Content is an important piece of a successful marketing strategy; by now, most marketers know this. But in the content age, the internet is flooded with information. As a franchisor, you are not only competing with the other franchise brands in your space, you are competing with all the content producers on the internet who are fighting for eyeballs and a spot on page one of Google or Bing.

So, how do you create a successful content marketing strategy? At the most basic level, your goal is simple:

  1. Create content that your audience finds valuable.
  2. Make sure your audience can find this content.

But this simple goal is often easier said than done. Google is consistently updating it’s algorithms and the SEO game is always evolving to reflect these algorithm changes. Similarly, the way we connect with consumers and distribute content is changing. One thing that isn’t changing is the importance that content plays in a digital marketing strategy. Here are six strategies you can use to create an effective content marketing strategy based on the latest trends in search and consumer behavior.

Content Marketing Strategies for Franchisors

  • Create a blog — and stay up-to-date on blogging SEO

Blogging is one way to help you both convey your message and get found, organically, by search engines. When it comes to blogging, remember that quality matters much more than quantity. A comprehensive, informative blog that gives readers what they are looking for will result in lower bounce rates and longer time on page, causing Google to rank it higher in search. While keywords are still important in SEO blog writing, today, topic clusters matter most.  As Google has gotten smarter, it has begun to recognize context, causing marketers to move away from keyword strategies and towards “pillar pages” and “topics.”

When blogging, focus on:

– Quality over quantity
– Topic clusters and keywords (group similar keywords)
-At least 800 words
-Include at least three outbound links to authoritative sources and at least three inbound links
-A catchy title and enticing meta description
-Be helpful, not salesy

  • Write guest blogs

Another type of blog that should be a part of your content marketing strategy is a guest blog. This is a blog that you pitch to an external site. The goal is to both gain publicity and get a link back to your site.  In this case, you want to be strategic in who you pitch: The pubs you are focused on landing a guest blog with should share a similar audience and should have a high domain authority to that it can pass link equity back to your site. While guest blogging can take time, it is free publicity.

When putting together guest blogs:

-Create a list of industry publications with an audience you would like to reach.
-Focus on the publications that have the highest domain authorities.
-Don’t be salesy! Write a helpful, educational piece of content that the publication you are pitching will actually want to run. If it is clearly an ad for your franchise, they will likely reject your pitch.
-Include a link back to your site (if the publication does not allow you to link within the content you may be able to link in the authors bio).

  • Buy sponsored content

If you can’t get secure a guest blog, you simply don’t have the resources to write and pitch guest blogs (it can be time consuming), or if you are trying to get your content into a very well-known publication (like Entrepreneur) or a news pub (like the New York Times), you may want to consider sponsored content opportunities. Sponsored content is content that you pay for similar to online advertising, but unlike a traditional ad, it is intended to look like the publication’s editorial content.  In some cases you write the content and pay the publication to run your content. In other cases, the publication will write the content for you and get your approval before posting in exchange for a fee. If you are familiar with organic and paid SEO strategies you can liken guest blogging to organic search (takes time and money but has lasting benefits) and sponsored content to PPC (you have to pay for it but you’ll see immediate results).

  • Talk about price and money!

The pricing page is often one of the most visited pages on any website, no matter what the industry. This is no different in franchising. At FBR, we gather a lot of candidate data and push out a lot of content. The most popular content, with the highest click through rates, is content that talks about franchise pricing, franchise funding and the best low cost franchise brands.

Candidates want to understand the total costs and potential profitability of buying into your franchise system. So show them! Use your home page to tease out these numbers or include a prominent link that directs candidates to learn more about pricing and profitability. Since this is one of the most important topics for many candidates this should be a static page on your site. Using the topic cluster and pillar page blogging method you can then write blog posts related to financing and pricing that link back to your primary (pillar) pricing page.

  • Emphasize reviews

Over the past two years, mobile searches for “product reviews” have grown over 35 percent, according to Google. And videos with the word “review” in the title had more than 50,000 years worth of watch time on mobile. Reviews are powerful, which is one reason it is so critical to connect prospective franchisees with current franchisees. You can do this by telling franchisee stories (as we discuss next) on your website and by working with third-party market research firms, such as FBR, that can provide unbiased rankings, ratings and reviews — similar to those found on Yelp or Tripadvisor.

  • Tell customer stories

Orangetheory Fitness tells the stories of their franchisees and their patrons in an effort to convey the difference Orangetheory can make in people’s lives. As they say, “Our workout changes our members’ physical, physiological, and behavioral health for the better. We are truly giving people a longer, more vibrant life!” Not only does Orangetheory create compelling member and franchisee stories, they share them in varied formats including video, so that users can digest content the way they prefer.

These are six important, but not all encompassing, strategies to consider when putting together a content marketing strategy for your franchise brand that will both attract and convert candidates. Of course, these strategies are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to content and digital marketing strategy. If you would like to learn more about how to attract candidates with sponsored content opportunities on Franchise Business Review’s site, click here or contact us at info@franchisebusinessreview.com or give us a call at 866.397.6680.