A good company website is so much more than a digital brochure. It is the first impression for most of your customers, and a direct representation of your company. It is the method in which most people research products and services before buying. The cannabis industry is tech-savvy and demands a fast and efficient sales experience, which often starts with your website. Whether you're selling cannabis products or marketing to the industry, here are five key elements to consider before starting your website project.
1. Appear at the Top of Google Searches for Cannabis Key Phrases
With so many restrictions on advertising in the cannabis industry, search engine optimization (SEO) is more important than ever. Appearing in organic search results is one of the most cost-effective ways to generate traffic and leads on a long-term basis. A website with properly implemented SEO will help elevate your business to the top of Google’s search results for your target key phrases. As the cannabis industry is still new and emerging, this is the ideal time to take advantage of the unique SEO opportunity that it offers. It’s entirely possible for your company to make it to the #1 search result for your product when the word “cannabis” or “marijuana” is part of the key phrase. For example, some enterprising realtors have optimized their website for key phrases such as "cannabis real estate agent Denver.” This is called a longtail SEO strategy, and it allows companies to focus on a key phrase that is highly specific to their service offering, with a very good chance of appearing first in the search results.
2. Your Potential Customers are Diverse and View Websites Differently
Because the demographics in the cannabis industry are so incredibly diverse, you need to accommodate every age group from 21 and older. Even if you’re a B2B company, decision makers you’re trying to reach in the cannabis industry are often younger than in other sectors. This is why it’s essential to develop a website that offers up a great visual experience on every device screen size that your audience may use. Having a responsive site means more than just scaling the website down to fit on a smartphone screen. It’s about making strategic decisions on what content is most important to display, and ensuring there’s a clear navigation path and call to action, no matter how it’s being viewed. Your website should be aesthetically pleasing and highly functional on mobile, tablet, laptop, and desktop screens.
3. Your Audience Demands a Fast, Secure & Reliable Experience
Hosting is a hugely important component of any good website, but unfortunately, it’s commonly an afterthought. We’ve seen many companies opt for cheap shared hosting solutions thinking that will be “good enough” – until they experience slow load times, downtime, or even get hacked. A good digital marketing company will have a dedicated private server solution that greatly increases security, speed and uptime reliability. Cannabis customers also demand a higher level of privacy and discretion when ordering cannabis products. One of the worst things you can do is ask them to fill out an unsecured form that triggers browser alerts warning that the site is not SSL encrypted and could be intercepted by a 3rd party. Hiring a developer who is aware of server best practices means your customers will have a smooth experience while interacting with your site.
4. Your Website Needs to be Compliant with Industry-Specific Regulations
- Navigating through all the cannabis rules and guidelines of your jurisdiction can be an arduous process, and that applies to your digital presence as well. There are many industry-specific regulations you may need to follow such as:
- Requiring a splash page asking if the user is 21 or older.
- Advertising restrictions, such as not being allowed to promote the medicinal benefits of cannabis.
- Advertising or marketing containing symbols, language, music, gestures, cartoon characters or other content elements known to appeal primarily to persons below the legal age of consumption.
- Restrictions in some states on the use of pop-ups and banners to advertise your product.
If you’re hiring a marketing agency to create your cannabis website, be sure they are familiar with the rules that apply to your geographical area.
5. A Well-Designed Website is a Lead Generation Machine
In almost every type of business, a company’s website has the potential to generate more sales leads than every other form of contact. Your prospective customers demand a website with clear calls to action without requiring more than a few clicks to access the information they’re looking for. Maximize your sales leads by ensuring your next site design incorporates the following:
- Calls to action on every page. Think about what you would like your customer to do (e.g. requesting a quote) and make it easy for your users to take that action.
- Every single website should have a contact form instead of a published email address. A contact form allows you to ask for specific information from your web leads, allowing you to streamline your sales process. In addition, publishing your company email addresses is a sure-fire way to be spammed by countless advertising bots.
- Integrate your site with existing systems as much as possible, and use marketing automation software such as SharpSpring to automatically respond to your web leads with pertinent information, depending on how they fill out your contact form.
- Collect email addresses whenever possible. Email marketing is still one of the most effective forms of engagement, and asking for an email address allows you to stay in touch even if your prospective customer is not ready to buy today. Asking for an email address before a user can download a white paper, sell sheet, or presentation is a great way to build a marketing database.