Here at eCig One, our vaping SEO service works with large and small vaping websites all over the world. Among the smaller websites, we commonly hear from owners of vaping websites that have never made a single sale. These people come from all walks of life. Some are vapers who are passionate about vaping as a potential avenue for tobacco harm reduction and would like to turn that passion into full-time businesses. Others are serial entrepreneurs who mistakenly believe that the vaping niche is just like the other niches in which they’ve already found success.
The Vaping Industry Is Different
The vaping industry isn’t like other industries. New vaping business owners quickly learn that when they discover that traditional online marketing for vaping websites is impossible because the search engines and social media websites don’t want their advertising dollars. Adding insult to injury, they further discover that many payment processors won’t process payments for vaping transactions.
These people have already paid through the nose to buy inventory and build their websites. They need to start showing some positive returns, and they have no idea how to do it.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
Make One Sale, and Others Will Follow
Here’s the bad news. As a new online merchant, the first sale is the most difficult one that you’ll ever earn. It’s going to take a few months of solid work before you have anything to show for your labor.
The good news is that once you’ve made your first sale, the second one is surely soon to follow because you’ll have done the groundwork necessary to transform your unsuccessful vaping website into a thriving online business.
So, how do you get from here to there? That’s what we’re going to discuss in this article. We find vaping websites that have never made any sales often have several things in common. Let’s explore those things further and learn how you can guide your vaping website toward its first sale.
Copied Product Descriptions
When it comes to vaping websites, customers’ expectations are often huge. Even if you only sell e-liquid, you’ll need to carry dozens of different flavors at a minimum because it’s impossible to please everyone. You’ll also need to carry multiple nicotine strengths. If you only carry e-liquid, though, you’re neglecting a large portion of your potential customer base because many people prefer to get their e-liquids, coils and other vaping gear from the same place. Inputting all of those products is hard. Typing hundreds of product descriptions is harder.
So what do the owners of many vaping websites do?
They copy their product descriptions from other sites.
Leaving aside the issue of copyright violation, the problem with copying your product descriptions is that your copied description probably appears on hundreds of other websites. If your product page looks the same to Google as hundreds of other pages selling that same product, what reason does Google have to send traffic to your page? When we write content for vaping websites, we offer steep discounts for original product descriptions because having unique descriptions is an absolutely essential step toward getting the traffic that eventually leads to the first sale.
No Original Text Content
The only thing worse than having no original product descriptions is having no original text of any kind. Starting a blog is an excellent opportunity to showcase your expertise in a field and attract website visitors who might be interested in buying your products. If your website has no blog content, you’ve got to rely on your product pages to generate traffic — and if your website also lacks original product descriptions, it’s unlikely that you’ll generate any traffic at all.
Why is having a blog so important?
Google runs on text. Its web crawlers scan the text content of web pages to catalog the information those pages contain. When a user types a search query, Google provides a list of pages with text likely to satisfy the intent of that query. If your website doesn’t have any original text, it won’t appear as the result for any queries; it’s as simple as that.
If you want your vape shop’s website to be successful, it can’t look like a relic from the ’90s. You’ve got to keep your design clean and make your products easy for people to find. If you use WordPress, you’ll find that there’s no end to the number of free and premium themes available to give your site a touch of professional polish. Consider Elegant Themes as a starting point; it’s what we use. It doesn’t hurt to have volunteers look at your site and provide their honest opinions. These are the three questions that the review process should help you answer.
- Is it easy to find a product if you know what you want?
- Is it easy to browse products if you want to see everything?
- Is it easy to discover products if you aren’t sure what you want?
No Inbound Links
Until Google came along, search engines recommended content to users largely on the basis of text analysis. People quickly figured out that they could get pages to rank for irrelevant search terms simply by using the desired keywords on those pages as many times as possible. Google took the search engine industry by storm with a new algorithm called PageRank. PageRank used the number of inbound links pointing to a page to gauge the value and trustworthiness of that page. If a page had many inbound links, it must be trustworthy. If the sites linking to that page also had many inbound links, the page must be even better. Google now uses around 200 different factors to rank search results, but inbound links remain very important. Until your site has some links, you’ll have difficulty ranking for most search terms.
When you read about link building online, you’ll often see the statement that “link building” is really relationship building. We completely agree. We’ve formed relationships with some of the Internet’s top vaping publishers to help our vaping SEO clients get ranked quickly — but we don’t do anything that you can’t do yourself. If you create something great online — something truly valuable — and tell people about it, you will earn links naturally.
Further Reading: Get Unlimited Free Vaping Backlinks With This One Stupid Easy Trick
No Reliable Payment Processor
Did you have a bit of a rude awakening when you tried to set up your online vape shop and discovered that many payment processors lump vaping websites in with tobacco websites and don’t want to process their payments? The same goes for PayPal; they don’t process vaping transactions in the United States. If you don’t have a reliable payment processor and need people to send checks or go to a third-party website to complete payment, you’re going to have serious trouble getting sales. Payment processors believe that vaping transactions carry a high risk of chargebacks. As a result, you’ll need to find a payment processor that offers “high-risk” accounts. Alternatively, you can use Shopify. They’re happy to process vaping transactions.
Insufficient Content Management System
The content management system is the core of any modern website. It keeps your content organized, displays the content for users and provides an interface through which you can add new content or modify existing content. If you’ve spent any time shopping for vaping products online, you know what most online vape shops look like. Your site doesn’t have to look like Amazon to be successful, but the free GoDaddy website templates probably aren’t going to do it for you either. The vast majority of the successful small and medium vaping businesses that we work with use either Shopify or WordPress with the WooCommerce plugin. Either solution can help you get off the ground quickly.
