Based on our work with hundreds of franchise systems around the world, we have identified several trends that we expect will have a significant impact on digital marketing for franchise organizations in 2023. Note that we are not suggesting that franchise organizations abandon fundamental marketing tactics in favor of the “newest thing.” Rather, our advice is to consider these trends in the context of your core marketing plan to determine how you might adjust your approach to capitalize on potential opportunities.
Localization as a differentiator
While online purchasing has increased dramatically in the last few years out of necessity, there has also been a substantial increase in people making an effort to “buy local” to support their communities. According to Shopify, 49% of North Americans are more likely to purchase from a brand due to its local presence, and 66% of consumers say they actively make an effort to buy from small businesses.
This increase in people wanting to “buy local” is powerful for franchise organizations, as a franchise is essentially a collection of local businesses with local owners. To capitalize on this trend, forward-looking franchise systems have been implementing localized website, search, social media and advertising strategies to differentiate themselves and connect with consumers on a local level.
Increased performance through machine learning & AI
As marketers look to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their advertising in 2023, we expect to see a continued increase in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Many of the marketing channels you are already using (such as Meta and Google) already have AI and machine learning incorporated into them. These platforms include the ability to automatically optimize your media mix, dynamically create advertising, A/B test different creatives and landing pages, create audience segments, find new audiences that match your current customers, and a variety of other automation opportunities.
Given this, it may be that your company is not taking advantage of the tools already available to you. We recommend talking with your marketing department and/or agency to understand what marketing automations you are already using, and where additional opportunities may exist. Develop a plan on what automations you would like to trial and consider testing them against your “standard” campaigns to compare results.
Explosion of short-form video
Online video consumption continues to grow, with video accounting for 82% of all online traffic. But the real story is the massive growth of short-form video such as TikTok, Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts. With more than 1 billion global users and strong consumer adoption in North America, TikTok has become a mainstream marketing platform that cannot be ignored. Although the platform continues to skew younger, it has seen growth across older demographics – in fact, 50% of Millennials and 38% of Gen X-ers say that they have visited TikTok in the last three months.
If you aren’t already using video on your website and social media channels, 2023 is the time to get on the bandwagon. Create a video plan that includes key objectives, a content strategy, target audience and a measurement approach. Many companies simply start creating video because it is “the thing to do”, without a clear business objective in mind. If you are spending organizational resources on video, then it should be adding value to your company in some way – such as lead generation, website traffic, branding or general awareness. Whatever your goals are, you should be constantly assessing how you
are performing relative to your plan so you can adjust and assess the return on your investment.
Increased competition for new franchisees
Through the back half of 2022 and the start of 2023 we have seen a significant increase in the volume of franchisee acquisition campaigns and budget levels across all digital marketing channels. Although lead volume has been strong, we expect demand to subside through the back half of 2023 as high interest rates and a slowing economy reduce the number of people looking to purchase a franchise location. At the same time, franchise systems will be looking to continue to grow so we do not expect to see a pullback in advertising spending. The combination of these factors will likely result in higher advertising cost, increasing cost per lead, and a lower closing rate as franchise systems are forced to compete for a smaller pool of prospective franchisees.
Given this, we recommend franchise systems review their franchisee acquisition strategies to ensure they have a strong plan that is focused on platforms and creative that appeal to their target franchisees. We also recommend incorporating machine learning and automation to refine your targeting to reach the best possible candidates.
Creating competitive advantage with first-party data
With third-party cookies set to be obsolete by 2024, first-party data collection will be incredibly important in 2023 for marketers. In addition to the major privacy changes implement by Apple in 2021 on their iPhones, major browsers including Safari, Firefox and Chrome are actively working to implement restrictions on third-party tracking. This means that companies that rely on third party platforms for targeting and data collection such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google, and display advertising networks will continue to see a degradation in their advertising performance.
First-party data will be important for marketers in 2023 and beyond, as it will allow companies to better understand and target prospective customers. All companies should be actively reviewing their data collection and digital marketing strategies in 2023 to ensure they will be successful in a post-cookie world. The first step for any data collection approach is to have a clear plan on what data you would like to gather, how you will gather it, how you will store it securely, and how you will use it.
Reshift Media is an award-winning digital marketing firm that develops digital marketing strategies, processes and technology custom-tailored to the specific needs of franchise and other multi-location organizations. The company’s in-house team provides support to more than 200 clients in 22 countries across all aspects of digital media including software development, social media, search and website/mobile development.
Article by Steve Buors, CEO and Co-Founder Reshift Media Inc.