iPost Field Manual For Better Franchise Email


If you are a marketer inside a franchise organization, email marketing for franchise is an effective and cost-efficient way to connect with current and future customers. While most consumers love to hate email and claim that they get too much, they are addicted to it. People check email while driving, in bed, on vacation, in the bathroom, and even at the dinner table. Consumer content consumption continues to rise, but retention and patience are decreasing. Email is here to stay despite what some critics think, but email marketing is hard and gets more complex as the channel evolves.

A well-run franchise email program drives incremental value and influences revenue, and it doesn’t matter if your franchise is a single location, multi-location, multi-state, or national. Companies invest in email solutions, resources, and strategies that find themselves ahead of the competitive curve.

However, franchisors such are you are faced with unique challenges such as brand consistency, maintaining guidelines, producing uniquely relevant content, and ensuring that segmentation is passed down to the local level. While daunting, these challenges are manageable through experience, adaptability, optimization, and having a technology partner who understands and solves for your business.

We created this field guide to help you explore the world of email marketing through the lens of a franchise marketer, along with addressing and offering clear guidance on your challenges.

Top 3 Challenges in Franchise Email Marketing

Top 3 challenges in franchise email marketing

A big question that you may have is what does great franchise email marketing look like?

It depends on who you are asking.

Under Pressure & Lots To Do.

Email marketing is under a tremendous amount of pressure in the digital world. Despite the repetitive drums beating over its imminent death, the channel continues to thrive in many industries. However, marketing rules have changed, and there has been a shift to humanize, harmonize, and empathize with your subscriber lists. Marketing departments at all organizations are spending tens of thousands because they are now required to become more data-driven and customer-centric in their approach. You are now required to be more accountable and be able to show demonstrable results as budgets shift. As consumer privacy becomes increasingly regulated, people are more empowered and are more in control. The challenge is clear, and it’s fun; embrace it.

As franchisors, you have the fantastic opportunity to create loyalty and engagement across channels, and email should be the superior force in doing so. If you run an email program, there are at least 157 things (see figure 1) to beware of. Don’t let the big list scare you because iPost has taken that list and made four core areas in email marketing to focus on as a franchisor.

Let’s dig in.

Under Pressure & Lots To Do.
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The 4 Core Areas as a Franchisor Email Marketer.

There are many things to do in email, but essentially you can bucket quite a few of them into four core areas. These areas should be fluid, and careful consideration around the prioritization of each of these areas is essential.


EXPERIENCE PILLAR #1 –the sign up.

One of the most critical areas of experience often overlooked by many is signing up for email on a company website. There is a push-pull between those that “own” the site experience and those under pressure to grow the subscriber base. Most often, the email marketer has little to any influence over how people sign up, and in some experiences, it shows.

Some brands have the sign up at the bottom of their website in 4pt font, others have an interstitial that interrupts the web experience, and even worse, some brands have a six-step process capturing every piece of personal information and creating a username and password just to get access to deals or information. It is especially troublesome when none of that information gathered is ever used to “personalize” their experience.

Signing up for email should be developed through the customer’s lens and not bias by web designers, site owners, or other marketers. The fundamental premise of signing up for email is intuitiveness, with the customer as the focus.
Don’t ask for information you will never use.

Seven tips to maximize the signup.

  1. Ask for what you need and will use, not what you “want.” If you ask for more information, accept that people might abandon the process quickly.
  2. Pressure test the sign-up experience with people outside of marketing. It might be intuitive to you, but you need to view it through your subscriber’s lens.
  3. Test the location, the copy, the tone, and the sequence of the sign up with your web team. There are lots of tools to help.
  4. Ensure that once someone does sign up, they are made aware of it on a web page. In fact, please send them to another page indicating that everything is ok and what comes next.
  5. Try to grab user-sentiment right after the sign-up. Making it a simple thumbs up or down will help with optimization efforts.
  6. If you require that an account be set up, ensure that you indicate the number of steps people have to take to get there.
  7. Make the process fun and filled with your brand identity and tone. The individual is spending the time giving you their information, so reward them with your personality
    Seven tips to maximize the sign up

EXPERIENCE PILLAR #2 –the first email.

The first email to land in your subscriber’s inbox sets the tone and the impression of what is to come. If someone went through the process to sign up, it is crucial to start the relationship by sending the most effective email.

This email is often the most engaged email you will ever have in your program andthere are essentially four best practices for this first email.


