Struggling to generate web traffic to your website? A quick way to change this is to invest in an ad campaign to drive brand awareness and/or sales. What do you do when advertising channels like Facebook and Google aren’t available to you? We’re going to uncover your options in this blog. We’ll be focusing primarily on what this means for vape shops trying to promote themselves online, but the same concepts apply to any one of the products/services that have found themselves restricted from advertising on Facebook and Google.
Can You Advertise Vapes On Facebook?
No. Facebook’s policy does not allow ads that promote the sale or use of tobacco products and related paraphernalia (e-cigarettes are included). How does Facebook police this activity? According to communication with CNBC the company uses a combination of technology, human review and reports from the community to find and remove content that violates Facebook’s policies. It also provides tools to make it easy for people to report questionable content.
*Instagram accounts advertising vape products are also restricted under the same policy
Can You Advertise Vapes On Google?
No. Google’s policy aims to help keep people safe both online and offline, so they don’t allow the promotion of some products or services that cause damage, harm, or injury. You may still be wondering, “what is Google’s ad policy for vapes and e-cigs?” It may surprise you to hear, these products fall under dangerous goods. Google’s lumps these products in to the category of restricting ‘ads for products designed to simulate tobacco smoking’.
Vape Store Marketing Strategies [Without Google Or Facebook Ads]
You’re unable to promote your vape shop on the major platforms due to their advertising rules, how can you still drive traffic to your site and sales to your store?
SEO For Vape Shops
We’ve covered the topic of SEO quite extensively, but for those of you that need a refresher, SEO is essentially adhering to Google’s best practices to make your website appear highly for relevant search queries to your business. While we can’t do a full ‘What is SEO’ tutorial here, you can certainly check out our blog that contains posts on Google ranking factors, or even get yourself an SEO audit.
Wondering How You Can Improve Your Website’s Search Engine Optimization? Register Below For A FREE SEO Audit
Let’s look at some of necessities of vape shop SEO, so you can start driving highly relevant traffic to your site for free*
*assuming you don’t outsource
Content Marketing For Vape Shops
Content marketing is producing articles, blog posts, video and other digital materials for the purpose of establishing yourself as an authoritative voice in your niche. The added benefit of writing phenomenal content that attracts visitors to your site, is you can potentially earn their business down the road. Once you’ve earned a visitor’s trust, they’re much more likely to be brand loyal to you rather than an unfamiliar source when it comes time to spend their hard-earned money.
What are some content marketing techniques or methods we recommend for vape shops?
Stay on top of industry trends. New product changing the vape game? Be the first to review it in detail. As a vape shop owner or employee, what are the top 10 questions your customers always seem to be asking you? Answer those in detail.
Concentrate on providing free value with your content, rather than being overly salesy. Informational content tends to be better received on search engines, while also having the added benefit of attracting backlinks (essentially a handshake from another website on the internet, vouching for your content). Backlinks have been studied extensively and are consistently ranked as the #1 ranking factor for Google.
Local SEO For Vape Shops
- Google My Business (GMB) Listing
Google My Business listing optimization for vape shops is extremely important. With the local 3-pack (or map pack as its also called) consuming so much of web searchers’ clicks you not only want to ensure your listing is verified but optimized to the best of your ability to outrank your competitors.
How can you do this? For starters, include your target keyword (if possible) in your business listing name. If your actual business name is unrelated to vape products, for example, you should add a related keyword (we tend to utilize hyphens to accomplish this). If our vape shop was called Hiilite, our Google My Business Listing would appear as: Hiilite – Kelowna Vape Shop.
Next, you want to ensure you are actively soliciting for Google reviews from your customers. Do you provide the best shopping experience in your local area? Get your visitors to brag about you!
While you’re doing that, go ahead and populate your listing with images. Pictures of your products, the inside of your store, your team members all add to the validity of your store and Google loves to show off those listings that put time and effort into optimizing their profile in any way possible.
Finally, ensure you’ve got your categories nailed. Google allows you to enter one primary category and up to 9 additional categories. You want to choose as many closely related categories as you can find. A great tool to do so can be found by clicking here.
