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Cigar Store Marketing

Whether you’re looking for local cigar store marketing to drive more foot traffic to your physical shop, or want to improve online visibility, there are some right ways to do it, and many wrong ways. 

Plus, the fact that this is the tobacco industry introduces a whole other dimension of difficulty. 

Let’s drive right into that and talk about how to improve visibility through the right marketing for your cigar business.

The Proverbial Sticky Wicket 

The problem with the tobacco industry – which is shared with the gun industry, the cannabis industry, and many others – is that Google is actively suppressing it. That’s what I might call a sticky wicket, stickier and gnarlier than tobacco tar.

It doesn’t matter to them that thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people per month are searching for these things. They won’t let you pay to advertise tobacco products.

This shuts the door for a whole channel of advertising that can boost your online presence, being pay-per-click.

But it also opens serious opportunities, as those who are most authoritative will rank the best and generate the healthiest organic traffic streams. 

This makes eCommerce SEO the best marketing channel, especially in the long term, but there are others. So, here’s some actionable advice on cigar store marketing.

Not all digital marketing strategies for cigar shops are created equal.

Focus on SEO: Being Informative, Building Authority

SEO, or search engine optimization, is far and away the most effective marketing strategy for those in the tobacco industry to pursue. That is the case whether you run a conventional tobacco shop, a convenience store that only sells cigarettes, a cigar lounge, or you specialize in the art of pipe smoking.

The majority of digital marketing experts agree that SEO offers the best return on investment in general. 

In sum, SEO consists of a variety of different actions that improve a website’s visibility within search engines for relevant keywords that potential customers are looking for.

It improves organic listings, getting more eyes on your website (or local listings), generating higher authority, credibility and trust. 

Considering that something like 90% of online shoppers will skip right on over the ads, this is big news for you (or perhaps not, since there are no ads in the tobacco industry). Regardless, investing in SEO will earn you stronger positions in the organic search engine results pages. 

Listings that rank effectively in the organic results get better trust and credibility and are seen as authority. Moreover, the vast majority of clicks go to the top three spots in the organic SERP listings. 

This potential increase in website traffic should be enough prompting for you to invest in SEO cigar store marketing. So let’s talk about action items for organic cigar marketing.

SEO Friendliness: A Checklist 

If you want to invest in SEO for your cigar store, the first thing you need to do is get together a list of keywords that will produce

This is often the hardest aspect of cigar store marketing, SEO specifically, and one of the reasons that shops hire SEO experts. 

What you’re looking for are commercial and transactional-focused keywords that have a high volume but relatively low competitive density. 

The thing is, you can’t spitball these. You need to either use in-depth market knowledge or a keyword research tool, like something from SEMRush or Ahrefs, to determine this. Once again, this is one of the main reasons that some shop owners prefer to work with SEO experts. 

After you have this cohort of keywords uncovered, you need to: 

  • Ensure fast site speeds by eliminating excess code and tech debt, compressing images, and implementing a CDN that doesn’t overwhelm the user. 
  • Eliminate site security issues; at minimum, you must configure an SSL.
  • Add target keywords to target URLs and page copy by inserting them in title tags and other metadata fields.
  • Add target keywords to image alt text fields.
  • Remove duplicate page copy or adjust or replace it with keyword-optimized blurbs.
  • Remove and replace stock imagery with original imagery. 
  • Showcase reviews.
  • Install or configure advanced site navigation functionality through both a search bar and a comprehensive megamenu. 
  • Include internal links between pages that represent cross-selling opportunities.
  • Publish regularly to your blog, answering questions you hear from clients and inserting target keywords where necessary. Include internal links from those blogs to key pages on your website. 
  • Update your sitemap regularly and if there are indexing issues, ask to have them resolved through Google Search Console. 
  • Scrub your website for broken link errors (404 errors) or toxic backlinks and remove them, implement redirects or update the links as necessary. 

This is just a very small snapshot of what you need to do to completely optimize your website for SEO, but it is a good start. 

However, I need to devote much more of your attention to content marketing. 

Cigar Store Marketing

Content Marketing and SEO: They’re Basically the Same in 2024

You may have heard marketers quip “SEO is dead.” It’s not. But it has changed. A lot. 

The old days are done (and done to death). If you think spam backlinks and hidden content and keyword stuffing are still relevant in SEO, then I wouldn’t be surprised if you think SEO is dead. 

As long as people use search engines to find what they want to buy, SEO will not be dead. It is alive and as vibrant as ever. The thing is, Google has just changed how it furnishes results.

Nowadays, it’s all about answering the questions, and Google has gotten far better at finding answers that cigar aficionados are searching for.

Here’s the thing. You can’t fake it either. Either you know what you’re talking about or you don’t and I got some news for you. Someone that really loves fine tobacco is going to know if you’re bluffing. 

Ten years ago, you could write 500 words of fluff and stick your target keyword in the page title and in the copy a few times, and that page would probably show up on page one within 2 weeks.

Those days are long gone. Product descriptions are nice, but they’re not going to pull the entire weight of an SEO campaign.

