How To Market Your Cannabis Brand With 5 Organic Marketing Tactics
It’s a good time to be a cannabis entrepreneur who’s learning how to market your cannabis brand, but it’s also frustrating AF to promote your marijuana and CBD products on digital marketing platforms like Google, Facebook, and Instagram.
CBD oil, Hemp, MMJ, and recreational marijuana products are super popular among a large majority of the adult population in the United States, Canada, Europe, and emerging markets like Israel and Africa.
In fact, some analysts are predicting a $150 billion global cannabis industry, some are even quoted as saying $500 billion.
So, with all the global demand for cannabis-related products, why is it so freakin’ challenging for marijuana companies to take advantage of the same digital advertising opportunities that are available to many other businesses, including Alcohol?
We won’t get into that here because you already know the answer. It’s pretty much near impossible to market your cannabis brand and stay compliant.
Traditional marketing channels including print, radio, and TV, along with digital advertising giants like Google & Facebook have placed strict advertising restrictions against CBD, HEMP, and cannabis-related products.
Here’s an example of an amazing video advertisement from Acreage Cannabis that was rejected for the Super Bowl by CBS:
Regardless, some CBD and cannabis brands are actually able to use Google to market their cannabis brands, as Google is clearly serving up ads for CBD oil. We’ve all seen them. Follow the link in the previous sentence to see actual screenshots of CBD ads on Google.
Our cannabis marketing agency has actually been able to advertise medical cannabis on Facebook, Google, and YouTube, for some of our clients, and we’ve also been unsuccessful with getting cannabis ads approved with other clients.
That’s why we still recommend trying digital advertising to market your cannabis brand because as noted above, it is possible. But, we also suggest having a solid contingency plan that does not include advertising or advertising restrictions.
In this article, we illustrate how to market your cannabis brand using traditional media, popular search engines, and ubiquitous social media platforms.
2021 UPDATE: We now have an 88% success rate with getting our client’s cannabis advertising campaigns approved on Google search! If you want to attract “warm/hot” customers in the evaluation & purchase stages, using Google search ads is the best way to target people who are actively looking to buy cannabis or CBD products. We wrap up this article with an additional cannabis marketing tactic that includes paid ads on Google search.
1. Maximize & Optimize Your Organic Reach on Instagram
Instagram is a highly visual marketing platform to market your cannabis company to those 21-44, and this fact fits perfectly with your products.
Hemp, CBD, and weed can all be promoted very well using visual media like high-quality images and social media style video.
Instagram makes is making it easy for brands to market products and services by introducing its new in-app shopping feature which essentially turns the app into a virtual mall.
Cannabis marketers should look at this new feature as a digital visual merchandising opportunity, which would be similar to the traditional storefront display window that we still see in shopping malls today.
Traditionally, the store-front window would draw customers into the retail store. Today, Instagram can be used as your digital store window that shows up in Instagram posts and stories in potential customer’s news feeds.
But there’s a big IF there. You still need to advertise to use this shopping feature and appear in Instagram’s Explore feed and in your target customer’s news feed.
We always suggest you try to promote your posts on Instagram, but it will be a challenge to produce the right copy and ad creative to get your ads approved.
Here are some tips to market your cannabis brand using Instagram:
Daily Organic Posts & Stories:
- Create an optimized and targeted cannabis content strategy for your daily posts and stories on Facebook & Instagram.
- It’s also important to establish a consistent posting schedule with both in-feed posts and stories on both platforms.
- Build and maintain an updated list of popular, trending, and highly relevant hashtags for Instagram only. Don’t bother using hashtags on Facebook.
Customer Service via Social Media:
- In order to effectively market your cannabis brand, you need to build and establish your brand loyalty with your customers.
- One of the best ways to build loyalty to market your cannabis brand is to focus on customer service, both in-store and most definitely on social media.
Implement a Customized Community Management Strategy:
- It’s vital for your cannabis brand to have a response and interaction strategy as part of your social media marketing plan.
- We’d recommend establishing a response for every possible customer service question or situation.
- A customized Facebook Messenger chatbot could easily automate this service for your cannabis brand.
Brand Ambassadors & Instagram Influencers:
- Using Instagram influencers to market marijuana and CBD products is always a good strategy, but it does come with a few key limitations.
- It’s extremely challenging to measure ROI with influencer marketing but with the right strategy in place, it can be a useful tactic for marketing cannabis brands, organically.
- Influencer marketing can work very well on Instagram based on the platform’s ability to amplify word-of-mouth marketing and user-generated content.
Video Marketing Using Stories, Live, and IGTV:
- People love short vertical video, that’s why Stories are so popular on Instagram.
- You can use share video on Instagram in the news feed, in stories, and in high-converting campaigns using IGTV.
- Implement branding videos, product videos, and tutorial videos into your content strategy for Instagram.
