With 80% (or more) of adults in the United States having at least one social media profile, the exposure advantages of online marketing may be self-evident. However, if you are just now considering internet marketing for your business, you are likely one of the few who has also taken note of the inherent disadvantages of internet marketing.
Yes, disadvantages. You may be asking, “What is this wizardry you speak of?”.
If that’s the case, you may be surprised to find out that, even in 2016, there are still some situations which may potentially deem online marketing as a disadvantage practice. If these situations apply to you, they should likely be equally considered as you evaluate the pros and cons of marketing your business on the internet. On a side note, if your objective is mortgage/real estate lead generation, there are not many disadvantages involved in online marketing. Its actually essential.
Among American adults, the percentage who use social networking sites, by age. Courtesy of Pew Research Center.
The internet provides a considerably more cost-effective means of reaching out to potential customers than direct mail campaigns, going door-to-door, or outsourced telemarketing. Postage is expensive, even with a mail permit. And even if you take care of telemarketing and door knocking upon yourself (or your sales department), your contact may be unwelcome – or even illegal – in some cases. Most social media profiles are free to create. Web sites can be (relatively) very inexpensive.
Your ability to reach out to an interested audience is dramatically improved online. Social media, search engine optimization and utilizing an effective web design are all means in which you can reach out to an audience specifically interested in your products or services.
An effective internet presence will provide your brand with geographic flexibility, allowing you to reach more of your local market or expand your products or services to a wider, national or international audience (whichever floats your goat). Social media marketing, online advertising, and geotargeted marketing are all means in which the internet will allow you to target audiences in specific areas of the world.
Your ability to quickly deliver information to potential or existing customers is greatly improved online. No more flipping through hard copies of the Yellowpages or waiting for brochures to arrive in the mail. By marketing on the internet, you are able to deliver information to your customers whenever they want it, wherever they are, regardless of the mobile device, tablet, or laptop they may be using.
If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. The internet allows companies to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns very quickly, allowing them to eliminate or optimize ineffective marketing without draining their bank accounts. Direct mail, offline advertising, and most kinds of offline marketing in general, can all be very difficult to analyze without spending significant amounts of money.
Small businesses and large corporations are essentially reduced to an even playing field online. As a result, the number of competitors is naturally much greater. Increased competition always benefits the consumer. In addition to the fact we all want the world to be a better place, we are also all consumers in one regard or another. Plus, a very small portion of the population are owners of large corporations. More than likely, a level playing field is an advantage to you.
(Potential) Disadvantages of Online Marketing
Although there are many advantages to online marketing, there are some situations where it might be a less attractive consideration.
BTW, the examples provided are strictly hypothetical examples- not suggestions. I highly discourage taking advantage of people or pursuing illegal activities and, therefore, am not responsible for your life decisions.
That said, internet marketing might be disadvantageous if:
You’re Amish, a member of The Exclusive Brethren, or any other community or religion which might shun you for using the internet. I previously managed Amish construction crews in Northeast Ohio and am quite familiar with the situation there. Although many Amish communities have accepted the use of mobile devices (hidden out in the woods) for the members of the community which rely on the devices to maintain an operable business, online marketing is likely to be a different story (as of yet, anyway). It’s unlikely that this applies to you if you’re reading this, however.
Your business only works if you go door-to-door or hold ‘parties’ to sell your products on the spot. If this is the case, allowing your prospective customers to do online research (or shop) is likely a great disadvantage to your sales strategy.
You sell Facebook profiles, Gmail accounts, or any other online services which would otherwise be easy and free to establish if your customers only knew. Maybe your target market is recently-released convicts.
You resell copies of the Yellowpages or other hard copy directories which would be free if your customers only knew where to find them (and happen to be in the 13.5% of the US population which does not use the internet, of course).
You make money by taking advantage of people or by prowling on their lack of knowledge or ability to access it.
You operate a black market business.
Your business is top secret, classified, or does not exist.
There are many reasons to establish an effective internet presence for your business online and only a small fraction of the population which this may not be applicable.
As a general rule of thumb, internet marketing is a great investment of your time and resources to maximize your exposure. If you are looking for an effective method of generating qualified mortgage leads, for instance, you will likely need to take advantage of online marketing resources.