The way I see it, and this is substantiated from the analytics of the clients for whom I have been writing for years, the more in-depth you can get with respect to cigar smoker queries, the most detailed you can be in your answer, and the more personally you can frame your content, the better.

In my perspective, content marketing is merging with SEO. If a client looks for a cigar recommendation or review, or information on the cigar brand or a wrapper’s country of origin, the best results are going to be reviews and videos published by people that actually have experience with – and smoked – those cigars. 

With that said, here are some suggestions I have for boosting your cigar store’s marketing through SEO, specifically on the content side:

  • Write detailed cigar reviews, and don’t bluff. Don’t even think about it. The people that might buy from you will run from the hills if they can tell you’re talking out of – well, you know. Tobacco enthusiasts are serious and know their passions. If you publish a review, stick your target keywords in there, sure, that’s how you get impressions in the first place. But you will get clicks, and sales, if you answer the user’s questions. Is it a cool smoke? What are the cold draw notes? How does the cigar mature as it transitions from the first to second third? What are the flavors of the retrohale? Does the cigar have any tendency to canoe or tunnel? And so on and so forth. Publish detailed, insightful reviews, that sell the cigar – honestly, pointing out flaws – and your authority will increase. Also, post real pictures of the cigar – preferably those that you took.
  • Offer tips and insight, don’t just become an occupant of the online echo chamber. You run a cigar store, right? So, in your experience, what’s the best humidity and temperature at which to store cigars? What wood makes the best for humidors? Is there really a difference between using a cigar lighter or a spill? Speak from experience. Smokers will listen. 
  • Publish any proprietary insight that you have gleaned through your years in the tobacco industry selling premium cigars. What do you know that you could only have learned from experience? Publish those insights and couch your target keywords in there. That’s a winning combination. 
  • Create CMS pages like FAQs pages that answer all of the common questions that you routinely hear from customers. Not only will this free your customer service department from answering the same questions over and over, but over time it will result in new organic traffic streams to your website. 
  • Offer tips for lighting, storage, transport, cigar accessories, new releases, and similar topics that will not only attract attention but furnish you with opportunities to promote the very items that your store sells. 

Beyond this, the only other advice I can offer on the content marketing front is to be honest and let your experience speak for itself. You don’t need to sell something if its value is self-evident. If you know cigars, that will shine through in the copy you publish on your website. 

Get Social 

Another prong of cigar store marketing is social media marketing, but like search engine marketing, in the tobacco industry, this has to be all organic. The big platforms will not let you advertise. 

Nonetheless, organic social media marketing is a great way for you to generate interest in your shop and spread awareness of sales, specials, promotions, and the like. These alone can help improve your store’s profitability. 

But leveraging your social media platforms is about so much more than that. It’s about getting more eyes on your cigar bar or shop by furnishing useful information. 

While a written review will sell, a filmed review that shows you smoking the cigar and commenting in real time is even better. Publish that to one of your socials, or on YouTube, and integrate with your website, and see how that fares. You may be pleasantly surprised. 

You can also use your social media accounts as springboards to advertise the blogs and reviews you publish. On top of that, social media can be used as a forum through which you interact with your customers, answer questions, and garner interest in potential promotions. 

Email Marketing 

Email marketing is one of the best digital marketing channels with respect to maximizing customer lifetime value. This is because you aren’t generally email marketing to new leads, but to existing customers that have already signed up with your business, and more than likely have already bought from your store. There are exceptions to this but it is the general rule. 

With email marketing, you can personalize the online shopping experience in ways that no other channel will allow. Personalized coupons, discounts, promotions, and special offers can be made through email marketing to create greater engagement and often to stimulate additional sales. 

With modern email marketing tools like MailChimp and Klaviyo, you can closely track user behavior as well as which initiatives were successful, along with which may not have been. 

And, like with social media, you can use email marketing to strengthen your efforts in content marketing and SEO. Remember, any visibility for your online cigar shop is good – even if it doesn’t immediately convert into a sale. Besides, if you become a trusted authority and people follow you on your socials or read your reviews in your blog, they’ll be much more likely to buy from you in the future.

Cigar Store Marketing Basics: Class Is Dismissed

Are you ready to put some of these cigar store marketing tips into practice today? Don’t be intimidated; I promise it’s not rocket science and there’s nothing in this post that you can’t fundamentally understand one way or the other.

The only caveat I do have is this. It is a lot of work. That’s the one drawback to the content marketing that will bring in new leads and captivate existing customers. It’s a full-time job. 

Which is exactly the reason that many shop owners choose to outsource their cigar store’s marketing efforts to the professionals. There’s no shame in that, as long as you choose wisely. 

You could always drop us a line. We’re here to answer your questions. Yours truly didn’t get all these tips and techniques from not working with cigar store clients! 


Michael Esposito

Mike Esposito is a professional SEO copywriter spurned by a love of language and creativity. When he's not at the keyboard, you may be able to catch a rare glimpse of him enjoying the outdoors or sipping fine literature.

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