How to Bring Your Franchise to the Next Level With Marketing Automation With the impacts of inflation and associated costs of running a business, automation is a powerful solution for streamlining a positive guest experience and overall marketing.

By Stephen Gould

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When running a multi-location restaurant or franchise, owners and operators don't have an excess amount of time to think about marketing. And not all franchise marketing solutions are created equal. Many "canned" marketing programs save time but are built on brand recognition only and will do little to drive revenue and increase loyalty to a specific location. It can feel challenging to implement marketing unique to one location over another when there are many surface-level similarities. Luckily, times have changed.

Marketing through the use of integrated technologies such as WiFi, texting and digital displays provides the option for full automation while providing the delivery of highly targeted marketing messages that result in greater guest traffic and drive higher revenue at each franchise location. No, this isn't a science-fiction hypothetical — it's a reality with the use of innovative, integrated marketing technology.

By gathering valuable customer data through onsite WiFi, franchises can build a fully automated and personalized experience for each customer while understanding what works and what doesn't for a business's marketing strategy. This article will discuss what integrated WiFi marketing automation is, how it works for multi-location restaurants or franchises and how to implement highly targeted marketing campaigns that generate more revenue.

Related: Evaluating a Franchise's Marketing Program

What is marketing automation, exactly?

Centralized multi-location restaurant or franchise marketing automation is accomplished by synching a location's WiFi to a customer's device (through free WiFi access) and then collecting the customer's valuable data. From there, customers are then filtered, organized and analyzed individually by artificial intelligence (AI) to identify the behaviors of a customer and what message would most likely appeal to them.

The data gathered and retained over this process also continues to grow as much as the business desires and as much as the customer is willing to participate — as customers can also partake in surveys or other key touchpoints for gathering qualitative information. Even if a customer decides they don't want to participate in something such as a survey, their schedule behaviors for frequency, time of day, day of week or month, duration of their visits and other data remain to help provide them an experience tailored to their wants and needs.

Should a customer go to several locations of the same multi-location restaurant or franchise over the course of their weekly or monthly routine, that information will also be retained. This enables the business to see which location is most efficient for that customer and incentivizes their visit to specific locations. By incentivizing their visit with a coupon or offer code for a free drink, sandwich or another item, it can direct a customer to a specific location that needs to increase guest-flow efficiency, ultimately helping the bottom line for that location as well. With marketing automation through integrated WiFi marketing technology, routine marketing tasks can be handled without the need for human supervision or hand-holding.

To accomplish all this, it of course necessitates a willingness on the business owner's part to accept the technology and implement it across their multi-location restaurants or franchises. This way, data can be stored and disseminated across locations and ensure a customer going to a location in North Dakota on a Monday can get the same personalized message that day as they would on a Tuesday in California. While the idea of machine learning and other buzzwords can sound intimidating, intelligent AI in automated marketing means a closer and more personal relationship with customers.

Related: 5 Ways to Freshen Up Your Franchise Marketing in 2023

How will I see it enhance my business?

If a franchise or multi-location restaurant owner wants to take the next step and provide an immersive, personalized experience for their customers, integrated WiFi marketing and automation are the best option. According to a report from PWC, 82% of consumers would share some of their personal information to receive a more personalized customer experience. A personalized experience was also noted by 87% of respondents to PWC's survey as one of the most important elements of the buying experience to them — meaning, people want to have an experience that only they can have, not the same cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach many businesses take in messaging their customers.

Using SMS messaging, email, social media and digital online displays, a business can send personalized messages that let their customers know individually that their wants and needs are seen and heard.

For example, if a customer regularly purchases breakfast sandwiches and coffee in the mornings from a location, that franchise or multi-location restaurant can send an SMS message along the lines of, "Thanks for choosing us to start your day! Here's a free coffee on us [link to post on social media for social gravity boost!]" Additionally, the AI in integrated WiFi marketing and automation recognizes that customer retention and re-acquisition are pivotal and will provide each customer type — including new, returning, regular and lost customers — an experience that best speaks to them.

With lost customers vs. new customers, it's important to remember there is a 60-70% chance of making a sale to a former customer — which, according to the book Marketing Metrics: The Definitive Guide to Measuring Marketing Performance, is much higher than the 5-20% chance a business has of converting a sale with a prospective new customer.

Related: The Basics of Multi-Location and Franchise Marketing

Marketing automation through integrated WiFi technology may sound and seem futuristic, but surprisingly, 76% of businesses have already adopted basic WiFi technology. However, most are missing out on the value of the integration of texting and digital displays for a comprehensive messaging solution. Inefficient spending of funds for marketing becomes a thing of the past with intuitive AI used in integrated WiFi marketing.

In the digital age, businesses have an opportunity unlike any other time in history to make deep, lasting connections with their customers. Integrated and automated solutions allow WiFi and SMS messaging to engage the customer instantly and display on their social media and other online platforms to further the lines of communication and understanding between customer and business.

Wavy Line
Stephen Gould

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

CEO of CogoBuzz

Stephen Gould is an entrepreneur with a successful history providing guest-engagement software solutions for the hospitality industry and he is the founder and CEO of NConnections. In 2014, he launched the CogoBuzz and MyConcierge initiatives focused on integrated communication technologies.

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