The Best Cannabis Marketing Strategies & Channels in 2023
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The results of the Cannabis Marketing Association’s survey in 2020 reveal that cannabis marketers currently focus a lot of their limited resources on social media and other top-of-funnel brand awareness campaigns. In 2023, the competition is fiercer than ever before, especially when it comes to dispensary marketing and SEO for cannabis, so cannabis marketers need to find innovative strategies to stand out from the crowd.
In this article, we’ll explore why it’s important to diversify your marketing efforts beyond just social media and provide you with innovative techniques proven successful in this highly regulated industry. By the end of this article, you’ll have a toolbox of tactics to take your cannabis business to the next level.
Cannabis SEO — Improving visibility
Cannabis SEO refers to optimizing your website and online content related to your cannabis business for search engines, with the aim of boosting their visibility and ranking them high on search engine result pages (SERPs). The increased visibility leads to more website traffic, improved credibility & authority, and higher conversion rates.
SEO is cost-effective marketing (compared to traditional forms), because of the long-term benefits of improved organic visibility, brand recognition, and high-quality traffic.
SEO for dispensaries and other cannabis businesses usually includes:
- Keyword research — Identifying relevant keywords potential customer use when searching for cannabis products or services related to your brand.
- On-page optimization — Optimizing titles, meta descriptions, and headers with relevant keywords.
- Local SEO — Optimizing your website for local search (Google listings, citations) to attract customers from your region.
- Technical SEO — Optimizing site speed and URL structure, and adapting it for mobile phones, to ensure a seamless user experience.
- Link building — Improving brand authority by getting high-quality links from related websites.
Social media — Engaging with your audience
In this guide to cannabis marketing, social media is last on the list because Meta randomly shuts down cannabis-related profiles on Facebook and Instagram, so the brand shouldn’t place all efforts on social media platforms without having a backup plan. Even though cannabis social media is fantastic for brand awareness, building a relationship, and engaging with the audience, it is tricky due to Meta’s policies. On the bright side, platforms like LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter have become more lenient towards the cannabis industry. Some of the platforms cannabis brands should focus on are LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.
LinkedIn organic is good for B2B because it offers a space to engage with a professional audience, share industry-specific content and target your audience with ads. LinkedIn has relatively lenient policies for cannabis-related content, so brands who work with other businesses find this space ideal for their marketing efforts.
Cannabis businesses use LinkedIn to share case studies, updates, news, and research with their audience, as well as networking with industry influences and potential partners. LinkedIn also has advertising options cannabis businesses can use to reach their desired audience and potential B2B customers.
Twitter is great for cannabis marketing because it offers access to a large user base, including cannabis consumers, enthusiasts, experts, and industry professionals. Companies use Twitter to promote products, engage with the audience, create hashtag campaigns, and share educational content. As for ad campaigns, Twitter’s advertising policies vary from state to state, so licensed cannabis businesses can promote it in states that allow recreational or medical use of cannabis.
YouTube has become one of the most popular platforms because of its large user base, video-centric content, longevity, and YouTube SEO. Through various video formats such as demonstrations, interviews, reviews, and tutorials, cannabis brands can engage, educate and entertain their audience. Due to the longevity of the content and SEO, YouTube videos are one of the most sustainable marketing strategies. Cannabis brands need to be aware of YouTube’s advertising policies, age and location limits in order to work with the platform and not against
Cannabis Content Marketing — Establishing authority
Cannabis content marketing refers to creating, distributing, and promoting content related to the brand and cannabis industry. Content can take various forms, from blogs to newsletters and social media posts, but all with the same goal of providing value to customers and establishing authority and brand awareness. Content should be informative and engaging for the target audience looking for certain products or brands. For cannabis content marketing, it’s important to decide on the type of content and choose the content channels you will be using. Social media (Instagram, Facebook) can be restrictive for cannabis brands due to their strict policies.
Type of cannabis content marketing:
- Blog content marketing — Articles and an active blog provide a space for cannabis brands to showcase their authority on cannabis-related topics while educating and entertaining their audience. Apart from being the number one source of information, blogs are helpful for repurposing content because they can be easily used for social media platforms.
