If you are a cannabis business owner, dispensary owner, or marketing executive, you know how important marketing can be for any business, especially cannabis businesses.
For this reason, marketing your cannabis business is vital to growing your brand and revenue.
In this ultimate cannabis marketing guide, we are going to show you how to market your cannabis business online and offline.
What is Cannabis Marketing?
Cannabis marketing is the promotion or advertising of a dispensary, grower, marijuana packaging, marijuana business, or any other type of ancillary business. Like any other business, cannabis businesses must do some type of marketing to get brand awareness and grow customers.
To break it down, even more, there are a few different subcategories of cannabis marketing. Most marketing strategies can be combined into two buckets. Online (digital) marketing and offline (traditional) marketing.
Which one is better?
Ideally, you would deploy both an offline and online marketing strategy, but digital marketing can bring in exponentially more customers than traditional advertising, for much less money.
Why You Need Cannabis Marketing
So now that you know what cannabis marketing is, why do you need it?
As I touched on before, sales and marketing are the two biggest ways to bring in new customers and keep existing ones. This is no different for a cannabis business. You need to market your business online and offline to bring in more customers and grow your business.
These days, cannabis marketing is done mostly online, but there are a ton of great cannabis marketing techniques you can implement in your cannabis business to grow your sales. Here are the best ways to market your cannabusiness both online and off:
Digital Cannabis Marketing Strategies
Build an Optimized Website
Having a website is one of the most important parts of an online cannabis marketing strategy.
Your website is your digital footprint and is likely the first thing potential customers will see when searching for you online.
Having your cannabis business website be coded correctly for SEO is important for ranking well in Google. In order for Google to know what your website is about, there are a handful of things you need to optimize on your page.
Headings are HTML tags that Google uses to decipher what your content/website is about. Heading tags are used to explain sections of content and are numbered of importance.
These headings should explain your content and feature keywords like ‘City, State Dispensary’ and all your other keywords, like your business name and products.
Google is really good at reading and deciphering text but it’s not so great at deciphering images.
That is why using alt tags is really important for marijuana marketing. Add your keywords to your images so that Google knows what they are about and will even index them in Google images, giving you another source of traffic.
In WordPress (any many other CMSs), you can easily add the alt tags text if you select the image:
Google has now confirmed that having a secure (HTTPS) website has a small advantage when it comes to ranking in the search engines. So make sure that your dispensary website has a proper SSL certificate and is all HTTPS secured.
You can now even get a completely free SSL certificate using a service like LetsEncrypt.org!
This one may surprise you but having a responsive website is an important on-page SEO factor. Google now uses user navigation data to rate how good a website’s user experience is. That means that if people often come to your website and instantly leave, you will get dinged in Google and probably not rank well.
Having a website that works on any device will help keep visitors on your site and taking action. Search engines will notice this and rank you higher because they see that visitors enjoy your site over your competition.
Having a super-fast website can help rank your website higher in search engines. Your website should not exceed about 4-5 seconds in load time.
Check your website’s load time using the Pingdom Speed Test tool and see if you need to do some speed optimizing.
You can also enable browser caching, set up a CDN (content delivery network), and use fast hosting in order to have the fastest website possible.
Not only will it help you rank better in search engines, but your conversion rate will increase because fewer people will leave because of having a slow website.
Getting More Online Reviews
73% of consumers will trust an organization if it has positive reviews online. That means that having online reviews is essential for your digital footprint.
Getting online reviews builds trust in your company as well as giving your cannabis-based business more exposure online.
There are thousands of websites and sources to get reviews online but the most important ones are:
Get More Google My Business Reviews
Google My Business is your local online profile through Google and is one of the best ways to bring in more local customers. If you have a dispensary or retail marijuana business then having a Google My Business is vital to being found online.
I will go into Google My Business more in-depth, later in this guide.
Bing Places Reviews
Bing Places is Google My Business of bing. While only 30% of searchers use Bing, its still good practice to set up your Bing Places profile so you can accept reviews online.