2. Maximize & Optimize Your Organic Reach on Facebook
If you’re marketing CBD to those 45+, you need to be on Facebook as much as you may need to be on Instagram. It’s true, Facebook is for “older” people and you should use this knowledge to market your cannabis or CBD brand on social media.
As you may know, Facebook owns Instagram and this is shown in the similarities between the two platforms and the shopping experience that it offers your potential customers.
If you look into your Facebook business page settings you’ll see an option to use a shopping template that will enable you to link your e-commerce site to Facebook.
This enables your Facebook page to allow potential customers to shop for your cannabis and CBD products from your Facebook Page and Posts.
If you use this template you’ll have a “shopping tab” on your profile which customers can click on to shop for cannabis and CBD products.
You can create collections of marijuana products based on strain or price-point, and if lucky, even run ads on individual posts and videos.
But since cannabis advertising on Facebook is a real pain in the butt, here are a few digital tactics to market your cannabis brand on Facebook:
Organic Posts & Stories:
- As you’re well aware, a cannabis business page cannot advertise on Facebook. But recently, Facebook made it possible for cannabis and CBD related pages to be found in Facebook search results.
- The bad news is, organic reach on Facebook is dead. If you have a business page with a decent engagement rate, you will get 2%-10% of your total followers to see your posts – and that’s being super optimistic.
- We’d recommend only focusing on Facebook marketing for your cannabis brand if you want to target an older, elderly demo with your cannabis and CBD products.
Facebook Messenger Chatbot:
- A Facebook Messenger chatbot is a super cool way to market your dispensary and provide excellent customer service.
- Most potential cannabis customers who are 50+ years of age will likely have a ton of the same questions about recreational marijuana, THC, Hemp, and CBD.
- By creating a customized Facebook Messenger chatbot, your cannabis brand is able to provide phenomenal customer service by automatically answering the most common questions potential customers have about your products.
- Facebook chatbots ensure that the people have a positive customer service experience with your cannabis brand and the quick automated response time with a chatbot is a driving factor in consumer purchase decisions.
Drive Engagement With Exclusive CBD Deals & Cannabis Offers:
- People love deals so you can post exclusive deals on CBD products on for your Facebook audience in order to boost engagement and potentially increase sales.
- You can use Facebook Messenger to send out your daily deals to all of your Facebook followers.
Facebook Video, Facebook Live, and Facebook Stories
- The fact that people love video content applies to Facebook as much as it does Instagram.
- You can incorporate different styles of video and different lengths of video content.
- Facebook Stories has increased in popularity based on the success of Instagram Stories so it’s a great opportunity to get more impressions on your organic posts.
3. Search Engine Optimization For Cannabis Brand Marketing
While we’re on the topic of organic marketing techniques to market a cannabis brand, SEO, or search engine optimization, is probably one of the most effective marijuana marketing strategies for cannabis businesses.
SEO is a long-term game that can take 6-12 months to see results. It’s also possible to see results in 3-6 months, but you need a comprehensive keyword strategy and a quantity of high-quality content published (and optimized) on your site.
It also requires no advertising and you’ll always own all of your content.
The SEO and content process work hand-in-hand because your content on your website needs to be optimized for search engines so they can determine the relevance and authority of your site and where to rank your website content in search engines.
The higher your domain authority and quality/relevance of your content, the higher your website pages will rank in search engines for relevant and related search queries.
Potential customers are searching for information on cannabis and CBD with the intent of learning more about the plant and products to eventually purchase.
You can use SEO and organic search to market your cannabis brand, with no advertising restrictions, by implementing an SEO and content marketing strategy designed to build and grow your domain authority and site relevance.
The process of SEO to market your cannabis company looks like this:
- A comprehensive SEO audit of your current website
- 27-point SEO audit report detailing errors and omissions related to search engine optimization and Google indexing
- Prepare a baseline keyword rankings report to see where you currently rank for your targeted keywords search queries
- We fix the priority errors and omissions found in the report and implement a new SEO and keyword strategy on your entire website, including on-page copy, back-end metadata, and all images.
- We then do a new keyword rankings report to see where you rank after the new SEO strategy and continue this each month.
The goals with using SEO to market your cannabis brand are to:
- Increase your online branding by increasing your online visibility
- Increase your search engine rankings
- Drive higher quality traffic to your website from organic search
- Increase website conversions/sales
4. Marketing Your Cannabis Brand on Cannabis Websites & Blogs
While we highly recommend you populate your website with regular weekly SEO optimized blog content, to develop your site’s domain authority and show up in search rankings. You can also do this using opportunities on other websites.
When it comes to advertising to market your cannabis brand, there are many opportunities to advertise on other related – or unrelated – websites that your potential customers visit daily.
