Unlike promoting other businesses, vape shop marketing can be harder considering that electronic cigarettes are often treated similar to tobacco by government agencies in many countries. Even in Australia and New Zealand, there are legal restrictions when promoting vaping products that should be carefully considered by store owners. But don’t worry though. In this article, we provide you with helpful guides and insights on marketing your vape shop and growing your business.
Marketing Practices of Vapour Store Owners
To be able to market your vape store, it’s wise to know the current vape marketing practices of active store owners.
Traditional marketing channels currently employed by store owners include:
- Radio and/or television ads
- Advertisements on local newspapers
- Other print ads such as leaflets and store receipts
- Outdoor signage like banners, billboards and vehicle decals
- Word of mouth
- Coupons, specials and other programmes that encourage brand loyalty
Point-of-sale marketing techniques include displaying vape items in clear display cases in the store. Other store owners use a board or laminated paper so they can easily change the “menu” when other flavours are added or taken off the shelf.
Online/Digital marketing techniques include:
- Posting on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram
- Launching a website, which only a few owners have due to the skills required or the costs
- Registering in online niche directories or on Google Maps for greater visibility
- Sending e-mails or text to those who consented to receive periodic notices of specials.
Some vape shop owners provide discounts or specials to specific groups of customers such as college students, military personnel or hospital staff. Some stores host events to promote their business to the local community. Others join in local community events to gain a presence.
What You Can and Can’t Do While Marketing an Online Vape Shop
The biggest hindrance when marketing an online vape shop is that you cannot use the paid ads of the biggest web and social media networks to promote your products. Specifically, Google Shopping Ads disallows the promotion of electronic cigarettes or any products designed to simulate tobacco smoking. In the same way, the major social media platforms, such as Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook, disallow ads that promote the sale or use of tobacco products, related paraphernalia or alternatives that imitate the act of smoking.
Fortunately, there are still ways for online vape shop marketing beyond paid ads.
- Implement effective search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques on your website to ensure that those who are specifically searching for vape products online will immediately see your shop.
- Off-site SEO techniques can also be performed by joining vape-related online forums, submitting related articles to vape blogs and news sites, and submitting your business to a high quality online directory.
- Promote your products through social media posts such as Instagram, and gain thousands of followers.
- Collaborate with social media “influencers” to feature your products.
Tips for Smoke or Vape Shop Marketing to Grow Your Small Business
When running a small business such as your smoke or vape shop, you might think that you won’t have an edge against companies with a much larger marketing budget. Fortunately, the internet is your most valuable tool in order to grow your vape shop business.
- Use social media platforms effectively. Almost everyone has a social media account, and thus, it’s sensible to strengthen your store’s presence in these platforms by regularly posting updates on your products and specials, and engaging with your target market. Moreover, these social media channels now feature tools that make mobile shopping more convenient.
- Connect with bloggers and influencers with a large audience to promote or review your products. You can provide them with free products to use on their photo or video content.
- Have a blog section on your website and regularly post quality written articles with keywords relevant to your business. This is not just for search engine optimisation, but also for building an authoritative image by providing your target consumers with helpful vape-related information, tips and guides.
- Give your product pages with optimized images and relevant, well-written titles and descriptions. This is both for SEO purposes and for your customers’ seamless shopping experience.
- Encourage customers and target consumers to be a part of your e-mail marketing campaign for promoting new products and deals.
Creative Vape Shop Marketing Strategies that Cost Less
Whether you’re marketing an online vape shop or a brick-and-mortar establishment, here are some creative techniques to do so when you have a tight budget:
- Engage millennials (or younger) on Instagram. They comprise more than 50% of vape users and are mostly active on Instagram. Launching an IG account is free, and you can take advantage of the platform’s limit of 30 hashtags to reach your target audience.
- Depending on your target consumers, make use of other social media networks where most of them can be found. Just like Instagram, the major networks offer free registration.
- Launch your own blog. There are blogging platforms where you can create your blog for free. Make sure to write quality content relevant to your business that your customers will find worthy of reading. With SEO techniques, your articles will also make it to search engine results for relevant keywords. Also, make sure to promote your blog on your social media.