Be immediate

People like and expect things to be fast in 2021, and consumers’ expectations for every organization continue to rise exponentially.
The days of batching the first email to people within 12-24 hours are no longer acceptable, and to be honest, very 2006. The problem is that even with 76% of the people expecting an immediate welcome email, the reality is that only 50% of brands do this.

Your first email should land in the subscriber’s inbox in near-real-time and not a minute over an hour. Commit to starting the relationship quickly and efficiently.

Every moment counts.

Be valuable

Value can be subjective to people, but your first email must have the right balance of promotion, education, and evangelization of your franchise.
A great welcome email has several key components to add value for each subscriber.

  • A warm and humanized greeting (e.g., Use of the words “happy,” excited” or ”thrilled”)
  • Setting expectations on what is to come (frequency, the day of the week you usually send, what is next and when)
  • A brand promise
  • A reminder of the benefits of signing up
  • A clear and concise CTA (call-to-action)

You should not load the email with multiple calls to action or a long scroll experience. Attention spans today are as short as ever, and there is always time to expand on other topics such as social or app experiences in future emails.

Be valuable

Be unique

Being unique in email doesn’t always mean being funny or weird. It means that you should feel free to test your brand’s tone, value proposition, and voice through email.

For example, suppose a unique differentiator of your franchise is donating profits to help others or volunteering events four times a year. In that case, this is something that should be highlighted in almost every email you send.

Email has the power to reach thousands or even millions of people, and it is your chance to spread your uniqueness over and over. Subsequently, you can be unique in your creativity, your landing pages, and even in the Use of personalization. Many organizations have data or conform to what others in their competitive space are doing, and while that isn’t necessarily wrong, it’s just dull.

The first email for many franchisees is usually the last email before
“marketing” or “sales” campaigns kick into high gear. What if you as a franchisor took a unique approach and held out new subscribers to create a series of first emails explaining and educating your subscribers on ideas you are passionate about in the franchise world. Passion creates uniqueness, and it is up to you to show your franchise’s passion in the unique experience you can provide to those that interact in your email program, from the start until the end.

Be focused

Focus is hard in email because franchises want to concentrate on driving more revenue. While we can’t argue that revenue plays a critical role in an email program, so is gaining and keeping loyalty.

The first email is critical for content, but it should not contain everything about your brand and program. As marketers, we know our products and value propositions better than everyone else, but unfortunately, we cannot expect a new subscriber to realize them from just one email.

There are many components to your franchise that will take time for people to learn. Being focused can also create curiosity for what is to come next in email.
Curiosity creates desire. Desire makes a willingness to accept what is next.

EXPERIENCE PILLAR #3 –the remainder.

Every single email or touchpoint from an email with your franchise is an opportunity for you to engage or lose your audience. If you have optimized Pillars 1 & 2 and think your program can run on auto-pilot, you would be wrong. The experience beyond the first two interactions plays a vital role in sustaining a relationship that needs to be consistently won using data for personalization and behavioral emails. The creative part of the program, such as templates, tone, subject lines, mobile versions, and even pre-headers, needs consistent optimization.

The difference between a good vs. a great email program is the amount of time you spend optimizing and evolving the experience vs. just running it a day today. It would be best if you strive for a 60/30/10 dedication balance.

To illustrate the level of effort and potential impact of franchise email experience tactics, a prioritization grid has been created. This grid should help you decide on where to focus 60% of your efforts.

Later, in this whitepaper, we will be discussing the optimization process and the need for a nimbleness model for test and learn.

franchise email program
Franchise Prioritization Grid

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Built for the franchise.

The challenges for franchise email marketing are more significant than that of retail and publishing because of the unique business structure and value proposition. These challenges are time-consuming and include

  1. Sharing creative assets
  2. Sharing content with locations
  3. Share data with locations
  4. Brand control
  5. Granting and restricting permissions
  6. Platform training
  7. Creating sub-accounts for your franchise network
  8. Granular and roll-up analytics

These eight challenges hinder efficiency and growth, so you must have a technology partner who understands your business and has built a solution that makes the hard things simple allowing you to focus on growth and an optimal experience for your customers.

Adaptability is not a journey; it’s a continuous road aimed at success.


Deliverability vs. Delivery and what matters.

Email delivery and email deliverability are two entirely separate things and should never be used interchangeably when discussing your program’s success or issues.