No Company Information Available
If you had no idea who a company was and how you could contact someone at that company — and the company didn’t have a single product that wasn’t available at hundreds of other websites — would you buy from them? You probably wouldn’t — and yet, we’ve seen one vaping website after another try to get by with an “About Us” page containing little more than “the best vaping gear at the best prices” and a “Contact Us” page with nothing but a form. If you want people to feel confident about giving you their money, you need to tell them who you are and how they can contact you. Are you trying to start a real business? Real businesses aren’t anonymous.
For a lot of companies, the early years of the vaping industry were a real gold rush. In those days, you could buy e-cigarette starter kits from China in bulk, slap your logo on them and charge a markup of 10 times what you paid — or more. Apart from the logo and the quality of the marketing, there was little differentiating one e-cigarette from the next. Nicotine practically sells itself, so companies could get away with charging almost as much as they wanted. Those days are over.
Today, the Chinese manufacturers put their own logos on their products — and vape shops sell more or less the same selection of e-liquids from the same national distributors. Unless you go the extra mile to find product manufacturers and e-liquid makers who aren’t working with the big distributors, in other words, your product selection is going to look much the same as everyone else’s. If there’s nothing unique about your product selection, it’s not going to be possible for you to charge huge markups.
Look at what the big sellers are doing; they’re charging low prices and generating their profits from high sales volume. If you can’t compete with other sellers’ prices, try to make your prices more attractive in a different way. You can ship all orders free, for example, or you can add free gifts to each order.
Lack of Differentiation
Differentiation is one of the keys to success in almost any online venture. In most industries, the easiest way to differentiate a business is to carry something that isn’t available elsewhere. As we just mentioned, though, that’s almost impossible in the vaping industry because everyone carries almost exactly the same products. If your website looks the same as every other vaping website — and you carry the same products as everyone else — it shouldn’t surprise you that your online vape shop has never made a sale. People likely don’t even remember your shop after they’ve left.
If you want people to remember your business, you’ve got to figure out a way to differentiate your product selection or your website’s content. Here are a few ideas to help get your creative juices flowing.
- Hire a different Instagram model each week to pose in your company’s t-shirt. Add the picture to a post in which you interview the model.
- Come up with a unique and instantly memorable company name.
- Highlight your expertise by publishing long, informative blog posts that shed some light on the mysteries of vaping.
- Conduct original research through surveys, interviews and factory visits.
- Create unique curated product bundles. You could create a bundle highlighting unknown e-liquid makers, or you could create an e-liquid bundle that tells a story when the e-liquids are used in certain order. Be creative.
- Become the first e-liquid seller to form distribution relationships with little-known local and regional e-liquid makers across the country.
- Add an interactive element to your website that accurately predicts the e-liquids customers will like.
You could do any one of those things and attract plenty of attention. If you do them all, you’ll probably become the next major vaping superstore. The point is that it’s still possible to differentiate your company even when you sell the same thing as everyone else — and it is crucial that you figure out a way to do so if you want people to remember you.
Carrying the Wrong Products
Fashions change quickly in the vaping industry. Only a few years ago, mods with fixed internal batteries and about 50 watts of power dominated the hobby. Today, advanced vapers prefer mods with removable batteries and up to 200 watts of power. Box mods and vape pens used to be fashionable. Today it’s squonk mods and pod vaping systems. Even e-liquid fashions change. If a prospective buyer looks at your e-liquid selection and sees nothing but 30-60 ml glass bottles, it’ll be obvious that your store is 2-3 years out of date. If you don’t carry what your customers want, your vape shop won’t make any sales. It pays to spend time on Reddit and the vaping forums to see what interests your potential customers.
Mismatched Company Name and Domain Name
Having a company name that differs from your website’s domain name is one of the worst SEO and customer experience sins that you can commit. Let’s suppose that you really want to call your business My Vape Store. The domain myvapestore.com is already taken, though, so you choose the domain name best-e-cigarettes-wholesale.com. People won’t remember your domain; they’ll remember the name of your company — and when they want to come back to you, they’ll end up at myvapestore.com instead. Even worse, they’ll see “My Vape Store” on all of your product descriptions and blog posts and assume that you’re stealing your content from another website. You might even get a Cease and Desist notice for trademark violation from the real My Vape Store. If you can’t get the domain that matches the business name you want, you’ll need to choose a different business name. It’s better to start over with a new name now — when your vape shop hasn’t made a sale yet — than to be forced into the change later when you realize that you’ve made a terrible mistake.
Where did you get your information that Shopify payments allows vape/ecig sales?
Shopify does not allow the sale of vape/e-cigarettes. They use Stripe as their payment processor and stripe does not allow online vaporizer or e-cigarette transactions UNLESS you ALSO have a brick and mortar store with a good merchant history (not a lot of chargebacks and fraudulent charges and whatnot). Same goes for Paypal. Vaping transactions are highly restricted (but not illegal) in the USA as they are classified as “tobacco products”.
BTW: For anyone who reads this and gets hot-headed over it, Paypal and Stripe are not the bad guys. They only reason they do not allow vape sales in the USA (unless you have a B&M storefront) is simply because they have to follow the rules of the banks they transact with and these big boys have tightly restricted vape transactions. Processors like Paypal and Stripe don’t make up the rules. They will process anything that not illegal until they are told they can’t. They would be glad to process vape transaction, but they are controlled by the big banks who are the reason they even have a business to begin with. Ultimately they are just middlemen who facilitate transactions for the big boys.
Chinese vape shops all take paypal because there are no restrictions on vape transactions with Chinese businesses. In America, we make the govt & banks protect our children, in China, they govt says “you protect your own children”.