New Jersey recently reformed its medical marijuana program by passing the Jake Honig Act. This bill introduces major changes to the state’s program that will make it much easier for patients to access medical marijuana going forward.

As part of the new bill, medical marijuana dispensaries are also about to get a whole lot more common in NJ. The new bill paves the way for dozens of new storefronts to open up across the state.

Overall, the new rules will allow tens of thousands of new patients to access the program. And with new medical dispensaries opening, supply will also dramatically increase. This will drive increased demand and bring down prices in-line with other states.

If you are an entrepreneur opening up a medical marijuana dispensary in New Jersey, it’s clearly a great time to enter the industry.

To succeed in this new industry, designing a high-quality website is going to be key. Why? Because all of your potential customers are going to be doing all of their research online. The dispensary with the best web design will have a much easier time establishing customer loyalty in an industry where first-mover advantage could lead to long term growth.

In this post, we’re going to outline web design tips for NJ medical marijuana dispensaries. These tips will help you increase awareness about your dispensary, drive traffic to your website, and increase help drive sales.

Develop a Unique Brand Identity Branding Services Header

The design of your dispensary’s website must help your business establish your desired image in your consumers’ minds.

Are you trying to appear modern and upscale for the experienced cannabis connoisseur? Or maybe friendly and approachable to attract people unfamiliar with cannabis?

The web design strategy you opt for must be chosen with your target market in mind. You also need to do the proper web design research so that your dispensary website is unique and stands out from others.

Whatever route you decide to take, don’t be boring. If there is any industry where thinking outside the box will be rewarded, it’s this one.

Implement Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design has been used by web designers for a while now, and it’s never been more necessary. The majority of web browsing is now done on mobile devices so having a website that looks great on all screen sizes is a requirement.

For regular marijuana dispensaries, we would argue mobile-first web design would be the best way to design a website to achieve business goals. The vast majority of people would likely be view a regular dispensary’s website on their phone while on the go. Or, they would be redirected to the website through an app like Weedmaps or Leafly.

But when it comes to medical marijuana websites, we argue you should focus equally on the design of both the mobile and desktop versions of your site.

Your mobile website will likely be viewed by people who already have an NJ medical card and are looking to make a purchase soon. They’ll likely find your website through Google or a dispensary locator website/app.

The desktop version of your website will likely be accessed by people researching the New Jersey medical marijuana program. They probably don’t have a medical card yet. However, they’re likely interested in getting one and looking to see what dispensary would be best for them.

The design of your website must take into account both of these audiences to be truly successful. The first step is to implement responsive web design so your website is always going to make a great first impression.

The next steps are to develop content and utilize digital marketing tactics to increase the number of visitors to your website and get them in the store to make a purchase. Don’t worry, that’s the focus of the rest of this post.

Produce Helpful Content

web-design-briefProducing high-quality content that resonates with your customer base is critical for online success. Content will bring in new visitors to your website, boost your SEO rankings and allow you to build customer loyalty.

For medical marijuana dispensaries in New Jersey, we recommend starting with a blog.

Written content will help your website rank higher in Google’s search rankings. So when nearby patients search for dispensaries nearby, your shop will be near the top of the list.

Written content will also help you build customer loyalty.

Most of your customers will be new to medical marijuana, so your dispensary has a huge opportunity to inform people about the program. Posts that explain to people the basics of cannabis and how to get a med card will allow your dispensary to stand out.

Over time, you will establish your brand as a thought leader within the industry and gain consumers’ trust. Both of which will lead to more sales in the end.

Also, don’t be afraid to experiment with other forms of content – like videos or podcasts.

Videos are by far the hottest marketing medium right now. In fact, 51% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI. Videos don’t have the same SEO benefits that a blog does, but they will likely get you much more engagement.

Podcasts are another great avenue to explore.

They are very inexpensive to start up and have become very popular as of late. With New Jersey residents having extremely long commute times, it’s worth exploring. Just make sure it has some sort of a theme or main focus to draw people in. For example, a behind the scenes look at starting up an NJ dispensary would be a great podcast narrative.

