Every business owner, regardless of the niche, understands the significance of marketing. Online and offline strategies are necessary for the successful promotion and development of your project. If you are working in the cannabis industry, have an e-commerce site offering CBD products, or run a dispensary, online cannabis marketing is an indispensable part of your advertising campaign.
Even though it seems that this niche is not too competitive, it is necessary to think about the future. More and more states adopt the laws that make cannabis products legal. Besides, some steps have already been taken to legalize cannabis at the federate level. Just imagine how many businesses will rush into the industry, which is going to make this market a highly competitive environment.
So, if you are looking for a possibility to increase the profitability of your cannabis business and want your brand to be recognized in the niche, you need to promote it online and offline. This is the guide that will help you gain recognition among potential clients of the market.
Cannabis Marketing: What Is It?
If you are working in the industry, you might have already heard this phrase. But what makes marketing in the marijuana business so specific? Or is it not peculiar at all?
First of all, it is essential to determine the main goal. Your dispensary, growing or packaging marijuana business, or any other type of ancillary enterprise related to the marijuana niche needs to be recognized among clients and to develop to generate revenue for you as an owner. And this main goal is common for any commercial business. Therefore, in this regard, cannabis marketing goals are the same.
Online Vs Offline Marketing?
For all businesses, promotion can be subdivided into online and offline marketing. Both of them have their pros and the reasons to be implemented. For the cannabis business in 2021, like many other niches, online marketing efforts are becoming more effective because businesses move online. However, this does not mean that strategies of offline promotion are already obsolete and not used.
In this guide, we are going to focus on the most essential and efficient strategies to promote your marijuana business, both online and offline, which will undoubtedly lead to an increase in the number of regular clients and brand recognition. As a result, your business will generate more revenues. So, get ready for reading and working hard since it is not as easy as ABC.
Digital Marketing for Your Cannabis Business
First, it is necessary to pay attention to the fact that if you have never done anything related to online marketing, there are specialists in the niche that will help. Of course, before resorting to SEO cannabis services, you might want to know what should be done. So, here are the main milestones:
1. An SEO-optimized website for your cannabis project
Website optimization is a set of measures aimed at raising the position of the site in the results of search engines for certain queries. Optimization methods can be divided into four types:
- Working with internal factors. This is the elimination of problems with the indexing of the site, the adaptation of content to the requirements of search engines, internal linking, and more.
- Working with external factors. This is building up the link mass of the site and its subsequent control.
- Dealing with behavioral factors. This is an improvement in indicators characterizing user behavior on your resource and their interest in its content: average visit time, the number of pages viewed, percentage of refusals to visit.
- Dealing with commercial factors. These include brand awareness, assortment, representation, price level, payment options, etc.
If you have no website yet, then it is time to invest in its development. It is crucial to remember that a website is the digital representation of your business online. And it should be not only well-designed but also duly optimized and correctly coded so that the search engine ranks your site well in the search results.
If you have already got a cannabis website, there is plenty of optimization work you will need to do. So, here are the main steps:
- Headings: These tags are needed for search robots to understand what your site is about. Optimization of headings foresees the inclusion of the main keywords, city, brand, dispensary, products, etc.
- Alt tags: Google cannot read what is depicted on the graphic content on your site. Therefore, include the alt tags that will tell the search engine what the pictures are about. This is also a possibility for your site to be indexed in Google images, which might bring additional traffic to your platform.
- HTTPS: Obtaining a proper SSL certificate and ensuring a secure HTTPS connection are essential and advantageous for websites. This is confirmed by Google. Therefore, make sure your platform meets this recommendation.
- Responsive design: This factor influences the behavior of your clients on the site. And Google analyzes such indices as the average visit time, the number of pages viewed, percentage of refusals. Therefore, your cannabis site should work well on any device, be convenient to navigate, and be user-friendly. Your clients will notice this and spend more time on your website, which, in its turn, will positively affect the ranking of the site in the search results.
