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April 20, 2018

5 Essential Business Tips for Vape Retailers

5 Essential Tips for Vape Retailers and Headshops

1. Curate a Comfortable Environment

Research supports that the physical layout of your shop plays a crucial role in your business’s success. In order to make your shop appealing to your customers, it is important that you make it a comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, and “cool” environment. If customers don’t feel comfortable in your shop, odds are they will likely get what they came for and leave shortly after, or they won’t purchase anything at all. By making your shop an enjoyable place to spend time, you will encourage customers to stay longer. This will promote increased browsing time and may lead to additional sales. Curating a comfortable and engaging work environment will also boost employee morale and increase productivity.

2. Maintain a Well-Stocked Inventory

One of the most important elements of a vape shop is its inventory. Your inventory is your product offering, it will directly effect your sales, therefore your shop’s success. Your inventory is what will help differentiate you from other shops. Maintaining a well-stocked inventory consists of carrying popular flavors and brands, and constantly replenishing your shelves with fresh products. Part of maintaining a proper inventory is doing market research to determine which vape and juice brands are popular, and which particular flavors are selling the most. Nothing can hurt a shop’s reputation more than becoming known as the store with old, outdated vape mods and random, non-recognizable juice brands. Remember, the fresher and more recognizable your product offering is, the more likely it is that consumers are going to want to support your shop.

3. Create a Social Media Presence

Now that almost everyone utilizes social media on a daily basis, maintaining a professional and up-to-date social media presence has become a key element of business that you can’t ignore. Ensuring that you have all your business’s information clearly listed on social media is the first thing you need to do. This ensures that if someone finds you on social media, they know where to find your shop and how to contact you. Once your online presence is established, the next step is making sure you’re consistently updating your social media pages with original content. Whether you’re advertising new products or just posting a daily update, you want to make sure you’re constantly captivating your followers’ attention. The more exposure your followers get to your content, the more likely they are to become customers.

4. Provide Excellent Customer Service

Regardless of what industry you may be operating within, customer service is always a critical element when running a business. How you interact with your customers has an enormous effect on your business’s success. The more personalized and hands-on your customer service strategy is, the more it will benefit your shop. If customers feel like their needs are being catered to and that they are valued by the business, they are more likely to support it. If you don’t have a specific vape mod or juice that a customer is looking for, special order it for them! Small gestures can have big impacts when it comes to making an impression on your customers. If you can make your customers feel like family, they will want to support you like family.

5. Implement a Reward System

Research shows that it is five times more expensive to acquire new customers than it is to maintain current ones. Therefore, it is in your best interest to maintain them. Loyalty programs, or reward systems, are great methods for improving customer engagement and also generating additional sales. Rewards systems not only provide consumers with additional incentives to be repeat customers, but are also an efficient means of creating a relationship between the shop and the consumers. Offering small incentives to customers like a 5-10% off coupon, or implementing a point system can effectively increase your business’s market share. The customers will feel like they are getting a deal while you ultimately gain more long-term revenue in exchange for providing them with a minimal short-term discount.

April 12, 2018

Benefits of CBD

Benefits of CBD

Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is a compound that derives from the hemp plant. Unlike the compound, THC, cannabidiol does not have any psychoactive properties and is legal for use in products for consumption. Due to the many health benefits CBD provides, it is becoming more popular in the medical field as people are using it to treat a variety of medical ailments. There is still a lot to learn about CBD, but as the demand for it grows, the industry is conducting more research on it as a natural medication. Below, are some of the benefits that have been discovered thus far.

Pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties

While people typically use prescription drugs for pain relief, CBD is a natural alternative. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine found that CBD reduces pain and inflammation in mice by inhibiting neuronal transmission in pain pathways. Another study regarding multiple sclerosis found that a combination of CBD and THC buccal spray was effective in treating pain for those who suffer from the condition.

Helps with nicotine addiction and reducing drug withdrawals

People who currently smoke and want to quit could benefit from consuming CBD. A study posted to Addictive Behaviors pulled 24 smokers to be tested. Half of the group tested received an inhaler with CBD and were instructed to take it when they felt the urge to smoke. The other 12 had an inhaler with a placebo substance. Those with the CBD inhaler had about a 40% decrease in cigarettes smoked, while the placebo group had no change.

