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23Mar 2019

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!

01Oct 2018

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 compressor.io, 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!

26Sep 2018

Is it a snack? Is it a game? No! They are the technical terms for the most exciting thing to ever happen to digital marketing and its essential for remarketing.  

A website pixel or tracking tag is a simple piece of “code”, added to your website, that allows you to track all the user traffic, where they come from, and what they do on your site.

This kind of info and insight into how users engage and behave on your website is digital marketing gold! It can show you what’s working and what you’re doing really wrong. It’s like getting real, actionable feedback from customers, without having to corner (or bribe) them to fill out a survey or questionnaire.

Plus, this piece of code can also help improve your remarketing efforts, by allowing your ads to follow your customer around on the net, constantly reminding them about your business, product, and offer.  

 

How does it work?

Every time someone visits your website or mobile app, these small snippets of code share information back to your advertising and website monitoring services. They help to supply you with invaluable analytics and insights on the performance of your website and digital advertising campaigns.  

Information such as: if the user has actually made a purchase, consumed cornerstone content on your site, how many pages they visited, the amount of time they spend on your site, how frequently they visit your site, what devices they use, and more.  

This information allows you to make informed decisions on changes you may need to make to your website, how to better optimise your advertising campaigns to drive better results or identify content that may not be getting any attention.

 

Where does remarketing come into it?

Knowing how many people actually made a purchase, or what percentage of people abandoned the purchase at what stage in the acquisition cycle, is obviously very handy. But what if I told you that you can communicate specifically with the customers that browsed your site but did not make a purchase, and bring them back to your site with a different message or a special offer?

This is what we call Remarketing. It is a powerful tool for boosting conversion rates and driving sales; that keeps your business or brand visible to people who have visited your website, or used your app, and not taken a desired action.

For example, ever wondered why you keep seeing ads for flights after you visited a booking site? Or after looking at that new gadget online, ads for it follow you around everywhere? Well, that’s remarketing, and Facebook and Google Pixels allow you to do exactly that.  

Remarketing, with the help of Tags and Pixels, allows you to group the different visitors to different sections of your site, and display bespoke ads that specifically talk to that content. It can also be used to cross-sell products, or promote another desired action, to customers that have already bought something for your site, for example, get them to sign-up to your newsletter.

There are almost endless applications, and a wealth of information to be had, using Tags and Pixels in your digital marketing mix. If you have not done so yet, I strongly recommend you set up a free Google Analytics account on your website and start exploring how much you can learn about your visitors, and their behavior on your site, and then use that information to improve the performance of your site and advertising campaigns.

04Sep 2018

So here we go, part two of the series on remarketing – one of the best and easiest routes to boosting conversion rates and driving sales.

If it’s missing from your strategy, and you haven’t tried remarketing yet, you’ll be doing your competitors a favour when they scoop up all the opportunities that could have been yours. Not to mention the missed opportunities to maximise on your current advertising spend and re-engage customers and prospective clients.

How exactly can remarketing help my business?

With remarketing you can serve up an ad tailored to a potential customer or “lost user” (a consumer who visited your site but didn’t make a purchase), with something you know they have already shown an interest in.

It allows you to reconnect with consumers when they have more time to think about your offer, at specific times of day, when they are spending time on Facebook or Instagram, or even when they are nearer to your store.

My remarketing clients have reported an improved ROI (return on investment) of up to 60% on their current lost users. Remarketing ensures you, and your brand, are there when the customer is ready to buy and thus preventing your competitors from intercepting the sale.
Remarketing in action: The story of Joe’s Plumbing

Still not convinced? Not sure how remarketing could be applicable in your business? How about a practical description of remarketing in action? I’d like to use the story of Joe’s Plumbing:

You know you have a leaking tap at home and you need a plumber. During your day at work you Google “plumbers in my area”. A Joe’s Plumbing Google ad comes up as the first result and you click on it (You should know Joe paid Google for that click).

Just as the website opens, you get distracted: your phone is ringing and you’re now late for an important meeting. Plumbing needs will have to wait – you leave the tab open on your browser with every intention of calling Joe when you get back to your desk.

You’re back at your desk but your day hasn’t got any calmer. In a flurry of online activity, while busy with emails, you accidentally close the tab. Not the end of the world, you tell yourself, you can just find it again later.

It’s later now and you are back at home, scrolling through Facebook. And guess what pops up in your feed? An ad for Joe’s Plumbing! It says: “Still looking for a plumber, why not book a callout on our website now!” And that’s what you do, the reminder comes at the perfect time (plus if you listen carefully you can actually hear the leaking tap in the other room), and you book a call out.

Without the well-timed remarketing ad there is a chance the customer in the story may have ended up forgetting to search Joe’s Plumbing by name, and ended up giving the business to another local plumber.

This same, simple principle could be applied to any businesses that advertise online – the real moral of the story is, that if you are not using remarketing in your digital marketing mix, you are missing opportunities and your competitors will probably thank you for it.