- Join relevant communities in Reddit forum. This platform has categories, including vaping, to help you conveniently find your target consumers. Reddit member registration is free, but you can pay for a membership upgrade to enjoy premium features.
- Consider digital loyalty cards and punch cards. There are digital companies offering these services at a minimum price. In this way, you won’t have to spend for printing the traditional loyalty cards since your customers will only have to show the app on their phones.
Secrets to Vape Shop Social Media Marketing
Social media is one of the most powerful, cost-effective tools that vape shop owners can use today. Furthermore, most consumers are more likely to visit local businesses with a social media presence. Below are some steps to have effective social media marketing.
- Identify your target market’s demographics, interests and motivations in order to determine the social media platforms to use. Especially for small business owners with little marketing budget, it will be useless to utilize all networks in an attempt to capture a greater audience who may have no or low interest in vaping.
- Regularly post content your target consumers will find interesting and worth reading.
- Use videos and photos on your posts since they gain more engagement compared to text-based posts.
- Post updates about your store, new products as well as events to keep your audience engaged.
- Gain more followers by offering exclusive deals and promotions to your shop’s social media fans.
- Consider using paid ads on social media platforms. For example, Facebook Ads allows you to determine a specific target market to ensure only the relevant audience gets to see your ads, and thus, lets you enjoy greater return on investment.
- Add links to your social media accounts on your e-mail marketing newsletters, websites and printed adverts. Add a list of the links on each social media profile for a multi-channel approach and for encouraging customers to subscribe to your accounts.
Vape Shop Marketing From a Millennial Shop Owner
Successful vape shop owner, Alex Boyd, shared his “millennial secrets” for marketing in an interview with Vape Mentors. In the beginning, he bought a struggling vape shop business, kept the name and hired new employees. As part of the rebranding, he changed the look of the store from its counterculture environment to a customer-friendly one in order to appeal to the older people who frequent his store. Identifying the older demographic as his frequent customers, Boyd recommends staying professional and keeping the counterculture to a minimum.
Boyd also suggested the following vape shop marketing strategies:
- Assess what other successful brands do for the same target market
- Imitate the high-end vape juices even for lower-priced ones but watch out for trademark infringement.
- Offer immediate in-store discounts to those who will “check in” on your brand’s social media account.
- If you’re wholesaling, offer free marketing materials and bottles to the stores.
- Create effective branding by creating a consistent story and hype behind the brand.
Effective Ways on How to Market Your Own Vape Shop
Marketing activities can be costly, and thus, you need to ensure that your vape shop’s marketing strategies are as effective as possible. The following are some techniques you can implement:
- Ask potential and current customers to subscribe to your email newsletter through the checkout page for online orders or a guestbook for brick-and-mortar establishments. Offering sample products or discount vouchers are also good incentives for people to share their email addresses.
- Do not underestimate the value of having a dedicated website for your vape shop. With the right SEO strategies applied, you can have a strong visibility when people search online for vape products, supplies and accessories.
- Display your products on vape websites and magazines. These niche platforms can help strengthen your brand and boost your business because they specifically cater to your customers and prospects.
- Expand your business network with like-minded people by joining vape conferences, trade fairs and exhibitions. You can meet vapers and fellow vape shop owners in these events, where you can get updated with the latest in the vape industry.
Top Marketing Tips to Double your Vape Shop Sales
If you’re thinking of doubling your sales this year, you shouldn’t ignore these vape shop marketing tips:
- Hire brand ambassadors to promote your brand. Consider choosing the people who are naturally passionate about vaping to save you time and money in orienting and training them. It’ll also be easy for the ambassadors to sell your products.
- Have fresh, new stocks and aim to sell them immediately. Set up a “New Arrivals” section and inform your current and potential customers about them through your marketing communication channels.
- Understand the demographics of your consumers in order to create effective, personalised marketing campaigns.
- Strengthen your loyalty programmes by offering special deals, creating a VIP club and delivering experiences that are unique to your customers.
- Host regular events to keep customers coming back to your shop.
- Collaborate with like-minded local businesses (non-competitors) to create community events. This is also a great way to bring in new customers into the industry.