- Website speed: It is another factor that influences if the clients are going to stay on your site. If it loads for a long time (more than four seconds), a potential client will close the tab. The search engine will take this into account while determining the bounce rate for your site. Use the available speed tests to check how much time the pages of your cannabis site need to load the content of the first screen. Among the possible solutions, you can enable caching of the browser, set up a content delivery network, or use the services of fast hosting.
Above are some of the most common problems encountered by owners of websites that are not ranked high by the search engine. If you want your marijuana project to get better results in the SERP, it is worth carrying out the technical audit of the site. For this, you will need to hire an SEO specialist or order the services of an SEO cannabis agency that will help to determine the main pitfalls preventing your platform from reaching top positions. Let us move on to the next digital marketing efforts to undertake.
2. Online Reviews: Get More of Them and Better
Like in any other industry, in the cannabis business, it is essential what other people say about your business/company/brand. The majority of people who shop online read online reviews. Therefore, your online marketing strategy should include the work with reviews. Here are the crucial platforms you need to focus on.
Google My Business
For local dispensary or retail marijuana businesses, GMB is an indispensable way to be found online. To get an online profile, take the following steps:
- Create an account and fill all the fields required, making sure that all the information is precise and correct.
- Verify that you are really an owner of this business (by email, phone, or post).
After that, your profile will be added to GMB, and when users look for the services or products you provide in the vicinity or adding “near me,” your site will appear in the search results.
The collection of positive reviews and stars on GMB is essential. However, keep in mind that the search engine discourages businesses from offering various perks in exchange for a positive comment. Therefore, be careful while carrying out your promotion.
It is an alternative to GMB in the Bing search engine. Even though it is not the most popular engine used, it is the source of extra traffic. After the creation and setting up of your GMB profile, you can import all the information in Bing, which will save you a lot of time.
Facebook Business Page
It is one of the largest social networks, and a lot of people trust reviews left on the business pages on FB. Aside from the increase in brand recognition, your website will get a better ranking, thanks to positive reviews on FB.
The platform is more often used to find reviews on restaurants and various cafés. People use this service to share their impressions (and, therefore, read reviews) on local and online businesses. So, make use of the possibility to register your listing on Yelp for free and start collecting reviews on your cannabis business.
There are two plans — free and paid. Businesses like dispensaries and e-commerce marijuana sites are recommended to add a widget on their website and collect reviews. While this is possible with a free plan, there are more useful features in a paid plan. Consider making this investment to increase the traffic to your site and the conversion rate.
Tips on working with reviews
So, first and foremost, business owners are concerned about getting feedback. Include widgets of the platforms where you have got a business profile to make it easier for them to open these sites and leave their feedback.
Besides, it is possible to motivate users to leave reviews. However, as mentioned, not every platform positively evaluates these strategies. So, be careful and read the policies of these sites.
It is also crucial to react to negative reviews always and promptly so that all the potential clients who will read them in the future could see how your enterprise handles drawbacks in service if any.
3. Cannabis SEO
We have already mentioned how essential the optimization of your website is. Internal website optimization is rightfully considered the basis of SEO, and the cannabis business is not an exception. It includes working with the content (text and images) of pages.
The main stages of internal search engine optimization of the site are:
1. Working with page content
- Writing new texts and correcting existing ones using the queries promoted on the page. It is crucial not just to enter the required number of keywords, but to pay close attention to the information of the text itself. By opening a page, a user should receive an answer to one’s question. The content must be useful. Otherwise, the user will simply leave the resource. Also, it must be unique.
- Competent formatting: elaboration of heading and subheading tags (h1 — h6), lists, tables. There is only one h1 on the page, which is located above the other headings. It should contain the most high-frequency key request.
- Compilation/improvement of snippets — parts of the content of the pages of the site, which are displayed in the search results as a description of the resource. It is impossible to write the text that will be displayed in the snippet since the search engine decides what information to put in the snippet based on its algorithms. The snippet in the SERP is filled with text from the page titles or the main content, if, in the search engine’s opinion, this information better reflects the essence of what is stated on the page. Therefore, you can optimize the content on the page for the basic requirements for the snippet.
- Elaboration of tags and meta tags for all pages of the site (the title is displayed at the top of the page and contains the main key request). Although the description does not affect the position in the search results, the occurrences of key phrases in it are taken into account by search robots.
