Five Things Franchisees Should Consider for Reopening Post COVID-19 Shut Down

horizonal how franchisees should prepare for reopening post covid image

By: Michael Carlson

Now that some states are issuing orders to open back up for business, there are still many unknowns in what this “new normal” will look like across the United States. For many organizations, franchise operations have been going out of business or have been forced to temporarily shut down in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. As you make the decision to reopen your business, here are some important steps to take.

1. Update your local listings.

Reopening your business would be difficult without ensuring that your local listing information is correct. Take the time to update listings for your location(s) with up-to-date, accurate business information, including your:

  • Address
  • Hours of operations
  • Phone number
  • Business description
  • Posts

Ensuring that your local listing(s) are correct will make it easier for customers to find you online. This will also increase your chances of ranking higher for searches within your trade area!

2. Promote safety and sanitation precautions.

Be sure that your operation adheres to current CDC guidelines, and inform customers how your business will follow these protocols as you reopen.

Take advantage of every opportunity that you have as a business to communicate the steps you’re taking to ensure a safe work environment for your employees and customers. This should be displayed on your website, included within your blog posts and newsletters, and communicated through your social media outlets. Showing sincerity with your customers can go a long way since many people are seeking reassurance during this time.

3. Determine if you’re eligible to receive financial assistance for digital advertising.

Your business may be able to receive financial assistance, depending on your previous advertising activity and other circumstances. Google announced that it will be providing $340 million in ad credits to small and medium-sized businesses, which can be utilized through the end of this year. Similarly, Facebook is extending $40 million in grants to 10,000 small business owners across the country.

4. Show how you’re stepping up as an organization.

Find ways that your organization can step up and do its part. This could include a promotional discount to first responders or a percentage of proceeds given to a local charity within your community. This is the time to show your customers that you understand what they’re going through and that you’re here to support them.

5. Utilize this moment to strengthen customer relationships and reward brand loyalty.

It’s a rare moment in life to be universally impacted by one event. As a result of the conditions everyone is facing due to COVID-19, interacting with those around us makes us feel a stronger sense of unity. Use this opportunity to show your appreciation and gratitude to your customers, and remind them that you’re both in this fight together!

Need Help With Your Reopening Strategy? LSM Can Help!

LSM understands that everyone has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’re more than happy to help you plan and implement the best strategies for your business as you reopen. Our franchise marketing solutions can help businesses reach their target audience effectively with the right messaging at the right time. From targeted digital advertising to local search, our digital marketing agency is here to help you dive deeper into your reopening strategy. Contact us today to discover how we can support your business during this time or download our reopening checklist for more information on what your business can be doing to prepare for when your doors open.

Google My Business Optimization Tactics

Google My Business (GMB) profiles are listings that let businesses manage how they appear on Google Search and Maps. These profiles are a quintessential element of an optimized digital marketing ecosystem because they contribute to:

  • First Impressions: They are the FIRST THING someone sees when they search on Google for your locations (i.e. “Massage Envy La Jolla” or “Amazing Lash Studio near me”).
  • SEO: According to the marketing analytics company Moz, GMB profiles account for 25.12% of the local SEO equation.

Recently, Google has implemented a series of upgrades to their GMB platform, and there will be many more to come! This infographic is designed to help your business capitalize on the features that exists today.

 

Google My Business Infographic Summary

 

Location Groups

  • Set up a location group (formerly known as ‘Business Accounts’) for your brand’s GMB profiles. This will provide the franchisor with the ability to add, verify/claim, and manage their network’s profiles, giving them a level of control over the content on the accounts, as well as the ability to delete accounts for closed locations and claim new locations without the need of a pesky postcard. 

