Digital Marketing for Gun Shops
Unlike many industries, digital marketing for gun shops can be challenging. There are advertising restrictions, S.H.A.F.T., political agendas, and many other roadblocks to overcome.
But, all is not lost.
Not only is it possible to use digital marketing to grow your gun shop’s revenue, our clients have found it is one of their strongest avenues of growth!
As a digital marketing agency who specializes in gun shops, we’ve had to learn — often the hard way — what works well and what to avoid. Keep reading to learn what we’ve uncovered!
Digital Marketing Restrictions for Gun Shops
Whether you own a gun shop or are researching the barriers to entry, there are some important marketing restrictions you need to consider — advertising and social media restrictions, as well as S.H.A.F.T.
Advertising Restrictions for Gun Shops
This will likely not be a shock to you, but big tech companies aren’t fans of firearms and freedom. In fact, their policies and algorithms are actively working to prevent the spread of our rights.
One of the easiest ways they do this is through advertising policies that severely limit or completely eliminate the ability to run paid advertisements. Meta (Facebook), Google, and most other big-tech platforms make it nearly impossible to run paid ads for anything related to firearms, accessories, or training.
This means that traditional paid digital advertising strategies are worthless to grow your gun shop’s digital presence.
Social Media Restrictions for Gun Shops
If advertising restrictions weren’t enough, most big social media platforms also have very strict guidelines for the organic content they allow.
In recent years, we’ve seen the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) that can “fact check” and even “see” sensitive photos containing violence or gore. This can make for an endless maze of removed posts and account restrictions to navigate, which is a very frustrating experience for most gun-store owners.
How S.H.A.F.T. Affects Gun Shops
Not only does big tech make life harder than it needs to be, but the government also can’t keep their fingers from stirring the pot.
S.H.A.F.T. stands for Sex, Hate, Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco. It’s basically the government’s way of protecting underage people from seeing marketing related to “sensitive substances.”
Where S.H.A.F.T. really comes into play is in SMS (text) messaging, which is one of the best-performing messaging channels right now.
According to SMS Bump:
Sex (adult content), Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco are federally legal and can be marketed through SMS as long as a functioning age-gate is in place. The age-gate needs to prompt the user to enter their birthdate, rather than just click “Yes” to approve that they’re over 21.
What does that mean for your gun shop? Simply put, your marketer needs to keep an extra-close eye on compliance to ensure they’re not stacking up your liability in the event that the CITA comes knocking.
Developing a Digital Marketing Strategy for Gun Shops
By this point, if you’re a gun shop owner, you’re probably ready to throw in the towel on digital marketing. But there’s still hope for an excellent digital marketing campaign for your gun shop.
It’s not only possible to create a thriving digital marketing strategy for your gun shop, but it is one of the strongest growth revenues available in the Internet Age!
Here’s how we’re helping our clients develop a robust digital presence.
Google Business Profile for Gun Shops
The first piece of digital marketing for your gun shop will have a huge impact on your business. If nothing else were done, this alone could significantly increase your foot traffic and revenue.
Create and optimize a Google Business Profile (GBP) for your gun shop!
Here’s our GBP:
Obviously, we’re not a gun shop, but a strong GBP is as vital for our business as it is for yours!
Your Google Business Profile can rank for local searches quite easily, and it shows up on Google Maps any time people are exploring your areas. This means it will generate a high number of opportunities for local people to see that your gun shop exists in their own backyard!
Here’s a few quick tips to get the most of your GBP:
- Make sure you have buttons for your website, directions, and to call.
- Ask happy customers to leave you 5 star reviews — these help new people understand what to expect.
- Add 20 photos initially, and regularly add more photos — this shows people what your store is like and helps Google better rank your profile!
If your locals are like mine, then they’re likely to wander in at some point simply to see what you’re about.
Websites for Gun Shops
The second place we focus when onboarding a new gun shop is their website. It’s an “owned asset,” meaning that if you take some care initially, it’s not something that can ever be taken away (like your Instagram account can…).
Best practice for gun shops is an e-commerce website that is connected to their inventory system. There are a lot of details to get right here, including:
- Choosing the best website CMS for a beautiful, functional website that also can’t get “nuked” by an anti-2A company.
- Setting up an inventory software that works in your store and online, seamlessly keeping inventory accurate in both locations.
- Integrating your inventory, website, and marketing software to create a wonderful customer experience both in-store and online.
When you accurately integrate your inventory into your website, it opens the opportunity for your customers to shop in-store or online, whichever is more convenient. Plus, many of our clients opt to have “in-store pickup” shipping options, making it extremely easy for their customers to purchase whatever they need when it’s available.
Email Marketing for Gun Shops
In addition to having a website, your gun shop needs a strong email marketing presence. Because your email list is another owned asset, you don’t have to fear randomly losing it one day.
Additionally, it is a fantastic way to reach your target market and past customers. Most gun owners are always interested to see what their favorite store has in stock or to receive a small discount on their birthday. Email marketing is a safe and effective way to increase revenue, one that comes at a low cost and level of effort.
Best email marketing tactics include:
- Have ways to sign up in store (QR Codes are awesome) and on your website.
- Ensure automations are running for key events like birthdays and abandoned carts.
- Incorporate a loyalty program with your email marketing.
- Send regular sales newsletters, providing both education and an opportunity to push people to your website or through your door.
If your email marketing software includes SMS, be sure to abide by S.H.A.F.T. and have a strong age-gate.
Facebook and Instagram for Gun Shops
Despite the social media giants constantly harassing patriots like us, Facebook and Instagram are still some of the best places you can attract new followers to your gun shop.
Because of the complexity of the topic, we’ve written a separate article about the best practices for using Facebook and Instagram for your Gun Shop. If you’re wondering how we do it, that’s a great place to start.
For now, it’s sufficient to say that it is possible to attract raving fans through social media. Here’s some strategic points that will help you do this effectively:
- Engage with accounts using local hashtags and locations — this will help you find people who actually can walk through your door.
- Use a lot of the best-performing media types like Reels and Live Videos.
- Work out deals with some local or semi-local influencers to get your name and products in front of their audience.
- Partner with a reputable firearms trainer to hold classes or trainings at your facility — bonus points if they also have a large social media presence!
Finally, know that it’s going to be frustrating to run your gun shop’s social media pages. This is a volatile area, and it is completely possible that one day you’ll wake up and your page will be gone (despite doing everything as “safely” as possible). Despite this risk, the rewards are worth it to those willing to develop a strong social media presence!
Implementing Digital Marketing Strategy for Gun Shops
Now you know the key elements in a strong digital marketing strategy for gun shops. Doing these will get you well on your way toward increased foot traffic and revenue.
While the purpose of this article is to teach you, I’d like you to know that we are here to help. The freedom we all enjoy will only last as long as patriots like us continue to exercise our God-given rights.
One of the ways we do that is by helping as many gun shops as possible implement a strong digital marketing strategy. So whether it’s a small question or to request a marketing consultation for your gun shop, I would love to extend our expertise to your business.
God Bless America.
AJ Coutts — President and Founder