- Infographic — Infographics explain complex concepts or cannabis-related data in a visually appealing way that grabs attention. Presenting data in a user-friendly way establishes the cannabis company as an authority in the industry while improving search rankings (SEO) and reaching a wider audience because of shareability.
- Podcast — Audio shows on cannabis topics have become popular lately due to their accessible and convenient format. Cannabis podcasts like “The Potcast” and” Cannabis Business Minds” provide up-to-date news and expert opinions on the industry.
- Video — Video formats are an excellent way for cannabis brands to demonstrate products, show cultivation techniques, or present a review. Even though video formats need to comply with cannabis-related laws and regulations, YouTube has become more lenient towards this topic. Some good video podcasts are “The Dope Show,” “Marijuana Moment,” and” High Times TV.”
Cannabis UX — Being user-friendly
Cannabis UX describes the user experience related to cannabis products or services in terms of how customers interact with websites, apps, and e-commerce platforms. These user interactions include website design, navigation, functionality, and overall usability. A modern, user-friendly, and functional design of a website or e-commerce shop increases user satisfaction, engagement, loyalty, and repeat business.
To achieve a positive UX, cannabis brands should have:
- User-centric designs — The website must be visually appealing, easy to navigate, and optimized for all devices for users to have an intuitive experience.
- Relevant content — The information about the cannabis products or services needs to be up-to-date, precise, and clear for cannabis users to interact with it.
- Streamlined shopping experience — The shopping experience needs to be easy, transparent, and fast for the consumers. Cannabis brands should include an easy checkout process, multiple payment options, product recommendations, and wishlist to optimize conversions.
- Fast loading time — Slow loading time and a non-responsive interface frustrates the buyer, so cannabis brands need to make sure they don’t reduce the number of potential buyers with this.
- Compliance and security — Due to legal issues, cannabis companies need to comply with guidelines in terms of age verification and legal disclaimers to build trust with users.
Cannabis PR — Building relationships
When we say cannabis public relations, we mean the strategic communication and management of a brand’s image, reputation, and relationships with media, consumers, and the general public. PR involves creating stories, news, and the latest information about the cannabis company to shape the public’s view of the brand and build brand awareness, trust, and authority. Cannabis PR helps brands generate positive media coverage and present themselves as industry leaders in the eyes of the public. It’s one of the most effective marketing strategies because of its widespread effect on the general public. Cannabis brands that have a strong PR strategy are Charlotte’s Web (CBD brand) and MedMen (cannabis retailer).
Cannabis companies leverage PR as part of their marketing efforts in numerous ways; the best are:
- Media relations — Securing press releases, interviews, features, and articles in relevant media outlets to gain positive media coverage, increase visibility and build a strong relationship with the media and the public.
- Community relations — Engaging in community events and supporting relevant local causes build a strong relationship with the local community, prompting a positive brand image in the minds of the locals and the public.
- Thought leadership — Participating in panel discussions and industry conferences builds relationships with the public and other brands in the industry.
- Influencer partnerships — Collaboration on content creation, events, or cannabis marketing campaigns with relevant influences in the industry helps build a relationship with their audience and expand the brand’s reach.
Cannabis Email marketing — Educating your audience
A cannabis email marketing strategy is extremely effective because it enables the company to communicate directly with its target audience and get immediate feedback. This feedback can be written or through open and click-through rates, which are good indicators of the success of the campaigns. Email campaigns allow companies to reach many interested recipients at a relatively low cost per message compared to traditional marketing campaigns such as outdoor billboards.
Companies can create an email list by promoting a lead magnet on social media, paid ads, or website pop-ups. Examples of cannabis brands that efficiently market their products via mail are Cookies and Dosist.