As a small to medium size business owner, exposure is everything. If you are going to capture the attention of the millions of people in the US who live their daily lives with their eyes glued to the front of their mobile devices, you have to catch their attention where it counts.
August 2018 Update: Most of the information in this article still applies today but Google My Business has now added on more features, so there is actually more to pay attention to.
I have had great success helping my clients drive additional business to their vape shops and I am open to discuss doing this for your business as well. I have one client in particular, that owns 13 vape shops. He attributes the doubling of his client base over the past year mostly due to my work on his Google listings.
This service is $1,250 for 1 location. There is a bulk discount available for multiple locations.
Simply fill out the form on the Contact page for more information or to arrange a discussion.
—————————————————————————————————————————–As a vapor industry business owner, maintaining an effective online presence is likely one of the most important things to prioritize in order to ensure the success of your business (outside of finding good employees and maintaining an inventory of quality product, of course).
Below you will find a fairly comprehensive list of the free vape shop marketing resources available. Some will also be effective for marketing a vapor wholesale business or eLiquid brand, however, this list is specifically geared towards optimizing your vape shop’s brand visibility.
In reviewing and utilizing these resources, please understand that one of the most important aspects of optimizing your vape shop’s presence online (or any ‘brick and mortar’ business, for that matter) is directly dependent upon your ability to portray a welcoming experience for prospective customers and the consistent distribution your business name, address, and phone number (at minimum).
In order to ensure your business is receiving all of the traffic it needs (or is capable of acquiring) you want to make sure your business is listed in every relevant local directory as well as industry relevant directory possible – with the exact same name, address, and phone number (NAP). I have made it a point to include most of the important resources to utilize below but each market will have slightly different resources, which can be discovered by utilizing the process described below.
Is having an actual website absolutely necessary in order to establish or maintain a successful vape shop?
Quite simply, yes. Some will disagree and give examples of vape shops which have done well without an official website and I am aware of some of these examples, however, these businesses are an exception to the rule.
Some will disagree and give examples of vape shops which have done well without an official website and I am aware of some of these examples, however, these businesses are an exception to the rule.
Failing to implement an effective, professionally designed and search engine optimized website with on-page and off-page SEO in place, is shooting yourself in the foot before you even open your doors.
There are distinct differences which can usually be identified that make the difference. In fact, it’s almost predictable, to a certain extent.
While failure to have an effective vape shop website is likely not the most common reason for vape shop failure, I would say it is likely a close second place to hiring ineffective, lazy or conceited employees (or the owner coming across as this type of person) and/or choosing a bad location.
These things are absolutely certain to kill your shop but failure to implement an effective web presence will do the same. It might just take a bit longer and will not likely be as easy to identify as the problem (until now, anyway).
I say this because the effectiveness and ultimately the results you get from listing your shop on these sites may rely a great deal on having a website in place for them to link back to.
That said, running a vape shop without a website makes it that much more important to take advantage of all of the resources available.
These directories are specifically for vape shops and vapor stores and they allow users to find local shops in their area. Keep in mind that is not the only purpose of utilizing directories.
The customers may not even use these websites but having links to your website, including your name, address, and phone number, will make your vape shop more attractive and indexable to search engines since they are industry specific and are not spam sites.
FogPusher Local: Find Your Favorite Premium eLiquid Brands Nearby
FogPusher Local is the newest addition to the vape shop directory list. This is actually a project I designed myself to allow vape shop customers to search for their favorite eLiquid brands online.
The project came about because I was looking for a vape shop that carried a particular eLiquid I was interested in and the process of doing so came out to be a little more time consuming than I had hoped or anticipated.
The project is designed to index vape shops by the brands of eLiquid they carry, allowing customers to find them searching for these brands.
VaporSearchUSA: Helping You Find Your Local Vape Shop since 2009
This is one of the original vape shop directories and still manages to rank very well on Google. While listings are not free, the $20-25 / year investment is a wise choice to make due to the website’s search engine rank and overall visibility.
I have also seen Vapor Search USA at some of the industry trade shows. They have an active presence in the industry, unlike many of the other vape shop resources listed.
