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Digital Marketing For The Cannabis Industry

DITCH THE STONER VIBE. WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF PROFESSIONAL CANNABIS.

Digital marketing in the cannabis space is like running through quicksand. You believe you’re making progress, but all of sudden, the ground shifts beneath you, and you’re in a deeper hole than when you started.

 

The M&P team learned many “lessons” in the cannabis & CBD digital marketing space. Our experience with a wide variety of brands in the industry has allowed us to compile some helpful tips and answers to navigating the complex, ever-changing cannabis advertising space.

Our Experience With The Cannabis Industry

Multiple members of our team have had direct experience working within the cannabis industry. We’ve worked with companies to launch new brands, produce content, and develop their SEO presence.

 

With each of these strategies, our team has developed a unique know-how to combine our digital knowledge with the unique (and quasi-legal) challenges within marijuana.

Frequently Asked CBD & Cannabis Marketing Questions

01

WHO IS THE TARGET MARKET FOR CBD?

While your branding does a lot to draw a specific audience, we typically see two distinct demographics for CBD. First, the young parent who is looking for a way to de-stress without becoming completely inhibited by THC products. Another is the 50+ demographic that is exploring new, more organic ways to treat common ailments like joint pain and stiffness. Showcasing lifestyle photography, not just product photography, on your website and social media that feature these two demographics is the best way to target these audiences!

02

CAN YOU ADVERTISE CBD ON FACEBOOK?

The tricky answer is that it’s possible, but not easy. The ads must not feature any product images, the copy can’t specify any diagnosable ailments, and the landing page must not feature the word “CBD” anywhere on the page.

 

Most CBD companies who run Facebook ads have created a landing page through programs like UnBounce, who allow for custom pages that can click through the actual CBD website.

 

Targeting can be tricky, too. Be sure you set your age targeting above 21-years-old. While some states allow for CBD purchases of 18+, it’s best to steer clear of targeting anyone below 21.

03

CAN YOU ADVERTISE CBD ON INSTAGRAM?

Since Instagram ads are run through the Facebook platforms, it’s possible to run Instagram ads for CBD, but there are many hoops to jump through before getting approved.

 

Most of the restrictions follow the same process as our Facebook recommendations.

 

However, one difference we have noticed that performs well on Instagram is ads that feature articles, stories, or information about CBD, rather than promoting products or a brand in general.

 

These content pieces can feature certain products on the landing page. Additionally, with correct Facebook Pixel placement, a CBD company can build a retargeting audience to use when (not if) Facebook and Instagram open their ad platform completely for CBD products.

 

For now, the best strategy is to run ads promoting content and build a quality audience in preparation for the advertising floodgates to open.

04

CAN YOU RUN GOOGLE ADS (PPC) FOR CBD?

Compared to social media channels, PPC ads have a difficult time getting approved in Google Ads. While CBD companies need to avoid using “CBD” on the landing page, Google also restricts the types of keywords a company can bid on within a campaign.

 

Most CBD companies that run PPC ads utilize a separate, but identical, website that exchanges the word “CBD” for “Hemp” on all content, products, and product images.

 

If you have the funds and resources to create, design, and manage an identical site (like the Charlotte’s Web example here), then it’s a great opportunity to garner new clients.

 

For search, however, our recommendation is to focus your marketing efforts on boosting the SEO value of your original site. There are no restrictions for ranking organically within Google, and users click on organic listings at a much higher frequency than the paid ads.

05

WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO ADVERTISE CBD ONLINE?

After years of helping CBD and cannabis companies develop marketing campaigns, we can confidently say that content marketing, through blogs and articles, is the most consistent and effective way to build your digital presence.

 

Content marketing will not only help your website’s SEO, but it’s the tactic that you can leverage for paid ads on Facebook and Instagram.

 

Tell your brand story, tell the benefits of your CBD product, highlight your team, and educate your customers on the work you put in every day to make your products great.

