COVID-19 has been a huge disruptor for all retail, especially in an industry trying to get itself off the ground. We feel it too – we‘ve have had to scale back some of our initiatives as this pandemic continues to test and challenge. With so much of the physical world moving online, now is the time to consider the strength of your digital presence.
Your website is priority number one. This is your online business card – your domain is what your customers see when they search for your business, and where you want your traffic – pre and post-sale. It doesn’t have to be state-of-the-art, nor does it have to crush your budget, but must be well designed, on-brand, easy to navigate/intuitive, and optimized for mobile devices. It must also support e-commerce integrations so your customers can safely and easily purchase products for delivery or curb-side pickup. There is no way around this - you can have a killer social media campaign, or incredible paid ads, but if your links drive back to an underwhelming website, your dollars and efforts are in vain.
The next focus is SEO (search engine optimization). This is the strategic practice of selecting keywords and creating content so that search engines like Google are more likely to rank you higher on their search results pages. The higher your page ranks, the more visible your business is to prospective customers. Search engine algorithms are complex and change constantly, so SEO should be monitored and adjusted accordingly. There are some little things you can do on your own to boost your rank. Have a look at the keywords you have listed under your website’s search terms. Are they relevant? Are these the words your target customers would use in their search queries? The stronger your keywords (and combinations) are, the more likely you are to show up higher in the results. Second, set up a Google Business account. This isn’t the same as a Business Profile (which contains little information over which you have little to no control) – sign up for a Google Business account and claim ownership. This gives you more SEO at a local level and adds another way for your customers to access and learn about your business online. Overall, remember that SEO takes time – the results don’t happen overnight. Be patient and keep chipping away – it will pay off.
Now, let’s get into content marketing. There is a lot to consider here. As a best practice, start any content planning by asking yourself ‘why’? Why are you creating this content? Who are you creating it for? What you are trying to achieve and is this the best way to accomplish that goal? You will save a ton of time and effort (and money!) if you give your content a purpose before you create it. Set a list of goals and let different pieces of content achieve different ones – don’t try to hit all your goals with every post. It’s ok to have some content that doesn’t have a CTA or generate leads. Engaging and entertaining your target audience builds community, brand recognition, and loyalty – go ahead and share a fun moment with your audience.
Determining which channel to use is just as important as the message itself. Because of the laws that govern marketing in our industry forbidding some traditional marketing practices, many cannabis retailers rely almost exclusively on social media channels. When it comes to a social media content, it is important to remember that every channel is unique – audiences vary as do content formats and consumption methods. Select the platforms that your target audience members are using and tailor your content to that platform – edit the copy, resize the image, post different things on different channels. When it comes to content, one size does not ‘fit-all’. When developing a content strategy, always establish how you plan to review performance and be ready and able to make changes if need be to optimize future content.
A strong digital strategy is crucial for small, local business to be able to compete with big chains – this is true now more than ever. As this pandemic continues, it is paramount that your target customers can easily find and access you online. This article barely scratches the surface when it comes to building a strong digital strategy. If your digital presence needs a boost, we highly recommended consulting with us or any of our partners. If you’d like more information, help choosing vendors, or just want to chat, we are always here to help guide you and answer questions. Don’t hesitate to say hello (reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org)!
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