 

Naming Convention

  • Use a consistent naming convention for your locations. The name of each location’s GMB profile should include a local indicator. For example, instead of having the same ‘TITLE Boxing Club’ listed for every location, they include local indicators such as “TITLE Boxing Club – Green Hills” and “TITLE Boxing Club – East Nashville.”
  • Bonus SEO Tip: When possible, consider including a keyword in your naming convention. Pop-A-Lock includes “Locksmiths” in their naming convention (example: “Pop-A-Lock Locksmiths of Phoenix”), improving their GMB profile’s rank on local locksmith-related searches.  

 

Categories

  • You have the option to choose one ‘Primary’ category and multiple ‘Secondary’ categories. Be sure to select relevant answers for all available category boxes, with the ‘Primary’ category being the most important one. 
  • Bonus SEO Tip: Consider mixing up your ‘Primary’ category over the course of the year. For example, An HVAC company could have ‘Heating Contractor’ as their primary category during the winter and Air Conditioner Repair Service’ in the summer.

 

Service Area

  • Service-based companies like locksmiths, plumbers, and electricians do not want to list their address on Google. By setting up a ‘Service Area’ in their listing, you can let customers (and Google’s algorithm) know all the specific cities you cover. 

 

Services / Menu

  • You want to submit and publish information related to your products and services. This is a terrific way to inform Google about the specific offerings your company provides, improving your chances of ranking highly on search queries related to those offerings. 

 

About

  • While the general messaging can be the same across your GMB profiles’ ‘About’ sections, be sure and make it unique to each location by including localized keywords (i.e. city, neighborhood, service area, local membership information), handicap accessibility information, and links to the locations’ Facebook page. 

 

Photos

  • Upload high-resolution photos of your business (interior, exterior, employees in action).
  • Bonus SEO Tip: These pictures are indexed by Google, so rename each picture file. For example, before you upload a picture named ‘8102.jpg’ to your GMB profile, change the file name to something like ‘Scenthound – West Palm Beach, FL – Dog Grooming.jpg.’ By doing so, Google better understands the content of your picture, helping the image to rank highly on image-based Google search queries related to each location in your franchise network. 

 

Hours of Operation

  • Ensure that your hours of operation are accurate at all times.  You can manually edit your listed HoH, and you can set up ‘special hours’ designed to highlight your hours of operation during major holidays. This can be done at a national level if you have a location group set up!

 

Posts

  • Promote special offers to potential customers via Google Posts. For example, LSM set up posts for TITLE Boxing Club highlighting kickboxing and fitness classes. Over a 12-week period, the posts generated 615 leads and $21k in new membership revenue!

 

Video

  • Repeat the same process mentioned in the ‘Photos’ section. 

 

Followers/Offers

  • Google recently introduced the ability to ‘follow’ GMB profiles. This is similar to how someone ‘Likes’ a Facebook Page and begins seeing posts published by that page. We suggest you encourage folks to follow your profile, and share offers directly with your followers to show how much you appreciate their loyalty. 

 

Results

  • Visit your GMB dashboard to review key metrics at national and local levels. Setting up proper UTM codes and conversion goals allows you to better understand the number of people viewing your GMB profiles and taking action (i.e. website visits, phone calls, direction requests, etc.).

 

GMB Case Study

  • LSM implemented much of what I just covered in European Wax Center’s SEO strategy. Using an apples-to-apples YoY comparison, our GMB optimization efforts generated a 108% increase in discovery searches, a 105% increase in website actions, a 46% increase in phone actions, and a 26% increase in total views.  

 

Conclusion

  • Optimizing your GMB ecosystem provides your business with better control over how your brand is displayed throughout your entire network, ensuring better first impressions, greater online visibility, and more new customer opportunities. Google continues to refine its GMB product (example: they’re beta testing a ‘Product Collection’ that gives businesses an option of listing their products along with a description, price, image, and call-to-action), so expect more features to be released over the coming 12-24 months. Have more questions about Google My Business? Contact LSM today!

LSMinute – Google+ Shutting Down – Google My Business Upgrades

Take a minute to learn about what’s new in digital marketing!