Once you have set up your Google My Business, Bing actually allows you to easily import your GMB profiles into Bing Places.
Facebook Business Page Reviews
Facebook is one of the largest social media platforms and many people head to Facebook to check reviews of businesses.
Getting reviews on your Facebook Business Page, can help it rank better in search engines, as well as in Facebook search.
While Yelp is more focused on restaurants, people still turn to Yelp to find reviews of local businesses and online businesses. It’s completely free to register your listing and start accepting reviews on your Yelp profile.
Trust Pilot Reviews
Trustpilot is a community-driven review platform that is fastly-growing into one of the biggest review sites. While it cost money to accept reviews on TrustPilot, it can build a lot of trust and increase your online sales.
You can claim your profile page, use the widget and even get reviews on their free plan, but they also have a paid plan that gives you a lot more features.
Add the Trustpilot widget to your website and you will see a great increase in conversion rates, and traffic.
How to Get More Reviews Online
You may be wondering how in the hell you are supposed to have customers go online and fill out a form to give you a review.
But it’s actually easier than you think it is.
The first step to getting online reviews is making it easier for your customers to find. Link to your review profiles in your website footer so people can easily access them.
You can also offer a discount or promotion for current customers by giving you a review. This can really boost the number of reviews you get online.
The best way to get reviews online is to provide a great product or service and this will bring in a plethora of reviews to your online profiles.
Search Engine Marketing for Cannabis
Search Engine Marketing or Search Engine Optimization is the practice of enhancing your website to rank higher in search engines, bringing in more traffic and potential customers to your website.
Whatever type of cannabis business you run, it’s highly likely that someone is searching Google for your product or service. If you can get your website to rank for those searchers, you will have an endless flow of new customers and leads coming in every day.
If you want to create a funnel of leads or new customers coming into your website then SEO is a vital cannabis marketing vertical you should try.
So how do you do SEO for your cannabis business?
The first thing you want to do is optimize your website which is called on-page SEO.
This refers to adding relevant keywords to your meta titles, meta descriptions, and website content, as well as a number of other factors that you can find in our on-page SEO guide.
Here are some of the most important aspects of optimizing your website for search engines:
- Meta Titles: Meta titles briefly and concisely explain what each website page is about.
- Meta Descriptions: Meta Descriptions explain a summary of what each website page is about. They consist of 155 characters (an HTML tag) that summarize the content of a webpage.
- Heading Structure: Heading tags are the section titles of your content. They should be structured correctly. Each page should have a single <h1> tag and multiple <h2> tags for subheadings of the <h1>.
- Keywords in Content: The keywords most used on your pages are likely the keywords you will rank for. Create a main keyword for each page and use those keywords naturally in the text of that page.
- Usability: The user experience of your website is a very important ranking factor. If your site is slow or not mobile-responsive, people will leave your website for the next one in Google.
Once your website is optimized, you need to increase your online presence by building backlinks to your website and content. Backlinks are like votes to your pages. The more votes you have to your pages, the higher they will rank in search engines.
Backlinks are the main ranking factor for Google and most of the time, the more links a page has, the higher it will rank in Google. There are a ton of ways that you can build backlinks, but remember that they should be relevant to your business. Random blog comment backlinks don’t do much anymore.
The best type of backlinks is in-content backlinks from a blog, guides, how-tos, or reference docs.
To build these types of links, simply build good content around your niche (like cannabis) and offer up that article to other websites in your niche. Make sure you add a backlink to your website or product pages from the guest post.
Local SEO Marketing
Local SEO is search engine optimization but for local cannabis businesses. When you search in Google for a local business or if you use a ‘near me’ search, you will get results that are in your geographical area. These are called the local 3-pack or map-pack.
Local SEO is the method of ranking your website higher for these types of searches. You can rank for these terms both in organic listings as well as Google My Business.