Email delivery is whether or not a receiver accepts your email and does not bounce, while email deliverability refers to where the message ends up after it has been accepted. Deliverability can be to the inbox, the spam folder, or another folder designated on the recipient’s end. Email deliverability (aka “inbox placement”) is the single most important metric in your email program because all other engagement metrics tied to your plan depend on whether or not your email made it to the inbox. In 2019, Validity reported that the average deliverability rate in North America was 82%, which means 18% of the list never laid eyes on a single email. Imagine if your list had 500,000 subscribers and you were to increase your deliverability by 8% (from 82%-90%) and 40,000 more people had the the chance to see your message. By taking your current open and conversion rate, how much is it worth to monitor and optimize your reputation?

Spam filters and mailbox providers continue to add complexity to their algorithms, and long gone are the days of trying to circumvent the system to get into the inbox. To be clear, there are no special phones, no tricks to the trade, or a direct line to a postmaster to clear things up if you get in trouble. Filters and providers don’t care if you have a recognizable logo or a startup; they only care about one crucial thing; your reputation and the factors that make up that reputation.

You need a nimbleness model to get started with optimization

“Just test it” is a phrase that all email marketers have heard one too many times. Every conference, every vendor, and every thought leader has pushed the idea of email testing for years. Some studies in the past show that 20%-40% of marketers do not perform any email testing regularly. Regularly means that you are, at the very least, testing one element on at least 60% of all your email sends. These regular tests can be one-offs, such as subject lines, or something more substantial in time, such as messaging or creative elements.

If you don’t have a plan to test regularly, your franchise might be missing out on a few critical areas for your program’s optimization. Missed opportunities inhibit engagement, increase the likelihood of attrition, and, most importantly, hinder revenue growth. There is an impact on every email test performed. It starts with the organizational mentality.

If you are a franchise that subscribes to agile methodologies, then a nimbleness mentality when testing should be easily adaptable. The key to a nimbleness testing mindset is to organize your tests into one-week sprints and quickly make decisions based on statistically significant results while looking for ways to revise the plan to beat the new control fast. There are four elements in a nimbleness mentality for email testing.

  • Prioritization
  • Fluidity
  • Decisioning
  • Vaulting

A nimbleness model does not happen overnight, even in the most progressive of organizations. You have to give careful consideration to each element and ensure that everyone involved is aligned.

Your checklist to start testing and optimizing

One of the most well-known marketers of the last century, David Ogilvy, said this of testing: “Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.” I think it is fair to say that most people believe that email testing will improve engagement and revenue, but many are confused about where to start. iPost has created a checklist for you and your franchise to get started in email testing.

First, the testing charter sets the foundation on why testing in email is vital in the program and how outcomes influence the other channels. Second, iPost has created a specific email testing calendar with an example that helps your franchise with steps three thru six. The importance of understanding the LOE vs. the impact is critical because some organizations execute tests with little to no effect on the program, which in turn causes frustration at all levels that sometimes leads to abandoning testing.

It is recommended that you start testing slowly, minimize the level of effort while maximizing impact, and limit tests to 1-2 a month to avoid burnout. The calendar plays an essential role in franchises because it allows you to localize and socialize testing among various marketers. The results should be kept separately outside of the calendar for reference and ideas for future testing.

The idea of testing in email can be daunting, but once you start and work with a partner or organization that knows your business and you see results, it can become addictive and fun.

Step 1: Create a testing charter

Step 2: Download the testing calendar from iPost.

Step 3: Create a hypothesis

Step 4: Determine the LOE (level of effort for each test)

Step 5: Prioritize impact

Step 6: Decide on KPI’s or metrics

Step 7: Find a statistical significance calculator

Step 8: Fill out the calendar (reasonably)

Step 9: Execute and track

Step 10: Keep results in a “library”

Testing by the numbers.

Email testing works, and to illustrate that point, imagine your current subscriber list is 500,000, and you were to execute a simple 50/50 -a/b subject line test.

  • Subject Line Test A to 250,000 subscribers yields a 22% unique open rate.
  • Subject Line Test B to 250,000 subscribers yields a 28% unique open rate.

Subject line B would yield you an additional 15,000 openers, and depending on your call-to-action, conversion and average order could result in a substantial lift in ROI. Numbers and results never lie.

Imagine if you did this on every send and were able to get more and more complex (10/10/80 or hybrid multivariate testing) in your test and learn culture and see even greater results!

Testing works. Period.

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