A Digital Marketing Guide for Franchises

With a vast array of ways to connect with customers in the digital age, and multiple locations for franchisors to keep a handle on, managing marketing efforts across multiple locations presents a number of challenges. How, then, do franchisors make sure they have the right technologies in place to support their franchisees marketing efforts? Our latest eBook, a “Digital Marketing Guide for Franchises,” outlines some tactics for ensuring that each franchise is set up to drive new business and repeat purchases. Highlights of the guide can be found below.Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 10.47.09 AM

Generate Organic Traffic: Today’s businesses are required to have a digital footprint, and it’s not enough just to have a website. An estimated 81% of customers conduct online research before buying, so maintaining a strong presence on heavily frequented social channels like Google+, Facebook, and Yelp is imperative. An automated marketing technology like Signpost can ensure that each franchisee’s social channels not only have a robust and consistent digital brand presence, but that their reviews are consistently up-to-date. 

Foster Customer Relationships: Digital tools can ensure that franchises not only increase in-store traffic, but also keep customers coming back. Technologies, like Signpost, can easily encourage reviews, referrals, and repeat purchases through automated re-marketing emails, which is critical for maintaining strong customer relationships.

Location Monitoring: Keeping track of the franchisee’s most important asset (their customer data) is tricky, especially with disparate sources, but digital tools can make the process as easy as a few clicks. As an example, Signpost offers robust master reporting which displays information like the total customer base, total number of customer actions, and total number of customer email opens across all locations. Having quick and seamless access to the information on an aggregate or individual franchise basis allows franchisor’s to track growth and customer habits on both a macro and micro level, respectively.

With these tactics, franchisors can make sure they own both their franchisees and their technology framework for growing their business. Click here to download the full eBook, “A Digital Marketing Guide for Franchises.”

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The Future of Brick and Mortar Businesses

How can brick and mortar businesses compete in the digital age?

Despite the massive success of e-commerce sites, data from the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that online sales only claim a small percentage of total sales—approximately 7%. This shouldn’t be surprising, considering that brick and mortar businesses have distinct advantages over e-commerce such as immediacy, street credibility, and the option to test a product before making the financial commitment. That being said, there’s also no denying that e-commerce has its strengths, including fewer limitations on supply and reach.

By Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 3.26.22 PMengaging more heavily in digital marketing practices, brick and mortar businesses can also make headway from an online perspective. Data suggests that 81% of consumers researched a product online before buying, and 60% used a search engine, which means having a digital presence is key to customer acquisition. Small businesses also need to remain engaged with their customers so they can build long-lasting relationships to keep them coming back, driving client retention.

To this end, technologies like Signpost become the key difference between profitable and unprofitable local businesses, because they can automate much of the process of generating a digital footprint, capturing customer data, and engaging with customers.

It’s also important for brick and mortar businesses to leverage offline resources as well. These include: Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), and local universities or chambers of commerce.

In short, although e-commerce is certainly on the rise, smart brick and mortar business owners will not only survive, but thrive, by leveraging the distinct advantages they already have, while using technology wisely to compete online.

To get a comprehensive look at how local business can succeed in today’s retail & services landscape, click here to download Signpost’s new eBook, “The Future of Brick and Mortar Business.”

*Supporting data noted in The Future of Brick and Mortar eBook

 

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Why You’re Letting a 33% Boost in Revenue Slip Through Your Fingers

Repeat After Me: Repeat Customers Are My Best Customers

If you’re like most small business owners, you spend the majority of your waking hours focusing on what you can do to drive new customers. Of course you want to see as many new faces as possible walking through your door, but don’t let the chase after new business take your eyes off the real prize: loyal, repeat customers who keep coming back. Not only does research show they are far easier to sell to, they also tend to buy more during each visit.

According to Marketing Metrics, your odds of converting a new prospect customer typically stand anywhere between 5-20%. Your odds of converting an existing customer? Between 60-70%. That means you’re over 3x more likely to sell to someone who you’ve sold to before.

Not only is targeting existing customers a safer bet, it can also result in a bigger payoff — on average, repeat customers also spend 33% more compared to new customers.

So the question is: Can you really afford to keep passing up an extra 33% in revenue?

