While each PPC account has its own challenges and opportunities, sometimes a client’s business structure or industry presents circumstances that require special consideration. One structure that can be particularly challenging is the franchiser with a large number of brick and mortar locations. In this post, we’ll discuss why this structure can be challenging, and strategies for confronting those challenges.

But! A shameless plug before we do. Much of the content in our recent white paper – The PPC Playbook for Companies with Multiple Brands – is applicable to companies with multiple locations or franchises. It’s also a fantastic read. Check it out!

Back to our regularly scheduled blogging: One of the inherent challenges involved with franchise clients is balancing individual location health with overall account health. This is especially tricky in cases where each location has its own stakeholders that stand to benefit from the company’s corporate PPC efforts. Consider the following example:

Imagine that you are managing the PPC campaigns for an artisanal car repair franchise, which we’ll call Barry’s Brake Shoppe. Barry’s Brake Shoppe has 100 locations throughout the Mid-Atlantic that are being advertised in a single PPC account. Overall, performance has been good – conversion volume is up, and CPAs have fallen well below the point where the account is profitable.

Even as aggregate account performance has improved, however, it’s very possible that some number of individual locations will struggle to generate conversions, and their campaigns may not have achieved a profitable CPA. Should digital marketers devote their efforts to these struggling locations, or should they focus on the account-wide initiatives that are likely to have a greater overall impact?

This often a real trade-off. Even in a world where the digital marketer’s time is unlimited, there are many decisions to make within the account that necessitate either prioritizing overall account performance or the performance of specific individual locations. Consider the following example.

Let’s say Barry’s Brake Shoppe has two locations in the town of Centerville, MD – one on on the east side of town and one on the west. Hypothetical monthly performance for each location’s first month of PPC performance is presented in the table below:

You’ve assigned keywords like [east centerville brake repair] and [west centerville brake repair] to the respective locations, but have not yet added more generic keywords that would apply to either location, like [centerville brake repair].

So which location gets that more generic traffic? That depends wholly on your goals for the account. If you were concerned just with aggregate account performance, you would likely send the more generic traffic to the more efficient Eastside campaign. If your goal is to maximize the number of individual locations hitting their sales/revenue goals, however, you may want to send the traffic to the lower-performing Westside location, even though that would produce fewer total conversions and increase the account’s CPA when compared to the alternative.

Cases like these illustrate why it’s important to think strategically about the account’s goals, and letting those goals guide your decisions. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and balancing account health with the health of individual locations will sometimes be a zero-sum game. Still, there are some steps you can take to help minimize those trade-offs. Below are some general suggestions that will help set up your franchise accounts for success:

  • Minimize Internal Competition As Much As Possible: Even in cases where locations must advertise in overlapping geographic areas, there are tactics you can pursue to minimize competition. If the competing locations vary according to the types of goods/services they offer, be sure to include that differentiation in your keyword portfolio. For example the westside location may bid on a service only it offers in town like, [tire re-alignment centerville].

    It may also be the case that the overlapping locations have significantly different conversion rates at different times or days. If that’s the case, you can use the custom ad scheduler to give priority to different locations at different times of day.

  • Use Automation To Be Proactive: Even in cases where you’re largely concerned with overall account performance, there’s likely to be a threshold at which individual locations’ performance would become concerning. In cases where the company has an extraordinarily large number of locations, it can be difficult to monitor the performance of each individual location. Automated rules can be a huge help to identify struggling locations so you can take the necessary steps to correct performance quickly.

Implementing those tips can make a world of difference, but if you take one thing away from this post, it should be this: determine the account’s goals in advance, and let those goals guide your strategy. Franchise account often operate differently than single-entity companies, and if you make assumptions about what a successful outcome is, you may be unpleasantly surprised when presenting performance to the stakeholders. Happy PPCing!