Choosing the Best Email Marketing Solution for your Franchise or Retail Chain

Email marketing has one of the best Return on Investments for franchises. Every franchise business or retail chain has unique requirements when it comes to email marketing software. While email marketing is flexible and scalable, let’s review what franchise-specific criteria there are to consider.

Why franchises have specific email marketing needs

Franchises are like many other business, when it comes to the benefits of email marketing.

For your franchise email marketing is used to:

  • Drive sales,
  • Engage customers and prospects,
  • Build loyalty and repeat business.

email marketing for franchises
There are distinct ways that franchises are different and these differences affect the choice of email marketing tools:

1. Franchise business model

The way a franchise structure their email marketing programs depends on their franchise business model. That might consist of a franchisor with franchisees. It can also include company-owned units or locations. For instance, it is also a part of the email marketing for restaurants guide, just because in restaurant chains – the franchise model is so popular.

A franchise can have a master franchisee structure with sub-franchisees under it.

2. Central versus decentral marketing

Franchises vary in how much power, control and flexibility they want to keep central vs. handing it over to the franchisees.

Some franchises have their own corporate-owned stores alongside franchisee locations. In hard franchise headquarters might have control of everything. In other situations, franchisees to create their own direct email promotions for their local audiences.

A large restaurant franchise moved their email marketing model from 100% HQ sends to 60% HQ sends. By allowing each franchisee to send communications and offers to their local clients on their own (with some checks and controls). The net result was a 8% increase in opens, 11% increase in clicks and an overall increase of 3.7% in direct sales.

Sometimes corporate crafts the promotions and content and the franchisee can choose to run those promotions (or not).

franchise email marketing martech model

3. Size, shape and franchise

Franchises are built to be streamlined and scalable, with easily replicated processes. But There is a range of franchises sizes and shapes. Franchises can vary in numbers of locations, size, products vs. services, geographical area, target audience, corporate owned vs. privately owned and myriad other ways. And those differences affect each franchise’s email needs.

For example, a large franchise with hundreds of units in locations all over the country will need a different email software than a smaller local franchise. This means there is no single best email marketing software for all franchises and it will depend on your situation what is best.

The 5 franchise-specific criteria to consider when selecting email marketing software:

Franchises need to find an email solution that fits your specific needs, is flexible, and can grow with your business. To help with your ESP selection process, here are five franchise-specific criteria to consider:

1) Parent and Subaccount Structure

Many franchises need an parent account / subaccount setup for email marketing. The parent account is at the corporate level and the subaccount is at the franchisee level. There might even be sub-subaccounts if their are master franchisees that owns multiple units or locations.

With an email software that allows for subaccounts, data must be central and decentral.

That way, the franchisee, can have their own email database in their subaccount. Corporate oversees the whole account. Corporate can access (and compare) all data on performance, loyalty programs, and more.

Smart selection questions:
What kind of Parent subaccount structure do you need?
Are you allowing email marketing at the store level or a higher level?
Do you need sub subaccounts?

2) Branding and email campaign template library

Franchises must protect and build their brand at the same time. This can be tricky when dozens or even hundreds of independent franchisees are part of the business and brand. An email tool has to have the option to use email campaign templates and content that can be “pushed down” to the franchisees.

Templates make sure you maintain a consistent look, feel and message in every email. Franchises can share images and content with their franchisees. But templates need to be flexible enough when franchisees are given content choices or blocks of content they can change.

lock and unlock email content

An example of locking and unlocking content in your email marketing system.

Smart selection questions:
What kind of control do I need over the brand, email templates and content?
Do you need the ability to lock and unlock content?

3) Access Levels in the Email Marketing Tool

Franchises need varying degrees of access to functionality and information. For example, headquarters will want to see all statistics and have access to the complete database of each franchisee.

Franchisees might only see aggregated email reporting and analytics and only have access to their own campaigns and subscribers. Permission levels will depend on user function of course. But also if someone is part of the corporate marketing team, a franchisee, the manager of a brick-and-mortar location, or an employee at one location in charge of marketing. It is how much independence corporate wants to grant that user.

manage email marketing permissions

A good ESP will allow you to set rights based on roles in the account.

Smart selection questions:
Who will be involved with email creation and at what level?
What kind of access to the tool will the users need?
How much control will you need?
Do you need to limit access to just one aspect, such as only data or only content?

4) Data and Email Marketing Reporting

Franchises need data so they can make informed business decisions. They need know what their franchisees are doing and how well they’re performing.

HQ needs access to data through a central dashboard so they can compare different units, geographies and more. The challenge is often being able to bring together the data from many sources into one. The people at headquarters need to be able to analyze all email campaign performance in one place. That includes data from franchisees too. Making this data aggregation critical. They need to see it all in one place and in one view for comparisons for informed decision making.

Smart selection questions:
What kind of insights do you need?
At what level and with what kind of reporting?

5) Integrations

Finally, franchises need to integrate with other solutions. For example, a retail restaurant might want to integrate with their WiFi provider or Point of Sale provider to tie offline and online together.

With this kind of functionality, the franchise can send relevant messaging via multiple channels at that time as well as track patterns of behavior.

Marketers might be gathering data for more targeted messaging, or using incentives to bring people in. This is all data they’d want to integrate with their email marketing software to get to the next level of segmentation and sophistication.

Franchise Email Marketing Is Good for Business

All franchises can benefit from email marketing. Email has the best return on investment dollar for dollar. It can reach people on the go on their phones. It’s easily tracked and measured. Email works well in cross-channel campaigns. And it generates priceless data to further improve the email program – and results.

Yet you have to have the right email marketing provider to tap into the potential ROI email offers. Your franchise business model is set to be uniform and scalable. Chances are, you have your own unique goals for your franchise based on the way you will fill in the five selection criteria. Keep your franchise-specific needs in mind while comparing ESPs. Zero in on an email marketing service that offers the ease-of-use, power, flexibility and scalability.

What is the best email marketing software for franchises?

With a franchise model, you want the email platform to be easy-to-use. The end user is often not an email marketing expert. But it has to have a powerful back-end to offer all the above features as well.

Look for an email provider that offers power combined with ease-of-use. Drag-and-drop email builder functionality, access to data, and flexibility in setting permissions and locking content.

About Marco Marini

With 25 years in business, Marco is a walking encyclopedia of all things email: best practices, technologies, trends, and more. Marco is currently the COO of iPost, an email platform built for marketers by marketers. iPost an easy, flexible, dynamic marketing automation solution for email and mobile marketing. He has also held key marketing positions with CyberSource, ClickMail, eHealthInsurance, DoveBid and IBM Canada.

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