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The Most Valuable AdWords Strategies for Franchisors

Lessons from the Canadian Franchise Association

Pop Quiz: What’s shaped like a rodent’s tail, contributes to the 12th largest industry in Canada, and tastes how you wish all food tasted?

beaver tails franchise in canada

BeaverTails, of course!

We recently paid a visit to BeaverTail’s hometown to attend the Canadian Franchise Association’s (CFA) Nation Convention. Along the way, we learned about the delicious pastry and the franchising business model that allows BeaverTails to be enjoyed in Ottawa’s ByWard Market, Breckenridge Colorado, and 117 more locations around the world.

From an advertising nerd’s perspective, franchises present a unique opportunity in the digital advertising space – the ability to large-scale tactics like data science and advanced targeting to small-budget local advertising.

Running PPC and AdWords for individual local businesses is tough. Foot traffic is hard to measure, low budgets make it hard to make data-driven decisions, and the AdWords interface, at the end of the day, isn’t built for your everyday business owner.

But Franchises allow us to aggregate advertising data from each of the franchise’s locations to create a data set large enough to apply our machine learning and AdWords best-practices to generate qualified leads and increase sales.

Between our many amazing conversations with Franchisors this week at CFA and our successful partnerships with Franchise and Co-Op Marketers, we guarantee that these AdWords PPC tactics will help any Franchisor drive more leads and get more for their dollar:

Explaining how Franchising Works in 30 seconds

Franchising allows entrepreneurs (Franchisees) to license a brand and business plan from a central owner (Franchisor), giving them the opportunity to hit the ground running with a tried-and-true model for success.

Think of it as the “Teach a Man to Fish” business model.

Franchises, we learned, contribute 5% of Canada’s entire economy (source: Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis).

Before We Start: Franchisor vs. Franchisee Advertising

Should individual franchises spend their own time and money managing their online advertising?

In our experience, the best way to drive success for an entire franchise top-to-bottom is to manage advertising from the Franchisor level. This provides the most amount of data for you to figure out how to push the highest margin products and avoid individuals wasting their time and ad dollars pushing inexpensive or low-value products.

This approach also lets you establish a scalable structure within your AdWords account that will help grow each individual franchisee over time AND help new franchisees hit the ground running with the learnings from the other accounts.

If you have ambitious Franchisees advertising on their own, we definitely recommend speaking with them and understanding how they’re measuring success and whether you can help with Co-Op marketing programs or other solutions. Franchises only work if the Franchisor and Franchisee are on the same team. Lack of communication could result in duplicate efforts and actually competing against each other for the same customer.

5 Most Valuable AdWords Strategies for Franchises

Whether you have an existing Franchise AdWords account set up or not, we have a two-step proccess you can take to make sure you’re starting with your best foot forward for your Franchise advertising.

Step 1 is to understand how the AdWords hierarchy works all the way from the MCC (My client center) level down to each individual ad you and your franchises run.

Step 2 is to develop a strategy that considers all the key marketing moments for your franchise:

  1. Scales for each newly opened franchise
  2. Accommodates to different co-op marketing plans (multiple tiers)
  3. Considers seasonal advertising
  4. Allows you to reuse campaigns year after year (Evergreen Search!)

Walkthrough: AdWords Account Structure for Franchises

MCC > Sub Manager Accounts > AdWords Accounts > Campaigns > Ad Groups > Ads

A lot of the other resources we saw online about structuring your Franchise AdWords account suggest creating a campaign for each individual Franchisee and managing the whole franchise under one AdWords account. That strategy works fine. You know what strategy also works fine? Always using a spoon to eat because you know it’ll work out fine. What about forks? Chopsticks? I must be hungry. We’d like to think our approach is one of those camping sporks with in this situation is to create an AdWords Account for each individual franchisee.

AdHawk Multitool

We’re going to go deep into why, but here’s an overview:

  1. Reporting is a nightmare. Individual Franchisees can’t actually access their data if they wanted to and analyzing performance of a single franchise location is super tough.
  2. Budgeting is a horror. Each franchisee or franchise unit has their own monthly or daily budget. Daily Budgets can be set at the account and campaign levels, but budgets set at a campaign level can go over the limit whereas anything spent above an account limit will be credited back to the account (example, $25 account budget, you’ve spent $24 and you get another click for $1.50, you would still only be charged $25.00 rather than $25.50).
  3. Relaunching is chaos. With scripts, you could relaunch all the campaigns across accounts sharing the same name in one click. Without that, you’re looking at finding all the seasonal campaigns within your master account and relaunching one by one.

We use the MCC and Sub-Managers as “parents” or “folders” to organize each of the Franchisee’s individual AdWords Accounts. We then use an automated labeling system that lets us group and analyze sets of accounts for key insights.

