Today more than ever, the business of cannabis continues to become more popular and saturated and therefore, more competitive. This is made more complex with the current state of business and the economy - social media and digital channels were once supplemental to your physical and traditional marketing channels and tactics. Now, it’s the primary way your audience interacts and learns about your brand.
Cannabis marketing and advertising is a little more nuanced given the red-tape and strict guidelines that digital platforms have around the industry, but it’s still the most important part of your lead generation and prospecting strategies. Indicators like impressions, conversion rates and engagement are crucial data that can determine whether your marketing tactics are effective or need to be sharpened. In this piece, we’ll go over simple and foundational tactics that your business should be deploying and measuring, and what trends are dominating the cannabis retail space today.
1. Build Targeted Campaigns
Before you engage in any marketing tactics, you need to ensure you’re tracking and measuring your performance; if not, you won’t have any clear idea of which tactics to double down on, replicate, or expand on. If you’re thinking about a giveaway or special offer, make sure you’re using promo codes and UTM tracking to know exactly where your customers are coming from, what they’ve engaged with, and what their intentions are. The key to better leads is better lead qualification, and this is impossible without proper tracking.
For example, if you’re building a landing page for a webinar or special campaign for your dispensary, you can implement a tracking URL with Google’s URL builder to track traffic numbers and their sources. You can build on this with chatbots and CTAs that direct prospects further down your funnel. Seeing that a customer is visiting your site is one thing, but knowing that they’ve engaged with specific pages and are interested in a particular promotion allows for a better first-touch conversation, and a higher chance of converting.
Today’s tracking mechanisms can boost your business with the ability to monitor your efforts and determine how well your audience and potential customers are responding to them. You should also be building a base of customer emails and information however you can, as having a recurring base of your customers that you’re constantly in touch with is advantageous to regular, recurring business. Direct communication about events, promotions, news, special offerings, and content keeps you in sight and in mind.
2. Use Content to Engage, Entertain and Educate
The best way to stay on the minds of your customers is to provide compelling content wherever you can on your website, and with your affiliates. Remember, cannabis is a new and emerging industry but it’s also a new lifestyle choice for a lot of fresh customers.
As more people become curious about cannabis through growing markets, legalization movements, and retail strategies, you can use this as an opportunity to educate and engage through the creation and distribution of blog posts, infographics, videos, and other compelling media for your own website. You can also leverage partnerships with your affiliates and product ambassadors, or publications both local and industry-specific.
Content doesn’t have to be text-heavy and longform, either - you can share the process of what happens behind the scenes at your retail location, or promote new products and brands by showing grow rooms and facility imagery across your social media, blog and email marketing efforts. You can also create infographics of rising industry trends or compare strains by effects, THC percentages and terpene profile.
3. Stay on top of Search
A quick search with the word “dispensary” followed by your city will likely pull up thousands of results. If you don’t see your store on the first results page, preferably near the top, you should be doing all you can to increase your Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
SEO involves several processes and elements known as “ranking factors” that ensure your web pages and marketing efforts rank high in internet searches. Simply put, the higher your content ranks, the more likely that your links will attract clicks. SEO requires a strong understanding of various algorithms that determine site popularity and how to build content that ranks high in search engines. Here are a few basic rules of thumb for your dispensary's SEO:
- Make sure you’re targeting the keywords you want your webpages to rank for (shoot for distinct keywords across different pages - most times, the more niche the better) in areas such as your title tag, meta description, and page copy. Be sure to only link to reputable, relevant industry sources to further boost your credibility and backlink opportunities.
- Engaging images and embedded video is rewarded and proven to be better for conversions. This is crucial to draw in your intended audience. Be sure to pay for licenses to use images, or opt for royalty free images with proper credit to the author/designer.
- Investing in marketing firms or agencies to help with more advanced tactics could be fruitful. Internet SEO specialists provide several free educational sites that are designed to help websites optimize their content by using SEO processes. These can serve as useful foundational tactics to get your SEO working for you.
4. Invest In Video
Not only is video content the most engaging and popular form of content on the internet right now, it’s also a crucial component to a customer’s decision making process. Think about it - when’s the last time you were debating purchasing an appliance or gift in your personal life and ran to Youtube to watch reviews first? Or, when’s the last time you saw a video embedded in a blog post or Google Ad and opted to watch the video instead of reading the walls of text instead?
When it comes to what consumers are looking for in video content, it has to be valuable to their decision-making process, with 48% wanting videos to reflect the specific products and services they own or are interested in. A further 43% want interactivity, with the ability to decide what information they want to view and when they want to view it. For cannabis retailers, you can use video for thorough product reviews, create weekly video series on featured products, or interview your partners and vendors to amplify your engagement and reach.
For cannabis advertising, video also tends to be a high converter and a popular choice for pre-roll and sponsored ads. Video content is dominating web traffic and driving trends internationally for cannabis retailers, and businesses who integrate video and blog content on a regular basis frequently see the rewards and engagement. As previously mentioned, when video content is shared across digital platforms and viewers are directed to your page, search engines take notice, and rankings improve.
The ultimate goal of digital marketing practices is to get ahead of your competition and stand out from the crowd, and whether you’re investing in becoming a cannabis focused thought leader in your space, a resource for novice cannabis users, or just a well trusted retail brand for your community, there’s nothing stopping you from getting started today. Next time, we'll cover social media best practices, third party listings, and reputation management.
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