Welcome to Week 1 of our new web advice series for Denver dispensary owners. This is a 3 week series designed to give owners concrete ways to enliven their web presence and improve their bottom lines.
How Recreational Dispensaries Use Web to Stand Out from the Crowd – Week 1: Mobile Sites
Differentiation is the first rule of branding.
Only when your (potential) customers can pick you out of a crowd can you start to show them how your products will benefit them in ways that your competitors can’t even begin to compete with. Differentiation is particularly important in growing markets, where new players enter the field every day. The sooner you can stand out, the sooner you can attract long-term customers who will start spreading your name. It’s no surprise to anyone that the recreational marijuana industry in Denver qualifies as such a fast-growing market. The market is driven by existing customers who are coming out of the woodworks, new consumers enjoying the benefits for the first time, and out-of-town tourism.
At some point, though, the market will become saturated. Demand will plateau. In particular, as Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia enter the recreational field, out-of-state visitors now have several different destination options. How will Denver differentiate itself to this market segment? A host of factors play into customer decision-making , including accommodations, airfare, climate, and other recreational opportunities. As an individual business owner, some of these are out of our control. Within the city, the battle is waged over factors that we can and should control. First, how will they find you? From a web perspective, the biggest concern we see is recreational sites that are built solely for desktop use.
Mobile Responsive and Search Engine rankings go hand in hand
Your site needs to be accessible and beautiful on a mobile device. It is no longer an option to just have a desktop site. As of April 21st, Google’s new algorithm will divide sites into "mobile friendly" and "not mobile friendly." You need to be in the first category to compete in search rankings, regardless of how good your site is otherwise. Here’s a startling fact – the number 1 ranking in Google receives 33% of search traffic, compared with the 11th spot (meaning your site is the first site on the second page) at a mere 1%. It goes south from there. Like it or not, this new algorithm matters. To discover if your site qualifies, visit http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ for a preliminary diagnosis. If it does not, talk to your web provider about making the necessary updates.
Google aside, consider one of the largest market segments for recreational businesses – out of town visitors. Picture yourself driving from DIA, full of excitement about the weekend’s possibilities. Chances are, you probably didn’t bring a laptop to catch up on business emails in the beautiful Colorado sunshine. It’s incredibly like that the entirety of your web searches – for services, dispensaries, and meals - will happen on a smart phone. First time visitors may also be less likely to have particular loyalties to your brand, so they are looking for the first sites that show up. Mobile matters, search engine rankings matter, and they are related issues.
Some handy tips:
- Make sure your site stands up visually on a small screen – AVOID scrolling side to side and Flash animations. DO INCLUDE lots of pictures and menus that collapse to free up screen space.
- Include features like click-to-call functionality
- Don’t overwhelm visitors with blocks of narrative text – they’ll scroll forever before they find what they want, or they’ll just leave.
- Ensure that your web provider is familiar with and test the site on both Android and iOS devices so potential customers on both devices receive similar experiences.