Google+ Shutting Down.  Google My Business = Future

What Happened?

  • Google is shutting down their failed Google+ network and focusing their attention on Google My Business (GMB). The most recent improvement to GMB is a follow button that appears on a business’ Google My Business listing (see GIF above). This button (in beta at the moment) allows people to ‘follow’ their favorite businesses and see their past/future Google posts.

What This Means For You

  • This is another example of how Google is transforming their Google My Business platform into a “one-stop shop” for users. Think about it….
    • SOCIAL = Google Posts, Google Follow & Google Q&A
    • PROMOTIONS = Google PPC & Display Ads
    • CUSTOMER FEEDBACK = Google Reviews
    • BUSINESS DIRECTORY = Google Local, Google My Business
    • DIRECTIONS = Google Maps

    We expect the ‘follower’ button to become another important component of GMB and, eventually, an SEO ranking factor (GMB accounts for approximately 25% of the local pack rankings).

Next Steps

  • We’re always optimizing our clients’ Google My Business listings with the latest updates (see our TITLE Boxing Club case study). We’ll be in touch with our clients on recommended action plans when this button officially launches to the public.

LSM Recognized at Google Premier Partner Awards

LSM’s work was recognized for the ‘Growing Businesses Online’ award at the 2018 Google Premier Partner Awards in NYC (we were a finalist this year after winning in 2017). Less than 1% of Google’s Partner agencies are recognized at the Premier Partner Awards, and LSM is the ONLY AGENCY IN THE WORLD to be honored for this award in two consecutive years! Cheers!

 

 

Client Testimonial

 

LSM showed us that Facebook’s lead generation campaigns work

Cait Rechel – Multi-Unit Owner – Pure Barre Chicago Co-Op

 

 

 

Win Tickets to Wimbledon 2019!

 

 

Click here to register for Wimbledon’s overseas ticket ballot. Winners receive the chance to purchase two seats at the 2019 tournament. Hurry because the deadline to enter is Dec 12th! Good luck!

 

 

LSMinute – ‘Business Description’ Section Added to Google My Business Listing

Take a minute to learn about what’s new in digital marketing!

What Happened?

  • Google announced that business owners can now add a business description to your Google local listings directly within Google My Business. This section will show up to people who visit your Google My Business listing while on a mobile device.

What This Means For You

  • The business description is another place for you to tell potential customers why they should visit your business. Additionally, this new section will factor into Google’s ranking algorithms, so including keyword-rich content on your listing should positively influence your ranking in Google’s local search results.

Next Steps

  • Business owners need to upload a description of their business onto their Google My Business listing. Over the next month, we’ll be working with clients to set up a unique description for their listing(s). If you’d like to complete this business description section yourself, you can visit this link for instructions.

What Happened?

  • Over the coming months, Google’s algorithm will begin to be based on a mobile-first experience. The rollout of this mobile-first indexing change began in late March.
What This Means For You
  • If your site is not mobile-friendly, then its organic rankings on Google will likely decline on searches that are being performed on a mobile device. Google said it would notify webmasters and site owners about this adjustment via messages in Google Search Console.
Next Steps
  • If your site is not mobile-friendly and a good amount of your traffic is coming from mobile devices, then it’s officially time you revamp your site. If you’d like to tackle this job yourself, then you can click here and see a list of best practices for mobile-first indexing. Need help optimizing your site for mobile devices? Contact us today.

What Happened? 

  • Yelp announced that business owners have the ability to customize their ads, specifically which photos and reviews are presented in their campaigns.
What This Means For You
  • Taking advantage of this feature will improve your ads’ ability to stand out from competitors and will highlight the best Yelp-related content about your business. You can do it yourself, or you can use Yelp’s “auto-pilot” feature to run ads for you.

Next Steps
  • We’ve begun customizing our clients’ Yelp ad campaigns. If you’re running Yelp ads yourself, log in and determine which reviews and/or images you’d like to highlight in future advertising campaigns. If you’re interested in using LSM to run your Yelp ad campaigns, let us know.

