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Cannabis Marketing: 3 Effective Digital Strategies For a Successful Dispensary Marketing Plan
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Digital Dispensary Marketing Strategy

Depending on where your cannabis retail dispensary is currently operating, or where you plan to set up your cannabis retail shop, you likely have many similar and unique challenges with your dispensary marketing strategy.

In Canada, things get real as of April 1, 2019. Legal cannabis retail dispensaries won’t be seen in many municipalities, cities, and provinces until then.

Illegal market cannabis stores are all over the place across the nation and will likely continue to be in operation after April 1, 2019.

We have an insane challenge when it comes to advertising medical and recreational cannabis. So we turn to effective digital tactics like SEO and content marketing to promote marijuana but aren’t able to get any keyword research data because Google hides it.

So clearly every cannabis retail entrepreneur and business owner understands how hard it is to promote your dispensary and grow your business.

Not to mention that competition from both the legal and illegal cannabis businesses is heating up and getting ready to skyrocket in the coming months and years.

Image showing arrows racing on highway to illustrate competition with cannabis retail stores. Dispensary marketing strategy, dispensary marketing plans. Cola Digital Cannabis Marketing Agency. ColaDigital.ca.

Increasing Competition With Cannabis Retail in the United States

In the United States, cannabis retail is a regular thing in the 32+ states that have legalized medical marijuana and recreational cannabis. There are literally hundreds of dispensaries the public can choose from which provide plenty of options for new stoners and the cannabis curious.

Here’s how competitive cannabis retail is in Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational cannabis. In Denver, CO, not the whole state, just the city, there are over 500 cannabis dispensaries.

I think it’s safe to say that there is quite the level of stiff competition for weed in Denver. Do you think it’s possible that these cannabis consumers are loyal to any one cannabis brand?

I’m thinking hell yea. Brand loyalty is nothing new when it comes to consumer products let alone beer, wine, coffee, and as we’ll see, with cannabis as well.

This is exactly why you need an effective marijuana marketing strategy for your cannabis retail dispensary.

By implementing a data-driven, consumer-focused digital marketing strategy that engages your prospects and existing customers, you’ll be able to boost brand awareness and increase website traffic and retail traffic.

Let’s get into the importance of an effective marijuana marketing strategy for cannabis retail. We’ll also discuss actionable examples of digital tactics that you or your cannabis marketing agency, can implement today.

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The Best Digital Marketing Tactics For an Effective Marijuana Marketing Strategy

Where’s the first place you go when you want to find a new restaurant in your city? Where’s the first place you go to find a travel destination? What tool do you use to find out about the health benefits of cannabis and CBD?

The answer is clearly related to the internet in some shape or form. You’d likely go to Google or Bing and search for exactly what you’re looking for, or maybe you’d hit up social media to see what your friends think.

Your cannabis retail store needs to have a significant online presence particularly with high online visibility in search engines.

Search engines are where some of your customers are going to go when they want to find a cannabis dispensary near them. People use search engines for intent-based search.

They know exactly what they want to find and they need a search engine to point them in the right direction. In most cases, literally, as they want to find a location (i.e. your dispensary) right away.

Google, or Bing, are also where some of your prospects are going to go to find out more information on cannabis, THC, CBD oils, and edibles.

These prospects aren’t ready to buy weed just yet, but if they find your website your social platforms via an online search, and your content is relevant to their needs, informative, and educational, you’ll be able to pull these prospects through your website conversion funnel with hyper-targeted remarketing tactics.

So how do you get started with a marijuana marketing strategy for your cannabis retail stores?

Below, we’ve outlined 3 of proven digital marketing tactics for an effective marijuana marketing strategy.

Marijuana Leaf with marijuana plants in the background. Dispensary marketing strategies. Digital marketing for dispensaries and cannabis retail stores. Cola DIgital Cannabis Marketing. ColaDigital.ca.

1. Customer Reviews

Cannabis retail stores in Canada and the United States should really focus on customer reviews – almost first and foremost. Online reviews are the best thing that ever happened to local businesses, including your cannabis retail store.

If you’re operating a cannabis dispensary or plan to in the near future, one of the most important things you can do to attract new customers is to take control of your online search presence starting with online review sites like Google (i.e. your Google My Business Page), Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Facebook.

When you’re looking to try a new restaurant or find a mechanic, what do you do? You might get a recommendation from friends or family, but you probably also do a “near me” search on Google, Bing, Yelp, or OpenTable.

Today, 97% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses, and one in eight search online for a nearby business every single day. Review sites are at the epicenter of “near me” searches.