The properties in CBD could also be used to help those who battle with drug addiction by reducing the symptoms of drug withdrawal such as anxiety, mood symptoms, pain, and insomnia.

Antipsychotic Effects

CBD has a pharmacological profile that is similar to atypical antipsychotic drugs. Studies show that CBD has been reported to be effective during clinical trials in those who have schizophrenia.

Reduces Anxiety

Anxiety is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States and is often accompanied by other ailments. CBD has been shown to reduce anxiety in patients, and because of this, researchers are also suggesting that it can be useful in treating other conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In 2011, a study aimed to explore the effects CBD would have on people with social anxiety that were participating in a public speaking test. A sample group of 24 people, who had never been treated for their social anxiety, were given either CBD or placebo an hour before they were due to speak. Those who had taken CBD showed signs of reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort during their speech. The placebo group tended to experience more anxiety-triggered symptoms.

Potentially Fights Cancer Cells

Multiple studies have shown that CBD has antiproliferative, pro-apoptotic effects that inhibit cell migration, adhesion, and invasion. A 2006 study found that CBD potently and selectively inhibited cell growth of a breast cancer tumor, while not harming non-cancer cells in the body. Another study in 2011 found that CBD induces cell death in breast cancer cells with little effects on the non-cancerous, mammary cells.

Researchers also found that CBD can be used for a prolonged period without any negative effects on the patient. Not only does it work on eliminating breast cancer cells, but research also suggests it could be effective for patients with lung and colon cancer as well as leukemia.

Relieves Nausea

Cannabis, in general, has been used for centuries to help relieve nausea and vomiting. Studies show that both THC and CBD help ease nausea and vomiting in animal studies.

Treats Seizures and Other Neurological Disorders

Stanford University conducted a study of 19 families with children that had epilepsy. Before trying CBD, the families had tried, on average, 12 different antiepileptic drugs. 16 families reported a reduction in their child’s seizure frequency while taking CBD, and a few families even reported complete seizure freedom. While reducing seizures, the CBD also improved alertness, mood, and sleeping habits.

In 2014, another study was conducted on children with treatment-resistant epilepsies. They were given purified 98%, oil-based CBD. After three months, 23 of the patients had a 50% seizure reduction.

Promotes Heart Health

A 2013 study reported that CBD protects against vascular damage caused by high glucose, inflammation or type two diabetes in animals.

Who can it help?

While the effectiveness of CBD is still being researched and tested, in theory, it could help anyone with any of the previously mentioned ailments; anyone suffering from pain, addiction, anxiety, stress, PTSD, nausea, schizophrenia and more. CBD is becoming more popular for treatment, as it is natural and potentially safer than prescription drugs.

CBD Uses

CBD can be used for a multitude of things. Since it is still being tested and researched with new products being developed, some uses have more information available than others. Here is a running list:

Acne
ADHD
Addiction
Alzheimer’s
Anxiety
Arthritis
Bipolar Depression
Cancer
Depression
Diabetes
Epilepsy
Heart Disease
Inflammation
Migraines
Motion Sickness
Nausea
Pain
Stress

Side Effects
Based on current research, there are not many side effects when taking CBD. Some include dry mouth, low blood pressure, lightheadedness, and drowsiness. It may also increase tremors in patients with Parkinson’s disease if taken in a high dose.

April 11, 2018

What is Cannabidiol?

What is Cannabidiol and where does it come from?

Cannabidiol, popularly known as CBD, derives from low THC cannabis plants (.3% or under), known as hemp plants. Cannabidiol is one of 85+, naturally occurring cannabinoids in hemp plants. Hemp plants with high potency in CBD make it possible to extract CBD oil that contains a plethora of essential vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids.
What is the difference between hemp plants and cannabis plants?
Cannabis plants and hemp plants are both parts of the Cannabis plant genus, but they differ in their chemical composition. Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are found in both plants, but in hemp plants, there is 0.3% or less of THC, which makes CBD the dominating compound.

What is the difference between CBD & THC?

THC is the chemical responsible for producing psychoactive effects. Since there are such minimal traces of THC in hemp and such a high level of CBD, there are no psychotropic properties of hemp plant extracts. This is because there are no psychotropic properties of CBD.

