5 Franchise Website Best Practices for 2019

Franchise website being scrolled on mobile device

While lots of marketers and web developers are busy making predictions about what will be trending in 2019, we’ve decided to go against the grain (Wheat pun intended) to compile a list of practices already proven to work for franchise websites – practices we’re certain will continue to convert this year and beyond.

So, without further ado, here are some of the franchise website best practices we already employ; those that have proven successful for our clients and the multiple award-winning websites we developed last year.

1. Don’t call me, I’ll call you. (Traditional contact forms are dying.)

It’s no longer enough – or desirable – to throw a contact form in a prospect’s face at every turn/click/scroll. It feels forced and, often times, premature. If a prospect is not yet ready to discuss a $100,000+ investment, it can be daunting to send their contact info into the oblivion and get a surprise call from a random salesperson.

Instead, make the experience more personal. Start by reserving the contact process for a dedicated, albeit easy-to-find contact page and do include a standard form, as there are those who prefer to use it. This is about providing options. Whenever possible (it should always be possible), list the names of your salespeople on the website along with direct phone numbers. Then take it a step further and offer a call scheduling option like Calendly or timetrade. This puts the prospect in control of the communication process.

2. Be mindful of Millennials. (They’re coming for us… and your franchise.)

This practice is directly related to the contact form bit mentioned above. It’s no secret that Millennials like to do things when, where and how they like. Love it or hate it – it’s a fact. As Forbes has reported, it’s also a fact that 72 percent of Millennials want to be their own boss. So, why isn’t your franchise website speaking to them?

Let’s take what we know about the generation:

  • They want the whole story. This means your franchise web content shouldn’t pull any punches – share your franchise history and all your numbers. Transparency is key.
  • Yet, they have short attention spans. Share the whole story… but do so quickly. Succinct, well-written and intuitively-organized content with plenty of subheads works best.
  • They understand calculated risks. Again, share your numbers. They understand that it takes money to make money, and they’d rather learn from your expertise ­– and your mistakes.
  • They want to be heard. Make sure your franchise website shows them that you’re listening. Start by giving them what they want, then see how they reward you (and your franchise) with the forward thinking they’re known for.

3. Accessibility is an absolute must. (Yes, even for franchise websites.)

Although the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) was originally published in 1999, with updates in 2008 and June 2018, its influence (and enforcement) is seemingly much more recent. WCAG is essentially Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance in the digital world. If your company’s website is not accessible to those with disabilities, your company isn’t being compliant. And there are plenty of lawyers – as evidenced by the growing number of class action lawsuits – who are all-too-ready to point this out.

However, confusion lies within the context of the word “accessible” as it has varying degrees – a website can have a conformance level of A, AA, or AAA – depending on how many of the 78 success criteria it meets. Yeah, we know. But all that you need to know, is that if we develop your consumer or franchise website, we know what needs to be done.

4. Content Education is king. (It’s the reign that won’t end.)

Not all content is created equal. Google taught us this. Adding content for content’s sake feels so 2010, and the past decade has brought us all kicking and screaming back to a harsh reality: there is no easy fix for SEO. In other words, there is not a workaround for developing quality, educational content that truly and positively affects your search rankings.

From your base franchise web content, to your dedicated market pages, to your (hopefully) fresh, monthly blog content – every word counts because every word is either consumed by your prospects or by Google – both of which will judge you for readability, relevancy, and educational quality.

Hiring a $10/hour content writer from across the world and expecting million-dollar results is unrealistic at best. If you want quality content, you’re going to need to spend some money.

5. Video is queen. (Not an heir, but a strong influencer.)

Notice how everyone’s face is glued to a screen these days? It’s because, in a typical day, we watch 1.5 hours of video content – 15 percent of us watch more than 3 hours. That’s according to Hubspot, who also shares that 81 percent of us have been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video. Now it’s getting interesting, right? (Sorry it’s not a video.)

A franchise brand video can do wonders for your website. A well-made video that provides a glimpse behind the scenes into your franchise culture, introduces your executive team, even shows day-to-day franchise operations, will communicate in a way that purely written content can’t. Of course, video testimonials from your franchisees are highly encouraged as well. Video is easily digestible and fun. Use it as much as you possibly can.

There’s the shortlist of franchise website best practices. Mind-blowing? No. Earth-shattering? Probably not. But way more importantly… RESULTS-GETTING. Happy 2019!

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