Man pointing to a 5-star customer review stars. Dispensary marketing agency. Dispensary marketing plan. Cannabis retail store marketing plan. Cola Digital Cannabis Marketing. ColaDigital.ca.

 2. Local SEO

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is essential for any business website that wants to be found in organic search results on Google and Bing. If your website isn’t effectively optimized for search engines, Google doesn’t know what relevant search terms to rank your website for.

You could be missing out on a large number of local searches and local search traffic if your dispensary website is missing an optimized SEO and keyword strategy.

If you need an initial website SEO strategy implemented on your website, our team of Google certified search marketing professionals will get it done for you. Contact us for a free quote.

Local SEO for dispensary marketing is different from an overall SEO strategy on your website. Local SEO tactics for cannabis retail stores is more about optimizing your website to show up in the local map for search queries related to finding a dispensary in your area.

Your website and your dispensary’s Google My Business Page are the centre of your Local SEO strategy.

Google Maps is a dominating force in the world of local SEO. Local SEO helps you secure your placement for your cannabis business on Google local search, in order to drive traffic to your website and/or retail space.

You’ve noticed this yourself many times when performing a search for a local business on your smartphone or desktop computer. The Google 4-pack of local listings related to your search is the first thing that appears on Google search results. See this example:

Local 3 pack on desktop search. Local SEO for dispensary marketing. Cannabis marketing company ColaDigital.ca. Cola Digital Cannabis Marketing Agency.

This is why it’s absolutely crucial for cannabis dispensaries to show up in the local pack or risk losing sales. According to a study conducted by comScore, Neustar Localeze and 15 miles, 78% of local mobile searches result in an in-store purchase – resulting in some serious business!

If you’re a dispensary owner or involved in the operations of a cannabis retail store, local SEO combined with online reviews is a super great way to boost your local online presence and improve overall brand awareness.

3. Social Media For Dispensary Marketing

Although we cannabis-related businesses can’t advertise on social media platforms, that doesn’t mean creative cannabis marketers can’t still leverage the power and reach of platforms like Facebook and Instagram specifically.

Having said that, our team at ColaDigital.ca has been able to advertise medical cannabis using that term in the copy and medical cannabis imagery in the creative since 2017. You can read about here and download the case study for free.

Regardless, advertising restrictions aside, your cannabis retail store can still utilize the organic power of Facebook and Instagram.

It’s vital for dispensary Facebook Business Pages to build a large following of fans, followers, influencers, and those who love to engage with the dispensary’s content.

The key to getting qualified fans and followers is to regularly post high-quality, relevant content that entertains and engages your target market. You do not want to push sales, products, and services regularly on your social platforms.

Social media is not as “intent” based as Google search. People will buy/make purchases from brands on social media, but they aren’t going on social media with the specific intent to make a purchase, as they may on Google.

The key to getting qualified reach and impressions on Instagram and Twitter, in particular, is really good content paired with really good hashtag research.

Using popular hashtags that are related to the content you posted and that is also related to your brand is one of the secrets to getting high levels of social engagement.

If you in-house social media team is managing your dispensary’s social media marketing make sure they are posting popular and relevant hashtags as opposed to just random/fun hashtags.

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Some Other Digital Marketing Strategies For Cannabis Stores

For the sake of brevity, we only listed three of the most effective digital strategies for marketing cannabis retail stores. For example, there is much more to effective social media marketing for dispensaries than we listed above.

Contesting, Instagram Stories, partnering with influencers, and video content creation are all important parts of a comprehensive marketing plan for dispensaries and cannabis retail stores.

The main points to take from this advice on dispensary marketing and marijuana marketing, in general, are that digital strategies are essential to grow your cannabis business.

There may be advertising restrictions but that’s just for now. The 3 proven digital strategies we listed above show you the digital marketing options cannabis retailers have when it comes to their marijuana marketing strategy.

Marijuana Marketing Consultation or Managed Services

ColaDigital is Canada’s most experienced cannabis marketing agency dedicated to marketing recreational marijuana and medical cannabis. We partner with marijuana companies, cannabis retail stores and dispensaries who share our vision of destigmatizing cannabis and breaking new ground in this dynamic industry.

Our team has been implementing digital strategy since 2004, we believe our experience speaks for itself. We’ve served over 100 clients in a wide variety of B2B and B2C sectors, including companies in the medical cannabis space. We know what works and what doesn’t.

If you have questions or are ready to work with us, please contact us or reach out using the contact form below.

We’re ready to help you grow!


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