Digital Marketing Strategies and Paid Digital Advertising Campaigns can be tough to manage – and manage well – at the best of times for even traditional businesses. However, the challenge is arguably toughest when it comes to generating exposure for a retailer of e-cigarette and/or CBD based products. Both Facebook and Google AdWords (the two most common digital advertising spaces) will not allow for paid media campaigns in promotion of such products. Therefore there needs to be a serious and well managed strategy for organic digital marketing methods if a Vape Store/CBD retailer is to be successful.
Public conception is that e-cigarettes and vape products are – supposedly – less harmful than tobacco products. In fact, in recent years they have replaced the traditional nicotine patches and gum that smokers used to quit with in the past. These arguments that these products have (potential) health benefits have done nothing to dissuade advertisers from their blanket ban on paid media ads of such items, however.
So what can business owners who retail e-cigarettes, e-liquids, CBD oils and other such products online do exactly? Well from an in-depth look at their Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) efforts, to Organic Social Media Marketing and possible Influencer Marketing opportunities – we’re going to dive in and work out what are the best ways to really get an e-cigarette and CBD vendor off the ground online!
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
With paid advertising eliminated from the equation, your online store is going to rely heavily on SEO in order to effectively drive the right traffic to the site. For those unfamiliar with this marketing techniques it is the process of optimising content on the site for keywords, improving the domain authority of the site through backlink generation, inputting additional data (such as meta-descriptions) and ensuring the speed and key metrics of the site are working to their best level.
Of course, there is a little more to SEO than just the above, though these are the key factors. If you’re wanting to read into SEO in a little more detail then this popular blog by Search Engine Land is one of the best for giving more detail on the process in full.
Back to SEO for Vape stores, in the next few sections we’re going to look at what needs to be done in regard to the different areas of SEO when it comes to the online store retailing e-cigarette products.
Keyword Optimised Content
The first port of call in any SEO campaign is always to look at the keyword search terms which customers are using to find your products. Perhaps it’s a particular brand of e-liquid that you retail or a particular design of sub-ohm tanks that are sold to sub-ohm vapers. Either way, it’s vital that you not only look at which products are popular but also the terms being used by people when they’re looking for these products.
Conducting Keyword Research can be tricky, especially if you’re new to SEO and you’re also running the businesses’ other day to day operations. Google Trends can give you some insight into the kind of things that users are searching on the platform and the popularity of each of these key phrases, but it’s not always precise enough for detailed keyword rich content to be crafted from its findings.
With this in mind, we would recommend finding the best Free Keyword Research tool for you, in order to properly get an insight into which phrases and search terms are most commonly used by consumers when they’re looking for e-cigarette or CBD based products. There are a whole host of free keyword research tools available in 2021 and in fact MailChimp have put together this comprehensive list on their own blog to help guide you through the different options.
Directory listings are one of the key ways in which you can really begin to build the online profile of your e-commerce store. They offer another place in which customers can search to find the business and its products. Many of them have review/feedback forms where your trust with consumers can be influenced. Finally, they offer local citations and ‘nofollow’ backlinks.
Local citations are helpful in providing search engines with more concrete evidence on the locations of businesses, something which can help them greatly in the quest for ranking well in their local area for specific keyword search terms. Whilst a ‘nofollow’ (as opposed to ‘dofollow’ ) link means that your domain will not receive any passed authority from the linking domain – the confirmation of other details (i.e. address, phone number and URL) from this trusted site to search engines like Google will act as proof of the legitimacy of the business. Boosting it’s local rankings and helping to confirm the nature of the business in the eyes of search engines.
Overall Site Performance
Google – as with most search engines – will prioritise websites that are responsive with a good user-experience (UX) over poorer ones in their ranking factors (especially following their page experience update in July 2021). This means that factors such as load speed, content display, menus and linking need to be well structured and optimised for the site to perform well in organic search rankings.
The first place to check your load speed is on GTMetrix, a site which will track the load speed of your server and content to see what may or may not be having a detrimental impact on the performance of the site. If there are server issues then you should contact your hosting provider ASAP, and if the issues are being caused by large or poorly optimised content, then look at ways in which image/video files can be compressed on the site to improve their load speeds.
Secondly, Google Search Console will make website owners aware if the site has been flagged for usability or responsiveness issues. Common issues that are detected include ‘content being too wide on mobile devices’ and ‘clickable elements being too close together’. If your site has any of these such error messages on Search Console’s dashboard then it’s imperative that these are rectified ASAP.
Unique Blog Posts
Due to the fact that your online vape store probably won’t have a great domain authority to begin with, you’re going to need to find ways to ensure other authoritative sites are linking back to you in order to improve it. One such way is by ensuring that the content you post on the blog utilizes the opportunity to drive authority on the site. This is achieved by adding fresh content to the discussion around vaping or the consumption of CBD products. Rather than simply blogging about the ‘must have vaping kits in 2021’ try to think outside the box and look for search terms that are less competitive.
The reason for this is simple, if you’re offering the first (or almost first) take on a new product, kit or trend then you’re going to be ahead of the curve in the industry for that specific search from a consumer. The magic then happens as you begin to be seen as a more authoritative content creator within the industry yourself. Think of it like writing an academic essay at university. The need for a mandatory reading list in a certain lecture is due to those books/texts being seen as subject leading material and thus more students are encouraged to read them. The same is true for blogging and articles in business. If you are seen to be industry leading then other authoritative websites are going to be far more likely to link back to a piece of content that you’ve written and thus improve your domain rating organically over time.
