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As medical and recreational cannabis continues to grow and legislation efforts expand throughout the United States, competition in the marketplace is growing at an unbelievable pace.
While dispensaries still face plenty of regulations and challenges, the good news is that powerful marketing strategies can still be utilized. One such tactic, search engine optimization (SEO), is particularly powerful for growing brand awareness when done correctly.
In our digital-first world, cannabis brands that invest in their online presence and optimize that presence for organic search are going to be more successful in driving quality site traffic and, ultimately, growing their customer bases. With that, here are the four most important SEO strategies you can focus on for your cannabis brand.
1. Focus on "dispensary near me."
While Google, Bing and Facebook currently refuse to carry cannabis ads, you can still create business accounts across all of those platforms and many others. Submitting your site to industry and local business listing aggregators gives you more professional clout when someone conducts a hyper-local search (think “dispensary in [insert your town]”).
After all, potential cannabis customers are no different than those in search of table saws or earthenware: they expect you to be visible to them through a search experience that is fast and trustworthy. Whether you’re a medical or adult-use dispensary, the easiest way to build this visibility is to make yourself known and accessible to those in your vicinity. One very simple way to do this is to ensure that you’re appearing on their map.
According to a study by Google, 76 percent of people searching for a service nearby visit that service the same day, with 28 percent of those visits resulting in a purchase. Focusing efforts on your local SEO is therefore key to building foot traffic. When a nearby potential customer searches “Dispensary near me,” make sure that your name and location is the one popping up.
Leverage CTA’s in your meta descriptions.
Paid search results might be out of the question, but people are still using Google to find dispensaries.
Leveraging strategic call-to-actions (CTA’s) in the meta descriptions on your website, blog and landing pages will give your site advantages in search engine results pages. To get real engagement and, eventually conversions, readers must find value in your content. This means that even your meta descriptions (the snippets that surface in a search engine beneath they hyperlinked headline) must be compelling, informative and action oriented, with CTA’s included within the first 100 or so characters to ensure that it is being seen by searchers. In these descriptions, it’s important to have a voice that’s welcoming and conversational in tone while also being creative and distinct.
You can’t expect to say “Read more” and get your audience interested enough to act.
Develop workarounds for iFrame menus.
Many brands (particularly dispensaries) are using iframe menus (embedded menus from a PoS, Leafly, etc.) to allow customers to build shopping carts before heading to stores. Unfortunately, these menus have no SEO value.
Instead, focus on building complementary, search-optimized product pages that combine product detail with a local flare and link back to your iframe. This helps drive more traffic your way and, as a result, allows you to cultivate more opportunities for new customers.
Inform your audience.
A good SEO strategy is only a good as the content behind it.
Given that our industry has typically belonged to the anti-establishments and the outsiders, there is an enormous opportunity to educate people and re-frame cannabis in a positive, forward-thinking light through informative, engaging content.
There is still a lot of misinformation out there. We happen to be at the perfect intersection for combining marketing and education in this way. Content is king and the positive and medicinal benefits of cannabis are gaining more attention every day.
As people all over the world become increasingly curious about cannabis amidst growing legalization movements, brands should jump on the opportunity to create engaging and smart content through articles, infographics, blog posts, video interviews and interesting media, and partnerships with other publications. The more people find your content enlightening, educational and valuable, the more likely they are to share it, and the more exposure your brand will get.
Although the list of marketing challenges we face are still plenty, it’s an exciting time to be in the cannabis industry.
By educating yourselves around the specific marketing rules in your respective states, creating strong content to inform and engage, and leveraging the power of SEO in the right ways, you can connect with the right people and, ultimately, propel your brand (and the industry at-large) forward.
March 12, 2019 at 08:09AM