The next two stages include:
- Working with images and alt tags, as well as other visual content.
- Adding the internal linking, which will help users navigate the site, will positively influence the ranking of your platform.
2. Building Backlinks
SEO-optimization of the site is the basis for successful business promotion on the Internet. But you should not think that it only affects the internal content of the page. An important part is external SEO optimization and its main tool, which is link building.
Linkbuilding is a strategy of placing links to your resource on third-party sites. The link mass is analyzed by search engines, and the more links on reputable and relevant sites lead to your page, the higher you will rise in the ranking of the aircraft.
By the way, statistics show that successful promotion by 70% depends on the correctly used link-building tools.
Your cannabis business needs link-building if:
- You are just starting your online business and want as many potential customers as possible to learn about you.
- Looking for effective ways to drive traffic to your site.
- You work in an area where competition is very high, and for each client, there is a lot of struggle.
As you can see, every project, regardless of the niche, will undeniably benefit from backlinks.
3. Local SEO
The next essential component of your digital marketing strategy is local SEO, which is intended to make your platform recognized in the niche in the local market.
One of the tools is the already-mentioned Google My Business, as well as other reviewing platforms. To improve your online presence, check out the web for the available local marijuana directories and listings where you should add information about your dispensary or store. In this way, people looking for the products or services you offer in the vicinity will see your website in the search results. However, mind that this will be effective only with the fulfillment of all the above steps on the optimization of your cannabis site.
4. Content marketing
Digital marketing does not exist without its essential part, which is content marketing. Its main target is to create and distribute useful and fascinating information to gain user confidence and attract new clients to your cannabis business.
Content marketing will help to reach the following targets:
- Launching new products/services;
- Selling technically complicated goods;
- Creation of the company’s image and its reputation;
- Business promotion;
- Reducing the cost of advertising.
Traditionally, there are two types of sites where you can implement content marketing:
- on a blog on your website;
- on the pages of the company in social networks.
The main intention of content marketing is to involve the target audience in the content you create. As a result, to gain the reputation of an expert. Therefore, such formats as long-reads are effective. Besides, add the possibility for users to share the information you post by adding the buttons of sharing on social media. All the principles of the content optimization of pages of your cannabis site are also applicable to your blog.
5. Email Marketing
In the field of marijuana products’ selling and related niches, email marketing is an effective tool to lead potential clients to your website and generate more sales. To get started, you, first of all, need to gather the base of emails of your existing and potential clients:
- Make use of plugins to collect the emails of users that have visited your site or are interested in products you offer;
- There is specially designated software in which you can import the list of emails and send emails with the news, announcements, information on new blog posts, deals, sales, etc.;
- An alternative way of collecting emails is to offer the visitors of your site or a special landing page the so-called bait in exchange for contact details of a user — it can be a discount, a useful guide, etc.
While sending emails to your clients, remember that not every letter you send should offer products at a discount or sell anything in general. Stick to such a rule: informative and fascinating emails and newsletter — 4-5 times per month; promotions and selling deals — 1-2 times per month.
It is worth mentioning this technique of attracting new leads to your website in B2B and even B2C cannabis business. You will have to send hundreds and thousands of emails to gain at least several dozen new clients. However, this strategy is still efficient if used wisely.
The most essential is not to annoy the potential clients with impersonal and too obtrusive emails. That is why it is crucial to use mail sending services to set up drip campaigns and target the audience potentially interested in your products.
More so, you should personalize emails as much as possible by using names, company names, positions, and other relevant information available.
6. Social Media Marketing
Even though it is not possible to use social media so explicitly if you are going to promote your cannabis project, there are effective strategies that will help you promote your business. Let us dwell on them in brief:
- Influencer marketing: Recent years have proven that influencers are called so for a reason. By mentioning a brand on the pages of their social media, they can lead thousands of people to the site or business account of the company. If you have decided to follow this route, carefully select potential influencers for the purpose. Follow them for some time to understand if the audience trusts them. Besides, it is worth carefully analyzing if your products can be associated with an influencer you are considering. Probably, a person focused on healthy and regular sports is not the best candidate for your cannabis marketing campaign.