TOP 3 MARKETING TACTICS

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Those within the cannabis industry that believe nationwide legalization is on the horizon believe building a targetable audience & brand following now will lead to a windfall of opportunity.

Building an email & text list of customers can improve brand loyalty twelve-fold. This strategy should be very targeted to current state residents. However, with full legalization ahead, having demographic data that can expanded nationwide could be the key to gaining new customers.

SEO

Since paid advertisements within search engines are very restrictive with cannabis-based products, there is an emphasis to rank highly within the natural algorithm of Google, Bing, etc. 

Search tendencies of consumers are heavily weighted towards generic search terms like, “dispensaries near me” or “edible gummies.” These trends add emphasis for the need to compete with results pages and map listings to drive business. 

02

 

WEB ANALYTICS & SEARCH ENGINE OPTMIZATION

Those within the cannabis industry that believe nationwide legalization is on the horizon believe building a targetable audience & brand following now will lead to a windfall of opportunity.

Building an email & text list of customers can improve brand loyalty twelve-fold. This strategy should be very targeted to current state residents. However, with full legalization ahead, having demographic data that can expanded nationwide could be the key to gaining new customers.

SEO

Since paid advertisements within search engines are very restrictive with cannabis-based products, there is an emphasis to rank highly within the natural algorithm of Google, Bing, etc. 

Search tendencies of consumers are heavily weighted towards generic search terms like, “dispensaries near me” or “edible gummies.” These trends add emphasis for the need to compete with results pages and map listings to drive business. 

 
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03

PAY-PER-CLICK (PPC) ADVERTISING

We’ve mentioned the limitations on purchasing ads with cannabis-based products a few times. While almost all platforms follow federal law in restricting the sale of products containing THC, there is a new option coming to the forfront.

CBD products have recently been approved by major ad networks like Google & Facebook. This allows the option to have a brand build recognition within the CBD market with an eye to build a product-base when legalization passes in the state.

04

The social marijuana community spans across platforms, and is among the most dedicated and active group on the web. Sharing articles, photos, videos is rapid, fluid, and can instantly go viral.

However, businesses within the marijuana industry often find their accounts being removed. While content is open, selling of any product is strictly monitored. Not understanding the difference can lead to losing years of work to gain followers. While important, posts should be worded carefully.

 

CONTENT MARKETING 

Not only is fresh content a key piece of SEO development, but the social community of cannabis users is incredibly active across all platforms. New content is consumed tenaciously, and shared frequently. Riding that wave can lead to incredible brand exposure.

Another added bonus is the option to produce Sponsored Content on highly-trafficked websites. Restrictions on marijuana ad buys vary from publisher to publisher, but provide great opportunity.

SOCIAL MEDIA & CONTENT MARKETING 

 

CANNABIS & CBD PARTNERS WE'VE WORKED WITH

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Web Analytics & Audience Collection

Often overlooked, but always useful. Placing the proper tracking and analytics tools on your website is a vital piece to growing your online presence. Even with a fancy website, huge following on social media, or pristine product images - there is always room for improvement. Web analytics can guide your marketing efforts to focus on the highest potential growth opportunities.

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Content Marketing

Not only is fresh content a key piece of SEO development, but the active community of CBD and cannabis enthusiasts are in constant conversation about the industry, benefits, people, and products. Content marketing, or writing blogs and articles, can be leveraged effectively on social media and large publications via sponsored content. Creating a content strategy keeps the digital gears turning while the industry progresses.

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Visual Branding & Photography

The CBD & cannabis community is expanding faster every year. At a rate we haven’t seen since the boom of alcohol after prohibition was lifted. Cannabis & CBD is normalized. So, no need to lean on green, pack a pun, or slap a marijuana leaf as a logo. It’s time to elevate your brand. CBD consumers are everyday people - mom’s, dad’s, CEO’s, and your grandma in Tennessee. It’s our job to build you a lifestyle.