CBD and THC both interact with the endocannabinoid systems of our bodies, which helps regulate pain, appetite, memory, mood, sleep, and immunity. CBD’s effects on these aspects of your body are non-psychoactive and have shown no adverse neurological, psychiatric or clinical effect. Meanwhile, THC can produce memory impairments, lowered reaction time, increased heart-rate and coordination issues.

Is CBD legal to obtain and consume?

Since CBD and THC both derive from the same plant family and have similar chemical make-ups, there is also much confusion surrounding its legality. Federally, cannabis is illegal but Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill established the legitimacy of industrial hemp. Industrial hemp is distinguished as a separate product from marijuana or cannabis. The bill defined industrial hemp as a type of cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3% THC on a dry-weight basis, thus making hemp plants and CBD completely legal. Now that families, legislators, scientists, doctors and more are becoming more informed on the legalities of CBD, it’s potential surrounding our physical and mental health is being recognized and researched.

How is CBD obtained?

Once cultivated, hemp plants are lifted from the ground and taken to an extraction facility. Ethanol and C02 extraction are the most commonly used methods for extracting CBD oil from the plants because they are the two cleanest ways to extract it for human consumption. These methods involve filtering plants through a series of chambers that control temperature and pressure. Next, hemp undergoes an additional step known as chromatography. This is a mechanism used to remove and dispose of unwanted plant materials from the extracted oil. The majority of CBD oil products also undergo what is known as decarboxylation. This process involves heating the cannabinoids into a form that allows it to immediately interact with the endocannabinoid system, making the compound more usable throughout the body. Finished CBD hemp oil products are tested for a final time to ensure the safety, quality and cannabinoid content of the products before they are distributed. This inspects that all CBD hemp oil products are 100% organic, non-GMO, contain zero traces of THC, and are certified in Good Manufacturing Practices.

How is the oil used in CBD products?

There are various types of CBD products you can use. Some of the most popular forms are CBD oils, sprays, capsules and topicals. The majority of the popular CBD products are in liquid form and provide many benefits. These liquid products are extremely easy to use and are some of the most affordable of CBD products. Not all CBD products are ingested orally. CBD oil topicals include salves, lotions, and balms that can be rubbed directly into the skin. Many topicals are also enriched with natural essential oils and botanicals. These topicals are great for muscle and joint pain because you can administer the product directly onto the part of the body that is inflamed or in pain.

How and where can I get CBD products?

Since CBD oil is considered a nutritional supplement and it derives from industrial hemp, it is legal to purchase and ship. CBD hemp oils are available to purchase from providers online, in many wellness and organic health stores, and in medical marijuana dispensaries. When obtaining CBD products always make sure to check that they are labeled, informing you on serving sizes and best storage methods to ensure that your products are being used and stored correctly.

Sources:

CBD Information

What is CBD Hemp Oil?

How To Extract CBD From Hemp

January 5, 2018

2018 Local SEO Guide for Headshops

How to Rank a Headshop in Google

Headshops are thriving in marijuana markets and in states that have made steps to legalize cannabis, both medically and recreationally. The demand for smoking pipes, accessories, and apparel has resulted in sales opportunities and localized competition in many areas.

In our city of Philadelphia, South Street alone is home to over a dozen headshops. As you can imagine, there are countless more across the other neighborhoods of Philadelphia.

How do these headshops set themselves apart? From a walk down South Street, it would be difficult to tell the difference between the smoke shops or tell which ones carry high-quality products.

Those utilizing a local SEO strategy will likely have more reviews and a better understanding of how to accumulate positive reviews. Also, their listings will entice customers with high-quality images of their storefront.

But what if your headshop is not located in a city? Without the massive population of Philadelphia, a lot of these headshops would struggle to get any foot traffic in their door.

A proper local SEO strategy is also extremely important for headshops that are not located in cities because it will help you get customers in your door who wouldn’t normally see your headshop while walking down the street.

Google My Business Creation and Optimization

The first step towards local SEO success is to create a Google My Business (GMB) listing and properly build it. A GMB listing is essential if you want to appear in the Google Local Pack and organic results when internet users search for headshops on their computers or their phones.

