While similar to other franchise network building services, Empowerkit distinguishes itself by letting franchisors outsourcing most of the work to them using their own cloud-based platform.
Empowerkit's offer is centered around three services : setup and design, content updates, and SEO and social media services, and promotes a "buy vs build" model that bills franchisees instead of franchisors.
Empowerkit's software is made up of two main components, one being the SaaS platform, the other being the content management system.
The cloud-based platform is dispatched in six various areas, arranged somewhat counter_intuitively left to right on the main navigation menu: Cubertray Pulse, Analytics, Base Site, Management, Support and Setup.
It is a simple but efficient way to communicate between franchisors and franchisees directly on the network websites, but require them to be logged in to actually work, so it is unlikely to replace any other communication you have in place such as standard emails.
Due to Google recent restrictions on search requests (by use of the https:// protocol), it will not display top keywords referring to your website.
Management offers basic functions to enable or disable franchisee's websites, basic user permissions and various site administrations features.
Administration of the main Franchise network site is done through another menu dubbed "Base Site".
The support menu gives access to a basic support request email feature, with a log of your existing requests to technical support.
It also encompasses a knowledge base where you can retrieve frequently asked questions. These menus are also accessible straight from your website when logged in.
The Setup menu gives very basic control of your administration interface and the main login information. While giving many useful tools to franchise owners, Empowerkit SaaS platform sticks to the bare basics.
Besides creating and managing franchisees' websites, it does not provide much added value to the inline tools found in the Empowerkit CMS which franchisors and franchisees alike will use most for their own respective benefit.
For instance, the SEO Settings menu is very limited and achieves very little in this department. It lets you setup very basic parameters such as Website Title, main Keywords and a general Description, with geolocalization limited to State and City - which makes you wonder how you would setup a multi-country setup for instance if you are operating in Europe.
The inline CMS itself is well rounded, and user-friendly enough that unsavvy franchisees may feel comfortable enough to manage their own websites.
They can customize the basic looks of their website by changing colors, fonts, styles, as well as craft basic "call to actions" which can just easily plugged into place wherever needed.
Perhaps one of the most efficient feature is the "Apps" menu which allows franchisees to manage the extensions and plugins made availlable by the franchisor, simply because they are strong chances that franchisees will actually use it.
Among those widgets you can let franchisees add Video Gallery, Facebook Fan Widget, Testimonials or Twitter box. Apps are available - or not - based on the choices you indicated in the administration of the SaaS platform.
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On top of an open source and out-of-the-box solution and on-demand services to build, manage and market entire franchise networks, SeoSamba offers a balanced development model to fit every franchisor's needs.
SeoSamba's multi-sites online marketing solutions lets franchisors manage any number of franchisee's local websites through SambaSaaS, a centralized cloud-based interface.
On the surface, the setup looks similar to Empowerkit with a multi-tier framework composed of a SaaS online platform to manage the entire franchise network and invidual inline front-end CMS for both franchisor's and franchisee's websites.
However as you read on you will realize that SeoSamba's franchise system goes well beyond Empowerkit's capabilities in just about every area to provide scalable, flexible and cost effective deployment of franchise networks out-of-the-box.
Installing SeoToaster CMS to power a new website is a piece of cake. Websites can be self-hosted or hosted on demand on Amazon.
Better yet, SeoSamba enables one-click franchisee website deployment directly from the main franchisor website thanks to automated on-boarding.
SeoSamba's white-label centralized marketing platform enables true multi-sites domain management for network-wide SEO execution, content distribution, social marketing, offrering franchisors much, much more firepower than Empowerkit.
Regarding the CMS front-end, SeoToaster is a true open source e-commerce system that allow franchisors to customize update and manage all personal aspects of their online business while franchisors retain the upper hand on all franchise branding and networked content.
SeoToaster offers an uncomparably richer range of capabilities natively as well as with Apps and plug-ins.
E-commerce franchisors can also benefit from SeoSamba technology, synchronizing individual franchisees to their central catalog straight from their own website.