Giving each Franchisee their own AdWords account provides us the opportunity to structure and optimize each campaign as an individual businesses. Let me show you what we mean with this infographic:

AdWords Account Structure for Franchise Marketing

Here’s how we manage multi-location franchises with a suggested naming convention [in brackets]:

MCC: [Franchise]

Sub-Manager Accounts (Optional, but helpful): Reserve these groups for different segments of clients that you would like to analyze together. Sub-Managers can be most helpful when you need to split up accounts by region, type of website or marketing initiative.

Account: Each franchise unit [Name – Location]

Campaign: Brand, Non-Brand Products, Non-Brand Location, Call Only Campaigns

Ad Groups: Generic bucket for all your keywords, targeting, ads

Ads: Ad for each special offer and test you’re trying to run

At the end of the day, you have to think about all this in relation to your franchise. As a foundation, this is a great place to start when working with a knowledgeable professional.

Optimal Geofencing and Location Settings for Franchises

The biggest budget killer on AdWords is showing ads to people who will never be your customer. For local businesses, that means spending money on people who are too far from your store to make the trip or those with a competitor in their respective neighborhood or town.

It’s crucial that multi location Franchises leverage geofencing and location bid adjustments to make sure you’re dominating your local market but not wasting money.

Set your market with geofencing and radius targeting

AdWords lets you target entire continents all the way down to a 1-mile radius around a single point on the map. We suggest uploading relevant zip codes for each franchise location. If you have a TON of locations, you’ll want to avoid overlap to ensure no location cannibalization. There is software the exists to get this precisely correct.

Geotargeting for Franchises

Optimize Performance using Location Bid Adjustments

Once you have your different locations set, you’ll want to see where you’re getting the most efficient conversions and invest more of your budget there by increasing your bid adjustments.

Location Targeting Optimization AdWords Tip

Here are the steps needed to make a location bid adjustment

Budget Pacing and Utilization for Co-Op Marketing Programs

What is Co-Op Marketing?

Co-Op Marketing, like any other Co-Op, is a pooling of resources to achieve some greater common goal. Marketing Co-Ops ask each individual business to contribute ad spend (resources) to a shared budget (pool). The theory of Co-Op Marketing is that the whole (the pooled budget) is greater than the sum of all its parts (the individual ad budgets).

In the case of Franchise Co-Op Marketing, the agency or Franchisor will match the individual contributions to make the common pool even larger!

Co-Op Marketing & Budget Pacing

For individual franchisees participating in Co-Op Marketing programs, budget utilization is a key buzzword you’ll want to be mindful of.

Why? One big reason is it’ll keep you out of court, unlike this famous Canadian Franchise. That’s right, if you promise your franchisees that you’re spending $500 per month on AdWords on their behalf and don’t hold up your end of the bargain, you’ll end up like Tim Hortons who is still litigating this exact issue.

From our conversions with franchises, budget utilization, or lack thereof, was the most consistent theme. If you haven’t worked with AdWords before, you may wonder:  “What? You mean Google makes it hard to spend money on their platform?”

It’s way more complicated than that, which is why we provide all our Franchisors with a custom built dashboard that shows how each and every account is pacing at any moment in time. This, paired with all the most important performance metrics, is like a successful Franchise Advertising Operation in a box.

This is the MVP version built into Google Sheets connecting our API, our budgeting software, and client data:

AdHawk Budget Pacing MVP

If you’d like us to create one for you, contact us on our Franchise Services page!

Call Only Campaigns with Proper Conversion Tracking

Landing pages, bounce rates, conversion tracking, pixels, OH MY! Attribution is one of the trickiest obstacles to overcome in advertising.

If your franchises need phone leads, look no further than Call Only Campaigns & Call Tracking for your ads and website.

Call-Only Campaigns

Take the click, landing page, and conversion out of the equation with Call Only campaigns. They only show on mobile and call the business owner’s phone directly. Google even provides an AdWords Tracking number that allows you to see not only how many calls each ad generated, but the quality of the call as well. All you need to track Calls is Call Conversion Tracking (more below).

Tracking Phone Calls as Conversions

Still confused or unsure? We have a whole guide for setting up conversion tracking for phone calls. It’s easy to understand and a powerful guide to jumpstart your digital advertising and keep your phone ringing off the hook!

Our true vision of simplifying digital advertising is taking the advertising off your plate and letting your business owners do what they do best… run their business.


If you could use some advice, you should chat with our Franchise Marketing team! Email jeff@tryadhawk.com or submit a form over on our Franchise Services website

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About the Author

Marketing and Growth Director at AdHawk. Helping business find confidence and success online, one hefty article at a time.