New businesses often DIY a lot of their marketing. One of the first things people do is put together a website. Which is great! Websites work for you while you’re away. But there are some pretty big mistakes noticed on cannabis business websites. I explain 3 big ones – and how to avoid them – below.
1. Confusing “Above the Fold” Section
“Above the Fold” is a term from the newspaper industry.
Prospects spend an average of only 0.05 seconds to get a first impression and either stay or click away from your site.
This means above-the-fold copy and design is one of the most important pieces to get right.
Many cannabis business websites struggle to speak to their target audience and rely on the reputation of cannabis instead. This works to attract existing cannabis consumers, but not anyone new. And it puts you in direct competition with every other cannabiz.
Keep your target audience in mind. Otherwise, you’ll lose ’em. It’s much harder to bring someone back to your website when they’ve already seen it and your messaging didn’t resonate with them the first time.
Lose a prospect here and they’re likely gone. Like, gone-gone.
“Ok, Sarah…how do I fix this?” you ask.
When I got started in marketing and content creation I went through…numerous sources and courses. (Hey, a rhyme.) There was one major point common to all of them:
Create for clarity, not confusion.
The two cannabis business website examples below are the same fictional company. What you’re looking at is the top menu navigation and the “above the fold” section. In other words, this is what prospective customers see as soon as the page loads.
• Note that the business name appears nowhere on this part of the page. It isn’t in the logo version they selected…or anywhere else. Whose website are they on? They just don’t know.
• There are quite a few navigation options to pick from, too. They’re helpful, sure, but now the prospective customer has too many choices and no clear steps. What do they do next? What does this business want them to do?
• The image indicates that this is a cannabis business. But that’s all it conveys. Given that there are many cannabis-related businesses, this choice doesn’t differentiate or define the brand very well at all.
• We have the text on top of the image (this is a “hero section”, so I am referring to “hero text”). It’s very hard to read (font choice, size, and color) to begin with. But, once someone can read it, it still tells us very little. “Live your best life“? What does that mean? It could mean more books, wellness programs, financial coaching…it’s very broad. “We help you meet your wellness goals“. A little better, but still very vague. How do they help?
• Last piece…the button. That’s a call-to-action and prime real estate to move your prospective buyers to the next step towards a purchase. “Read more” is very passive and implies more work for the prospect to understand the business.
The prospective customer might scroll down and decide to make a purchase. Maybe. But most of them are going to click right back to Google. The business is confusing and unclear, so they lost a prospect.
Compare to this version:
• We now have a business name alongside a logo and prospects will know where they are and better remember the brand.
• Prospects have two choices: learn more about the company or make a purchase. It’s now clear that the brand wants people to buy products, but there is an option to learn more before buying, too.
• Instead of plants, the photo shows happy people. Specifically, happy people who resemble the customers the brand wants to reach. Images showing satisfied customers resonate well with prospects.
• The hero text is actually readable. Font choices are better, as are the size and color. “Your Cannabis Boutique” is simple and to the point. “Boutique” is a loaded word, often indicating high-quality products and excellent customer service. “Handcrafted cannabis products help you meet your wellness goals” gives more detail about the products without being too wordy.
• Last, but incredibly important, is the improved call-to-action button. It appears twice, has a clear action to take, and is a unique color to stand out.
Prospects know what to do, what is being sold, what problem is being solved, and who their target customer is. They’re much more likely to buy products.
2. Confounding Copy
“Copy” refers to any text that is intended to persuade prospects to do something, like purchase a product or book an appointment.
Copywriting is its own discipline…and it’s not easy. Effective copywriting is worth its weight in gold.
If you’re not a copywriter (not even most writers are, so no judgment), I strongly advise hiring one that understands the tedious regulations of the cannabis industry to help keep you in compliance.
“Great. So, what do I do?”
• Use plenty of clear headings, so your customers know what they’re looking at.
• Less is more: break up paragraphs, omit unnecessary words, use bullet points and images instead of text when you can.
• Know – and write for – your audience. My parents wouldn’t understand some of my meme references (yes, I have a few peppered throughout my content), but my target audience generally will.
• Use design for emphasis: put the most important info first. Bold text or use a different color to catch their eye for something important.
Again: create for clarity, not confusion.
I’ve continued examples with our fictional company, Crafted Cann. This time, we’re looking at a brief “about us” section that appears on the landing page underneath the above-the-fold section. This cannabis brand values wellness and sustainability, targets the aging population, and seeks to establish itself as a boutique cannabis company.
• No business name here. The more people see it, the better it sticks in their memory.
• The text is long, bunched together, and center-justified. This makes it more difficult to read. We don’t want that – the site needs to be skimmable and easy.
• The image doesn’t reflect the target audience or the products very well. It confuses the messaging.
• There is no call-to-action in this section, which is a missed opportunity.
Prospects skim over this section without really reading it and many won’t take the next steps to purchase. (There isn’t even a link available for them to do that!) This is a really common approach to the ‘about us’ section of cannabis business websites and it’s a lost opportunity to convert more customers.
• Not only do we have the business name, but our heading also makes it very clear: we’re answering why they should choose this brand over others.
• Though the text is still center-justified, it’s much more concise and spaced out. Readability is vastly improved; customers can skim this easily.
• The core values of the brand are stated and directly related to the major product features.
• “Find relief today” adds a sense of urgency while explaining how customers would benefit from buying. Putting it in the same unique color as the call-to-action makes it stand out.
• The button is the same call-to-action as the rest of their site so it stands out and remains consistent. Customers now know how to proceed.
• Product images (this would not be a stock photo) are fine here, as are images of customers using the products happily. The more you can show satisfied customers, the better.
More information is conveyed to the customer, who is also more likely to click and purchase products.
3. Bewildering Blogs
Blogs are well-known, near-universal features of a website. They’ve been around for ages so most internet users are familiar with good ones.
Blogs are a great way to build a brand’s content library, consumer reputation, and industry authority. But something else is easily overlooked: good blogs boost search engine rankings.
And for cannabis? You want as much inbound traffic as you can get because of advertising restrictions and social media limitations.
“What’s a good blog?”
It’s tempting to pump out content right away. You may even see some success with it! But the best blogs have a strategy behind them.
Strategy determines what “topic clusters” to focus on, how often to post, how to distribute the blog and more. Developing a content strategy takes more time upfront but saves you time and money in the long run.
Each post should also adhere to a style guide (explains your brand fonts, headings, grammatical practices, voice, etc) to keep consistency and build brand recognition.
Blogs without a strategy or set style make readers feel like they don’t know you at all. You keep changing. And that erodes trust and relationships.
Create for clarity, not confusion.
This time, I don’t have examples. Instead, I encourage you to study your favorite blogs. How do they use headings? Images? Are they consistent? What broad topics do you cover? What other observations can you make about the cannabis business website?
Your Cannabis Business Website
To summarize: use your above-the-fold space well, with your audience in mind. Clean up your copy. And blog with intention, strategy, and consistency. Not all cannabis business websites are built the same, but successful ones have addressed these issues effectively.
Not sure how to do it? I understand! Marketing has a lot of learning curves. You can book a call if you’re ready to move forward for success. Or, if you want to know more, take a peek at what services may benefit you.
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