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Website Evolution Blueprint: Strategies for Prolonged Website Success

In Conversation with Reagan Hatch

In this engaging episode of E-Coffee with Experts, Ranmay Rath interviews Reagan Hatch, co-founder of CannaSiteCo., located in Seattle, WA. Reagan shares the journey of founding CannaSiteCo. in 2018, highlighting the challenges faced in the initial stages and the evolution of their business model to address common marketing issues. The conversation delves into the unique dynamics of the cannabis industry, shedding light on payment processing challenges and the significance of tailored marketing strategies.

Investing in a brand-new website without optimizing it or setting up analytics tools is a mistake many brands make, expecting traffic to come organically.

Reagan Hatch
Co-founder of CannaSiteCo.

Hey, hi, everyone. Welcome to another episode of E-Coffee with Experts. This is Ranmay here, your host for today’s episode. Today we have Reagan Hatch, who is the co-founder at CannaSiteCo. with us. Hey, Reagan.

Hi. Thanks so much for having me.

Great. Reagan, before we dive deep into our topic today, why don’t you talk us through your journey how has it been so far how did you start CannaSiteCo. and what were the initial challenges? How did you overcome those? Where are we with CannaSiteCo. today?

Yeah. All right. Thanks. I started CannaSiteCo. with a friend from college back in early 2018. We’re just shy of six years, and I’m very proud of our journey so far. We started this to answer all of those items that marketers have a bad reputation for. We tried to address all of those issues in our business model. People say that marketers are slow, they’re unresponsive, charge way too much money, hold websites hostage, ghost you, and so on. We tried to create a business model that answered and addressed all of those. Why cannabis? Karen and I have, as our website says, bonded in college over a bong and a beer. But really, we’ve been advocates, patients, and recreational consumers for quite a while. We saw a huge need for better marketing in cannabis. For a lot of these people, at least in 2018, it was a different game when there weren’t as many recreationally legal states. But they’re farmers, not marketers. They need a lot of help. Also, every single person we encounter has such a passionate, unique story and background as to why they’re in the industry, whether it’s something they face personally or a best friend or a family member.

It is inspiring. Another factor is the ingenuity that goes into cannabis. There are so many cool solutions coming around, whether it’s payment or some other integration for a website to make the user experience experience better or equipment in cannabis. It’s an exciting industry. No matter how tough it is, I love it, and so we’ve stuck to it.

What were the initial challenges you faced in setting up CannaSiteCo. and how you and Karen overcame those challenges initially.

Initially, it was pricing, finding a good price point for cannabis. When you’re starting and you don’t have a big book of business or portfolio, you got to start low. In the beginning, we were only charging $500 for a website, still promising it in a week. But we didn’t have our portfolio to back us up. We didn’t have a lot of referrals or word of mouth to back us up. We also didn’t have the well-oiled machine and process that we have now, so no SOPs in existence. That was a challenge. Also, when you tell somebody you’re going to build a website for 500 bucks, if they’re not jumping on it, that price probably scares them away. It took a couple of years, I would say, to get into the groove of it, get our confidence up, get our name, referrals, and reputation up, and our pricing Now, I think we’ve placed ourselves in a position where we have a very good reputation, a proven process where we build a website in five days, start on Monday and launch on Friday. Great referrals and word of mouth and a price point that is affordable, but also you’re working with a legitimate company that produces beautiful websites in a short time frame.

There’s a little premium for that, but still extremely competitive for the cannabis industry. Those were some of the hurdles that we faced in the beginning. Now we have all the SOPs in place and a very precise, proven method that we take our clients through.

Lovely. For the cannabis industry, it is different from all the other ones out there. What are some of the common mistakes businesses make in their marketing efforts in this particular space? What is your month that would overcome those pitfalls and achieve success?

Yeah, good question. I think the first one that I would bring up is the thorn in the side of the cannabis industry and that’s payment processing. It’s not federally legal. Banking is an issue, and so is online payment processing or even in-store because it’s a high-risk industry. It’s very common for people to come to us needing a website, say they’re brand new to the business or they haven’t been to the industry. Or they haven’t been in it very long and they don’t know the hurdles that they’re facing. Maybe they think they’re going to use Stripe to process payments, or they’re going to use Square and don’t realize that that’s a separate program with higher fees, or they don’t realize they need to look for a high-risk payment processor. I have that conversation every week, sometimes daily with people to walk them through and educate them about their options and what happens if you launch a website with a payment processor that’s not cannabis friendly. Another one would be that we see so many brands invest time and money in a brand-new website and then just sit back and wait for Google to discover it.