Simply put, SeoToaster dwarfs Empowerkit's inline emulator in every possible way and of course it is available to franchisors as a white label license so their brand is the only one visible to partners from end to end.
Indeed, SeoSamba integrates multi-sites traffic at a glance and provides in-depth, invaluable search engine ranking reports and recommendations straight from Google's API. Does Empowerkit? Nope.
As for social media marketing, SeoSamba's recent upgrade on both its online marketing platform and front-end CMS has put it well on front of the game with a brand new social media doashboard.
As it always had, it also provides a powerful multi-sites social marketing tool that can post to any number of social accounts in just a couple of clicks.
|Franchisor’s Site Package|
|Turnkey Franchisee’s Site Auto-install|
|Network-wide System Auto-update|
|Turnkey White Label Marketing Dashboard|
|Turnkey Single Domains Install|
|Zero Plugin Functional Install|
|Geolocalized Cloud-based Instances|
|Cloud Sites Support|
|Pay-as-you-go Full Network Hosting|
|Integrated Front-end CMS Support|
|White-label Hosting Support Services|
|Expert Support by Software Maker|
|Multisites Ecommerce management|
|Sales and Ecommerce dashboard|
|Social Network management|
|Social Network monitoring|
|Search Engine Optimization|
|Automated multi-sites SEO|
|Mobile-ready web design|
|Real-time Chat integration|
|Localized Franchisee Websites|
|Automated Email Marketing|
|Networked Content and News|
|Open source core code|
|Free Themes and plugins|
|Low-cost development options|
|Turnkey white label front-end CMS|
|Separate local user and DB policies|
|Unique user sets per website|
|Inline CMS user management|
|Full automated email verification|
|Open Support Resources|
|Open Developers Resources / API|
|Free Website Themes / Templates|
|Plugins / Extension Marketplace|
|User Interface Localization|
All in all, Empowerkit devised an interesting solution for MLM companies and franchise networks that wish to alleviate compliance issues by centralizing brand management while giving enough customizing power to franchisees.
True to its claim, Empowerkit is a credible alternative to Wordpress for franchisors by delivering "faster setup per client account, much less ongoing management overhead and less exposure to risk".
So what's the catch, you ask?
The word "effective" is missing from this positive review is because it simply isn't. At $25 a month, a franchisee website seems like a sweet deal but for that price you will get a simple replicated website with a different logo - and the same content for everyone, which is a non-starter to show up in good position on Google.
Add a couple of content updates, and the tag spikes up to $170 per month.
But if for some odd reasons you need the SEO package "to use the web for lead generation" (who wouldn't?) then it will cost you $320 per month and per replicated website, including "3 copywriting assignments and 3 updates-by-phone/mo."
Now you need to add media and ad banners creation, and any customization you will sorely need to spice up the basic website mayout and design unless you want it to look like it was made for free. And as it is still a proprietary black box-type of software, you will have no-one else to turn to when you will need to. With no competition in sight, they may charge pretty much anything they want just to keep your website online.
Don't get us wrong, Empowerkit is alright for very basic needs as long as the franchisee develop their own content. But any franchisor or brand looking to make a dent online and compete for their fair share of organic traffic will need to look elsewhere.
Based on an hybrid open source software model, SeoSamba offers on the other hand the best option there is in terms of cost efficiency. Once powered by the system, your entire system can be supported by the engineers that made the software or by any developper of your choice.
On the infrastructure side, you can pick the host of your choice or benefit from the most flexible and world's largest content delivery network to enable local optimization on each and every franchisee's website.
On the front-end side the open source CMS SeoToaster offers much more functionalities and a much higher level of customization with tons of automated SEO and online marketing features.
As for automated email marketing, social network management and cloud communications (Voice, SMS), SeoSamba also gives much more firepower to franchisors for an incomparable price/quality rate.
Finally, just like with Empowerkit, direct onboarding services to franchisees and point of sale locations will ensure a smooth and easy deployment of your marketing program.
We do appreciate Empowerkit's efforts on making a software that will cover basic franchise and brand networks needs. Yet, Empowerkit stands well below SeoSamba's level of service when franchise and brands need a high performance long term online marketing strategy.