We had the opportunity to attend this year’s Franchise Customer Experience Conference (FCXC) in Atlanta, and like most conferences, it was a whirlwind. If you missed it or attended but couldn’t be everywhere at once, we put together the following takeaways and highlights for franchise marketers. The overall theme of the conference addressed the confluence of marketing, technology, and operations and how the three come together to provide the best customer experience. Based on what we heard in every general session and panel, the answer to that lies in a brand's ability to harness and better use data. 

If you’re in the middle of a CRM migration, platform integration, CDP exploration or dashboard project, you’re not alone. Every executive and marketer at the event had something cooking related to digital transformation on their marketing roadmap, which was the main takeaway of the conference for us - that everything marketers want to do hinges on data.

Yet, while all marketers are undergoing these initiatives, it’s still the Wild West in terms of how data is being captured and used to improve the buyer’s digital journey and overall customer experience. We heard from marketers at various stages of maturity and captured takeaways below that any team can get inspiration from regardless of where they are in their journey.

Takeaway 1: Clean Data In is Critical for Data Reliance

Two-thirds of retail organizations have consumer data spread across 90 multiple systems. With that level of fragmentation, consistent data collection processes and standardized definitions are crucial to having clean data to use in refining digital strategies such as advanced personalization, sequencing, and up / cross-selling. In the session, Using Data to Create Personalized Marketing Experiences, when asked how many people know their Customers' Lifetime Value (CLV), about one hand went up. Opportunities for marketing improvements hinge on our ability to understand who the best-fit customers are and what drives them. Clean inputs and standardizing data collection can help marketers understand foundational metrics such as CLV. In a nutshell, you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you are. 

Takeaway 2: Focus on Customer Pain Points and Data to Optimize Your Funnel

The foundation of an effective marketing strategy is a deep understanding of your customer’s struggles and challenges. Multiple panelists and speakers shared how they started their digital transformation by better understanding their customers through market research, satisfaction surveys, secret shopping, digital journey analysis, and more to uncover pain points by customer cohorts. That intel was then used to refine personalization, campaign messaging, and digital touchpoints for an improved customer experience and overall better funnel conversion rates. As Will Fraker, VP of Brand Performance and Marketing at The Good Feet Store, said, “Your customers should be the hero in their story, and you are just the guide.” 

Not all customers are created equal, and a blanket approach rarely works. Segment your audience into targeted cohorts based on shared pain points, which allows for more personalized and relevant marketing messages, increasing the likelihood of conversion and long-term loyalty.

"At the consideration stage, our marketing must meet potential customers where they are. Using the same messaging for new consumers and those who have visited our website but didn't convert is ineffective. At The Good Feet Store, once we link their hip, knee, or back pain to their feet, we shift our messaging to the emotional toll of pain rather than repeating the same message. Be strategic with your marketing—address changing needs as customers move from awareness to conversion." Will Fraker, VP of Brand Performance and Marketing, The Good Feet Store
Will Fraker, VP of Performance Marketing at The Good Feet Store Quote

Takeaway 3: Leverage Customer Reviews and Testimonials to Build Trust

Nothing builds trust like social proof. Customer reviews and how to integrate positive customer reviews and testimonials into your marketing was a huge trend spoken about throughout the conference to help validate your brand promise and build credibility. Potential customers are more likely to engage with a brand that others have vouched for. Many marketers are using their solid reputation and customer satisfaction to fuel and grow their business.

A formal reputation and review management program will help you stay on top of responding to reviews in a timely manner or taking down spam or invalid negative reviews, along with monitoring network-wide review averages over time. A formal training and review request program with franchisees will make the process of asking for reviews a habit and part of their workflow, which can improve more than just your brand’s reputation, such as your local digital discoverability and organic search rankings.

Takeaway 4: Personalize the Customer Experience

Personalization is no longer a luxury—it’s an expectation. To quote Laura Rice, CMO of the Celebree School, “If you collect data, use it!” Use your collected data to tailor your communications and experiences to each customer. Personalized emails, recommendations, and offers can significantly enhance engagement and drive acquisitions. Purchase behavior and digital interactions across desktop, mobile, and apps can be used to create audience segments for personalized strategies and cohorts. A one-size-fits-all approach is outdated; it’s time to meet your customers where they are with what they need. Use CRM tools and analytics to gather insights and craft messages that resonate on a personal level.

Laura Rice, CMO at Celebree School Quote

It’s not about the creepy, follow-you-around-the-internet personalization tactics, and it’s about creating 1-1 relationships and fostering that individual trust with customers to earn their business and loyalty. The rise of more personalized and convenient chat and test communication tools is also a key theme of the conference: to provide an amazing and seamless customer experience. Call centers and franchisee training programs for phone calls were also discussed to improve customer satisfaction. One speaker noted that of the franchisees audited, the best performers had a response rate of 75%, which even then leaves room for improvement. The same brand aims to make 11 points of contact over the five days to get a hold of the lead.

Takeaway 5: Know and Live Your Brand Promise 

Understanding and living your brand promise was another big theme many of the franchise marketing panelists and speakers touched upon. To quote Stephanie Johnson, VP of Marketing at AlphaGraphics, “You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know who you are.” Similarly, Larisa Walega, Chief Growth Officer of Ziebart, kicked off a general session by quoting Simon Sinek, “The reason that mature brands die is because they forget their why.” Understanding who you are, who you serve, and the pain points you solve (see takeaway 2!) is the foundation of any strong digital strategy; without it, your tactics will fail. 

Once you establish your vision, brand promise, and pain points you solve for, you can infuse creative storytelling into your digital strategy to make an emotional impact. Play with campaign themes that invoke that emotional response and tailor the message based on the stages of their digital journey. Collaborating with influencers was also noted as a successful way to elevate your brand story, offering authentic and relatable perspectives that resonate with your audience. Collaborate with influencers who genuinely align with your brand values and can speak to your audience’s interests. Their endorsement can lend credibility and authenticity to your campaigns, making your brand more relatable and trustworthy. It also provides an amazing amount of content that can be used across organic and paid channels. 

Stephanie Johnson, VP of Marketing at Alphagraphics Quote

We had a blast hearing some of the top franchise marketers in the space talk about what was working for them at FCXC and are excited to get back to helping franchise marketers tackle some of these digital challenges. If you want to learn more about how Netsertive can help you better integrate and take back control of your digital marketing, contact us!

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