Online Marketing and Advertising for Vape Shops: The Ultimate Guide
How to Promote your Vape Shop Online
You have top-of-the-line vape products and designed a stellar website. Maybe you are solely an e-commerce site or looking to expand your brick and mortar vape shop on the internet. Either way, you are ready to let the world know about the best vape shop out there. All that's left to do is market your vaping business. You try to advertise on various platforms such as Google and Facebook to be informed that ads about e-cigarettes are prohibited. What do you do now? How are you supposed to advertise your company if the most popular platforms restrict it? The good news is that there are still plenty of ways to market your brand effectively. You have to get creative. Do not forget that your competitors are in the same boat, which means it is a level playing field. This ultimate guide to online marketing for vape shops tells you everything you need to know about getting your shop's name out there, plus little-known tips and tricks that will give you an advantage over your competitors.
This is a pretty long guide. If you're here looking for one thing in particular, check out the the Table of Contents to make things easier for you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- 1. Vaping is a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry
- 2. Why are There Obstacles to Marketing Your Vape Shop Online?
- 3. What Can't You Do When Marketing Your Vape Shop?
- 4. Take Advantage of Online Business Directories
- 4.1 Why are Web Directories Important?
- 4.2 How to List Your Vape Shop on Business Directories
- 4.3 What are the Best Directories for Vape Shops?
- 4.3.1 Yelp
- 4.3.2 Google My Business
- 4.3.3 Bing Places for Business
- 5. Search Engine Optimization is Your Best Tool
- 6. Why Do You Need Great Content?
- 6.1 Benefits of Quality Content
- 7. How Do You Create High-Quality Content?
- 7.1 Choosing Topics to Create Content Around
- 7.2 The Value of Original Content
- 7.3 How Often Should You Publish Content?
- 8. Why Is Website Design Important?
- 8.1 Mobile-Friendly
- 8.2 Include Plenty of White Space
- 8.3 Your Website Should Load Quickly
- 8.4 A Secure Website is Crucial
- 8.5 Optimize Your Vape Shop Website's Look on Search Results
- 8.5.1 Meta-Tags
- 8.5.2 Customize the Permalink
- 8.5.3 Utilize Schema
- 9. How Can You Use Social Media to Market Your Vape Shop?
- 10. Create or Claim Local Citations
- 11. Take Advantage of Affiliate Marketing
- 11.1 How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing
- 12. Capturing Leads Through a Mailing List
- 12.1 How to Build a Mailing List
- 13. Use Online Marketing to Stay Ahead of Your Competitors
Vaping is a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry
The vaping and e-cigarette industry is projected to surpass an astounding 43 billion dollars this year. It is one of the fastest-growing markets in the world and everyone from Leonardo Dicaprio to Dave Chapelle are confirmed vapers. Despite its popularity, there are significant hurdles when it comes to marketing your vape shop online. These are obstacles that most traditional businesses do not have to face. Some of these obstacles include:
- Strict regulations
- The inability to use the major platforms to advertise (Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc)
- Laws are constantly changing
Why are There Obstacles to Marketing Your Vape Shop Online?
The FDA strictly monitors the process of starting a tobacco store and its marketing. Many of your primary online advertising platforms, such as Google and Facebook, strictly prohibit tobacco products advertising. Even though vaping is not technically a tobacco product, it is included in the category because it very closely imitates tobacco products.
Unlike most companies, who can push social media and search engine ads when they want to generate traffic, you need to get a little more creative when it comes to marketing your vape shop online.
What Can't You Do When Marketing Your Vape Shop?
Before we get into how you can market your products online, let's briefly talk about marketing channels you are not allowed to use. Promoting vape and e-cigarette products are prohibited on the following platforms:
- Google Shopping Ads
Take Advantage of Online Business Directories
A business directory is a website that compiles lists of businesses based typically on niche or location. Two of the most popular web directories are Yelp and Google My Business. For example, when someone searches for "Vape Shops in Boulder, Colorado," all businesses fitting this description appear on the results page. The chances are that you have used online business directories without realizing it when searching for dining, retail, or even entertainment options. Please note that you are allowed to list your vape shop with Google My Business, which is not considered an advertisement.
Why are Web Directories Important?
There are four main reasons that you want to make sure you list or claim your vape shop on as many online business directories as you can.
