titles. (USSD, commonly referred to as “Quick Codes”, is a communication technology used to send text between a mobile phone and an application program. It is an acronym for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data).


We used the USSD method instead of an SMS call-to-action so that we could accurately report on the number of entries per province and limit the risk of duplicate entries by allowing each mobile phone number to only enter the competition once. 

    After an initial period of six weeks using only Traditional channels, we deployed two different digital campaigns on Facebook, specifically targeting consumers who were most likely to see a SINGLE Out-of-Home Billboard in Johannesburg and ANOTHER in CapeTown.  Although the digital message and creative look was exactly the same as the Traditional advertisements, the digital campaign had the added advantage of allowing users to submit competition entries via a website instead of USSD.
    (The following results are exclusively for USSD competition entries and EXCLUDE entries generated from ONLINE entry forms).

    1. The Digital campaign targeting users likely to see the Cape Town billboard increased the weekly USSD entries by 91% .
    2. The Digital campaign targeting users likely to see the Johannesburg billboard increased the weekly USSD entries by 73%.
      It’s important to note that the average percentage of USSD entries per week for the non-amplified billboard in other provinces stayed the same or dropped. 
    The idea that digital marketing makes Out-of-Home and other Traditional media channels irrelevant, is simply nonsense – improved campaign performance results are achieved when Digital is used to amplify these channels. It is the job of Digital to RE-INFORCE the Traditional Media messages and it does this incredibly well, allowing users to interact with a brand at a time and place that’s convenient for them to do so. Digital provides the intimacy whilst Traditional Media provides the brand credibility.


There is a caveat, however.

If it is your intention to use Digital to amplify an existing Traditional Media campaign, it MUST be configured in such a way that each Traditional Media asset is amplified ONLY to consumers that are most likely to see (or hear, as in the case of Radio) the asset.  Failure to do this will give you skewed results.

This is borne out by similar studies we have conducted with other Traditional media such as TV and Community Print Publications which have yielded very similar amplification trends. We found that the best results were obtained when Digital amplification was configured in such a way that each Traditional Medium was amplified to a BESPOKE AUDIENCE – an audience that is most likely to have seen the advert in that particular medium.  This effectively means that each specific Community Print Publication magazine or Television programme slot has its own specific amplification audience.  

In the world of Digital, this means that you have to use Audience Targeting and NOT “Placement Targeting” – just because you are on a specific website does not guarantee that you are reaching the right person.  I apply the premise of Personal Prime Time, where, through clever targeting techniques, we advertise to a user at the most opportune time IRRESPECTIVE of where they may be online.

All the statistics point to the fact that the most successful marketers of the future will be those that embrace the glory of the “AND” by delivering messages across all marketing channels in an integrated approach. In today’s world, consumers are moving seamlessly across all of the so called “typical channel borders”, every second of every day, Big Brands (meaning those who can afford it) should make sure that their marketing does the same. It’s a luxury smaller brands simply cannot afford and it’s powerful.

Franchise marketing teams already know that running and managing campaigns for a business with multiple locations and/or stores is a time-consuming job, with each store and location presenting its own individual needs and challenges.

Very few people understand these challenges better than brand managers and marketing teams of franchised brands. These modern-day ninjas are tasked with promoting the brand and driving strategic promotions, they also need to ensure that all marketing from the franchisees is consistent, and complies with their brand rules.

This was a simple task if we rewind to 20 years ago, but with the rise of social media and the internet, the stakes have never been higher, with one Facebook post from a single franchise having the potential to start a PR nightmare with irreversible consequences.

Before we dive any deeper into the realm of franchise marketing, let’s look at what it really means to own a franchise.

Franchisees are small business owners creating value and jobs in their communities. Like any other business, their main aim is to make a profit, so that they can continue to pay their staff and the very important franchise royalties.

When it comes to online marketing, many franchisees are frustrated with the mother brands’ national campaign strategy, as it may not suit their immediate needs. This often means they embark down the dangerous route of “rogue” or unapproved advertising campaigns.

Rogue marketing is a huge risk for any brand as there is limited to no control over the message and quality of creative, often resulting in brand CI (the corporate identity or branding rules) and best practices not being followed. Resulting in campaigns which are not thought out thoroughly and more often than not it creates a nightmare for the mother brand’s marketing and PR (public relations) team.

So, is there a way to control the online marketing franchisees publish?

Rouge marketing

The simplest means of addressing this issue is to forbid franchisees from doing any kind of advertising themselves, ensuring that all marketing goes through the mother brand’s marketing team or in-house agency. Although depending on the size of the group and the number of franchises they have, most franchise marketing teams quickly find themselves overwhelmed.

This can result in delayed campaigns, increased costs and ultimately frustrated franchisees. Can you imagine the difficulty in telling a passionate small business owner who has risked their life savings that their ability to market and grow their business is either severely impeded or completely prohibited?! It is for this very reason that franchisees do what I like to call “rouge marketing”. It’s their money livelihood after all…

I would like to propose that a franchises’ marketing team should rather employ tools that allow them to set up a managed process where franchisees can advertise through, giving them a quick and easy way of reviewing ads and approving or rejecting them. With a managed approval process (preferably automated) it is much easier to manage the brand than it is to police the internet to find “rouge” content, that can not be retracted once published.