- Facebook: According to the advertising policy, you cannot explicitly market cannabis and marijuana products on this social network. However, the creation of the business profile is useful. Therefore, use the image with the logo of your brand that will let users understand what your company is about, while the algorithms of the social network are smart to detect the stop-words in descriptions, avoid using them. Mind that too active advertising may still lead to the deactivation of your account, so be careful while using this promotional tool.
7. Display Advertising
The most logical way is to try to use paid ads on Google to promote your CBD and related products or services. However, just like FB, the search engine will not approve such ads. Therefore, it will be necessary to resort to some tricks, especially not overusing the keywords like marijuana, CBD, etc. Your advertising efforts should not be aggressive. Try building a trusted profile slowly and gradually.
However, more cannabis-friendly alternatives will allow you to directly advertise your business on such sites as High Times, Cannabis.net, and similar. This can be Mantis Ad Network, Traffic Roots, or alike advertising networks. Make sure you meet the requirements of the chosen platform for images, their sizes, and content.
Besides, it is crucial to keep track of the tools you use for marketing with Google Analytics so that to determine which of the chosen strategies is effective and brings leads to your site, and, most importantly, increases sales of the products and services.
8. Podcast Marketing
In recent years, podcasts have become a popular kind of content among users on the Internet. Thanks to them, users can get to know a lot of useful information in a convenient format. As an owner of a cannabis business, you can choose one of the following ways:
- Record podcasts on your own, which implies the creation of the content plan, inviting KOLs and other personalities interesting to your TA, buying or renting equipment, etc. This is quite a costly and time-consuming approach. If you are not ready for this, select the next one.
- Type in the search bar “Your Industry/Service/Product + podcasts.” And you will find the most popular channels and platforms with podcasts. You can contact them to receive the rates of advertising; the prices may seem quite high. However, the audience you will reach in this way will be interested in what you advertise. Usually, the rates on podcasts advertising are calculated according to a CPM model based on downloads or views.
We have outlined the most effective and widely used strategies of digital marketing you can use to promote your cannabis business. However, it is also essential to mention offline promotional methods that are especially effective if you have a store or a physical office.
You can either arrange or visit various venues related to your business. These can be trade shows or cannabis conventions where you can personally get acquainted with your potential clients and invite them to visit your store/office. Undeniably, hosting an event is costly. However, the effectiveness of the image of your cannabis brand is high.
2. Direct mails
The times of sending ads by post seem to be gone. However, it is still effective for your local cannabis store. Therefore, collect the list of addressees and their addresses (it is better if they receive personal letters). However, sending posts to people living in the vicinity of your store can also be profitable. In the first case, you will reach the audience interested in your products. This could be:
- brochures or flyers,
- door hangers,
- coupons or personalized cards.
3. Print media
Newspapers and magazines can be efficient for your cannabis business. However, it is necessary to keep in mind the location of your business and the legislation of a particular store. If you think that such ads can be effective, here are some of the popular magazines to consider:
- High Times;
- Mg Magazine;
- Culture Magazine;
- Cannabis Culture;
- Cannabis Magazine;
- Cannabis Now.
It is also an intricate advertising method for the marijuana business. A lot depends on the kind of business you are running, as well as on its location. The prices vary. However, if in your location such ads are often heard on the radio, you can resort to it.
The last method we are going to list in this guide is advertising on billboards. In the majority of cases, they are effective for dispensaries. By placing your ads on billboards in the vicinity of your dispensary, you will attract more visitors to it.
As you have noticed, there are numerous channels and possibilities to promote your cannabis business online and offline. While some of them have proven effective, there are channels where you need to be careful because of the peculiarities of the niche. Marketing is not a science, and you can test various methods and, most importantly, analyze how effective they are for your particular business. An alternative way is to find a professional agency that will define the most effective strategies for your project. By paying for these services, you will save on ineffective tools you might want to use yourself. In any case, the decision is yours. Even if you choose in favor of the DIY method, the Internet is full of guides and tips.