- People searching for particular types of businesses online are ready to take action, which leads to a higher conversion rate.
- Customers can leave reviews on your business listing. Reviews not only build credibility and trust with your customers but also have a positive impact on search engine rankings.
- Utilizing business directories allow for local citations.
- Creating a basic listing for a web directory is free. There are options to pay for upgrades to your listing, but it isn't required.
How to List Your Vape Shop on Business Directories
Getting your vape shop listed on business directories is a simple yet effective way of getting your company's name in front of your target audience. Each directory's process varies slightly, but the general steps are the same.
- Create an account with the directory
- Provide general information about your business, including services, operating hours, website, address, phone number, etc.
- Choose additional upgrades for your listing if you want too. Upgrades are optional.
- Complete a verification process, such as email confirmation, before your listing is active. Verification is a security step to ensure that you are the actual owner of the business.
What are the Best Directories for Vape Shops?
You can't go wrong with listing your vape shop in any and every directory you find, but there are three web directories in particular that your vape shop should focus on.
Yelp is by far the most popular business directly with over more than 100 million visitors each month looking for various services. As with most directories, a basic listing is free of charge. Yelp offers vape businesses different upgrade options, including:
- Prominent placement - Get your business listing in front of more potential consumers
- Business highlights - Up to 6 badges that share with visitors what sets your business apart from others
- Slideshow - Make sure your best images are on display
- Logo - Provides brand awareness and a higher level of professionalism
- Remove competitor ads - Keep visitors focused on your ad.
- Call-to-action - Make it easy for visitors to take action and interact with your business
- Portfolio - Showcase your work to demonstrate your expertise in the vape industry
Google My Business
Google is undeniably the most popular search engine globally, a must for vape shops. Since you are not allowed to promote your vape business on Google's advertisement platform, this is how you get your business's information into Google's database. Share information such as:
- Business name
- Store address
- Company phone number
- Web address
- Hours of operation
- Option for visitors to message your business
Google My Business offers vape shops full customization of their business profile and the option to create a custom email account. Like Yelp, users can review businesses on Google. According to Google algorithms, the more positive reviews your vape shop receives, the more likely it appears on the map when local searches are conducted.
Bing Places for Business
Bing may not be as large as Google, but this Microsoft owned search engine should not be discounted. Bing is the default search engine for Amazon Kindle Devices, and voice search features such as iOS's Siri. Creating or claiming an account is simple. You can manually enter your business's information or link your Bing account with your Google My Business profile. If you choose to connect accounts, the communication between the two will be synced on a biweekly, weekly, or monthly basis.
Bing Places for Business offers many of the same options as both Yelp and Google My Business, including the ability to display your shop's:
- Phone number
- Physical location
- Web address
- Hours of operation
- Opportunity to contact your business directly through the listing
These three web directories are just the tip of the iceberg. You can list your vape shop in many more directories, including Yahoo Directory, Ezilon, and Starting Point, to name a few.
Search Engine Optimization is Your Best Tool
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the most effective at driving traffic to your vape shop's website. This is not always an instant gratification method, but a sustainable strategy that will pay off long-term when implemented correctly. Search engine optimization refers to the practice of designing your website and creating content in a way that appeals to search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. SEO's ultimate goal is for your vape shop's website and pages to rank number one on search engines. For the best SEO practices, let's take a closer look at creating great content and a stunning website.
Why Do You Need Great Content?
You've probably heard the saying, "content is king." It is true! High-quality content is at the core of SEO. In addition to your website's information, you will need to add a blog to your vape shop's site. The articles within that blog will need to be better than anything else currently on the web. Search engines, such as Google, favor original, high-quality, and valuable content to readers.
Benefits of Quality Content
Creating and publishing great content can provide your vape shop with the following benefits:
- Increase brand awareness
- Increase the amount of traffic to your website very quickly
- Establish your vape shop as an authority in the vape industry, which translates into trust
- Readers will share your content on their social media pages
- Other people will link to your articles in their content, further establishing your vape shop as a trusted source
- Opportunity to capture leads
Providing information to visitors for free is called content marketing. This strategy does drive more traffic to your website. Many of these visitors are looking for information and not necessarily ready to make a purchase yet. However, providing informational content to the vaping community or those who wish to become a part of it can lead to sales later on down the road when the visitor is ready to purchase. Informational content ranks better than sales content and tends to be more effective. No one likes a pushy salesman.
