The marketing world has shifted toward online channels for all businesses, including the cannabis industry. Online marketing is a critical piece of your business, but doing it wrong can mean wasted time and resources. Bringing in new customers using the Internet requires leveraging industry specific knowledge and utilizing the right tools.
Start with Understanding Your Audience
To bring new customers into your dispensary, you’ll first need to attract them by meeting them where they are online. Personas are a tool that marketers use to help them understand and reach their audience.
A persona is like a character sketch of the type of person you’re looking to market to. It includes traits such as common demographic information, communication preferences, interests, social media uses, purchasing drivers, and even online search and behavior.
For instance, as we saw in our blog last week, if your target persona is a busy mother, there are content types and channels that specifically attract that persona. You can create content around health or relaxation, and promote it through Instagram influencers that they are likely to follow. Think of these personas as ‘maps’ – they tell you what your target market is interested in, and how to find and engage with them online.
SEO Drives Traffic to Your Site
To put things in perspective, Google provides results for nearly 3.5 billion searches each day. With Search Engine Optimization (SEO), your chances of being discovered by a new customer will increase significantly.
The algorithm Google used to determine how sites will rank on a search is constantly changing, and their intent is to drive a better experience for users. While the words and phrases that you use on your site are important, they are only a portion of what Google looks at to determine if you’ll show up on page one in results. Below are some other things to keep in mind regarding search marketing.
Local searches have been a rising trend, as more and more people conduct searches like, "Dispensaries near me." A recent survey by Burke for the Local Search Association found that more than 80% of people use online search to find local businesses – this includes local dispensaries. This is why it is important to have a Google Business listing and implement local search into your SEO and content strategy.
Speed and Performance
Performance is one of the criteria that Google looks at when ranking sites. For instance, the latest changes to their search algorithm take into account the speed at which mobile sites load. This is important for cannabis retailers, where 60 to 80% of site traffic comes from mobile.
Site structure is another piece to the SEO puzzle. Using the proper markup on your site, making navigation easy, minimizing redirects, and handling site errors gracefully make it easier for Google to index your site.
None of this suggests that the right keywords and content are not important to SEO. You will, of course, want your site to include keywords that are common in this industry. These terms should appear throughout your website content and in navigation menus. The easier it is for a potential customer to find what they are looking for on your site, the quicker they will convert to an actual customer.
Not all new users will come to you directly. Many will find your content through search. In fact, when marketing to new audiences, you’ll want to educate first and sell to later.
To capture the attention of new audiences, you should present remedies to the problems your target audience is searching for. Your new audience may be looking for ways to address anxiety or depression – so content that discusses these issues and presents cannabis products as one of several potential solutions will create interest in the reader. Look back at your personas and see what problems your customers are trying to solve. Use this to develop meaningful and useful content for them. For more details and ideas on this, you should read our recent blog post, “5 Strategies to Acquire New Customer Demographics.”
Because SEO optimization is becoming more complicated and the tactics are becoming more nuanced, expert advice can make a huge difference in where you show up in results. Don’t be afraid to seek out the help of experts, but make sure that your SEO partner understands what works for dispensaries in particular. Therefore, we recommend using cannabis industry- specific SEO provider, such as the one listed under the “ Agency and Design” tab of our Baker Integrations Page.
Build an Audience with Social Media
Regardless of the issues some cannabusinesses have experienced with social media, it is still one of the best ways to reach a multitude of people – especially when you’re looking to add new clients. The key here, again, is to not directly market cannabis and related products. Instead, use social media to promote lifestyle and educational content focused on helping potential customers.
Amongst the recommendations for upping your marketing game, video took the spotlight. Many people prefer videos as a means of getting information, and dispensaries should be ready to combine the tolerance of YouTube with the power of video to educate new audiences on the benefits and variety of cannabis use for recreation and wellness.
Video content is huge! As we learn from Hubspot’s Inbound event, ⅓ of all online time is spent watching videos.
Learn more about some of the key takeaways from the Inbound marketing event.
Create Awareness with Third Party Listings
Another digital customer acquisition strategy is to leverage third-party listings. These sites provide a one-stop shop for new customers looking for information and recommendations on everything from strains, to ratings, to store listings, to marijuana-friendly travel tips.
When registering your store with third-party sites, branding is important. Keep your messaging, logo presentation, and store information consistent across all sites. Brand consistency builds trust with consumers and is an important consideration when courting new customers.
Converting new customers is both difficult and rewarding. Drawing these customers to your dispensaries online presence, and presenting them with genuinely valuable information, builds awareness, brand recognition, and loyalty. Using the strategies we’ve discussed above will make it easier for non-traditional cannabis users to find your business and convert into paying customers.
Schedule a Baker demo to learn how you can turn your SEO efforts into sales and online ordering.