Are Portals Back? Re-Evaluating Portals for Lead Generation

The Internet portals continue to be one of the most successful inquiry generators for franchise sales. Like all of our businesses, the portals have gone through a transformation and are making many positive changes so they can continue to provide us with good inquiries.

Like a ship on the sea, your brand needs to find the right port (or portals!) to dock. And, just as ships are not all the same size or docking at the same ports, all brands are not created equal. Bigger ships are more expensive and need deeper ports, while smaller ships have many ports to choose from. Think of your brand as a ship and find the ports that fit you best.

The key to finding the right portal for your brand is not just a matter of calling up a provider, but knowing what you are looking for, who you are looking for, and where you are looking for franchise candidates. In addition, talk with other brands similar to your investment level and category and find out what the costs and results have been for them.

Important reminder: Lead costs mean nothing! What matters is the cost per sale - and how competent and experienced your franchise development team is in making the first conversion from an inquiry to an interested lead.

For your brand to have a favorable experience with Internet portals, take a team or partnership approach to work toward the best site conversion rates. Most reputable franchise portals have a marketing and creative department that will assist you in developing your landing pages on their site. It should be a team effort as you develop the content and provide substantial input and educate the portal marketing department on understanding your brand and who you are looking to recruit. For optimal results, you should have a CRM system in place to provide feedback to the portals and make adjustments and tweaks to the site. Also franchise portals are more than willing to give you credit for "bad" inquiries that didn't give real contact information, another way to extend your budget.

Don't let your relationship with the portals turn into a finger-pointing episode when the lead flow or response rate isn't what you expected. Work with the account representative for a solution. Dropping a portal after a month is not the answer, nor a good business decision. You should spend at least 3 to 6 months to properly evaluate the site. Again, you must have a good CRM system to gather this information and ensure that the problem is not on your end with poor follow-up, too many emails, and no phone calls within the first 4 hours. Every year my company conducts the Mystery Shopping research for Franchise Update Media, and 50 percent of the franchisors don't follow up. Your team does what you inspected more than what's expected.

To generate more sales for your brand, I suggest getting back to the portals as one of your many marketing avenues. I hope some of these ideas and hints may help all of you have the best experience you can and start generating more sales in the future.

Popular lead programs

  • Cost per lead: This is a program most franchisors feel comfortable with. It allows you to set a budget each month by setting a limit on leads for expenditure. The cost per lead is not a set price for every brand. As you place filters on your lead flow for investment level and geo-targeting the price will go up.
  • Set monthly fee: This seems to be a great program, and you can usually lower your cost per lead and cost per sale if your brand is "snappy," timely, or a low investment. There is no limit to the number of inquiries you may receive, nor guarantees for any amount - a bit of a risk, but if it's not working, most portals will let you change to a pay-per-lead model.
  • Pay per click: This is a relatively new program that several franchise portals are now offering to franchisors. This program will actually allow leads to be redirected to your website. A software program is installed to track where the lead was from, and you pay the franchise portal for those redirected leads. This allows you to provide much more content and a unique visitor to your franchise development website with no other franchisors for the prospect to look at.

Marc Kiekenapp is President and CEO of Kiekenapp & Associates, a full-service management and sales consulting company dedicated to building notable franchise systems - from concept feasibility analysis and through delivering single-unit and master territory franchise sales. Contact him at 866-696-8521 or

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