Google My Business
As I touched on before, Google My Business (GMB) is a platform where you can create and manage your local business’s online profile.
Creating and managing your GMB is super simple using their online platform. When you create your profile, Google will need to verify you are doing business at that location, so they will send a verification card by mail. Once you verify your business (usually takes about 5 business days) then you can be found online for your specific cannabis business.
You also don’t have to be a local business to have a GMB profile. Google has allowed businesses to hide their address and still have a Google My Business profile, which can bring in some extra visitors.
The 3-pack rankings are based on the number of reviews your listing has, as well as the total review score so its important to get as many 5 star reviews as possible.
These local rankings are also based on how many citations you have built around the web in local directories.
Citations are local directory listings of your business around the web. These can be social media platforms like Facebook or it can be Yelp, Yellow Pages, or thousands of other similar sites. They even have specific directories for marijuana businesses.
When you submit your business information to these sites, you will be adding your NAPW (name, address, phone number, website), which not only a backlink but a reference to your business location.
Search engines crawl and see these and when they see a lot of references (citations) to your business, it will start ranking you locally, around the address you provided.
The more citations you have across the web, the better you will rank locally.
Here are some important tips when building citations:
- Be Consistent: Your citations should all be exactly the same, as far as the name, address, phone, website of your business. If you use St. instead of Street, make sure you use that everywhere you are adding citations.
- Use relevant directories: While there are thousands of local directories, submitting your citations to relative directories to your cannabusiness can give you better results. Check out our list of cannabis business directories.
- Multiple Locations: If you have multiple locations, you will still need to build citations for each location.
You can’t talk about cannabis marketing without talking about content marketing.
Content marketing is the practice of building content around your target customers’ needs/wants and ranking that content high in search engines.
Using content to build traffic to your website is one of the most powerful marketing strategies for any business, especially cannabusinesses. There are millions of searches a day around marijuana and cannabis topics.
But ranking content for competitive keywords is not an easy task.
Here are some strategies to help you be successful with content marketing for your cannabis business:
Build Long-Form Content
Its a well-known statistic now that the longer your content is, the higher its most likely going to rank in Google. you can see this graph from serpIQ that shows the average content length of the #1, #2, and #3 position in Google is about 2400 words.
This is because the job of search engines is to answer the searcher’s question. Long-form content often answers multiple questions about a certain query as well as keeping the visitor on the site longer, which also increases your rankings.
The point of long-form content is to provide a large amount of information to searchers and prove you are an authority in your niche. It also attracts high-quality backlinks which is the last (and most important) step of ranking better with search engine optimization.
Your content should be focused on certain keywords that actually get searches online. Before building any content, you should do some keyword research to find topics people are already searching for that you can rank for.
WordTracker has a free keyword search tool you can use to get ideas for topics to build that your target customer may be searching for.
The long-form content should not just be a ton of large paragraphs. You need to format and piece out your content into well thought out sections.
This makes your content a lot easier to read and consume.
One of the best ways to break up your content and add value is to add shareable media.
Add Shareable Media
Images, Videos, infographics, charts, and other shareable media can help increase visibility to your content and make it more easily consumed.
Not only do they spread out your content and give the readers eye a break, but they are also shareable on social media and can help your overall cannabis marketing strategy.
When you publish your content, share all of the media on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
Adding videos to your content can also really increase the user’s time on page, which can give you higher rankings in search engines.
Email marketing is the strategy of using email to market to current and potential customers. There are a few strategies you can use to generate leads and sales online with email marketing.
Building Email Lists
One of the best ways to create another traffic channel to your website and business is to build an email list. Email lists allow you to stay in direct contact with prospects and current customers of your cannabusiness.
Its super simple to start collecting emails on your website and sending them useful information about your business, new blog posts, deals, or promotions.
Use email marketing software like MailChimp to store your contacts and generate legit email campaigns and newsletters. If your website is on WordPress, you can use a number of plugins like MC4WP to easily capture emails on your website and sync them in Mailchimp.
