Whether you’ve recently purchased a local franchise, or you’ve been operating one for more than two years, one of your next big projects needs to be creating a dynamic, interactive website. The reason we say more than two years is that technology has evolved so much in recent years that if your website is over two years old, it likely needs a major overhaul. So what exactly needs to be on your local franchise website? Here is some simple guidance.
First Impressions are Lasting Ones
Right off the bat, you want your home page to capture the customer’s attention. It should be bold and simple, and get right to the point. If someone inadvertently stumbled onto your home page, how long would it take them to figure out what you do? Don’t try to cram everything onto one page. Pare it down to compelling images, your logo and NAP (name, address and phone number) and a simple navigation menu.
Simple, Straightforward Layout and Navigation
Keep your layout and navigation menu consistent on every page, so the visitor can intuitively click through to the desired page without having to search for the right button. A banner across the top with the logo and NAP is helpful so that the customer doesn’t have to go back to the home page to retrieve your location and contact information. As a local business, that information needs to be prominently featured on every page, not buried in a contact info page. Consider adding a thumbnail sized map that the visitor can click on to access a larger, interactive map with directions.
Prominently Featured Calls to Action
Include a prominently featured call to action on every page, whether it’s to order online, make a reservation, ask for information, sign up for emails or text messaging, or even to call and speak with someone. Be sure your call to action features a button linked to the desired operation, such as a phone number that engages the mobile device to make a phone call. That particular design feature may cost you a bit to have programmed in, but if a customer can make a call by simply tapping your phone number rather than going to their phone app and programming in a series of numbers, they’re much more likely to do so, especially if they’re multi-tasking.
Keep Your Content Fresh
Regularly updated content alerts Google’s web crawler that your site is relevant and dynamic, and helps boost search engine ranking. If you have a complex site that’s difficult to update, consider asking your web designer to create an easy access portal to allow you to make simple changes on a regular basis, such as posting a weekly special offer. Another way to keep a website fresh is by adding a blog which can be quickly and easily updated separately from the main site, with news and events, helpful advice, special offers, questions and answers and anything else that may be relevant and interesting. You can even add real-time news feeds from your Facebook and Twitter pages that will aid in keeping your site dynamic.
As a franchisee, you have the benefit of a built-in customer base, thanks to the marketing efforts of your corporate headquarters. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still run your own local marketing campaigns. And a key part of any local franchise marketing program is an effective, well-designed and regularly updated website.