Running your business in the digital age means you also need to up your marketing game, so you can reach your target market where they are in the online world. To help you out, consider running campaigns on these five channels to promote your online store:
1. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
The proper application of SEO techniques will help your store be more visible in the search engine results pages (SERPs), whether you’re targeting local or international customers. SEO is vital to your site especially since you’ll be encountering advertising limitations when promoting vape products.
Start with the following:
- Conduct keyword research — Target the right keywords by picking those with low search volumes (which means low competition), checking out what your competitors are targeting, and sticking with relevant keywords to your products.
- Creating content — Create quality content, be it for on-site copy or for blog posts, as Google can now determine whether your content is actually helping the end users. Product descriptions should be accurate, engaging, and sound natural while balancing keyword inclusions; articles should be highly informative and valuable to your target market.
- Streamline site architecture — Since your store will have plenty of pages, make sure each one is three clicks away from the homepage. The entire site should also be easily navigated by visitors. Do these and your site will be able to accommodate your store’s expansion as you add more products in the future.
- Build backlinks — The more inbound links from relevant sites going to your own store, the better you look in Google’s eyes. Find vaping sites that publish articles from guest authors and pitch them topics that their own audience will find valuable. You can then add a relevant link to one of your pages. Broken link building is also another tactic you can use.
- Optimise for local search — List your site on various business directories (e.g. Yelp, Google My Business, Bing Places For Business), and target local keywords based on your location.
We’ve published a step-by-step guide on how to apply SEO techniques properly for a more in depth look. Despite the temptation of quick wins, just stick with white-hat strategies as gaming Google’s algorithm will ultimately lead to no good in the long run.
Traditional businesses often invest in various advertising methods to market their products. However, vaping products face a special set of limitations as per the provisions of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD).
The TPD comes with restrictions on e-cigarettes and e-liquids that are sold within and outside the EU—and by extension, the UK. This includes proper labelling, modifying products, importing, and submission for registration.
When it comes to advertising, there are several legalities that you need to keep in mind, as per Article 20(5) of the TPD:
- Prohibited channels — You can’t advertise on TV, newspapers, magazines (except trade magazines), radio, internet, email, and text messages. You can, however, advertise on blogs, tweets, posters, explainer videos, leaflets, and direct hard copy mal.
- Platform-specific rules — Google and other social platforms also have their own restrictions regarding vaping ads, so it’s best to read up on them. Specifically, Facebook and AdWords do not allow vaping ads, as these are considered to be tobacco products.
- Nicotine products — You can advertise vaping products with no nicotine content (e.g. non-nicotine e-liquids and disposable e-cigs), as well as non-disposable e-cigs that can only take non-nicotine e-liquid cartridges.
- Health claims — Medicinal products can also be advertised provided that they’ve been approved by the MHRA based on robust evidences. Without the proper license, you cannot make any medicinal claims on your products.
You can still invest in advertising as long as you stay compliant. However, it’s due to these restrictions that investing more in other online marketing efforts will be the best course of action for your store.
3. Social Media Marketing
Think of social media as a free way to reach out to their growing number of users. Although it won’t cost you anything to keep posting or sharing your content, you still have to dedicate a significant amount of time to build a following.
As these are most likely cold visitors, make sure that your posts direct them to a funnel (e.g. invite them to your mailing list) with the aim of turning them into eventual buyers.
Here are a few strategies you can employ to increase your following:
- Create quality content — Social media users expect visually-appealing content. If you can’t do it in-house, hire a professional to take photos and videos.
- Utilise Facebook groups — Although you can’t advertise vape products on Facebook, you can join groups composed of vape enthusiasts in your target location. However, before going in to promote your products (unless permitted by group moderators), first aim to be a valuable member of the group. You can post advices, tips, or share content that people will find helpful. In time, you’ll establish your name as one of the experts in the field and be able to build a following. Lastly, although organic reach on Facebook is dwindling, it will still help to have an active business page.
- Join Reddit communities — Similar to Facebook, you can’t advertise on Reddit, but you can join plenty of vaping communities and be an active member.
- Create YouTube how-to videos — Since it’s allowed by the TPD, you can create explainer videos on your own YouTube channel. You can also reach out to influencers and allow them to give an unbiased review of your product/s. Alternatively, there are YouTube channels dedicated for e-cig reviewing, which you can also pitch to.
- Post vaping tricks on Instagram — Being a visual platform, Instagram is one of the best places to share your photos and videos. Reach out to influencers or wait for them to reach out to you to be one of your brand ambassadors. One of the best content you can share is videos of various vaping tricks are these are always a delight to watch.
- Share your blog posts — Publishing your articles will not magically generate traffic. Share them on your social platforms to maximise the number of people who will read them.
4. Email Marketing
Creating content is well and good, especially if your target market finds them valuable. However, readers do not always translate to buyers. Email marketing is one of the most budget-friendly ways to turn your cold traffic into paying customers.
To entice them to join your mailing list, you can do the following:
- Offer a discount — Provide a single-use coupon for a percentage discount if they agree to give you their email addresses
- Offer a lead generation content — These are often ebooks or other long-form content that they won’t be able to get on your website/blog
- Offer a giveaway — This can be a free product or a kit that is only available for a limited number of new subscribers or within limited time
For your existing subscribers, you can send them promotional emails and share your current blog posts. This way, you’ll be building a relationship with them and encouraging them to buy from you the next time they need new vaping gear.
If you’re targeting customers within the EU, read up on the provisions of the GDPR, as you’ll be handling your customers’ private information with email marketing.
5. Content Marketing
By and large, the strategies we mentioned above already fall under the content marketing umbrella. Publishing regular valuable information without additional charge has a two-pronged benefit: help your site rank on the SERPs and establish your brand as an authority in your field.
Plenty of vapers will have a multitude of questions regarding this lifestyle, which you can then answer via your content. Some of the content you can publish on-site include:
- Infographics of hard data, so these can be easier consumed
- Videos of product reviews, how-to’s, and demos
- Short- and long-form articles that answer frequently asked questions within the community
- Podcasts discussing recent vaping issues/news
Do note that your content may not always end up in monetary ROI, so direct your traffic to a sales funnel that will encourage them to buy from you eventually (e.g. email marketing).
Leave No Stones Unturned
Despite advertising restrictions, a new vape store like yours can still compete with bigger brands, as there are several other channels that you can maximise.
While these may take more time to give you results, the strategies detailed here remain to be effective ways to promote your shop without needing to sink a huge chunk of your budget in ad placements. Remember to use each strategy as cogs within an overall marketing campaign, then set specific KPIs to measure how effective they are over time.