- Bing Places
Bing’s market share in Canada is 4.5% as of April 2019. You may be thinking 4.5% isn’t worth your time optimizing a listing for. However, that’s exactly the mindset of your competitors! It takes such minimal effort and time that we highly suggest vape shops take advantage of this underutilized opportunity.
In the olden days you would need to make sure you’re listed in the Yellow Pages in order to expect any potential customers to find you. The same concept applies today, it’s just moved online.
Citations are important part of local SEO. By adding your company information to the many citation sources available, you receive backlinks from these highly authoritative sources. Also, the more prevalent your name and phone number (NAP) are on the web, the more legitimate your business will appear. For a full list of the best citation sources for your city, we suggest Whitespark.
- Social Media
Social signals to factor into Google’s ranking algorithm. It’s 2019! If you don’t have a social presence at this point you need to get on it. Create Facebook and Instagram accounts, post regularly and be sure to add a Facebook Pixel to your website. Even if you’re not planning to advertise, this will allow Facebook to collect valuable insights to your traffic.
Just because you aren’t technically allowed to advertise your products and services on Facebook, this doesn’t mean you can’t create highly engaged profiles. A common technique used is to include notes in any orders of your product with a prompt to follow your account or join your group.
These profiles also act as workaround for advertising promotions. These are people that by following you, wish to receive your content and thus the conversion rates of these groups can be quite high.
Structured Data For Vape Shops
Structured data is a means for search engine’s to better understand what your website is about. If you’re advertising products on your site, you can specify to Google what the product name is, a description, images, brand name, etc. The reason this is so vital is that you can still provide Google with data to crawl (the process of entering a website and extracting data in an automated fashion is also often called) even when your actual web pages are limited on text content.
For WordPress users, check out this plugin to easily add Schema markup to your website.
Optimizing Site Architecture
Have you ever completed a transaction on a website that was difficult to navigate? Us neither. Make sure your website has a URL structure in place that conveniently orders similar products together, whether that be by flavors, brand name, etc.
In addition to providing a better user experience, you’ll also distribute some of the backlinks authority (known as link juice) throughout your site, positioning them to rank better in search results.
Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile Friendly
In 2018, approximately 58% of site visits were from mobile devices. Too often we notice vape shops optimize their site for a desktop experience, essentially neglecting the larger audience of potential customers that browse on their phone.
If your website doesn’t pass Google’s mobile friendly test, be sure to take its feedback to your developer to correct the issues it identifies.
Leverage Email Marketing
If you get consent from your potential customer, following up with them about promotions, new products, events can be extremely powerful. Does your website involve having a user create an account? Make sure they provide you with their email as part of the process.
A sure-fire way to see dramatic increases in the number of people opting out of your emails is if you don’t provide enough value for them to stick around. Be sure to include frequent deals and discounts to your loyal subscribers.
Collaborate With Vaporizer Influencers
Influencer marketing works. Celebrity endorsements have been around since the stone ages and collaborating with an influencer can have the same effect, often for a fraction of the price. Take some time to research influencers in the vape industry, ship them some product in exchange for providing a real review on your products.
BONUS TIP: Still Want To Advertise On Facebook? Here’s How!
Ok so the whole premise of this article has been to show you alternatives to how you can still promote your vape shop business without leveraging Google or Facebook ads. But if you’re still desperate for a leg up on your competitors, here’s a roadmap for how you can circumvent Facebook’s ad restrictions.
- Create a new Facebook page
The content of this page should align with the types of content NOT restricted under Facebook’s ad policies. These include:
- Blogs or groups connecting people with tobacco-related interests, as long as the service does not lead to the sale of tobacco or tobacco-related products
- Anti-smoking campaigns and e-books, counseling services for smoking addiction, and smoking rehabilitation programs or facilities
- Create a website and/or landing page using a non-vape URL and content
- Think about a Buzzfeed type of article. “10 ways to kick your smoking habit” for example. This article will act as your lead magnet. Within this article you can include a link to your vape shop website. In addition to benefiting from any referral traffic, you can also retarget the people who clicked your ad and submitted their email (assuming steps mentioned earlier in this article are followed).
The great thing about this strategy, is that without even recognizing, you’re accomplishing two strategies outlined earlier – providing FREE value to a potential customer (via a lead magnet) while also creating a highly engaged community that you can engage with (people looking for alternatives/quit smoking).