What Happened? 

  • Waze introduced Waze Local – map-based ads aimed mainly at small businesses. Waze, an app many people use to avoid road traffic, now has 100 million active users spending 11 hours per month on the app.
What This Means For You
  • There’s now a way to advertise your business on the Waze app.

Next Steps
  • Businesses who think their customers use the Waze app should consider advertising on their platform. LSM has already begun testing Waze ads with certain clients, and the initial results have been positive! Your account manager will reach out if they believe advertising on Waze is a viable lead generation tool for your business.

LSMinute – Facebook Improves Business Insight Metrics

Take a minute to learn about what’s new in digital marketing!

What Happened?

  • Facebook updated how they will measure organic reach of Facebook Business Pages so that they are more consistent with the way they calculate reach for ads. In a nutshell, they’re now providing us with a more precise way of measuring the organic reach of your posts  vs. the paid reach of your ads and boosted posts.

What This Means For You

  • It will make it easier for businesses and agencies to compare the results generated from your organic Facebook efforts (ex: posting a picture or video on your newsfeed) vs. your paid Facebook efforts (ex: a boosted post or lead-gen campaign), giving everyone a clearer picture on what activities are pushing the brand forward.

Next Steps

  • We look forward to reviewing Facebook’s revisions, analyzing the impact they have on your organic and paid reach metrics, and sharing our recommendations as we move forward.

What Happened?

  • Google Chrome, the browser used to view about 58% of web pages, installed ad blockers that removed ads on approximately 42% of websites. Its goal is to rid the internet of websites “stuffed to the gills” with invasive ads, such as ads covering more than 30% of your phone screen or autoplay videos with sound.
What This Means For You
  • This is great news for the typical web user;  it’ll force websites to reduce the number of annoying ads it allows on their sites so that they can pass Google’s ad standards, including sites such as the LA Times, Forbes, and the Chicago Tribune. As a result, websites will load faster, and your phone’s battery will last longer! Expect Google to continue its fight toward removing invasive ads from the web.
Next Steps
  • No ads managed by LSM are affected by these changes. Our ads are have always been in-line with Google’s standards. However, if you’re also running invasive ads with another agency, reach out to them to see if any of your existing campaigns will be affected by these adjustments.

What Happened? 

  • For the first time since 2014, search outpaced social in the percentage of overall traffic it delivered in 2017. In part, this is due to last year’s Facebook’s algorithm changes, which reduced the amount of spammy, clickbait headlines appearing in users’ news feeds.
What This Means For You
  • This reinforces the importance of having an SEO strategy in place for your business. People trust Google’s algorithm to provide them with the best answers to their queries, and the higher your content appears in the search results, the better chance you have of earning their click.

Next Steps
  • LSM will continue implementing our award-winning SEO services to optimize our clients’ websites and position them in front of people needing their products and services.
As usual, LSM was on the road quite a bit during the last few months of the year. We attended client conventions, educational conferences, and a few award ceremonies. When we were actually in town, we took some time to give back to our local community. Watch this short video for a recap on LSM’s Q4 happenings.
LSM was recognized by Nashville’s ‘Best in Business Awards’ for the sixth consecutive year! Hosted by the Nashville Business Journal, the awards use a panel of local judges to select which companies deserve the recognition based on profitability, employee engagement, and community involvement.

LSMinute – Google My Business Video Uploads Now Available to Business Owners

Take a minute to learn about what’s new in digital marketing!

What Happened?

What This Means For You

  • Videos can now appear on a business’s listing in Google Maps or the local web search results. It’s undetermined if these videos have any SEO-related impact, but listings containing videos will likely experience more engagement than those without videos.
Next Steps
  • We’re speaking with our clients to determine what video files to upload onto their Google My Business listings over the coming weeks. In the meantime, we strongly suggest that  your brand consider developing more 30-second video content for pre-roll, programmatic, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn ads (franchise development-related videos for LinkedIn).

