Everyone in the cannabis industry knows how challenging it is to promote B2C and B2B cannabis brands and businesses. With so many popular advertising and marketing channels inaccessible to the cannabis industry, content marketing and search engine optimization present some of the biggest opportunities for businesses to build brand awareness, boost sales, and secure market share.
In fact, research has found that B2B content consumption can even predict purchase intent. However, publishing a bunch of average blog posts filled with product and brand-related keywords won’t drive the results that most businesses in the cannabis industry need. That’s because search engine algorithms have become so good at figuring out what people are trying to find when they type keyword phrases and questions into search boxes.
To be successful with content marketing and search engine optimization today, cannabis marketers have to understand search intent, the relationship between search intent and the buyer journey, and how to connect people with the right content based on their search intent.
Types of Search Intent
The first step to leveraging search intent in order to build brand awareness, sales, and market share is to understand what the four types of search intent are and how they align with the buyer journey. The four basics types of search intent are informational, commercial, navigational, and transactional.
Informational Search Intent
Informational searches are conducted when a person is trying to learn about something. In marketing terms, this person is probably at the top of the marketing funnel or possibly the middle of the funnel. Either way, they’re in the beginning stages of the buyer journey. They’re doing their initial research to find a solution to a problem they’ve identified. However, they haven’t identified any brand or product options yet.
Commercial Search Intent
Commercial searches are conducted when someone is looking for information before they make a purchase decision. Typically, this person is in the middle to bottom of the funnel. They have enough basic knowledge about the problem they’ve identified to start researching product or service solutions. They don’t have any product or service preferences yet, because they’re in the very early stages of learning about possible solutions.
Navigational Search Intent
Navigational searches are conducted when a person is trying to find something specific. For example, they could be looking for a specific website. People who conduct navigational searches are usually in the bottom of the market funnel. In terms of the buyer journey, they’re close to making a buying decision and are evaluating a few final choices before making a purchase decision.
Transactional Search Intent
Transactional searches are conducted when a person wants to complete a specific action, such as making a purchase. Therefore, people who conduct transactional searches are typically in the bottom of the funnel and at the end of the buyer journey. They’re sales qualified and ready to buy, so you need to have content published that makes it easy for them to get to your website to make a purchase, access deals, get discount codes, and so on. In other words, this is the audience who is most likely to respond positively to promotional content from your business.
Aligning Content Marketing to Search Intent
Content marketing is so important to cannabis businesses today because every piece of content published to a business’ website provides a new entry point for search engines (and searchers) to find them. In the cannabis industry, content marketing is one of the biggest opportunities, particularly for businesses that understand the value of publishing content that meets consumers where they are in the buyer journey and the value of promoting that content through email marketing, social media marketing, and so on.
With that said, think about what kind of content people at each stage of the buyer journey need from you. Knowing that the four main types of search intent align with the buyer journey and marketing funnel, your next step is to create content that search engines can deliver in results pages for each type of search intent.
For example, people who conduct informational searches need educational content. They’re at the early stages of the buyer journey, and they’re actively trying to learn in order to move to the next stage. Create blog posts, checklists, worksheets, short ebooks, and videos to help them learn.
People who conduct commercial searches are starting to research different solutions to a problem they’ve identified. Again, educational content is important with references to how your product or service can help solve consumer problems. This should not be promotional content. It should be educational and informative with references to your product or service as supporting information. Create blog posts, ebooks, webinars, how-to videos, and reports to answer commercial search queries.
On the other hand, people who conduct navigational searches are likely near or at the bottom of the marketing funnel. They’ve probably narrowed the list of solutions they’re considering to solve their problem to two or three, and they’re trying to make a final decision. Your content needs to help them make that choice confidently. Create blog posts, case studies, demo videos, competitor comparison pages, and white papers to give people the information they need at this late stage of the buyer journey.
Finally, people who conduct transactional searches are ready to buy, so your website needs to be represented in search results. In fact, it should be the first result that shows up. Now is the time to search for your business, brand, and products. What results display on the first page? Are those the results consumers who are ready to buy should see? The best way to ensure they can quickly get to your site and buy is to publish great content that improves your search engine rankings.
Key Takeaways about Search Intent and the Cannabis Industry
The principles of search engine optimization and content marketing don’t change from one industry to another, but their importance can be higher in one industry than another. The cannabis industry is one where search engine optimization and content marketing should be top priorities.
Bottom-line, with marketing opportunities limited, both B2C and B2B cannabis businesses should invest a significant amount of their marketing budgets into creating amazing content that aligns with search intent and meets consumers where they are in the buyer journey.
© Cannabis Business Executive