Through email marketing, brands can sell, promote, educate, and entertain, depending on the type and goal of the marketing campaign. Brands also have better control over their email list than their followers. Social media can shut down your profile, while an email list is yours for the long run.
|Type of email automation||Description|
|Welcome email||Introducing your cannabis company, what users can expect from these emails, and providing relevant information and offers. The goal is to make a positive impression and set the tone for future emails.|
|Educational||Sending information, news, research, or anything else relevant to the cannabis industry. The goal is to build trust and position your company as an industry leader.|
|Product/Service launch||Sending pre-order offers, sneak peeks, and behind the scenes of new products can create a sense of urgency and encourage more purchases.|
|Re-engagement||I am reconnecting with subscribers with personalized content, special offers, and loyalty program reminders.|
|Post-purchase||Apart from providing order information, these emails can gather feedback and encourage repeat purchases.|
Tips for an effective cannabis email marketing campaign
- Segment your email list — Based on purchase history, location, or consumer preferences
- Test and optimize —Experimenting with different subject lines, CTAs, and email design
- Provide valuable content — Experiment with helpful, educational, and engaging content
- Use a user-friendly email design — A clean and professional layout that’s easy to navigate
- Use interesting subject lines — A/B testing different subject lines to find out which ones have a higher CTR
- Respond to feedback promptly — Showing that you value your customer’s opinion and build a positive relationship with them
Cannabis SMS marketing — Communicating with your audience
Text marketing or SMS marketing is even more effective than email marketing because it’s more personal and has a higher average open rate (98%). Besides providing direct two-way communication, cannabis SMS marketing is mobile-friendly and convenient for users. It allows cannabis brands to tailor and personalize messages while getting immediate feedback. Cannabis brands need to ensure that they have the user’s permission to use their phone number for marketing purposes, and the best way to obtain numbers is with opt-in forms, text-to-join- campaigns, and at significant events.
The most common types of SMS marketing campaigns are:
- Promotions and discounts
- Product launches and updates
- Events and gatherings
- Feedback and surveys
Programmatic ads — Targeting your audience
Programmatic ads are a type of digital advertising that use algorithms and real-time data to target a specific audience with ads across websites, apps, and social media. This marketing strategy is very efficient, but cannabis brands need to make sure they comply with regulations and minimize the usage of words such as “cannabis” and “weed.” Types of programmatic ads cannabis brands can use:
- Social media ads — These apps appear on Linkedin,and Twitter (with restrictions) while the user is engaged with the content. These ads should have a clear CTA, but cannabis companies should lean towards “educational CTAs” instead of direct sales.
- Video ads — These ads appear before, during, or after a video on YouTube or any other platform. They are the most effective when it comes to attention-grabbing, so cannabis companies need to make sure the content is entertaining for the viewer.
- Display ads — These apps appear on websites as banners or pop-ups while the user is scrolling. This space is more open towards direct sales than social media apps, so cannabis companies can use this opportunity for a more traditional CTA.
CRO — Analyzing your audience
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) refers to optimizing various elements of a website or landing page to increase the percentage of users who take a desired action, such as signing up for a newsletter or buying a product/service. In the context of cannabis marketing, CRO improves user experience and engagement, leading to overall marketing success. The strategy for CRO isn’t a one-way street, and cannabis companies need to constantly test and optimize their website and landing page to drive better results.
Companies need to analyze bounce rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates as KPIs to get data and insights for their current website.
How can cannabis companies use CRO?
- Optimizing product landing pages — Finding the headlines or text that resonate with the audience and keeps them on the page.
- Testing call-to-action buttons — A/B testing options to find the ones users click on the most
- Optimizing the contact form — Reducing the number of fields or allowing auto-fill suggestions to increase sign-ups.
- Simplifying the checkout process — Testing one-page checkout vs. multi-page checkout to test which option works better for the target audience.
- Testing product images and descriptions — Testing different photos, descriptions, and headlines to find out the ones that your audience engages with most.
Conclusion — Maximize your marketing efforts
The cannabis market is a dynamic and evolving field due to its unique challenges, such as strict regulations, different laws, and stigma. That is why basic and popular marketing strategies don’t deliver the expected results, and cannabis marketers end up with deleted profiles and low budgets.
When brainstorming marketing strategies, it’s important to prioritize consumer education and safety and let sales occur as a result of these tactics. The second thing is leveraging channels that convert higher and are trackable — unlike billboards and paid traffic, SEO is.
By employing the strategies mentioned above, cannabis businesses can engage with consumers, build brand reputation, and prompt loyalty. A full-stack search engine optimization firm with cutting-edge strategies can help you identify opportunities for improvement and maximize your marketing efforts. Reach out to Growth Logiq to start with effective cannabis marketing today.