It’s not optimized. There’s where they haven’t submitted a site map to Google or Bing or set up Google Analytics or Bing webmasters tools. They just think that traffic and people are going to come. The customers are going to come. That’s just not realistic. And not the way it works.

Absolutely. Then what do you suggest to such clients where they feel that once the website is there, traffic is going to come, and business is going to shoot through the roof? How do you address those concerns with such clients?

Honesty. I’m brutally honest, maybe to a fault. But that’s also why we include the initial optimization in all of our websites to give these companies a fighting chance. A lot of them don’t come to us with a giant marketing budget. Maybe an ongoing SEO campaign, or even if it’s for local SEO optimization if they don’t have that in their plan initially, at least they can be found online with some basic searches. Then as far as recommending an ongoing campaign post-launch. It depends on their target market. Do they have a brick and mortar? Or are they just selling regionally? Is it an E-commerce or not? There’s a lot of variables involved in that. But try to be honest that you have to have quite a large budget if you’re going to compete. This industry is extremely competitive. There have been some great companies with really large budgets that didn’t make it because the strategy wasn’t there.

Absolutely. Getting late to such cases, having worked in the same space for quite some time now. Great. Reagan, how do you personally approach the creation of companies building SEO-optimized content that not only informs but also deeply connects with the cannabis audience?

Yeah, love that question. Branded content is huge, and I feel like it’s not a very hot topic, and it should be. CBD is a great example. Everybody, not everybody, it seems like everybody and their cousin thought, Let’s start a CBD brand. We’re going to make lots of money. Then they go to the trouble to maybe build a beautiful website on a great platform. It’s fast, and it has everything it needs, but its content falls flat. You can’t tell the difference between them and their competitor down the road or their competitor across the country. It’s just a very generic and vanilla feeling. It’s not going to create any brand loyalty or give the visitor an idea or a sense of who they are, and why they should buy from them. We put a strong emphasis on that branded copy to set you apart from your competitors because this is a brutal industry and there are tons of competitors out there that are selling the same product in very similar packaging with a different label. How is a visitor going to know that they should buy from you and not your competitor unless you tell them with a very unique tone on your website?

Absolutely. Great, Reagan. Also, I just wanted to understand, since we are talking about content, that it has been close to more than a year now since ChatGPT hit us, rather than which industry evolved and accepted it with time. What do you feel about AI-optimized content and an overall AI at large? Where do you think are we heading with all of this artificial intelligence and machine learning?

We love AI. It’s so fun to play with and interesting. Sometimes when you’re creative, you go through ruts where it’s hard to come up with ideas. I think AI is a great place to turn for that. I advise clients if they’re going to start doing their blogs to use AI. Personally or as a business, we’re not relying on AI-generated content for website copy or blogs, but there is a time and place to use all technology, especially AI. I love the use of it. It’s not going anywhere. I feel like our industry needs to lean in, learn how to use it, and make it your friend. But also, it’s a double-edged sword because the cannabis industry is hurting, and there are a lot of great content producers out there in it. We also need to hire within and show this industry that we’re doubling down and we believe in it and we’re not going anywhere. You need to hire out. I can’t recommend hiring a professional copywriter enough. It will make a huge difference in the conversion of your website. But yes, ChatGPT, I’m all there for it. Use it all the time, and I encourage my clients to do it.

If you’re more of a DIY, it’s going to be your best friend. It’s going to save you loads of time.

Absolutely. We also are early adopters of AI and found the difference in terms of increase in productivity and other stuff. So yeah, I can’t completely relate to what you said. Nadia Reagan, it has been a lovely conversation, but before I let you go, I would like to play a quick rapid-fire with you. I hope you’re game for it.

Yeah, I’m game. Let’s do it.

Perfect. Yeah. Glad Where do we find Reagan on Friday evenings after office or after work?

Either watching some live music, preferably outside, or on the couch with my family watching a movie.

All right. Your last Google search.

For a washable rug for my kitchen.

Okay. Your celebrity crush?

Johnny Depp.

All right. Your next vacation?

Argentina.

All right. Perfect. Great. I will not grill you any further, Reagan. You have been a spot. Thank you so much for taking out time and do this with us. If our audience wants to find you, how do they do that?

Yeah. Thanks so much, Ranmay. This was a blast. You can find me online at @routesrockReagan on Instagram, and Reagan McRoyhatch on LinkedIn. The best place to get in touch with us is on our website www.CannaSite.com.

All right. Lovely, Reagan. It has been a fantastic conversation, and I’m sure our audience is what I benefited a lot from the insights that you shared. So, yeah, thank you. It was lovely speaking with you. Thank you.

Thank you, I was blessed. Have a great week.

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