7 Digital Must-Dos To Promote Your Cannabis Business

Light Bulb Concept

Promoting your cannabis business is challenging. Because cannabis is still illegal federally and laws vary from state-to-state, knowing what you can and cannot do isn’t always clear. While you want to avoid advertising with search engines such as Google and Yahoo, sending postcards through the mail, or setting up a store on Facebook, you do have options for reaching your patients and dispensaries.

1. Start With a Strong Brand. Creating a strong brand will build patient and dispensary recognition and give you a competitive edge in the market. Focus on what makes your products different and the shared values you have with prospects. From there it will be easier to connect with customers and introduce new products.

2. Go Organic Strategically. Choose your words carefully for your website and your social media posts. Hone in one the phrases and words patients and dispensaries use when looking for cannabis products, then hone in on other words specific to your brand and the shared values you project.

3. Follow Mainstream Social Media Rules. You can promote your brand on social media if you understand the ground rules. Earlier this year, Facebook dropped some dispensaries from its platform. This rattled the industry but the dispensaries hadn’t read the fine print for using the mainstream platform. Focus on education and brand recognition on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. (see How to Protect Your Cannabis Facebook Page for more insight)

4. Use Cannabis-Based Social Media Platforms. There are social media platforms specific to the cannabis industry and promoting your brand on them will be safer. By now you’ve probably heard of MassRoots, the first to market. But there are others including Duby, which is similar to Instagram and Social High, which is like Facebook–both are specific to the marijuana industry.

5. List Your Business on Cannabis Directories. Many of these directories are free and offer great back links to your website. Some worthy of mentioning include the Marijuana Business Daily Industry Directory, Medical Jane’s Database of Cannabis Businesses, and Ganjapreneur Business Directory, and Dispensaries.com.

6. Maintain a Blog. Writing your own content on your own blog is a great opportunity to share your story and your brand. Blog posts can easily be shared on social media platforms, can be extensions of your website, and can attract prospects based on your knowledge, industry insight, and personality.

7. Email, Email, Email. Connecting with existing patients and dispensaries by email is crucial. Collect emails at every turn if possible–at conferences, cups, online–wherever your brand intersects with prospects. Then create emails with impact and maintain contact consistently.

What’s been your experience promoting your cannabis business online? What’s worked best? If you’re struggling to promote your cannabis business, bring on a digital marketing expert to help!

 

 

 

Have You Made the Switch? 5 Reasons to HTTPS Encrypt Your Website Now

Secured connection link web browser detail

Have you secured your website with HTTPS encryption yet? We first published a post about securing your website in September 2014. That’s when Google announced it’s indexing priority for HTTPS websites and gave websites a window of two years to migrate to HTTPS encryption.

According to MozCast–which looks at changes in major Search Engine Results Page (SERP) features over time–there’s a slow steady increase in HTTPS page-1 results. the graph below shows activity over the past 30 days.

httpstrend_MozCast

Now’s the time to make the switch. Here are 5 reasons that will impact your business:

  1. More secure. HTTP website traffic is unencrypted and a bit like putting out a welcome mat for hackers. If your website uses HTTPS, the data is encrypted, meaning that only the users of your site and you can see what users are doing on your website.
  2. Protect your data. The data on your site can not be corrupted or modified during transfer without being detected.
  3. Users peace of mind. If at any time users are asked to input their personal data on your site, they’ll be more comfortable doing so after being assured that the connection and their data are safe and secure.
  4. More referral data. When a user from another secure website travels to your secure website, their browser will tell your website where they came from. This will allow you to track where your traffic is coming from and to further exploit those sources.
  5. Google priority when indexing. Google made a point in announcing that security is a priority to them and that they will use HTTPS encryption as a ranking signal. This means that by switching your site to HTTPS, your site will rank higher in Google searches.

Switching from HTTP to HTTPS encryption isn’t the only thing you should do to protect your site or to improve your rankings, but it is definitely a good place to start. Be sure to check the security of your website before and after making the switch to see the difference it makes. For more tips on how to improve your ranking signal or how to protect your site from hackers, contact a digital marketing professional.

Natalie Kane contributed to this blog post.

 

Get in the Race to Re-Energize Website Traffic Volumes: 7 Questions to Ask Yourself

Misaki Digital Marketing helps small businesses win the digital marketing race.

Are you winning the race in website traffic and engagement? According to a November 2014 poll by VCita, only 31% of small business owners were satisfied with the volume of new clients obtained through their websites.