After you claim your listing, fill out your profile with all of your business information, paying very close attention to detail and making sure that all of the business information you’re adding matches the information on your website.

Provide as much detail as possible, including the type of business that you own, the location of your headshop, your business phone number, a customer service phone number, headshop hours, a link to your website, and any other relevant information.

Always keep an eye on your listing. Google includes a button in your listing that says “suggest an edit”, meaning that anyone can edit your listing. Check your listing a few times a week to make sure that nothing looks out of the ordinary.

On-Page Signals

On-page optimization is still extremely important if you want to rank your headshop for local search terms.

Optimize your titles and meta descriptions, including the name of your headshop and the name of the city that you serve. You should also include your city and state in H1 and H2 tags.

Here are some other steps you can take to optimize your pages for local search:

  • Speed your page loading times
  • Include your business name, address, and phone number on the page
  • Include a location map
  • Make contact information easy to find

Here is a guide that delves a bit deeper into on-page optimization strategies and best practices.

Review Generation

Generating reviews on Google and third-party sites is important for a few reasons.

First, reviews can have a direct impact on your search engine rankings.

Search engines are just like any other business, they’re out to make money. To make money, they need searchers to continue using their platform by providing them with the best possible results for the search query that they type in.

Reviews signal to search engines that your services are of quality and will satisfy a searcher’s query. For this reason, the quality and quantity of your Google reviews can directly impact your rankings.

Second, reviews will affect your overall online reputation and will be your first impression to potential customers who are seeing your headshop pop up in local search results.

Third, reviews have an impact on the buying decision of potential customers. If someone is in need of a new bong and does a quick search for local headshops and finds yours with a 2-star rating, it is highly unlikely that they will ever set foot in your store.

How to Generate Reviews

It is important that you acquire reviews organically. Paying for reviews is against Google’s terms and conditions, and could result in a penalty.

Here are some proven methods to help get you started:

  • Place signs in your headshop asking customers to leave a review.
  • Obtain customer emails at checkout, then follow up in an email politely asking them for a review.
  • Use your social media channels to ask customers for reviews without being pushy.
  • Respond to negative reviews. This may result in the customer changing their review to a positive one.
  • Add review call-to-actions on your website.

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Most negative reviews happen due to customer service issues. If you notice a negative review of your business, take the time to respond to the review, apologize for the poor service that the customer received, and offer a remedy.

How to Prevent Negative Reviews

If you just opened your doors and have not accumulated many reviews yet, it may be wise to take a look at some of your competition’s Google reviews. You’ll be able to see what they’ve been doing right and avoid some of the same pitfalls that resulted in their negative reviews.

Of course, the best way to prevent negative reviews is to provide outstanding customer service to your customers who are looking to pick up a new bong or vape 🙂

Local Link Building

Getting local news sources and online publications can also help you rank your business locally.

Reach out to sources in your area to see if they’ll write a review of your headshop, or publish a piece about your store. This gets into the PR side of things and will likely have to act as its own campaign. However, it is an important investment that will have a positive impact on your SEO efforts.

Directory Submissions

This is more of an old-school practice, but can still give you a boost if done correctly and responsibly.

Submitting your business to relevant directories results in links, which will help you generate some affiliate traffic as well a ranking boost.

Websites used to be able to rank simply by listing themselves on thousands of directories. This practice does not work anymore and will do more harm than good in the long run because it is seen as spammy.

For example, Yelp and other credible directory sites can still provide value to your business by helping you appear higher in search engines, allowing customers to leave reviews, and displaying information about your headshop.

Avoid listing your website on low-quality directories, directories that don’t have any parameters, and directories that have nothing to do with headshops or related products. Listing your headshop on a directory site for sporting goods stores can be seen as a manipulative practice by search engine algorithms, and may result in a penalty.

Listing your site in niche directories can be beneficial as well. Look for headshop directories that list brick and mortar stores in specific states, or nationally.

July 12, 2017

Optimizing an E-Commerce Page

When it comes to ecommerce, conversions are key. Turning a site visitor’s interest into a purchase is tricky. If you’re not selling face-to-face, is your ecommerce page correctly set up to do the sales pitch for you?