This list includes a list of free business directories which are worth listing your vape shop online. These resources include vape shops in their directories / profile listings but are more specific to local businesses in general than they are vapor industry specific. All of the following sites are worth creating listings for your business, and some are absolutely necessary.
All of the following sites are worth creating listings for your business, and some are absolutely necessary.
Google business is by far one of the most important listings you can create as a vape shop owner. Most people conduct their online searches for local businesses using their cell phones so you are missing out on a tremendous amount of the market by not having this listing in place.
When you create the account, they are going to mail you a PIN number to verify your listing online. Look out for that in your mail, typically in the first 3-7 days after submitting your listing.
Bing is a growing player in the search engine world and you definitely want to set your shop up with a listing on their local business site. They will also mail you a PIN number which you will need to verify.
Foursquare is another local business resource which allows users to ‘check in’ at the places they visit. This has been around for a while and there are a lot of people that use the service. It is definitely worth taking the time to set up for your shop. They will also mail you a PIN number.
YP.com has become one of the leaders in the business directory world. They also now have a vape shop listing section, specifically geared towards listing vape shops. While they also have paid listing services, you will, at least, cover the basics by utilizing the free business listing they have available. Don’t be surprised when they call you to sell you advertising. In fact, you can count on them doing that.
Don’t be surprised when they call you to sell you advertising. In fact, you can count on them doing that.
‘People use Yelp to search for everything from the city’s tastiest burger to the most renowned cardiologist.’ Yelp is a review website which allows people who enjoy reviewing things to go on their and share a piece of their mind. Unfortunately, many of the times that people feel motivated to post a listing are when they are extremely upset with an organization about something, however, you will find in browsing their site that this is not always the case.
Unfortunately, many of the times that people feel motivated to post a listing are when they are extremely upset with an organization about something, however, you will find in browsing their site that this is not always the case.
It is always important to be consistent with your attitude and honest with customers with things and you will not have to worry about negative reviews. Actually, I can pretty much guarantee you that as long as you are nice to people when they come in and you maintain at least a basic inventory of products that people want, and are honest with them when they ask for things they don’t want, that most likely nobody is going to make any negative reviews. There are always exceptions where people are just rude and are having a bad day but I would say more likely than not, people will not go out of their way to curse you unless you set some kind of expectation which you were unable to meet.
There are always exceptions where people are just rude and are having a bad day but I would say more likely than not, people will not go out of their way to curse you unless you set some kind of expectation which you were unable to meet.
There are always exceptions where people are just rude and are having a bad day but I would say more likely than not, people will not go out of their way to curse you unless you set some kind of expectation which you were unable to meet.
There are MANY more than these… read on to learn about how to find them.
How to Find the Most Important Directories to List Your Shop (Other Than Mentioned)
To find additional vape shop directories relevant to your specific area, conduct a Google search for ‘find a vape shop (your city)’ and locate the directory listings which appear on the first couple pages of the search. For example, if you live in Oklahoma City you might search for finding a vape shop Oklahoma City (shown below), and your results would look something similar to the images below.
Notice some of the listings will be for actual vape shops which have ranked well or that you have recently visited online and others will be actual directories. First, you will likely see the local search results.
Above you will see the local search results, which appear first when conducting a Google Search for a local business. If you do not see your business listed and are interested in being in the top three show, or at least on the first page, be sure to contact us to find out how we can help. With our services, we guarantee your vape shop being listed on the first page at very least.
Next, you will see the actual web search results. I have highlighted the directories and the actual shops to better explain how to go about identifying which are directories and which are local businesses which have just ranked well for the search terms you used. If you are in doubt about which, just visit the sites and see what they are about.
You should do this for each key word you want to rank for, scanning and noting the first 2-3 pages of the search results. These are the most relevant for your particular area
After you do this you might try the same with ‘vapor store (your city)’, ‘pigs (your city)’, etc…. You want to make sure all of your bases are covered in terms of potential search terms used to locate your shop.
I specialize in vape shop web design, SEO, and digital marketing services for local businesses (physical address local, not close to me necessarily) and have been involved primarily in the vapor industry for the past couple years. In addition to vape shop websites, I can help you market or design a website for an eLiquid brand you manufacture or distribute or for your vapor wholesale business.
