Digital marketing provides a solid brand foundation and press relations (PR) amplifies your brand messaging—together they are the power couple of brand awareness. Not only does effective digital marketing help companies convey brand messages confidently and consistently, it ensures they are searchable. When the media is searching for experts on cannabis industry topics, you want your company to rise to the top.
As we have said before, PR is part of a comprehensive marketing strategy. Business success today relies on a carefully considered online presence and digital marketing is another key component of that marketing strategy. Some companies may be pretty savvy with their website and social media, but not everyone can be a digital marketing expert. Does your head spin when you hear words like SEO and metadata? That is why it is important to consult with digital marketing and communications experts to support your efforts.
Here are four digital marketing tips that work hand in hand with PR to increase brand awareness:
Invest in solid website content strategy
Cannabis is such a new industry that consumers often are confused and end up turning to the internet to conduct research. They are asking a lot of questions. “With more established vertical markets, the frequently asked questions have been answered over and over,” said Jeff Diamond, founder of Growhouse Marketing. “Cannabis is not at this level yet, so you want your website to provide the answers people are searching for. This will give you a good opportunity to be discovered in searches and also demonstrate thought leadership.”
When it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), a solid content strategy with education as a primary goal will help you be one of the first businesses to answer frequently asked cannabis questions. The result will be increased website traffic from search engines.
If you don’t know what people are asking, Diamond suggests checking Google Trends, a free tool that allows you to explore what people are searching for. Instead of guessing that people are curious about what hemp CBD is, go into Google Trends and search the subject. The tool will let you know how many people have been searching a topic over the last ninety days, six months, etc. This will allow your marketing team to power your content with answers you know people are looking for.
Whether providing answers via your website, blog, or product information pages, keywords and copy length enhance searchability. “If possible, create posts 800 to 1,000 words long. Google will give priority to blog posts that are informational, provide context, and read well,” recommended Slava Litvin, Growhouse Marketing’s vice president of digital marketing. “As long as your content is providing relevant information, search engines like Google will crawl your post and reward you by positioning your site higher in the rankings. You want your content to be listed in the top results.”
Also think about how you want to be seen, represented, and found on the web. This goes back to clearly defining your brand. You want to make sure your content consistently and clearly defines that you are a dispensary or a cannabis marketing agency. Sometimes businesses want to stand out by using a creative name or descriptor. You want search engines to know exactly what you are, and you want to be found based on how users are looking for you.
Your solid website content strategy is about maximizing SEO. You want to build your content and articles around the information people are looking for, so you are seen as an expert and authority. Remember that the media is searching for sources and experts too, so this content strategy supports your PR efforts. Blogs can help establish your credibility on a subject matter and can even be pitched for publication. Content strategy provides businesses in the cannabis industry a huge opportunity to stake their content claim.
Boost your local presence
For shops and dispensaries, it is important to use digital marketing to establish a local presence. Google My Business is helping businesses do that. This is Google’s version of Yelp. It has been theorized that Google doesn’t want people going to Yelp. So, they are rewarding companies with comprehensive profiles with enhanced searchability.
“It doesn’t take a lot of effort, but it is worth the time to think through the answers and fill out the profile completely,” said Diamond. “Again, communicate exactly what type of business you are. Add locations and photos and encourage people to rate your business.”
Most importantly, make sure someone is dedicated to following up on any complaints or threads and answering any questions. That is becoming a big driver for local searches.
Boosting your local presence online is especially important for local media opportunities. Cannabis is a hot news topic, so you want to be the go-to source in your area. When reporters are searching for local cannabis dispensaries or other specific cannabis-related companies, you want to be found.
Don’t ignore your metadata
Metadata is a more technical aspect of digital marketing, but extremely important to searchability and clickability. Metadata is really descriptions of other data. When searching a particular product or topic, the results bring up companies and web pages with brief descriptions. Do you know what people will read when different pages of your website pop up on search lists?
“A lot of effort goes into creating a website and making it look good, but it is important to continue that effort on the backend of the website,” said Litvin.
Tell a story in the metadata that is interesting to the user. The challenge here is that there are word limits, so you may need copywriting help to provide thoughtful, descriptive, action-oriented copy that will entice users to visit your website. You want to be the user’s chosen destination, and well-crafted metadata may be just what you need to attract their attention.
Quality content vs. keyword density
We have talked a lot about searchability and carefully crafting content based on what keywords people are searching and what questions they are asking. When writing blogs and other content for your website, keyword density is a priority. The main objective is for people to find you, so there is a lot of technical SEO involved. Making sure you have long posts with keywords in the title and first paragraph is writing with a Google optimization mindset.
When writing for a PR placement, make sure quality overrides keywords. An opportunity to provide an article for a publication means your content will be posted on a website that already has established traffic. Your content here needs to be focused on engaging and captivating the audience. It’s already going to be found, so you want to write something that will be interesting for people to read—content that will entice them to continue to your website to learn more about your brand.
“While this may seem obvious, people sometimes get caught up in optimizing for search engines. With PR placements, take advantage of the opportunity to not just be seen but to be interesting and get people excited about your brand,” said Litvin.
PR can drive your SEO. PR placements on websites with high domain authority will then point to your brand and your website in turn raising the authority of your domain and website. This referral traffic will improve your site’s search engine traffic.
As you can see digital marketing and PR are a power couple for brand awareness. They are both driven by well-crafted content and from a strategy perspective can perfectly complement one another. Together digital marketing and PR support brand awareness. They are drivers of information and help provide a continuous flow of traffic to your website.
Judy Campbell is president at Campbell Consulting. She founded the agency in 1996 to provide companies with strategic communications counsel encompassing PR, digital communications, content creation, media training, and social media. Campbell Consulting is dedicated to shining a spotlight on the country’s best brands and thought leaders in cannabis, craft beer, hospitality, food and beverage, blockchain, and software. The agency was nominated for the 2019 BOB (Best of Breed) Awards.