In 2018, cannabis legalization will sweep the nation with California coming online with their recreational use program. Marijuana dispensaries will be frantically preparing their retail outlets through cannabis staffing agencies, negotiating vendor relationships, navigating local and state legislation and getting ready for a green rush of cannabis consumers to walk through the doors.
What we learned in 2017 from the cannabis industry is that it parallels any other consumer goods industry. With great case studies coming out of the Las Vegas market, which legalized recreational weed sales on July 1st, 2017, industry experts now have more data to help form an effective online marketing strategy. Here are 5 essential things that need to be done for your dispensary to weed out the competition.
Create a Mobile Friendly Website Optimized to Drive Foot Traffic
Although services like Leafly and Weedmaps exist for cannabis enthusiasts, almost all traffic for dispensaries starts with Google. Your cannabis dispensary should show up first for your branded name. When users land on your website, is it easy to navigate or does the user get frustrated and head back to the search results because they can’t find the information they are looking for? Do they see a web only special? Reward potential customers with an incentive to come to your dispensary over your competition by delivering them an exclusive coupon to their email. In the email, make sure the coupon or deal is delivered instantly with your dispensary address and phone number. Track the coupon by having the customer present the special offer to your budtenders and log it in your cannabis point of sale system to measure effectiveness of your online to offline efforts.
Produce Quality Shareable Educational Content on Website
Remember that the stereotypical cannabis users have helped to move the marijuana industry to where it is today, but the mainstream consumer will be curious on whether cannabis is right for them and their family. A good content marketing strategy is based on educating the public. Nancy Reagan came out on national television in 1986 with the “Just Say No” campaign and it will be very hard to erase 20+ years of brainwashing that cannabis is bad. If your cannabis dispensary wants to be a respected authority in your local area, then produce as much positive, factual data as possible through your website blog. We recommend a minimum of 2 articles a month with no maximum number of articles, as long as you are consistent with production of your content pieces. The more content you produce, the more visitors will see your cannabis dispensary and the higher the potential is to convert viewers into buyers. Don’t forget to encourage shareability on social media and signing up for your email list, so potential users never miss an opportunity to learn about the benefits of marijuana.
Focus on Customer Reviews and Reputation Management
In 2017, medical cannabis and recreational marijuana dispensaries were focused on getting reviews on WeedMaps and Leafly because owners believed that is where they could generate the greatest amount of clout in the local cannabis industry. Google, Yelp and Facebook are higher authority sites and show up when someone searches for your marijuana dispensary, therefore you should be focusing on the online reputation for your cannabis dispensary. Almost every mobile search starts on Google and almost all social recommendations come from Facebook. Is your cannabis dispensary rated on Google, Yelp and Facebook? If so, what are your customers saying? Spend the time to respond to every review, both positive and negative. Customers are influenced by other users’ experiences as well as the response to negative feedback by the business owners. A simple thank you for a review and an apology for a bad experience, creates the opportunity to make a better second impression and show potential customers that your dispensary values its patients and customers.
Define a Social Media Strategy
Every dispensary owner knows that social media is a must. People spend countless hours every day browsing Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Youtube for content. Making sure that your social media properties have optimized headers, banners and images that are mobile friendly and visually display what your dispensary stands for is a must in 2018. If you want your dispensary to be treated as an authority on cannabis, then define a strategy on how you want your dispensary to be perceived in the public eye and never stray from that strategy. A key factor in making sure that your social media strategy is working, is posting consistently on every social media network where your potential customer is browsing. It might seem like a daunting task, but if planned and executed properly your branded content will be shared across the web. High shareability will equal more eyes seeing your dispensary, which will translate into sales over the long run. Different social media properties have different rules regarding cannabis businesses. Make sure that you are following your state laws when creating content and never advertise discounts on cannabis products or pricing of marijuana. The last thing you want to do is push the envelope and get banned from a social media outlet that sees over a 1 billion eyes per day.
Local Search Engine Optimization
Local search engine optimization is an absolute must for your dispensary in 2018. We saved this critical online strategy for last, because the 4 other must do online items directly correlate to your local search engine marketing strategy. Google wants to see that your dispensary is sending the proper social signals, gaining reviews and updating your website on a regular basis to be put into the “3 Pack” on Google local results. There is a definitive strategy of keeping your business listed in the top 3 local results when someone searches “dispensaries near me” or “best dispensary in Vegas” and it takes being consistent with your local directory listing submissions. Knowing where to list your dispensary and using the proper keywords for localization takes a bit of research, but if you are one of the top 3 results in Google, with 4+ star reviews, then you will capitalize on foot traffic into your dispensary.
Confused? You don’t need to be. For Kush Clicks, online marketing runs through our veins. We do this in our sleep! Why not schedule a complementary one hour consultation to see what we can do to propel your brand forward in 2018. You have nothing to lose by saying firstname.lastname@example.org