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The echo of the recent pandemic is still rumbling through the franchise industry. Two years have passed since brick and mortar had to shut down and master the technology almost overnight. The new business practices implemented at this time could reshape the industry forever.
We’ve seen some players dub technology to serve customers remotely. Others have become more caring in giving back to local communities. And in some cases, brands have moved from an in-person model to an online model to better accommodate.
Therefore, most marketing has gone digital. But with twice as many store openings as store closings in 2021, the 2020 store closing has officially ended. Let’s see which trends are hot and useful for most franchise brands expecting local sales growth in the post-crisis reality.
Related: Why Local Marketing Still Matters in the Digital Age
Trend 1: Hybrid customer experience
2022 is the time to bring people back to stores and find innovative ways to improve their experience, regardless of where and how customers buy. Buyers no longer distinguish between digital and physical channels. They expect relevant and consistent experiences spanning devices, apps, and touchpoints throughout their buying journey.
As a result, most companies are accelerating their efforts to connect digital and physical journeys and build in-store digital capabilities. Acting as a hub for customers who buy online and collect in-store makes your business model future-proof. A fragmented approach to customer journeys and reliance on legacy technologies can stifle progress and set you apart from the competition.
Trend 2: Video for every platform and every channel
Video remains a key priority for marketers as it heavily influences traffic, leads, sales, and brand perception. Video is no longer just one part of your overall marketing plan. It is central to your advocacy and campaigning efforts, especially on social media.
As video production becomes more affordable, marketers are using video for an ever-increasing number of purposes. For example, brands offer free courses to increase brand awareness, record testimonials to build credibility, or create explainer videos to facilitate the user journey. It should also be noted that more than half of companies do it internally.
Before the crisis, Expedia Cruises sold 70% of its cruises in stores. They then pivoted and started hosting Zoom events with local cruise providers to replicate that valuable in-person experience.
At the same time, FIT4MOM, a workout franchise for moms, added free online classes for their customers’ children to keep toddlers busy while their moms barre. Both initiatives have proven successful in increasing engagement with these brands.
Related: Why Video Ads Need to Be in Your Franchise’s Local Media Mix
Trend 3: Hyper-localization and personalization
It is no longer enough to have a pretty storefront to attract crowds. And to tell the truth, you don’t need it. Businesses of all sizes can benefit from hyper-local marketing because it leverages nearby searches and offers a lower cost per target.
Marketers can get the right message to the right people much more easily online than through traditional advertising channels. Since most of them now rely on digital channels, local online search and social media have become the main channels of communication with the local community.
Starbucks, for example, used Twitter updates to launch a contest in which customers spotted ads placed somewhere in their cities, took photos, and uploaded them to Twitter. Expedia Cruises localizes its reach to build relationships between local agents and customers. They collect and leverage customer data with technology to humanize their brand’s social media presence.
They also try to make email marketing as local as possible with the face, name and city they are from. This makes it possible to develop a personalized approach to each client, making their stay in the company more pleasant.
Trend 4: mobile apps for fast service
At the start of the health crisis, consumers rushed to social media, and since then they have been using curbside pickup, ordering groceries and picking up their food in lockers. People are enjoying all these services mainly through mobile apps and among the providers who have one-click service, friendly user interface and personalized message.
Crunch Fitness, for example, uses a mobile app for customer check-ins, reservations, and most importantly, referrals. Prior to the lockdown, access was closed and fitness classes were only available with an upgraded membership. Now it is open to the general public. FIT4MOM has also ventured into mobile marketing. Her on-demand app offers fun and effective pro-designed fitness programs for every stage of motherhood. It helps service customers who prefer to stay online.
From connecting with consumers to maintaining a local presence, a mobile app performs multiple tasks with the primary goal of serving customers where they are.
Related: The 4 Marketing Actions Every Franchise Should Do
Trend 5: Stand out in local search
Eighty-two percent of Americans favorite supporting a local business rather than a big business. The raison because it’s to keep money in local communities and get better customer service and better product quality. But how do locals find a nearby business?
To find and buy nearby products and services, people type queries into search engines, social media, and third-party directories. These people have an immediate need and are ready to buy right away. Your task at this point as a multi-site business is to be discovered by a relevant audience.
That’s why local online marketing optimization should become the #1 goal for brands of all sizes, even those without a website. It is wise to have active and constantly updated local pages for your locations and to add local SEO to increase your online visibility. If this opportunity is still not being taken advantage of by your company, you are probably behind the times.
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