That leaves 69% of small business owners in need of a serious digital overhaul. In this digital age, it is not enough to simply have a business website, your small business needs to commit to a digital work up and work out.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself in the race for digital optimization:

1)    Is social media part of my marketing strategy? Am I focusing on sales and leaving relationship building behind? Today’s consumers are using social media. In fact, according to a recent Pew Research report, 52% of online adult users now use two or more social media sites; a significant increase from 42% of users in 2013. Your presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest etc. will make it easier for them to find you and for you to engage with them.

2)    Is my website mobile-friendly? Check out your website with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to determine how user-friendly it is. Google will analyze your site and spit back a report. Check it now. In April Google will begin penalizing websites that aren’t mobile-friendly.

3)    Would a paid search campaign benefit my business? Often referred to as pay-per-click or PPC, such a campaign doesn’t have to cost a lot. At $300.00 per month, the return could outweigh the price.

4)    Is my business appearing in local searches? Google’s Pigeon update makes optimizing local searches more valuable than ever. Contact me for a FREE audit of your local listings status.

5)    When was the last time I distributed a web release? Web releases are wonderful tools to use to not only promote new products and services, but to help boost your search rank with reputable incoming back links to your website.

6)    How old is my current business video? People love to watch videos. If it’s been a while since you’ve posted a new video, now’s the time to consider it. Then post and optimize it on YouTube.

7)    Are my keywords still performing well? Keywords are the muscle behind your digital strength. The keywords people use to find products and services can change. Have they changed for your business? Not sure? There are many free keyword building tools out there including Google AdWords Keyword Planner, Keyword Spy, and SEMRush.

Make a commitment to a serious digital workout for 2015. Hire an experienced content marketing writer and strategist. You don’t have to take on every aspect of your digital footprint today, but by starting with a strategy and a plan, you will stay ahead of your competition and secure a winning spot in the race for digital optimization.

Do you want help with your small business digital marketing? Contact me for answers.

 

Is Your Brick-and-Mortar Small Business Mobile Local? 7 Steps To Take Now

Is Your Small Business Mobile Local?

If you have a brick-and-mortar small business that sells products or services to local consumers, I have two questions for you…How large is your local footprint? How aggressively mobile are your customers?

Chances are good that your customers and prospects are already using their Smartphones and Tablets to conduct local searches. In fact, three out of five consumers already use a mobile phone to search for local businesses now. By 2016, mobile local searches will overtake desktop local searches.

Consumers' Local Search BehaviorIn May 2014, Google published a report called Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behavior. In it are nuggets of great information including how consumers conduct searches based on their location and proximity, the numbers of consumers who take action after conducting a local search, and how important location information—product availability, business address and directions—are for consumers. Check out these statistics in the inforgraph to the left.

Numbers and statistics are great. But, how do you get a piece of the action? Right?

Benefits to being mobile local include improved brand awareness, lead quality, and lift over traditional search programs.

Here are seven steps you can take now to take your small business store to the mobile local level.

 

 

How To Go Mobile Local: 7 Steps to Take

Take Your Website Mobile. A report by BaseKit released in April 2014 revealed a surprising 91% of small business websites are not optimized for mobile use. Not only will a mobile-friendly website help your online results, Google is now sending emails to webmasters who haven’t updated to mobile yet….which could be a sign that Google is planning a new mobile ranking algorithm.  Google offers a Mobile-Friendly Test if you’re not sure about the mobile status of your website. Responsive design, which detects a visitor’s screen size and orientation and changes the layout accordingly, is recommended.

Get Google My Business. Google My Business replaced Google Places and is great for improving your local visibility. It puts your business information on Search, Maps and Google+. It will help improve your search engine page ranking and put you on Google Maps.

Optimize Location-Specific Content. Does your website content contain location-specific content? What location keywords have you used? Location-specific content is usually found on the Contact Us page of websites. But, it’s important to optimize other website content with location keywords and information.

Optimize Local Listings. How visible is your business on local listings? How accurate is that information? Local SEO is about both visibility and accuracy. This means making sure your listing on Yelp, Yahoo, Bing, Foursquare, MapQuest, etc. is accurately maintained. Optimizing local listings takes this a step further by adding content, hours of operation, promotions, images, videos, price menus and more based on your customers’ needs and expectations.

Go Local With Ads. Consumers want to know if you have the product and where you’re located. Ensure that product availability, address and directions appear in your ads across venues.

Gather Customer Reviews.  Eighty eight percent (88%) of consumers trust online reviews. This is huge. Having customer reviews on your website and/or on your Google+ page

Be Consistent and Maintain Presence as Mobile Local. Search engine optimization of your website and local listings is not a one-and-done step. It requires consistency of local information across online venues and ongoing maintenance to ensure that information and keywords reflect what your customers want and look for.