A large portion of my business is in designing websites and SEO services, so many of the questions I receive are in regard to the necessities involved in designing a website for a vapor store. Since I design websites and perform SEO services for companies in other industries as well, I wanted to take the opportunity to explain the reasoning that vape shop website design should be approached from a somewhat different mindset than retail businesses in other industries.
Being that I design websites and perform SEO services for companies in other industries as well, I wanted to take the opportunity to explain the reasoning that vape shop website design should be approached from a somewhat different mindset than retail businesses in other industries.
First and most importantly, vapor consumers are primarily buying name brand items (hardware or eLiquids) which are available from many places, most of which can easily be found online very quickly and conveniently.
That said, it is extremely important to consider your business model in the design of your website in general.
There is definitely a place in the industry for retail shops, however, if you are driving your customers to buy products (other than possibly your own eLiquids) on your website, you may be making a costly mistake.
As a retail business, your objective should be to get customers in the door and if your web presence is geared to do anything other than that, you are likely diluting your purpose and possibly turning your would-be customers into online shoppers.
Be Specific, But Not Too Specific
The majority of sought-after vapor products are ‘specialty’ items which cannot be purchased anywhere – and likely not even in every vape shop.
The industry is moving quickly and it is unreasonable to think that you would be able to keep up with every new product.
You may have something at least comparable to the majority of all products on the market, but if you are losing customers at your website, they are likely to never know about it.
That said, if you are going to list out the specific products you are carrying, you either need to make sure the list is constantly updated or better yet, if you are going to have a list at all, keep the list limited to the name brands you carry rather than listing out the products.
Because if you are too specific about what you are carrying and your customers see a list which does not include what they are looking for, they may just assume you don’t have what they want.
Encourage the customers to come see you as (hopefully) your inventory is being updated with new products on a regular basis.
For anything the customer needs to ‘try on’ to fit themselves, the customer is going to be much more likely to go to a brick and mortar location to purchase.
Additionally, even if people are making youtube videos reviewing the newest basketball shoes on the market, the customer is still going to need to see how they fit their own feet.
The vapor retail business could be more accurately compared to an adult novelty store, however, many people are not comfortable using their credit cards for the items they would purchase from these stores.
They are also likely to be less comfortable with the idea of their mailman, significant other or roomate knowing about their purchase.
For these reasons, the web design strategy used for an adult novelty store is less concerning than it should be for a vapor store. Its just not the same…
Regardless of the industry, today, more than ever before, there exists a massive amount of online and offline competition (the ‘Fog’ if you will) which must be properly addressed in order for your business to survive.
This is particularly true for industries in which your competitors have revolutionized the way business is conducted, making life less expensive and/or faster (possibly better) for customers. The mortgage/real estate industry is a perfect example of this. If you are looking to generate mortgage or real estate leads then you need to make sure you are ahead of the market learning curve.
If you do not have the consistent foot traffic you would like to have (or XYZ competitor down is having) then be grateful your doors are still open! It’s time to do yourself a favor and get your arms around the depth of the problem at hand.
These tests are a bare minimum, however, for those of you less technologically inclined, it should be a good starting reference point.
Be patient and follow the steps.
If you are a brick & mortar business owner, the more difficulty you have doing this equates to the greater likelihood that you probably need it the most.
This is not for everybody. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you if you continue reading.
Disclaimer: My primary objective is to provide local businesses with resources to effectively compete, not to discourage you. Brick & Mortar business owners are MY business. In order to effectively compete, we must first understand the nature of the competition. In doing so, my obligation is to provide straight-forward facts and resources. Necessary self-evaluation is usually not much fun but better now than when it’s too late.
The effectiveness (or presence) of your business’ online existence. Is it actually working FOR you?
If you haven’t noticed how much time your customers are spending on their phones, then do yourself a favor and pay attention. Humans have evolved into mobile creatures and their mobile device is their second brain.
With that being said, a website in and of itself is not going to do a lot for you.