What Happened?

  • Facebook adjusted their algorithm that determines what content to show on an individual’s newsfeed late last year. Long story short, business owners must “boost” their organic posts on Facebook, otherwise few people will see them.
What This Means For You
  • Businesses need to “boost” their posts in order for them to be seen by the right audience. Because “boosting” posts costs money, businesses should focus on posting and boosting high-quality content that your audience actually cares about.
Next Steps
  • Our team prepared for this change last year and has plans in place that we’re excited to share with our clients during our coming strategy sessions!

 

What Happened? 

  • Google confirmed that a change was made to the way Google displays snippets in search results, growing the space from 160 characters to about 230 characters. A snippet is the description of a page displayed below the blue URL in an organic search result (LSM’s description snippet is highlighted in red above).
What This Means For You
  • Having an optimized meta description for each key page on your website will increase your chances of having an optimized snippet, and an optimized snippet will increase your site’s ability to attract more clicks from Google’s organic search results.

Next Steps
  • We’ve been going through our clients’ meta descriptions to ensure that they’re optimized for this snippet update. Other businesses should perform a few Google searches on their own business to see what their new snippets look like.

 

Google published a case study on our advertising and user experience work for Brain Balance Achievement Centers. We increased conversions by 437% and decreased cost-per-lead by 370%. The fact that Google wanted to create a formal case study on our digital advertising services was an LSM dream come true, and it is a testament to the LSMers working day and night to provide clients with excellent results. We’ll continue striving to achieve similar results for all our clients in 2018 and beyond!

LSMinute – Booking Buttons Available in Google My Business

Take a minute to learn about what’s new in digital marketing!

What Happened?

  • LinkedIn announced a closed beta for testing video ads as Sponsored Content. This comes a few months after they enable native videos in the LinkedIn News Feed. It is expected to roll out to all advertisers by the first half of 2018.

What This Means For You

  • This will be a great tool for B2B businesses whose targeted audience actively uses LinkedIn. For example, franchisors should strongly consider implementing a LinkedIn video advertising strategy if they are looking to expand their franchise development marketing strategy in 2018.
Next Steps
  • B2B businesses should begin planning video advertising campaigns for LinkedIn’s platform sooner rather than later. That way you hit the ground running when the feature officially rolls out.
What Happened?
What This Means For You
  • This can expedite the booking process of your typical user since they no longer need to visit your website to schedule an appointment. HOWEVER, depending on your platform, you may be subject to a fee every time someone books an appointment. For example, MINDBODY applies a 10 percent marketing network fee to each purchase made through their booking button on Google.
Next Steps
  • If your business uses one of the listed platforms, you should investigate the costs and benefits of implementing a similar ‘Book Now’ button into your Google My Business listing(s) .

 

What Happened? 

  • Our web development, digital advertising, and software integration work helped our team win multiple recognitions the past few months, including ‘Best Small PPC Agency’ (agencies with a pay-per-click department of less than 25 people) at the 2017 US Search Awards.
What This Means For You
  • Our achievements wouldn’t be possible without the support of brands we’re fortunate enough to partner with. It’s a pleasure working with you all, and we thank you for your business!

Next Steps
  • We’ll strive to produce even better results for next year’s award season.

“We enjoy partnering with Local Search Masters. Their team provides exceptional customer service, and their dashboard software makes it easy to understand which customers originated from our website and which originated from digital advertising campaigns. They’re continually working to improve upon their results; their steadfast mentality is most appreciated.”

Chip Miller – CEO – Brain Balance Achievement Centers

We won gold twice at the 2017 MarCom Awards: once for a ‘Grand Opening’ landing page template and again for a ‘Special Offer’ template. The MarCom Awards has recognized companies’ excellence in marketing and communication for over a decade. For more information about our landing pages, contact us today.