How Do You Create High-Quality Content?
The good news is that finding quality content on the web is rare. By getting this strategy right, you're already at an advantage when it comes to marketing your vape shop online. First, you need to decide what to write about. How do you choose?
Choosing Topics to Create Content Around
Your vape shop's website probably doesn't have much traction on the web yet. This means that it will be tough to rank for general keywords immediately. General keywords tend to generate large search volumes, and many articles are already targeting these phrases, which makes them highly competitive keywords. Instead, focus on precise keywords and phrases while you are first starting. If you write stellar content on a specific phrase that has value to your vape shop, but very little competition from competitors, it is possible to immediately land at the top of the search results.
For instance, a general keyword would be "best vaporizers." This is a highly competitive keyword, with many articles already out there competing for the top spot. However, if you get more specific and target "best portable wax vapor," you've decreased your competition and increased your chances of reaching the top search results. Exact keywords are known as long-tail keywords because they target a narrower audience and contain more words than general keywords.
The Value of Original Content
If you think most content on the internet is original, think again! Most of it is either copied word for word from another source or just slightly reworded to pass a plagiarism check. It is a rarity to find content that is genuinely original on vaping. You can test this theory by searching for a general keyword phrase. If you look at the first few searches, more than likely, they all generally say the same thing. Genuinely original content gives you a huge advantage and is excellent for SEO. These tips will help you create original content for your vape shop:
- Take the time to research your topic exhaustively. Do not just look at popular web articles, but dig deep into databases such as Google Scholar to find relevant studies that support your writing.
- Analyze the top competitors' articles and figure out where they are lacking. What can you add to yours to make it better and more comprehensive of the subject at hand? With enough diligence, you will find areas for improvement.
- Pull from as many different sources as you can find. Do not just use one or two articles to hit a word count and get something out there. It won't pay off.
How Often Should You Publish Content?
Vape shop websites that stay updated and consistently with fresh content rank higher in search engine algorithms. Not to mention, your customer base will come to expect new content from your site periodically. You should create and publish fresh content regularly, depending on your resources. The more often, the better. The most common publishing schedules are:
Now that you understand how to create and deliver top-notch content to your online audience, it is time to focus on website design.
Why Is Website Design Important?
The functionality of your website plays a large role not only in SEO but in how well-received it is by your visitors. A poorly designed and functioning website will deter visitors from staying and exploring all that your vape shop has to offer. In this section, we will discuss how to optimize your website's design for both search engines and your visitors.
Searching for information and purchasing products is most commonly done from mobile devices instead of the traditional desktop. Google has made a move to a mobile-first search index. Creating an exceptional mobile experience is the difference between a potential customer purchasing your product and going to one of your competitors. Here are the general guidelines to keep in mind when ensuring your vape shop's website is user-friendly on mobile devices:
- Your website should display correctly on mobile devices. Users shouldn't have to scroll left and right to see the entire screen. It should not only fit the width of mobile device screens but look proportional and professional.
- The text should be large enough to read or scan.
- Any buttons should be easy to tap with a finger.
- The checkout process should be straightforward.
Include Plenty of White Space
Do not fill every inch of space on your website. It will be overwhelming for your visitors and difficult to read. Instead, leave plenty of white space on the margins, between paragraphs, blocks of content, etc. Your website's content should be easily scannable. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
- Keep paragraphs short
- Use plenty of subheadings and bullet points for readability
- Insert images and videos whenever appropriate
Your Website Should Load Quickly
A fast-loading website will help you in terms of SEO. Search engines like Google favor quickly-loading websites and use them as a ranking factor. The optimal load rate for a website to load is no more than 2 seconds. Anything beyond that and your visitors become annoyed and most likely will exit the page. Here are a few ways you can increase your website's load time:
- Eliminate unnecessary plug-ins
- Compress images
- Invest in a hosting upgrade
- Optimize your website's code
A Secure Website is Crucial
It is simple to tell whether your website is secure. If your browser's address bar says "HTTP," then your website is not secure. If it says "HTTPS," then your website is secure, and you are safe.
A secure website means that your website's server is sending and receiving encrypted data. This is extremely important if visitors can purchase directly from your vape shop's website. Consumers need to know that their financial information is safe before making a purchase.