Guest Posting Articles
Following on from this is the concept of having your own unique articles published on other well-known (and authoritative) blogging sites/media outlets with links back to your cornerstone content. This means finding the blogs and media outlets within the vaping and CBD industry that are already established as content leading experts for the sector.
Identify the best possible people to outreach to, and look to see if they will accept guest posting on their blogs with ‘dofollow’ links back to your site. If so, what are their requirements? Do you have some useful and unique content for them that will benefit their readers? They may perhaps charge for the service and it’s in your interest as a business owner to determine whether or not it would be beneficial to pay them or to find other such sites instead. Look at their domain ratings and their estimated traffic to decide whether a feature on their publication really would benefit your website.
Schema (sometimes referred to as structured data) is additional data that can be embedded within elements of specific pages and features on a website to provide more information to both users and search engines. It can be incredibly useful for almost any type of business, but when SEO is your primary tactic by default – as an e-cigarette vendor – it is something that you can’t overlook.
Common uses for schema markups are for embedding product reviews on key pages as a technique for increasing conversions, alongside implementing FAQ schema, something which can really boost the rankings of a site if it provides a detailed and unique answer to a common question faced by many consumers.
These are two ways in which we would recommend an online vendor of vaping and CBD products to go about implementing schema on their own websites. Firstly, by embedding customer reviews you’re not only telling users that your products can be trusted and they’re recommended by others – but that the search engines themselves can begin to see these trust signals and slightly increase your organic rankings due to this.
Secondly, with FAQ schema, these are great for answering generic questions on delivery dates but more importantly you can answer questions that are specific to vaping. Some people have safety concerns around such products (i.e. What to avoid when vaping?) so address these with the correct schema applied and Google may well display your website when users ask these very questions.
Organic Social Media Marketing
As is the case with Google Ads, Facebook too will not allow e-cigarette, CBD or vape store retailers to advertise directly on their platform. As such owners of these businesses must resort to employing proven and effective organic social media techniques in order to cultivate a strong following and generate sales.
With such a range of content being created each hour across social media platforms – however – standing out and becoming a well recognised brand organically, is tough. Marketing a vape store on social media needs to begin with the right platforms and strategy that will compliment the aims of the business in terms of brand exposure. Once you have the best strategy in place it will be about building trust with consumers (particularly those in your target market) and creating engaging content that appeals to your ‘ideal customers’.
Planning & Strategy
Firstly, you’ll need to evaluate your options in regard to the best platform(s) or social media networks for you to begin organically marketing your vape store on. Whilst platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are blanket must-haves for a business. It is important to look at which lesser known or upcoming platforms could provide a great value addition to your vape store’s marketing efforts.
Look to the rise in popularity of platforms such as TikTok in recent months. Especially among the vaping enthusiasts, this sharing of short videos has become popular with a way of them showing off cool new products, tricks and liquid flavours. Observing this factor, it is clear that there is a substantial enough share of the target market on this platform for you to consider using it as part of your marketing efforts.
Further Reading: How To Choose The Right Social Media Platform For Your Business
Your strategy should then focus more around the content aspects. Look at the way in which your competitors share content and engage with consumers and look at ways this can be replicated for your own social media profiles.
You should also consider things like a posting schedule. Many new businesses will believe that they can commit to daily posting of products, however, once the business begins to develop some traction this commitment can become all too easily forgotten. Carefully plan every aspect of the way you will promote the business organically on these platforms, otherwise you will soon become frustrated when the awareness of your brand does not grow quickly enough for your liking.
Building Trust With Consumers
Once engaged – or aware – of your business, consumers will already know what it is you do and sell. The next step will have to be in that you build lasting relationships and trust with them in order to develop a sense of brand loyalty and customer retention.
Your consumers will outright reject the notion of constantly being sold to, and they certainly won’t engage with a page/profile that simply publishes tagged products with little to no useful information. People use social media to increase their knowledge of their individual interests (at least when interacting with businesses anyway). So, your content needs to be informative and beneficial to the consumer. Consider implementing reviews as infographics or documenting the different – and perhaps unconventional – things that your customers have used their e-cigarette or CBD products for. These are great ways to not always be on a sales drive and to cultivate a following that buys into the brand and its content.
Vaping has certainly become a niche part of global culture in recent years, this is an undeniable fact. With culture comes the opportunity for exploiting this in exchange for brand notoriety and increased sales. Of course, the (arguably) most successful Influencer Marketing campaign was that of Beats Headphones, who used urban music and fashion cultures to really make their brand and product desirable. The same can be achieved for e-cigarette based products, and whilst Google and Facebook may be averse from allowing paid sponsorship of your products, there are a near endless amount of known influencers who will be more than happy to.
Identify the influencers in your market, those with connection to similar brands, or even just those who have a large following and that you feel could represent your brand well individually. A key thing to remember is that the larger the name, then most likely, the larger the fee they will charge for advertising your products. But – so long as you factor in a budget for this from the outset, and can be sure that you’re barking up the right trees in terms of the who and the when, then this can probably be one of the most successful strategies to employ for vape stores when it comes to a Return on Investment (ROI).
To briefly conclude this article, we should say that there are many other methods which can be explored and that these are just a few of them covered in detail. Whilst yes, those vape stores with physical locations can certainly employ larger scale techniques and more traditional marketing practices alongside these. In essence, if all of the above is given due care and attention, then any vape store owner or CBD retailer can combat the paid digital advertising suppression by implementing well executed organic digital marketing methods throughout their website and social media presence.