3 Easy Ways to Start Marketing to Your Existing Customers Now

The good news is it’s easier than ever for small businesses to follow up with customers and put them on the path to becoming loyal, repeat customers. The key is leveraging digital marketing to take advantage of three critical customer retention opportunities you may be overlooking:

1) Show your thanks (with something that gets them back in the door)

Never underestimate the power of a simple follow-up “thank you” email. Not only is it a great way to solidify the first impression you’re making on new customers, it’s also a proven tactic for converting them again.

Strike while the iron is hot, they always say. Clichés aside, you will never have a better opportunity to reach your customers with an email than immediately after they complete a purchase. In fact, according to Remarkety, open rates for “thank you / order follow-up” emails are nearly double (42.51%) the open rate for the average marketing email (22.87%). And the boost on click-through rates is even more pronounced — 18.27% vs. 2.85%. On average, one in ten customers go on to repurchase after follow-up emails, so it’s clear this is one opportunity you do not want to miss.

Take advantage by not only expressing your thanks for their purchase, but also setting the stage for their next purchase. Highlight a similar or complimentary item they may also be interested in. Offer a special discount on their next visit. There are any number of ways you can go about it, the point is to make it enticing and ridiculously easy for customers to take the next step and buy again.

2) Automate reviews or referrals

Of course, pushing for a repeat purchase isn’t the only productive “ask” you can make of new customers that can make them more invested in your business.

  • Reviews speak louder than ad copy: These days, a positive customer review can be one of the most effective marketing assets you have. After all, customers want to hear from other customers, and thanks to sites like Yelp and Amazon, reviews are more prominent and valuable than ever.

It’s crucial for your business to develop a strong showcase of compelling customer testimonials and reviews, but don’t just sit around and wait for your customers to take action on their own. The only way to make sure they come in is to ask for them and a technology like Signpost automates this for you!

According to The Local Consumer Review Survey, 7 out of 10 consumers said they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, so what are you waiting for? Start asking your best customers to spread the word! Not only will it help you attract new customers, it will help your reviewing customers feel more invested and involved, as well.

  • Referrals are your lifeblood: Getting a customer via a referral automatically puts them on the fast track to becoming a loyal, repeat customer. According to the Journal of Marketing, a referred customer is 18% more loyal and spends on average 13.2% more than non-referred customers. Combine that with the fact that 82% of small business owners say their main source of new business is referrals, and you can see why asking (and rewarding) customers for referrals is an incredibly important part of following up.

3) Stay top of mind with email offers and updates

More than any other format, email gives you the opportunity to keep the lines of communication with your customers open. Staying in touch with your customers with automated offers and updates on a regular basis will go a long way toward keeping them engaged.

The fact is, customers who receive email marketing spend an average of 83% more, and believe it or not, the majority of customers want to hear from you. According to ClickZ, 67% of customers give their email addresses to companies to receive discounts and promotions.

That initial receptiveness can and will quickly change, of course, if you can’t ensure every email is relevant and valuable. So don’t be shy. Keep in touch with your customers. Technologies like Signpost will automatically send them special offers to keep them coming back. Above all, make it clear how much you value each of them and how hard you’re working to continue earning their business.

Article Attribution: Jonathan Crowe, Managing Editor at OpenView Venture Partners.

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Signpost to Participate at 2015 International Franchise Expo

Signpost today announced participation as a silver sponsor at the 2015 International Franchise Expo (IFE) June 18-20 at the Javits Center in New York City. The global expo brings together franchise concepts at all investment levels, with qualified delegates seeking to own their own business or grow current franchise best practice via the latest business technology.

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Who: Brian Iredell, Director National Sales, Signpost

What: Signpost’s participation as a silver sponsor at International Franchise Expo, the franchise industry’s premier annual event, in order to answer questions around the company’s latest technology and case studies for leading national brands.

When: Thurs 6/18 and Fri 6/19, 2015

Where: Javits Center, 11th Avenue and 36th Street, New York, NY 10001

To request a meeting with Signpost during IFE 2015 email Brian Iredell, Director National Sales at biredell@signpost.com

To view more of our recent media announcements, view our online newsroom here.

 

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Glassdoor Names Stuart Wall A Highest Rated CEO

Today Signpost’s CEO Stuart Wall was named one of Glassdoor’s highest rated CEOs.

photo-stuart-wall

Glassdoor, known as the most transparent jobs and careers marketplace, releases this annual report highlighting the Highest Rated CEOs in several countries. Stu ranks #16 out of 25 on the list of U.S. of companies (with less than 1,000 employees) with a 92% approval rating!