Once you have built up your email list, you can send out regular newsletters that offer them more insight into your business.
Newsletters & Deals
The newsletter can be a great way to keep prospects warm until they are ready to buy from you. It’s also a great way to get return customers and generate even more revenue per customer for your marijuana business.
Ideally, you should send a newsletter about 4-5 times per month and only send promotions 1 to 2 times per month, depending on your email lists open rate and engagement.
Newsletters keep your current customers engaged and show your companies value to potential customers.
Cold emailing is more for B2B cannabis businesses but it can work with B2C as well.
Cold emailing is just sending a cold email to potential prospects that may be interested in your product or service.
With this type of marketing method, it’s all the numbers. You need to send hundreds or even thousands of emails to get a handful of leads or sales… but it works.
Use MailShake to set up drip campaigns for lead lists or email lists that will automatically send emails and follow up with emails without you doing anything.
Its basically like setting your marketing on auto-pilot.
The key is to personalize the email so its super target as your prospect or they will get angry you are sending them a random email. Use their name, company, and any other relevant information that will help personalize the experience.
Look for the best subject lines to use that give you the best open rates and you should see some great success from cold emailing.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing can be effective for cannabusinesses but some social media marketing channels like Facebook Ads do not allow cannabis-based advertising.
Influencer marketing is a new strategy but has proven very effective for product companies. Influencer marketing is the strategy of having a popular social media influencer promote your product or service on their social media channels.
This has become quite popular with cannabis companies because of the limited amount of online marketing channels.
Influencers may tout your brand or products in various ways.
For example, a direct testimonial or endorsement of a product or the brand could immediately be sent to tens or hundreds of thousands or millions of followers through a mention on Instagram or in a blog.
To maximize the benefits of influencer marketing, you must locate and recruit the best influencers for the job. This begins when you identify the specific goals desired from an influencer marketing campaign.
Following the general rules of marketing, these should be SMART goals. This acronym stands for specific, measurable, and attainable objectives as well as relevant and timely goals.
- Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
- Achievable (agreed, attainable).
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic, and resourced, results-based).
You will need to use your ad image to explain that your business is about cannabis but do not add marijuana or cannabis\ keywords into your ad text. Facebook can search text easily but it’s hard to search images for words. Be very discreet in your ad text.
You will also need to connect a personal page or a page that is not your cannabusinesses Facebook business page. This is important for a few reasons, but mainly if they cancel your ad account, they will remove/ban your page as well and you will not be able to retrieve it.
It’s also possible that they will ban your ad account and you may never be able to use it again, so just be forewarned.
While it’s still against Google Ad’s TOS, advertising your marijuana business or products is possible to an extent. There are ways to have Google approve ads related to marijuana or CBD.
Make sure you stay away from keywords like cannabis or marijuana and sometimes you can get passed their review system.
If you get approved, keep things slow but slowly increase spend to build up a trusted profile. It’s possible that your URL gets flagged and then they will then disapprove your ads.
You will need to create another landing page with a redirect to your site or use another source to send traffic and link to your site.
Alternative Display Advertising
You can also use other advertising networks that allow this type of advertising. For example, Mantis Ad Network is a display network that allows you to advertise your CBD products on a network of marijuana-related websites like High Times, Cannabis.net, and more
There are a number of cannabis-friendly advertising networks that you can find below:
You will need to get a designer to create the image ads for you in the specific sizes that Mantis requires. Make sure you track all of your campaigns using Google Analytics so you know whether traffic sources are converting or not.
You are going to be paying about $2-$5 per click with display advertising and conversions will vary depending on your business. The best thing to do is to test different ad images and different targeting to find the right audience for your cannabis business.
With Podcast Marketing, you are either using relative podcasts to advertise your product or service or you can create your own podcast around a topic that is relative to your cannabis business.
Podcasts are really popular right now and millions of people tune in to podcasts daily. That creates a lot of eyeballs that you can get your business in front of.