While there is not a single product page out there with a 100% conversion rate, there are basic, proven methods you can use on your pages to increase the chances of the customer hitting that all-important add to cart button.

Proper URL Structure

First things first, customers need to be able to navigate to your website. A clean URL structure is essential if you want your page to be indexed and hopefully ranked by search engines. Avoid multiple domains, keep them short and readable.

Good URL: vapestore.com/blog/7-best-vaporizers/

Bad URL: vapestore.com/d?=6r77<!~

On a basic level, avoid using unnecessary characters, omit stop words, and limit the number of redirects if you’ve decided to change a URL or delete a page. If you can put your exact keyword in the URL in a way that makes sense, great.

Formulating a Title

The page title and SEO title describe what is on your product page to both consumers and search engines. Titles should be short, concise, and accurately describe the product. Avoid long titles packed with specs and keywords. This can appear spammy to search engines, and searchers will most likely not click on search results with these types of titles. Save the details about the product for the product description!

The title should include the product name, brand name, and attempt to reflect a search query related to that particular product.

Correct title code:

<head>
 <title>Example Title</title>
</head>

Keep in mind that Google will display about 60 characters. If your title is any longer it will get cut off. You can use SEO plugins to avoid any character limit issues.

Compelling Meta Descriptions

A proper meta description is a summary of the contents of the page. The meta is the short snippet of text below the blue link in search results.

This example is a meta description for the homepage of an online headshop. To make the description compelling, they’ve included products they offer such as bongs, glass pipes, vaporizers, and accessories so that the searcher can decide if it’s a link they want to click on. They also mention that they offer free shipping in the U.S. which could make their search result more enticing to click on.

Meta descriptions can be any length. However, it is best to keep them under 160 characters to avoid them being cut off.

<head>
<meta name=”description” content=”This is a meta description.”>
</head>

Just like with titles, you can use this HTML code or use an SEO plugin to formulate the meta description.

These descriptions are not ranking factors, meaning that they should be crafted with only the consumer in mind and avoid misplaced keywords and ditch the meta keywords. Writing compelling copy that draws the searcher in is the best way to craft a meta description.

Rich Product Descriptions

The title successfully describes the product you are selling to both consumers and search engines. Providing details and specifications is the next step. Adding a product description to your ecommerce pages indicates to search engines that there is valuable content on that particular product page.

A correctly optimized product description should be no less than 300 words and avoid keyword stuffing. Although keyword density isn’t as important as it once was, keywords should only be placed in a way that makes sense.

Product descriptions are obviously written as a sales pitch, no matter how creative or witty. To capture the more skeptical consumer, consider adding a product review section in an easy-to-find spot on the product page, as well as social sharing buttons.

These forms of social proof can help influence purchasing decisions of future site visitors.

Images That Sell

Product images can be a make or break factor when it comes to closing a sale online. Even if your page has a beautiful layout, description, and review platform, a grainy product image can close the door on any potential sale that you may have had.

If you’re taking your own product images, invest in a quality camera and put your beloved iPhone aside. Make sure to get shots from multiple angles and save the images as a file type and resolution that is conducive to a product page.

So we don’t ignore search engines in all of this, don’t forget the image title and alt attributes!

Don’t Ignore UX

A lot of marketers get caught up optimizing their pages to appeal only to search engines and forget about the actual person who is navigating through the website, category pages, and product pages. User experience is massively important for both ranking and closing sales.

So you wrote a 500-word, keyword rich product description? Awesome. Your meta descriptions and titles are perfect for Google? Great.

Be sure that your product pages are visually appealing and are easy to navigate. Avoid dead end pages on your website and make sure that users can easily get from your home page to your product pages and vice versa.

Visitors should easily be able to select color options, click through images, find the add-to-cart button, and navigate to their shopping cart.

A good rule of thumb is to use your favorite ecommerce sites for inspiration. While your product pages should be uniquely crafted around the products you’re selling, there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

Always Adjust

Now that you’ve crafted an optimized ecommerce product page, always look for ways to make it better. Take note of which products sell best on your website and use their pages as a template to bolster your products that aren’t performing as well.

Search engines value fresh content, so if you haven’t made any changes to a page in a while try revamping the product description or add new pictures and product videos.