For those already familiar with our company culture, this isn’t going to come as a great shock. Employees, partners and investors all know that you can count on Stu to lead and that his door is always open for new opinions or a friendly hello.

As the CEO and founder of Signpost, Stuart oversees strategy, product development, sales and marketing. Stuart launched Signpost in 2010 and has since led the company through initial funding from Google Ventures and Spark Capital to the large, growing business Signpost is today.

CEO approval ratings are gathered through Glassdoor’s online company review survey, which seeks to gain current and former employee sentiment about job and company satisfaction, the work environment and the culture.

Check out the complete list here.

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Signpost Gives Back through Publicolor Program

The Signpost NYC staff was out in force over the weekend in order to promote school pride and lend a helping hand at Creston Academy in The Bronx.

Publicolor Colage

 

Our staff was matched with pupils from Creston, as well as other students from NY schools in the Publicolor program, which offers scholarships, mentoring and hands-on beautification at New York Schools in need through volunteer days such as this.

Publicolor’s mission is to fight back at the alarming dropout rate in NYC schools, which ultimately leads to a cycle of poverty. Publicolor believes that one can fundamentally improve students’ attitudes and engagement by improving their learning environments. Since 1996, Publicolor has used color, collaboration, design, and the discipline of the commercial painting to engage at-risk students in their education, targeting the most underserved communities, most underperforming schools and most seriously disadvantaged middle and high school students.

Last year, 94% of the 12,000 Publicolor students graduated high school on time (compared to 42% of their peers) and 94% went to college. We were thrilled to contribute and blown away by the work ethic and attitude of the Creston students and Publicolor representatives.

 

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Our New Financing Led by Georgian Partners

Today I’m excited to announce the closing of a $20.5M equity financing round led by Toronto-based Georgian Partners along with Spark Capital, OpenView Venture Partners, Scout Ventures and the Launch Fund.

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For the last three years, Signpost has been focused on empowering local businesses to be world class marketers. We have relentlessly iterated our offering based off working knowledge of a brick-and-mortar businesses needs.

We realized that brick-and-mortar businesses don’t need another ad platform – they need software that automates core marketing. Today Signpost offers automated CRM for B2C firms of any size, and business is booming.

Georgian Partner’s growth equity fund invests in companies that are at the convergence of cloud based business solutions, big data and broad information rights – what the firm calls applied analytics.

Adding Georgian Partners to our already stellar list of investors will help solidify Signpost as a must-have cloud business solution and further accelerate our analytics capabilities and so I couldn’t be happier about today’s news.

You can read the full details in our press release here.

-Stu

 

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How Google+ Puts the Local in Local Business Marketing

Google Plus Local

If you haven’t yet claimed or created your Google+ Local business page, you may be missing out on a lot of potential business.

Uniquely situated to give Yelp a serious run for the money — if not drive them into obsolescence, Google+ Local combines a local business listing directory with a customer review platform with a mapping application, for a triple threat that no other marketing enterprise can even come close to matching.

When Google Maps first came on the scene in 2005, the new mapping platform blew MapQuest out of the water with the depth and magnitude of the project.  Google Maps provides street maps, drive times and street views of places all around the world — even Mount Everest, and leverages Google’s search capabilities to help customers discover nearby local businesses.

Google Maps developers soon discovered the value of crowd sourcing, allowing businesses to create and manage their own business pages, and Google Places was developed to allow them to do just that.  Then in 2012, Google Places was integrated with Google+ Local and a star was born — actually, a star rating system was added along with customer reviews, and Google officially threw down the gauntlet, challenging Yelp’s reign as the top online review site for local businesses.

One Place for Everything

Not only can customers search for local businesses on Google maps, review their business page in Google+ Local and then get driving directions, but the Google Places dashboard also provides one-stop convenience for local business owners as well.  On the Google Plus dashboard, business owners can manage their location information, track traffic and even create and manage an ad campaign.

Customers who sign up for a Google+ account can also:

  • Publish reviews and photos of favorite locations
  • Get place recommendations based on location, past reviews and circle of friends
  • View local Google+ pages of businesses, including reviews, photos, posts, etc.
  • Read Zagat summaries of user reviews for a location
  • Find reviews from people they know and trust highlighted in search results

Get Your Custom Google+ URL

Business owners can also request a custom Google+ URL.  It only takes a minute or two, and makes it easier to share the page with clients, vendors and prospective customers.  Much as you might ask customers to “like us on Facebook,” “follow us on Twitter” or “find us on Yelp,” you can encourage clients to provide reviews on Google+ Local and provide the URL to get them there.