Guest Posting on Relevant Blogs
- Many cannabis related websites accept guest posts from experts, who are not journalists, in related fields.
- If you have some expertise in any area of the cannabis industry, we’d highly suggest you approach relevant cannabis industry websites to see if they accept guest posts.
- Your job would be to write a high-quality article that answers the target audience’s questions about the topic.
- You can also add a high-quality backlink to your website or specific related website content.
- Your cannabis website could get an increase in referral traffic from the guest post site and your cannabis brand gets some additional marketing exposure with many new readers/potential customers.
Display Ads on Third-Party Native Advertising Platforms
- Believe it or not, there are a handful of third-party advertising networks that allow for CBD and cannabis advertising on major websites. For more information check out our native advertising options.
- Mantis & Outbrain are two of the more popular native ad networks that many CBD brands are using to market cannabis products.
- These platforms do have some minimums when it comes to media spend which could be prohibitive for some cannabis businesses, but they do serve a relevant and highly target audience on popular websites so it may be worth the extra investment.
Display Ads on Relevant Industry Websites
- Depending on your business focus, you may find advertising opportunities on industry-related websites useful in growing your business.
- If you’re in the B2B cannabis space, banner ads on sites like Leafly.com, Lift & Co, CannabisBusinessExecutive.com, Marijuana Business Daily, and other similar sites, along with sponsored email newsletters, would an ideal way to market your cannabis brand to other marijuana-related businesses.
5. SMS Messaging
Text messaging using SMS technology, not apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or Slack, is an extremely effective form of advertising for any business and can be just as effective to market a cannabis brand.
Today, almost everyone owns a cellphone that they keep within arm’s length at all times, and over 90 percent of people read their text messages within 5 minutes of receiving them.
This is a huge opportunity when it comes to marketing cannabis and CBD brands.
Text message marketing regulation falls under the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act), a federal statute designed to safeguard consumer privacy. This legislation restricts telemarketing communications via voice calls, SMS texts, and fax unless the recipients have given their explicit consent.
This is nothing new as every business in any industry needs to follow rules and stay compliant with text/SMS message marketing.
It’s actually easy to set up effective text marketing campaigns without spending a lot of money on legal fees and without running afoul of the law. All that is required by the TCPA is the customer’s explicit consent to receive texts.
There are a few ways to receive opt-in consent from your customers which essentially includes asking them only once to opt-in to receive text messages when you first send them a promotional message.
In order to stay compliant, the TCPA says marketers need to give the customer the ability to easily opt-out. This means including something as simple as “Reply STOP XXXX to stop receiving text messages” at the end of every text message.
6. UPDATE: Bonus Tip: How To Advertise Your Cannabis Brand!
We offer the following two highly effective alternatives to Facebook & Instagram advertising for your cannabis or CBD products:
i. Google Search Advertising:
We have been managing successful Google ads campaigns for cannabis & CBD/hemp companies in Canada, United States, and UK since 2017, and we can do the same for you. We have an 88% success rate for getting Google CBD ads approved, as of Mach 2021. These campaigns include text ads on the Google search network. See our case studies here.
Your ads are shown to people who are actively searching to buy CBD online. We target “warm” people in the evaluation and purchase stages of the sales cycle at the time when they are actually searching Google to find CBD to purchase.
When people are actually looking to purchase CBD, they are not on Instagram or Facebook. When someone is looking to buy CBD online, they are more than likely on Google searching for a solution. This is why we highly recommend using Google search ads for CBD marketing instead of social media platforms.
Follow this link to learn more about our Google search advertising management services for CBD & Cannabis companies.
ii. Programmatic Display and/or Video Advertising/Retargeting on Popular Websites:
Display/banner advertising on some of the world’s most popular websites is an essential tactic for every CBD company. Believe it or not, our DSP partners allow for display and/or video ads for CBD products including CBD oils, tinctures, extracts, edibles, and topicals, so ad approval is not an issue. It’s easy to start driving highly-qualified traffic to your website.
We are able to target people by demographics and interests with custom advertising just like we would on Facebook & Instagram. We’re also able to retarget all your site visitors, target look-a-like audiences, and custom audiences (email lists), also just like FB & IG, but with no risk of disapproved ads or getting shut down.
We Can Help You Market Your Cannabis Brand
Advertising your cannabis brand can be challenging but as you can see there are plenty of other options for marketing your cannabis brand that can be equally as effective.
Organic marketing tactics like building a strong social media presence, implementing a search engine optimization and content marketing strategy, guest posting. link building and even SMS/text messaging are all viable options to market your cannabis brand and CBD products.
We can help you craft, execute and manage an effective marijuana marketing strategy to grow your brand awareness online and drive traffic to your website store or retail locations.
Contact us for a free consultation or to request a quote.
We’re Ready To Help You Grow!