Optimize Your Vape Shop Website's Look on Search Results
The more attractive your website looks on search results, the more likely people are to click on the link of the page you have given. Here's what you should keep in mind for your vape shop when it comes to search results:
Meta-tags are small pieces of code embedded in your website. Search engines such as Google use these to learn more about your vape shop's website. The two most important are meta description tags and the meta title.
Meta descriptions allow you to give readers an enticing tidbit about your vape shop, making them want to visit your website to learn more. Meta titles tell search engines what the page of your website is all about. It is important to note that the meta title is not the same title that readers will see. You can add a few extra words to improve your SEO without compromising the appeal to readers.
Customize the Permalink
Be sure to customize the URL of each page and post to include primary keywords. This easy tip will significantly improve your SEO.
Schema markup is a strategy providing additional information about your vape shop to search engines. This extra information most often appears in the form of badges and increases your website's overall appeal. This is a form of structured data embedded in each page of your website. Apart from improving your website's aesthetics on search results, schema also can help your vape shop rank high in local search results. Information that you can add in your schema includes:
- Vape shop's name
- Physical address
- Phone number
- Email address
- Hours of operation
When designing your website, it is essential to keep in mind that you are creating it for two audiences: your visitors and search engines.
How Can You Use Social Media to Market Your Vape Shop?
If you think you read that wrong, you didn't. Earlier in this guide, we discussed how most advertising platforms, including popular social media sites, forbid tobacco products advertising, including vapes and e-cigarettes. However, you can still use social media for marketing your vape business. Although you can't advertise, you can create business pages and accounts for your shop.
Post relevant pictures, videos, and articles that followers will want to share with their friends. Using appropriate hashtags will help ensure that your products get in front of the right people at the right time.
Create or Claim Local Citations
A local citation is any online page with your vape shop's information, including name, address, phone number, etc. You create or claim local citations by listing your vape company's information on every business directory and social media site. Always double-check to make sure all business information is correct. Google's algorithm's design will avoid listing businesses whose information contradicts itself. It throws up red flags that a business may not be legitimate. Search engines like Google strive to ensure that only legitimate businesses make it onto search results.
Take Advantage of Affiliate Marketing
Implementing an affiliate program for your vape shop gives you access to people all around the world willing to promote your product. Here's how it works—people known as "affiliates" link to your vape shop's products and pages. When someone purchases a product by clicking on that link, the affiliate is paid a percentage of the revenue. Affiliates only get paid if people are compelled to buy through their link, so they are motivated to do well.
How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing
These tips will help you begin your affiliate marketing program for your vape shop.
- Ensure your affiliates have what they need to succeed in promoting your products, including pictures, product descriptions, etc.
- Pay your affiliates fairly. The more that is online, the more effort affiliates will put into marketing your products.
- Effectively convey why potential affiliates should partner with you versus one of your competitors. What sets your vape shop apart from all others?
- Use appropriate software to track affiliate sales and make timely payments accurately.
Capturing Leads Through a Mailing List
One of the most effective ways to capture leads for your vape shop is by building a mailing list. A mailing list allows you to capture content information that can be used to market to these individuals later on. It is difficult to convince people to subscribe to a mailing list because they assume they will receive unwanted emails. You have to get creative!
How to Build a Mailing List
First, you will need to adopt an email marketing service such as Mailchimp that stores, sorts, and allows you to build various kinds of campaigns and advertisements to be distributed to your subscribers. Secondly, your website must convince visitors to subscribe. Here are a few tips:
- Offer a content upgrade. For example, give readers a sample of a guide and then create a pop-up that says they can receive the rest of the manual for free by subscribing.
- Offer a giveaway and make subscribing the way to enter the drawing.
- Provide a discount in exchange for visitors subscribing to your mailing list.
In most cases, visitors are not ready to buy the first time they visit your vape shop's site. Capturing leads is a great way to nurture potential customers until they are prepared to accept.
Use Online Marketing to Stay Ahead of Your Competitors
We live in a digital age. Many consumers choose to do their shopping online, and those who do not typically research products online before they buy in the store. Utilizing online marketing for your vape shop is more crucial now than ever. Strict regulations make it near impossible for vape businesses to use traditional methods of online marketing. The online marketing strategies in this guide will allow your vape shop to build sustainable traffic and convert a higher percentage of leads to sales while growing and scaling your business.