Keep Your Content Fresh

It’s not simply enough to claim or create a business page on Google+ Local, however.  Increasingly, Google+ Local pages are being given priority in Google local searches, ahead of websites and other listings.  And since Google’s web-bots look for fresh, relevant content, it’s recommended to treat a Google+ Local page as more of a dynamic, newsy kind of site rather than a static business directory listing.  Savvy business owners make sure to regularly post enticing images, fun content, new ideas and product and service updates that engage customers and make them want to visit the location.  Be sure to respond promptly to any reviews and encourage clients to rate the service they received. It will help your search visibility.

Track Results on the Google Dashboard

The Google Places dashboard is a powerful tool that allows business owners to track the success of a Google+ Local business page.  It can also tie into Google Analytics to provide a wealth of information, including the number of visitors who find a page through Google search.  And Google Insights provides helpful information about followers to help business owners engage with them in a meaningful manner.

In a nutshell, local business owners need local traffic, and what drives local traffic better than arguably the most powerful and popular mapping application on the market?  Combine that with strong local search results and favorable customer reviews and you have a recipe for success that wins the prize every time.  Of course, Google+ Local simply provides the platform; it’s up the business owner to come up with prize-winning substance.

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Signpost Local Marketing Software Case Study | Home Services: Pete’s Chimney & Gutter Company

Pete's Chimney & Gutter Company

Experts From Pete’s Chimney & Gutter Company Work With Online Marketing Experts To Get New Customers And Reviews

Signpost works with thousands of small and medium sized local businesses across the country that each have their own story. We will share them here on our blog. This post reviews the story of Pete’s Chimney & Gutter Company in Congers, NY.

Tell us a little bit about Pete’s Chimney & Gutter Company.

We have a long history of chimney, gutter and roofing experience. While in high school I worked with chimneys and right after in 1987 we started Pete’s Chimney & Gutter Company. I knew it was the career I wanted. It’s amazing that we’re almost around for 30 years now. We’ve had our struggles and continued learnings, but I can say we have a quality business and are experts in anything related to chimney, gutter, roofing and dryer vents. We’ve focused on continued education through seminars, accreditations and everyday learnings on the job. Today we offer various services ranging from chimney repair, roof restoration, gutter services and more.

How do you promote your services?

I’m always looking at new marketing opportunities; something that catches my eye as this would also engage the consumers we’re looking to work with. I’ve always done print including coupon books and direct mailers. Generally we’ve seen good success with print media as well. At least we try it out and see if it has good return on investment. Of course offline marketing is harder to track.

With the introduction of the internet we’ve used services like Angies List and HomeAdvisor. We want to command a superb online presence, stand out against our competition, as that’s where we’re heading as a culture and I don’t want to fall behind.

How does Signpost fit your marketing strategy?

When talking to the sales rep at Signpost he quickly convinced me that Signpost was the right partner for our business. I like the overall vision and mission of the company, and in terms of the offering Signpost is able to help us with most of our online marketing needs.

We’ve expanded and enhanced our online presence. I’ve started working with people who have gone online and found us in places where I wouldn’t have been a few months ago. We’ve also gotten great online reviews, which has convinced potential customers that saw our offline advertising. And we’ve been able to engage existing customers to come back or be advocates for us. Lastly, Signpost is even able to save me on credit processing fees.

Overall, it has gotten us valuable customers and it has increased our bottom line already.

At Signpost, one of our core values is “Signpost fights for small businesses”. How have you experienced this so far?

Fantastic, from the first experience with my sales rep to the account managers. The sales rep was patient with me and my busy schedule, and called me when I asked him to call. I definitely appreciated his first appearance and his ability to follow through with what he said he was going to do. The account managers are there when we need them to be. I reach out and things are immediately taken care of whatever it is.

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3 Critical Roles Public Relations Support Plays in Franchisee Satisfaction [Guest Post]

Bakery small business franchisee pr

In the age of online reviews, your franchise brand may only be a few clicks away from unprecedented disaster or an outstanding upward trajectory. To this point, it’s not only customer experiences that can make or break your franchise brand – it’s how franchisees develop trust and confidence in the business. Franchisees are often investing their livelihoods to achieve their entrepreneurial dreams and they’re not afraid to share tales of their journey with others. Thus, earning high satisfaction scores from your current set of franchisees is a key to pushing your brand forward.