Optimize For Local SEO

Optimizing your website for local SEO will help your store get found online when people nearby search for medical marijuana dispensaries. Optimizing for local searches will help you attract people that are ready to make a purchase. According to SEO Tribunal, 78% of location-based mobile searches result in an offline purchase.

To help you get started optimizing your dispensary website for local SEO, here are some quick tips:

  • Set up a Google My Business profile
  • Add business info to online business directories (Yelp, Weedmaps, Leafly, local chamber of commerce, etc.)
  • Develop content that has keywords such as the town or county that your medical dispensary operates in
  • Ensure on-page SEO of all webpages and content is optimized for search engines
  • Gather links (if possible) from other local businesses in the area
  • Optimize website so it loads fast, as this is one of Google’s biggest ranking factors for websites today. Use a tool like GTXmetrix to see how your website currently performs and follow it’s recommendations to boost your site speed.

These tactics are the first things you need to do to start ranking for local search queries. Without taking care of the basics, you can’t move on to more advanced ways to build local search authority.

Local SEO is a dense topic that is best addressed in a separate blog post. Fortunately, we’ve already written an article on it, which we’ve linked to below.

Local SEO: How To Get Your Website Found Online

Build an Email Subscriber List

Unfortunately, there are a lot of regulations that prevent dispensaries from advertising online like any other business. You can’t run ads on any of Google or Facebook’s platforms. And even organic social media pages have been shut down overnight.

So, what can you do?

Well, instead of relying on social media platforms to reach people, you need to start collecting contact information of current and prospective customers so you can reach them directly.

This way, you are not reliant on the policies of other companies or their algorithms that could change overnight.

The best way to do this is to start building an email subscriber list.

We recommend placing a form on your dispensary website for newsletters and special offers, as well as asking customers for their email address as they make a purchase.

From there, you could develop an email marketing strategy that nurtures leads into your dispensary and incentives past customers to come back. But most of all, you will have direct access to your customer base that you have total control of.

List Your Menu

Some medical marijuana dispensaries don’t list their menu on their website, and that’s a big mistake. It can cause your website to have a lower SEO ranking which will end up hurting sales and foot traffic.

Listing your website natively on your website will boost your SEO. That way, when people nearby search for specific strains, your website will show up.

Otherwise, it would get crowded in a list of dispensary websites on Google.

Experienced cannabis users will almost certainly be searching by the strain, so to cater to this high-value customer, list your menu.

And don’t just list a picture of your menu. It needs to be natively developed on your website for those SEO benefits.

Hire a Freelance Web Designer

Why Hiring a Freelance Web Developer Makes Sense for a Small BusinessStarting up a medical marijuana dispensary in New Jersey is no easy task. There are enormous amounts of regulations and legal hurdles to jump through. Then there is the difficulty of raising capital. And finally, you will no doubt have to overcome the objections of a loud yet shrinking minority.

You may also run into issues trying to get your website off the ground by hiring a traditional web design agency. With marijuana still being illegal at the federal level, many firms may have legal policies that bar them from working on this type of project.

For medical marijuana dispensaries in New Jersey, it makes total sense to hire a freelance web designer or developer.

They will be far less expensive than a traditional web design firm while still having all the skills necessary to get your website online. Your project will be able to be completed faster, as freelancers can customize the web design process to your needs better.

Conclusion

The medical marijuana industry in New Jersey looks set to explode. More patients have access to it now with more medical conditions being accepted, and the regulations on getting a medical marijuana card have been relaxed as well.

And, this bill paves the way for medical marijuana dispensaries to start opening up all across New Jersey.

Competing in this industry is going to be tough. Early on, the biggest advantage your dispensary can have from a digital marketing perspective is going to be your website. By following the dispensary website best practices outlined in this post and creating high-quality content you will be able to drive continued sales.

Note: This article is purely marketing advice and does not and should not be taken as legal advice. Before following any of this advice, please make sure it is in accordance with the regulations outlined in the bill.

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Bailey Canning

Bailey Canning

Bailey Canning is a digital marketing consultant & web designer based in Northern New Jersey. Right out of college, he founded Inbound Web Development - a marketing-focused web development firm that helps small businesses generate leads and grow online. Feel free to reach out at bailey@inboundwebdevelopment.com to discuss a project, or be featured as a guest on the podcast Business Talks.

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