As an alternative to employing an army of “digital policeman” who troll the internet every hour of every day looking for rogue content and filling in endless takedown requests, consider a small investment in an automated solution where franchisees can still feel like they are in control and publish their message quickly and easily, whilst actually it’s the marketing team who has all the control from behind the scenes.

I have compiled a list of my top 5 tools that can help control and regulate franchisees marketing with minimum friction.

  1. Create a consistent Facebook content experience whilst still allowing your franchisees to post to their own page 

    Facebook location pages makes it possible to, as an alternative, allow every store to open a Facebook page, each with different versions of your logo as their profile picture, as well as incomplete profile data or even old or past promotions as their cover image. You as a brand manager can set up each store as a location page on the brand’s main FB page.The pages can all be linked to the main page and if you change the profile image or cover art, it will automatically update all the other pages. There are also a number of other marketing advantages to this, but most importantly for me was the ability to manage them all from a single interface and clean up all the old and abandoned pages that just confused customers.

  2. Manage social media content 

    Gain is extremely simple to use and connected to all the popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. As a user, you can create posts or ads and schedule them all from the same window. Once said posts are scheduled, the marketing team can preview the content and approve it for publication or request changes all within a matter of seconds. Best of all, nothing will get posted without your approval.

  3.  Free professional looking content in a template 

    Pablo is an old favourite of mine! It supplies predefined size templates where a user can use free professional stock photos and quickly overlay text. The feature I love most on this tool is the “insert logo” feature, which with the click of a button can overlay a banner or brand element that creates consistent content experiences. Once done, you can export the image and post it to gain for approval. Simple right!

  4. Create email alerts for when your brand is found online 

    Talk Walker alerts is a nifty tool and acts like your personal internet detective who constantly crawls the internet for keywords that you define. I like to use my clients’ brand names and sometimes even my competitors just to keep tabs on their activity. Once set up, you receive daily emails with links to the content in question.

  5. Pre-approved marketing creatives and targeting with machine learning optimisation

    Lead Gener8or tool can define a bespoke target audience per store and lock advertising geographical areas to prevent any cannibalisation. Once completed, franchisees can execute pre-approved marketing campaigns as and when they wish on any of the integrated channels (SMS, Email, Facebook, Google and Youtube), without any further involvement required from the marketing team.

    Powered by big-data machine learning, campaigns are automatically optimised while in flight. Marketing teams can monitor all campaigns in real time. This tool really is a game changer for franchise marketing teams and brand managers.

With these tools correctly implemented into your business, the digital headache of your franchise’s marketing team can subside and focus on what you do best, delivering results!

Having a website is very much like having a retail store. Your store may be gorgeous and sell some really great products, but if your customers get lost, find the layout frustrating, or get really slow service, they will go elsewhere.

If your website is struggling and suffering from a high bounce rate, it’s likely you may have a speed problem. In my experience, this is a super common problem, but one that could be really costing you.

In 2017, the BBC found they lost an additional 10% of users for every additional second their site took to load. I have found that the most effective websites completely load and open in, or under, 4 seconds.

So the first step to solving your problem is to figure out if you have one. Try this free speed test tool from Google to see how fast your site loads on a mobile phone using a 3G internet connection: here.

How to hurry things up

So now that you have established that your site is struggling, here are 3 relatively simple changes you can make to solve your speed problem:

1.    Those big, beautiful images

By adding beautiful backgrounds, banners and high-resolution product images you may end up with a website that looks stunning, but is dramatically slowing down its loading speed. Luckily you don’t have to remove all the eye-candy from your site.

Free tools, such as, allow you to reduce the actual file size of your images by up to 75% without any loss in quality. That means that you can still have those stunning photos and get your site to load a lot faster.

If you are using a content management system, such as WordPress, plugins like Optimus and PageSpeed Ninja can automatically optimise your images (and make them an appropriate size) as you import them.

2.    Themes and preloaders

Some sites and content management themes show a loading screen, or animation, to the customer while the page loads. I find that a lot of users simply close a website the second they see a loading screen.

I always recommend to my clients at Bastion & Flowe to ditch the preloader, and rather prioritise the content that needs to be shown by having it above the fold, so it gets loaded first. Above the fold is the part of the site you see on screen without having to scroll down.

It lets the user know that they are in the right place right away, so they’re less likely to leave before the site finishes loading.

3.    Caching

You can speed up your site even further by making use of browser caching. This feature allows a copy of your site to be saved on a visitors web browser, so next time they visit they don’t have to download all the content and images again.

Another caching option is Cloudflare. They offer a service that creates and hosts a “cached” version of your website on their servers all over the world. Meaning that your site can load faster, as there is less strain on your web server, and the user will actually be downloading it from a server closer to them. Another benefit is that if your web hosting server goes down, your site will still be accessible. You can sign up for a free account and learn more about Cloudflare: here.

These changes may seem small and simple, but by implementing them, I have seen great improvements and real results on the sites that I’ve worked on. Good luck and good-speed!

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