So what can you do creatively to earn franchisee satisfaction beyond supplying them with a proven business model? Providing franchisees PR support to garner publicity for them is one way to gain positive franchisee sentiment. Here are three ways that PR support can ensure that your franchisees are brand advocates who are proud to be part of your system.

1) Drive sales and build foot traffic

When a franchisee has launched in a new, unfamiliar market where a concrete brand footprint has not yet been established, consider using a PR team to boost foot traffic and to get your message out. Whether you want to promote your services or a popular menu item, PR can help get people in the door to check you out.

For example, our company strategized and implemented a recent campaign on behalf of la Madeleine Country French Café called “Rompre le Pain,” or “breaking bread.” Playing into the authentic French roots of the brand and the smart, savvy, family-oriented clientele, we created “Rompre le Pain” as an in-store contest where, during the grand opening of a new café, the first 50 guests in line on opening day receive free fresh-baked bread for a year.

Using a combination of social media outreach, newspaper and magazine press placements and creative graphics to drum up interest in the community in the weeks prior to the opening. Garnering organic (unpaid) articles and mentions in local magazines, regional newspapers and influential blogs, we ensured that the area’s heavy hitters were well informed as the opening approached.

Incredibly popular and well received by new and longtime loyal la Madeleine fans, the first “Rompre le Pain” saw nearly 80 people standing outside before the doors opened at 6:30 a.m. waiting for their free bread. Thrilled by the outcome, la Madeleine provided everyone in line with coupons for free bread for a year as well as hot coffee, fresh-baked bread and homemade jam for their efforts.

Each participating café has since seen the long-lasting effects of the promotion – guests know firsthand that the food is delicious, the staff is welcoming and the ambiance is comfortable.

2) Increase brand awareness

PR results come in many shapes and sizes, from a front-page feature to a local TV segment and everything in between. Determining how to best increase brand awareness is critical to the success of your media outreach efforts. Sure, it’s great to have a picture of your best menu item in the newspaper, but consider going on a local morning show and demonstrating how to make it live. Not only will the audience get a tangible sense of what it is and what it looks like, they’re able to attach a face to the brand.

Our client Potbelly Sandwich Shop is a great example of the power of local TV. By getting a storeowner on air, we’re able to show the audience how mouthwatering the sandwiches look fresh out of the oven instead of simply reading that Potbelly sells toasted sandwiches. This creates brand identity.

By understanding your audience, you can decide if your PR team should pursue print, digital, radio or TV placements in order to earn greater brand awareness.

3) Build community connections and elevate prominence in local economy

Philanthropy is an important component of many businesses. Maybe your company volunteers together for a local organization, or part of your proceeds go to charity. Whatever your giveback, PR can help tell that story. By humanizing a business and showing the lives impacted, informing the media about your philanthropic efforts can be very positive.

Some businesses have philanthropy built into the model. Each of client Kona Ice’s shaved ice trucks gives back around 20 percent of its proceeds to the community, partnering with schools, sports teams and other organizations. To share this admirable and impressive effort, we designed a campaign called “National Chill Out Day,” which takes place the day after Tax Day. Designed to reward the hard-working adults in the community who sacrifice their time and energy to teach, coach and advise other members of the community, Kona Ice gave away free Kona Kups of shaved ice outside of schools, post offices and other businesses.

Working with Kona trucks in cities and neighborhoods across the country, we shared this effort in a targeted PR blitz locally, regionally and nationally. These markets now associate Kona Ice with giving back, a distinction that certainly sets it apart. Plus, giving back makes franchisees feel better about themselves and their work that, in turn, creates more opportunities for positive PR.

When considering ramping up franchisee satisfaction efforts with a proactive PR plan, remember that satisfied franchisees not only want to promote their own location, but also support the franchisor’s growth and development as well. This is truly a win-win for everyone.

Jamie IzaksThis post was written by  Jamie Izaks, president and founder of All Points Public Relations, a Chicago-area integrated public relations agency specializing in the franchise industry. The sole mission of All Points Public Relations is to support entrepreneurs and entrepreneurially spirited organizations through the persistent execution of effective integrated public relations, including media relations, social media, graphic design and content marketing programs. For more information visit www.allpointspr.com or e-mail Jamie at jizaks@allpointspr.com.

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