Cigar shops and lounges have an uphill battle for marketing as they deal with the limiting standards of Google and other platforms. In addition to competition on a national level, if you’re selling cigars online, many lounges must deal with local competition as well.
It’s hard to run a business and deal with digital marketing, which is why we’re your virtual cigar marketing agency. Let’s take a look at some of the marketing challenges online cigar shops face, how to avoid them if possible, and the best methods of marketing for your cigar business.
Sorry, No Google Ads So Focus on SEO
One of the biggest obstacles that cigar shops and lounges face is Google Ads and other Pay Per Click services don’t allow tobacco products to advertise on the networks. That means no ads on search pages, social media platforms, display ads, or shopping.
This has always been the case despite tobacco being legal. This takes away an entire avenue of marketing that most other businesses take advantage of without a problem. How can a cigar lounge make up for the loss of revenue cost by Google’s ad standards?
The best method is to switch your focus to search engine optimization. The good news is every other cigar shop and lounge is in the same Google Ads boat. Everyone is on equal footing out of the gate, so pull ahead early using SEO.
SEO is anything a cigar website can do to improve its ranking for specific search queries on Google and other search engines. Google may keep you from advertising, but they’re fine with ranking your website.
For online cigar shops, that means making sure your blogs are optimized with proper keywords and adding to your expertise and authority. Product pages should be descriptive and be keyword-rich.
Cigar Bars, Shops Don’t Seek Out Their Audience
One of the biggest pitfalls a cigar bar or website falls into is not understanding its audience. SEO grows your website traffic and helps increase visitors to your lounge, but only if you target specific people.
You don’t have the targeting tools that platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads have in their arsenal. You need to do your own investigation to see who your most common customer types are. Are there any audience demographics that you’re missing?
If you don’t target your audience, then you end up spinning your digital marketing wheels. You want people interested in cigar smoking, the ones that have done it for years, and the ones that never tried but are interested.
Traffic only works if it leads to a conversion and that could be a purchase on your site or a visit to your lounge.
Focus On Local SEO
While online cigars shops ship and sell to anyone in the country and potentially internationally, cigar lounges and bars look for a more select group of people. They are location-based businesses and look for customers within a set geographic area.
Too many cigar bars and lounges don’t localize their site and blogs for their area. If you have a general focus SEO campaign, then people in other states see your site. While that’s great, they aren’t going to hop into a car and drive 300 miles to see your cigar lounge.
Focus your efforts on your area by creating content that mentions nearby towns and cities. Claim your Google My Business page and listings on business and review sites.
Local SEO is a completely different beast than national SEO, so cigar shops need to know the difference.
Cigar Bars, Lounges That Don’t Sell the Experience
Smoking a cigar in a lounge while drinking your favorite beer or whiskey is an experience that few people understand. The flavor and experience of a cigar is a major selling point, but too many businesses don’t use that.
Unless you are already an aficionado, customers don’t know about the importance of the cigar wrapper and filler or the difference between a Nicaraguan cigar and a Connecticut cigar. When you create content, don’t forget to sell the experience as something truly unique.
Time to Get Social
Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are great places to engage your customers and share your events. Once again, they may not allow you to advertise on their platforms, but you can still reach and have conversations with people.
Social media sites are the perfect place to sell the cigar smoking experience with pictures and video. Imagine enticing people with pictures of cigar smokers surrounded by luxurious accommodations, large plumes of smoke, and a glass of whiskey in their hands.
Social media lets you shed the veneer of a business and become another cigar aficionado. Trade stories and experiences with others and tell them all about your selection and what you like and don’t like.
Don’t Give Context to Google Bots
Many businesses trust that Google bots know what they’re doing, but that isn’t always the case. Google wants to provide the best product to their customers, so the bots look for certain things on your site so they can figure out what your site is about.
Many times, they don’t understand everything and pass on by. Schema markup is a programming language that shows the bots exactly what’s on the page. They don’t have to interpret the meaning because schema provides the meaning for them.
Every website needs schema markup for everything from their address to blog posts.
Stay Out of These Cigar Shop Marketing Pitfalls
Cigar marketing isn’t easy because there is a lot of competition in a very niche market. We hope this information helps you avoid the most common pitfalls a cigar shop or lounge has when it comes to digital marketing.
Don’t consider the Google Ads issue a handicap and instead use it to focus on other marketing avenues. If you put in the effort, then Google will place you on the top search page.
If you want to learn more about cigar lounge marketing or need someone to handle it because you’re too busy, then please contact us today.