To find relative podcasts simply search in google for “Your Industry or Service + podcasts”. You will get a result of some podcasts that you can contact to see what their advertising rates are.
Costs for advertising on podcasts are usually based on a CPM (cost per thousand) model based on downloads or views. CPM rates can range from $18 to $50 CPM. This means that it will cost you from $18 to $50 per 1,000 people hearing your advertisement.
Compared to online cannabis marketing, it’s a little higher but you have a much more engaged audience so it can convert well if its the right audience for your cannabiz.
If you are ae B2C cannabis company, here are some of the most popular cannabis-based podcasts that you can potentially advertise on.
Traditional Marketing Strategies
Traditional marketing involves marketing offline, whether it’s in your local area, events, or print advertising, here are some of the best ways to market your cannabusiness offline.
Event marketing can be very powerful because you have the opportunity to get in front of thousands of people who are likely targeted prospects for your cannabusiness.
For example, cannabis conventions or other trade shows may work very well for your cannabis-based business and allow you to connect with your customers and other partners.
Hosting an event can be somewhat costly, but it can give your cannabis brand a lot of eyeballs and potentially bring in a lot of new customers.
Direct Mail Marketing
Direct mail marketing used to be very popular before the internet. It was a great and affordable way to get your business in front of potential customer’s eyeballs.
But when the internet was introduced to the world, mail marketing was put on the back burner…
For this reason, direct mail marketing works better than ever now. Many people do not use snail mail marketing in their marketing toolbox and I think that’s a mistake.
Sending out mailers is super affordable and can get the word out about your cannabis business without spending a fortune.
You can use businesses like USPS, Mail Shark, or Visa Print to create mailers to send to potential customers or clients. This could be a postcard, brochures, flyers, magnets, door hangers, coupon books or just a personalized card.
In order to send out mailers, you will need a list of all the contacts you are looking to send the mailer out to. Collecting all of this data can take some time, but its still a great marketing technique you can use to grow your marijuana business.
Local advertising is a great traditional marketing strategy, that if pulled off correctly, can bring you a lot of profit.
There are a few different kinds of local advertising that we will talk about below:
Print advertising is mainly magazines, newspapers, and other printed media where you can pay a set price to add your cannabis business ad.
If you visit somewhere like Las Vegas, you will see that most taxis have ads for local dispensaries like and Medmen. This brings up an important point that some areas may not benefit from such advertisements.
The cost of advertising in print varies depending on the publication, size of the ad, where the ad is, and if its local or national. Typically, you will spend anywhere between $500 to $20,000 to feature your business in a magazine.
Remember, that this is only the cost to add your media. You will need to hire someone to design the ads to the correct specs and your brand.
Radio ads can be a little more tricky for cannabis businesses depending on what kind of business you have.
The cost of radio ads depends on the location, size of the audience, and ad length. Look to spend anywhere between $200-$5,000 a week to advertise your cannabusiness on the radio. Remember that you will need the actual advertisement as well, which can run anywhere from $1,000-$2,500.
You have most likely seen billboards on the side of the road that advertise local dispensaries. This can be an effective way of getting your dispensaries more local traffic and visitors but it can come with a higher price. Billboards can cost anywhere between $250 and $15,000 a month depending on the location.
So it’s smart to plan out the return on your investment so you make a profit on your marketing campaign. Try and estimate the cost with how many more customers, it could bring in and make sure you will see an ROI.
In conclusion, cannabis marketing has many channels that can help bring in more customers and sales to your cannabusiness. Remember that it’s important to diversity your channels so you don’t rely on a single marketing channel to bring in new customers.
Marketing is not a science so get out there and try some of these marketing strategies to grow your business online and offline. See what works for your specific business using small campaigns and then grow the ones that are generating an ROI on your spend.
If you have any questions at all about cannabis marketing or would like to chat with our team about marketing for your business, contact us today.
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