There are many websites out there and if yours is not positioned & designed correctly with the right content and strategically placed throughout the web, it’s not going to be found. In many cases, you are going to be better off not even having one.
Additionally, not only does every aspect of your online marketing need to be congruent with your website, meanwhile directing traffic back to it, but it needs to be responsive (mobile-friendly), descriptive, and original – among other things.
How to check:
(This is just a very basic surface-level method for anybody to check. I provide a much more in-depth analysis in my free consultation but hopefully, this will help paint the picture for those less technically inclined.)
Pick up your phone (or anybody’s phone). Log out of your Google account (or anybody’s for that matter, but ask permission first). Visit Google and search for your type of business and your zip code. I.e.: if you own a vape shop search “vape shop” and your zip code (vape shop 73118, vape shop 93102, etc… ). If you are a dentist, nightclub, lawyer, smoke shop, tobacco shop, search for that and your zip code. Does your business appear on the first page? Does it appear anywhere?
Do the same for alternatives for searching for your general business i.e.: for a vape shop try vapor shop 73118, vaping accessories 73118, etc… If you’re a dentist try maybe dental services 73118, oral hygienist 73118, etc… Does your business appear on the first page? Does it appear at all?
Repeat steps 1 and 2 from a laptop or desktop computer. Does your business appear in the first page? Does your business appear at all? (Search results may vary dependent upon where the actual search is taking place and your device’s local search settings. Search results will definitely vary if you are logged into your Gmail / Google account as your results are personalized to your previous searches when you are logged in.)
Repeat both processes, except this time, use your city instead of your zip code. Do you come up in the first page? Do you appear at all?
If you’re satisfied with your business’ Google search results that’s great! Proceed to next section.
Business owners have more options as to the choice of their product and service providers today than they have in the past.
If your staff is not giving off the good vibes with a welcoming (much different than ‘in-your-face’) attitude then there is a good chance you are feeding your online competitors (or even worse, the ones down the street) with a steady flow of business.
However, local shops DO have the ability to provide some distinct competitive advantages over online competitors including the abilities to:
Allow customers to experience a more hands-on, personable buying process.
An experience which is (ideally) more pleasant than clicking around online.
Provide products or services immediately vs. having to wait for mail delays.
Possibly easier return process.
From a marketing perspective, get discovered easier and more frequently by local customers – especially when user is conducting a local search. Fortunately, localization has become a priority among the major search engines as they strive to find the most relevant search results for the particular user.
These are real advantages, however, keep in mind that one bad customer interaction will make these advantages less advantageous. Especially, considering online shopping venues have the potential advantages of:
Allowing for cheaper purchases (much cheaper in some industries).
Providing a personalized online shopping experience by saving the customer’s previous shopping cart and effortlessly directing them towards the same purchase and effortless cross-sales presentation.
Allowing the customer to not have to deal with real people whatsoever or drive anywhere to shop.
Depending on the location of the online retailer, 1-3 day USPS shipping (could become quicker for products if Amazon has anything to say about it). Free shipping in many cases.
In the medical industry, customers now have the choice of seeing a healthcare provider from the comfort of their couch, via webcam.
With that being said, it is extremely important to make sure you and your employees are able to leave their fights with their girlfriends or their political upheavals at home. Failure to do so is costing you money – possibly in a great way.
How to Check:
Search your business name on Yelp.com. Are you listed? Are there bad reviews? If you’re not listed then that could be a major issue. If you have bad reviews then pay attention to what the reviewers are saying, contact me and lets start fresh.
Repeat step 1 with Facebook.com.
Is having a favorable Better Business Bureau review applicable to your business? If so, are you listed on there?
Now again with any industry-specific consumer review websites (hint: Google it).
At this point, you should either be lost or confident that you are on the right track. If you’re lost – I can help.
Are you in the same ballpark? Are you playing the same game?
This one I can’t help you out on as much. You opened the business so hopefully, you had a good plan in mind for how to keep your products and services at a comparable level or above that of your local competition.
Luckily, that is not the most important factor for a brick & mortar buyer. They generally want quality, value, and (most importantly) convenience.
Give it to them and you are on the right track.
Lost? There is hope. I am here to help. Call me at 405-496-5073.