Franchise organizations face many challenges in the digital age. Chief among them is how to effectively market their national brand at a local and hyper-local level.

And, selecting a tool to power that evolving digital strategy is no easy task. Corporate marketing teams are forced to wade through dozens of systems--all claiming to support their needs, but many lacking the unique functionality required in the franchise space.

The following list summarizes 5 key features that should be present in your digital marketing platform:

1. Integration

Integrated software streamlines your digital ecosystem, helping organizations connect the dots between each of its channels to track trends, performance, and opportunities.

So ask yourself, does your website builder integrate with a variety of 3rd-party applications to support your needs for email marketing, social media, data consolidation and even eCommerce? Or, is it a single tool that has all of this necessary functionality, thereby sharing the underlying user data, content and administration features?

The difference can mean a lot--from unknown 3rd-party license costs to painful and ever-changing "integrations" with tools you don't control.

2. Ease of use

We're not exactly breaking news here, but even the best tools and features are essentially rendered useless if users, at every level of the organization, are unaware of how to properly put it to use.

The key to a great web platform starts with superior usability. Understanding how your franchisees and your marketing team will administer your site is a critical step in your decision making. Make

sure you get a preview of your most common use cases--from setting up a local email campaign to posting on franchisee's Facebook page or updating their homepage content.

3. Distributed-model best practices

Any solid franchise web marketing system will have a distributed model that offers easy-to-deploy microsites to each location. This means everything from a seamless setup process, a franchise dashboard and--most importantly--ongoing support for your franchisees.

Beyond that, a shared repository for marketing campaigns that give each location the ability to opt in, participate and localize the messaging for them is critical. All with a permissions-based environment to make sure brand consistency and messaging are never lost.

4. Local (and Mobile) Marketing

It goes without saying, any platform a franchise might consider has to put local marketing at its forefront. But what does that mean? Step one is a clear focus on search engine optimization to allow franchise organizations to meaningfully localize content and SEO meta data. Step two is a deeper understanding of the online directory space, to make sure local information is accurate, maintained, and follows the established best practices defined by the schema.org protocol.

Beyond that, delivering that local experience within a mobile device is imperative as mobile usage continues to skyrocket. Consider things like the franchisees' ability to preview content in various devices, how website content changes from one device to the other and even how a franchisee can update their site on their own mobile device.

5. Multi-Location Management

Well over half of franchisees own at least two units in an organization. And these Multi-Unit owners tend to have a great deal of influence on the organization.

A good digital marketing platform will cater to Multi-Unit owners through a single-login that allows them to manage each of their locations on one dashboard. Specific Multi-Unit owner management capabilities need to be there--giving a user the option edit and publish content to specific locations or make bulk changes.

Here is our free checklist--->>

The Top 6 Most Effective Methods of Online Marketing for Multi-unit Organizations to help you implement your own franchise's online marketing.

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