Why Owners Should Back Away from Corporate’s Internal Franchise Marketing

Jen Saunders

Franchise investment opportunities are attractive for many reasons: (1) you’re starting a business with a recognizable brand that customers already know and trust (assuming the company is truly reputable), (2)  corporate will likely provide you with training, (3) you should get corporate support throughout the life of your business and (4) market research in your area will be provided to prove you are investing in a profitable industry for the geographic area (just be sure to get this report from multiple sources and verify that any past and current franchises are indeed operating in the specific region). 

Although it seems like you are going to be successful right out the gate, the truth of the matter is that you need digital marketing services from a trusted agency specializing in local SEO so that potential customers can find you. Unfortunately a lot of people who invest in franchise businesses are romanced into signing up for web development, SEO, and paid search offered directly from within corporate’s internal. Working with the franchise’s marketing team (or even a referral company) is not only unethical business practices but it creates a conflict of interest. In fact, no reputable franchising company should offer marketing services, period.

avoid conflict of interest in franchise marketing

Conflict of Interest

A conflict of interest is a situation in which a person or a company has competing loyalties or interests. In context to franchising companies offering internal marketing services, this raises a huge “conflict of interest red flag”. When a franchise organization offers marketing to their franchisees, conflicting interests arise because they need to both make the brand appear profitable while recruiting new owners AND share profit-based analytics that could debunk their original agenda–to look profitable and sign on more owners.

When a franchising company’s internal generates marketing reports they will need to pull data from Google analytics, paid search, social marketing and data from their call-tracking system. They should also provide each owner with access to his Google Analytics and AdWords account so the client can compare the marketing reports to the actual data from the raw sources. As far making sense of the reports there are a number of articles and resources that help people understand Google Analytics and AdWords and even multiple digital marketing agencies will be happy to give you a free audit. If the franchising company is open to sharing analytics and website access, then the red flag can be lowered to yellow, even though a clear conflict of interest still stands. But just to show good face to the client, full transparency of data and account access really lets owners know if their organic SEO is working.

avoid suspicious marketing

When You Should be Suspicious

There is a huge incentive for franchises to doctor up marketing reports. If corporate refuses to grant access to Google Analytics, AdWords, your call-tracking report and even access into the backend of your website, the you should be very suspicious. This proves they have something to hide. These platforms contain no information except for data on how people find your website, engage with it, and complete goals (fill out forms, make calls, etc). They do not contain internal sensitive information like marketing strategies or other client’s data.

avoid conflict of interest marketing

When it’s Too Late and You Seem to be Screwed

If you bought a franchise and signed a contract giving ownership of your website to corporate, then they likely created a unique email address for Google Analytics and AdWords for the site, and this means it is “technically” theirs and not yours. However, this violates the law and if you can prove to Google that the accounts are associated with the business you own, they will likely grant you access to your analytics. As for access to the website itself, you may have to start over with a new one. Does your contract prohibit that? If so this is unethical, and you need to talk to an attorney specializing in franchising business law. If there is a loophole allowing you to pursue your own marketing services, use it and get out fast. Once you cut ties with their marketing team you may want to investigate further into the business by contacting other franchisees to see what their ROI is like.

do your own SEO audit

When Marketing Reports Say One Thing, and Your Bank Account Another

Are you getting marketing reports that show an increase in traffic and phone calls that come from organic SEO or paid search, yet your phone isn’t ringing and your bank account is at an all-time low? If you suspect the internal marketing team is falsifying your reports there are ways you can find out. First, there are a number of digital tools that require monthly subscriptions, and some that even give people free trials or a few complimentary searches. You can enter your website domain into Spyfu.com or SEMrush.com and see how many keywords you rank for, which ones, how much traffic comes to your website, what channels it comes through, and how much you spend on average each month with paid search. These tools pull directly from Google analytics and offer realistic screenshots of your online presence and efforts. If Spyfu strays far from the data on the report your franchise’s marketing team gave you, then something is indeed rotten.

Ask for Google Analytics

Ask for Access to Your Google Analytics and AdWords Account

Google Analytics serves one role: to provide site owners with data revealing how people engage with their website. It is a FREE service offering comprehensive statistics on visitor behavior like bounce rate, page views, average time on site, number of pages viewed per session and goal completions. It doesn’t store information like marketing strategies or any intimate information on users.

Your Cost Analysis report will reveal performance data for paid marketing channels by comparing the cost of each campaign with its associated revenue. This can come from goal value or ecommerce to calculate your return on Ad Spend and Revenue Per Click.

Your franchise’s marketing team has a Search Console account for your website (another free Google tool) linked to your AdWords account. Without access to it, you won’t be able to see your paid and organic reports. However, it is better to ask for access to the actual Google Analytics and AdWords accounts in addition to your search console.

marketing fraud

Know Your Rights

Unless the franchise company has some unethical clause forcing you to use their marketing team as the ONLY vendor for SEO and PPC services, it’s still your right to pay whoever you want to perform digital marketing tasks regardless of what you signed. If anything is being done preventing you from accessing your website, Google Analytics, Google AdWords, and Google Search Console AND if the data you are shown doesn’t match up with the revenue you are actually pocketing, you need to run to a lawyer. Depending on the situation, a lawyer may request a court order to have the company relinquish access to your account. And if this can’t be done then a lawyer can help you present your case to the Court of Google.

Did You Find These tips Helpful?

If you found value in these tips you will likely love our FREE guide on how to find the best digital marketing agency for YOU. We offer this with zero bias; we just want to arm business owners with more information so they can make smart decisions. Download the guide below; we hope this offers insight into finding the ideal solution to help market your franchise business with clarity and continuos revenue growth.
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About
Jen Saunders is the Director of SEO for WEBITMD bringing more than 15 years of search marketing experience. She spent 13 years in Europe earning her PhD while looking at lots of old neat stuff. Jen enjoys simple things, like trees, sunrises, and the delicate lull of a 16th century harpsichord. Jen enjoys meditating and studies Buddhism. She is a certified master scuba diver, dolls make her nervous, and she enjoys craft beer. Jen has two cats, Chairman Thaddeus Whiskers and Lord Joffrey Gaius Pitty-Paws. They are her heirs.


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