The vape industry is booming. Demand is not likely to die away soon with bans on smoking across the globe. If you sell e-cigarettes or e-liquids online, you know the competition is ruthless.
Probably the biggest problem in the industry is not the different laws regulating it in different countries and states, but the denied access to paid search and Facebook ads for vapes and related products.
How do you grow your vape shop if you can’t advertise?
We’re here to help. This is a list of alternatives to paid search that work for the vape and e-cig industry in particular. The best part – they’re mostly free (so Google and FB are missing out, aren’t they).
If you can’t pay to get ahead in searches and in FB feeds, you should heavily optimize your online store for organic searches.
I’ve seen shops alternating keywords to cover every possible search. That might work, but don’t keyword-stuff category names or duplicate categories – that just hurts the shopping experience.
The most popular keywords for the vape industry are:
Let’s not forget that you can still have a company page on Facebook and have an active following. Posts, contents, content and genuine talking to people are still allowed.
Don’t write it off as a channel. People are there for fun and they engage best with content and brands connected to their hobbies and interests. This includes you. B2B sellers can skip the Facebook presence, not you.
So keep it fresh and informative there, announcing new product lines and engaging people with polls, games and giveaways. It won’t hurt.
Facebook may not want to take your money for advertising, but they haven’t banned groups talking about vaping.
The good part is that many groups are area-specific so you can reach your target audience easily.
Like in most FB groups, people gather to talk about an interest. Join in and be a vaper before a seller. You can find people to test and review your products in these groups, which is a better way to promote your store.
For the impatient among your, many groups are also open to straight promotional posting. To find groups, just use the keyword list and Facebook won’t disappoint you.
As you can expect, there is a subreddit for any subculture. Vaping turns out to be a favorite pastime for Redditors (maybe because it can be done in front of a screen).
Richard Marsh, the owner of Gremlin Juice, shares that in the early days he had a weekly giveaway there that helped a lot when he officially launched his store.
Here’s a list of a few active subreddits where you can start discussing flavors and gear – or even host a giveaway yourself:
Of course, the restrictions on the industry forced it to take care of itself and many businesses emerged around vape stores. There are vape magazines bring the community together both online and offline, have a large influence and accept advertising.
Some of the most popular are:
Many vape review sites exist and when you think about it, so many products – mods and eliquids – are review material enough for two lifetimes.
You can get your products on there in many ways, usually by sending them for review and sometimes providing affiliate rev share.
Others are open for user reviews and anyone can write about your products so you can get early traction with the help of friends.
Yes, apparently vaping on camera attracts eyeballs so there’s your chance to be on YouTube.
It works as with review sites – send your products to be tried and hope for a positive review from professional vapers. 😉 Sometimes, they’ll want an affiliate link.
A good selection to start with includes:
Those guys and gals are wicked! Even a non-vaper like me got hooked up scrolling through videos and pics of insane vape tricks.
You can try to win them as brand ambassadors. Don’t worry, it may come cheap as the VapeChemist notes, “more than 80% only want free product in exchange for their reach.”
But Instagram is huge, how do you find them?
Use these vape-related hashtags, it should give you plenty to work with.
That one’s smart. Smokers looking to quit need to know vaping can help them.
You can join the conversation on various channels (YouTube, Quora, FB, etc.) with vape pros like not having to finish the cigarette even if the need for nicotine is satisfied.
Тhe benefits of vaping over smoking and other related health discussions would help because it gives another positive angle on vaping.
If you really feel like it, you can even get featured on health media or participate in panel discussions. Just stay close to your target group.
Email is one channel you own and still converts best when done according to the email best practices. You can do more offers and games or send out content and information – your call.
You’ll have to get people to subscribe for your emails, though.
New products, giveaways, regular discounts or a community membership are all good incentives to offer in exchange for their email address.
For outsiders to the industry, it’s astonishing how many there are all over the world.
It’s a great opportunity to present your showstoppers, see what the competition is doing and connect with influencers, tricksters and marketplaces
Most expos have a B2B part so if you want to expand beyond your own store, the ticket price is an investment.
We put together a calendar of the 2018 events (these are not all):
3-4 March, Pure Vape Munich (Munich, Germany)
17-18 March, National Vape Expo (Mashantucket, CT, USA)
22-23 March, Vapevent (New York, USA)
24-25-26 March, Vape Expo France (Lille, France)
6-7-8 April, Vape Jam UK (London, UK)
27-29 April, Canada’s Vape Expo (Edmonton, Canada)
4-5 May, The Vaper Expo UK (London, UK)
22-23-24 June, InterSteam (Berlin, Germany)
1-2 December, Vape Expo Oceania (Auckland, NZ)
If that’s not enough, here are more tradeshows and events.
Will the vaping industry get overcrowded soon? Probably. Many vapereneurs want to make money off it.
To stand out, you can focus on establishing yourself as a real expert (much like those YouTubers) and building a brand, not just throwing some mods and juices together on a one-pager and asking for customers.
Think of the people you want to sell to – the cool kids on the block who do cloud battles, the hipsters, the rebels, or the middle-aged moms who want to quit smoking because of the kids (I’m missing a lot of other target sub-groups, I know).
Point is, the channel(s) you chose should get you closer to your audience. Then, listen, listen, talk, show, connect, improve, grow, repeat.
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