At present, one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. is that of medical marijuana distribution – especially owing to the fact that more states are now legalizing the use of it for both recreational and medicinal purposes. Although this has resulted in marijuana dispensary marketing becoming extremely popular, marketers have found that they have to rely on local and organic SEO in order to get the word out because of the nature of this substance.
Although there are numerous online advertising platforms available to marketers of regular products and services, cannabis marketing experts have found that they cannot use them due to the strict tobacco advertising guidelines that they usually adhere to. This makes it a lot more challenging for marijuana dispensary marketing to be conducted by means of the regular online channels. As a result, more and more of them have realized that they will have to make use of a wide range of organic and local SEO techniques in order to successfully promote their products to as many potential clients as possible.
Below are links to policy and guidelines for paid advertising on some of the bigger social platforms.
In many cases, a cannabis marketing expert may be under the impression that organic and local SEO are one and the same thing. However, this is not the case. Organic SEO results will rank according to their relevance and importance, regardless of whether the searcher is looking locally or not. In other words, websites that are updated with relevant content on a regular basis will appear ‘organically’ on page 1 of search results. Local SEO is focused a lot more on providing search results that will be the most relevant to a searcher based on his or her current location – regardless of where that may be.
When it comes to cannabis marketing, it is crucial to learn how to make local SEO work for you. According to data compiled by Bing and Google, as much as 50% of online searches done on desktops, laptops and mobile devices are done in order to find local businesses products and services. This provides an ideal opportunity for marketers of marijuana to advertise their products online without having to worry about violating any of the online advertising terms of service (TOS) simply because it will focus on attracting as many customers as possible from the immediate area instead.
There are many ways to ensure that your marijuana dispensary marketing efforts get the recognition they deserve in local SEO searches. The first step should be to set up a Google Places for Businesses page, where you will insert all of your contact information, opening hours and all other pertinent information in the relevant fields. From there, you can link this page to a Google+ Local page, which will provide space for customers to add reviews, comments and questions. When doing this, it is essential to ensure that all of the information provided is kept consistent – phone numbers, addresses and email addresses should be exactly the same on all of the online profiles used for advertising.
Another important aspect that will help boost your cannabis marketing efforts by means of local SEO is to ensure that place is provided for existing customers to post reviews, questions or general comments pertaining to your products and services. As more and more customers start posting reviews, it will send your website and other online profiles as high as possible in the local search rankings, which will make it easier for new clients to locate you.
In today’s world, it seems that more and more people want to shell out significant amounts of money and buy their way to the top of the ranks in search engines like Google. However, if you are a start-up marijuana dispensary without a huge marijuana marketing budget, then you need to get around the paid stuff and start thinking organically. Here are some things you can do to counteract paid advertising guidelines on Google and Facebook and still succeed.
No matter how much money a dispensary or medical marijuana grower shells out for ads, nothing makes up for a terrible website. Imagine this: you want to buy a very specific strain of marijuana to treat your seizures. You type in buy <insert strain name> marijuana, and the first thing you see in the Google results is an ad for an online merchant selling exactly what you need. Great! You click the link, get your credit card ready, and sigh as you realize that the website is just a mess. You cannot tell one product from the next, and with a drop-down menu 100 items long, you may never find the strain you need. Thus, you move along to a competitor site.
Here is a nice example of a well built site for a dispensary:
What’s the good stuff going on over here?
If you want to counteract and bypass the paid marketing guidelines that carried this website to the top of the results list, then you need to be that competitor. You need to be the website that puts your competitors to shame and provides a clean, simple user interface. Add the right photos to back up your content. Arrange your content in such a way that people will actually read it. Design your menus so that people can use them, find what they need, and make a purchase in about a couple of minutes or less. This is the experience that shoppers want, so make sure you give it to them.
There are two routes to improving your visibility. The first is to buy your way to the top of the list which can be challenging due to many website guidelines, and while there is certainly no denying that it works – but it is expensive. The other way is to create organic content that is optimized for search engine indexing and really boost your local SEO. You do this with well-written content that contains all of the keywords that relate to your business. When it comes to dispensary marketing, this can become quite complicated. You have to consider yourself a customer and think about every situation that may lead you to search for the products or services you offer. Then, you have to incorporate those into your Google ads, your content, and more.
The organic method costs you nothing outside of time and willingness to research. Google provides excellent tools for SEO, and you can hire professionals like Brandignity who understand the ins and outs of successful marijuana marketing if you do not have the time to invest yourself. When you can bring your site to the top of the rankings without utilizing paid ads, there is an even greater feeling of success.
When you want to counteract paid advertising guidelines, you need to do more than simply optimize your website’s content. You need to make your brand visible as much as possible. There are a few different ways to do this, too. Going back to the first example, imagine that the same company with a horribly designed website has no blog and no Facebook page. This means that people have likely never even heard of the company before. DO they really want to purchase from a name they have never seen? The answer is no. Your active blogs and social media accounts are imperative parts of marijuana marketing because they make you recognizable.
Here’s a good example:
Good Stuff happening here:
Dispensary marketing is competitive, particularly in places where marijuana is legal for recreational use. In this case, you must compete with dozens upon dozens of startups who are looking to capitalize on a booming industry. Create a Facebook page and link to your website there, and then get a blog set up through WordPress and link to a special section on your site. This not only gives you a chance to provide new, useful information to those who need it, but it creates a place to keep up with changing SEO trends, too. Facebook is one of the best ways to make yourself known, particularly when you hold contests for those who “like” and “share” your posts.
While some companies out there continue to shell out tens of thousands of dollars toward marijuana marketing and get seemingly nowhere, remember that you can completely bypass all of the paid advertising mumbo-jumbo and enjoy fabulous search engine rankings and visibility – as long as you are willing to invest the time and effort.