Need help going mobile local? Misaki Digital Marketing can help. Contact me today.

 

8 Digital Marketing Recommendations to Promote Your Business in 2015

Digital marketing recommendations

Now that the holidays are over and 2015 is underway, I thought it appropriate to look at what clients will want to consider going forward for the year. These aren’t so much predictions for 2015, but recommendations for boosting your small or medium sized business visibility and sales.

  1. Optimize Your Local Listings. Thanks to Google’s new local-focused update Pigeon, local search has evolved to be even more important to businesses with brick-and-mortar locations locally. Well-optimized directory listings are a winner for getting the first page for local queries and often appear above the Local Pack of organic results. What does that mean to you? Optimizing your directory listings—Yahoo, Yellow Pages, White Pages, Chamber, etc—is a must for this year.
  2. Secure Your Website. Why? Hackers are increasingly cracking code to get inside websites (i.e. the great Sony email scandal). Google introduced a proposal in 2014 indicting that the Chrome browser, which is used by 50% of internet traffic, will identify sites that are unsecure. To avoid having visitors to your website see this warning, you’ll want to want to upgrade your website from HTTP to HTTPS. There’s time to take of this—Google will implement the warnings beginning in about two years—but there’s no reason to wait.
  3. Optimize For Mobile Devices. Because of the increase in mobile device use, mobile optimization continues to be very important. If you haven’t upgraded to mobile or responsive designed website, now is the time to do it. Not sure if your site is mobile friendly? Use Google’s Analytic Tool to test it.
  4. Step Up Your PPC Advertising. This means better vs. more. Pay-Per-Click advertising users are getting savvy. Good PPC ads require appropriate keyword selection, compelling copywriting, and optimized website landing pages. If you haven’t tipped your toe into PPC advertising, this could be a good year to try it. When PPC is well-managed, you don’t have to over spend to get qualified traffic to your website.
  5. Create and Share Videos. YouTube is owned by Google and videos hosted on the site continue to rank high in search engines. Know how to leverage YouTube videos to drive traffic to your website. That means optimization, engagement and cross promotion.
  6. Don’t Overlook SEO Basics. Google’s search algorithm is as sophisticated as ever, but that doesn’t mean you overlook keywords, meta titles and meta descriptions. Review these to ensure they are still appropriate for your website. Also be smart with your header tags, URL structures, internal and external linking. Update your XML sitemap and test your website.
  7. Pay Attention To Your Digital Content. As a writer by training, I’ve always been drawn to words. Turns out so are search engines. So, pay attention to your digital content so it drives quantifiable leads, sales and branding.
  8. Wearable Technology Is Around the Corner. If you’ve seen news from this year’s International CES conference in Las Vegas, wearable technology is huge. They are being touted as the next great consumer frontier and its projected that 1 in 5 people will have some kind of wearable technology in 2015. These innovations will lead to the need to optimize them…we’ll soon see voice search, real world query optimization and more microdata optimization.

Ok. So that last recommendation is really a prediction.

What are your digital marketing needs for 2015?

Is Your Website Secure? Does It Need to Be?

SECURE ICONIn August, Google announced its intention to use HTTPS as a ranking signal—a very lightweight signal, but a signal nonetheless—specific to URLs. Why?

Google is encouraging website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS for some pretty good reasons. HTTPS is a website hosted on a secure server. Most e-commerce sites use HTTPS.

According to Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller, all sites should be sure for date integrity and authentication reasons. A secure site would ensure that content on your website is not altered in transit and that it is truly your site.  To learn more, check out Google’s video Google I/O 2014 HTTPS Everywhere, in which Ilya Grigorik and Pierre Far break down the reasons very plainly.

What is Security?

Authentication – am I talking to who they claim to be?

Data Integrity – has anyone tampered with the data?

Encryption – can anyone see my conversation?

So…to become HTTPS, you’ll have to add a security certificate to your website and migrate your website from an HTTP server to an HTTPS server.

Planning ahead is key.  John Heard at SearchEngineNews.com estimates that website owners have about two (2) years before an insecure website will become a critical problem for SEO. He warns against waiting two years to make the switch.

If you are building a new website, changing domain names or making a major change to the URL structure of your website, you will want to consider moving to HTTPS now.

Google will generate a warning to visitors for websites that are not HTTPS  (see below)

Warning visitors would see if your website is not secure on HTTPS
Warning visitors would see if your website is not secure on HTTPS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving your website to HTTPS may give you a small bump in SEO. More importantly, as more people become leery of the Internet’s security, you’ll want make the move before August 2016.

Please let me know if you have questions or want to price migrating your website to HTTPS.