How to Market and Grow Your Online Dispensary

Whether it's traditional marketing solutions or digital solutions, cannabis brands are restricted or flat-out banned from using most of these channels with direct messaging. However, cannabis retailers have started to find success by going directly to consumers. Text message marketing, digital marketing, and even customer loyalty programs are all helping cannabis retailers grow their online and delivery sales. Below we have outlined various cannabis eCommerce marketing strategies for growth and key considerations as you look to incorporate them into your cannabis dispensary business.

1. Efficient Online Ordering and Consumer Experience

The future of the cannabis industry is increasingly digital. While the pandemic helped accelerate the cannabis retail’s shift toward eCommerce, it has been trending this way for some time. As online ordering becomes more prevalent, how dispensaries showcase their online presence in a way that replicates the unique local dispensary experience consumers have come to expect can be challenging, but possible with the following tips:

Online Product Portfolio- Maintain a complete online product portfolio as per the preferences of your target market. Your customers expect their usual cannabis products to be available on your online cannabis store and the price points must match their expectations.

Efficient Inventory Management- Ensure that your inventory management system is synced with your in-store POS system and online cannabis store so that the exact available quantity is displayed online. You don’t want customers to order a product and then receive a message from you that it’s no longer available.

Branding and Customer Experience- Maintain your dispensary brand online with the same values and ethos you incorporated at your brick-and-mortar store. If you want to retain customers, you must offer them the same unique cannabis experience they are used to at your storefront. This will help build brand loyalty and increase your online revenue.

2. Text Messaging Marketing

There is a fine line between an acceptable text message and being marked as spam, especially with strict compliance regulations in the cannabis industry. As a responsible cannabis marketer, the onus falls on you to make sure only people who want to receive your marketing messages receive them. Apart from ensuring that your customers have voluntarily opted-in to receive your texts messages, here are some other measures you must take to avoid being considered spam:

  • Have them save your number in their contacts list
  • Do not send messages to numbers who have opted out 
  • Personalize your text by including their name
  • Always have a CTA and train your customers to come back to your online store
  • Introduce regularity into your weekly schedule of promotional offers

3. Online Digital Marketing

The primary digital platforms many small businesses thrive on, such as Google and Facebook, prohibit cannabis-related advertising. Organic content via social media also poses challenges, as the platforms tend to view posts referencing cannabis products as a violation of their terms and conditions. As a marketer in this industry, one has to work around these limitations and create content around the cannabis experience instead of directly selling flower online.

(i) Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Most consumers, regardless of industry, rely on Google to find whatever it is they are looking for. This makes improving your organic search presence all the more critical. Cannabis brands can still use SEO tactics to elevate their websites on search engine rankings. Relevant content like blogs and white papers not only adds value to your target audience but also optimizes your online cannabis website and increases your search rankings. Also, ensure that you don’t use an iFrame menu for listing your cannabis products on your online store, as Google doesn’t crawl iFrame content- only native eCommerce embedded tools will make your cannabis-related content and products discoverable and clickable in Google search results.

(ii) Online Digital Ads

With major digital platforms limiting or flat out restricting cannabis-related ads, it's best to use industry-specific publications, such as MJBizDaily to secure dispensary ad space. While it may seem disappointing to not advertise on one of the bigger players, cannabis-friendly platforms can be a great alternative. You can use Google My Business efficiently as well to ensure local organic SEO, and Google ads can be used strategically if you don’t use certain cannabis-related keywords. Also, keep customers regularly engaged on your social media channels. Just ensure you don’t violate any marketing regulations, or that could result in fines and a permanent ban from Google, Instagram, etc.

(iii) Customer Loyalty Programs

As the cannabis retail experience goes mainstream and competition becomes intense, one thing is clear – it is no longer just about selling cannabis products. A successful dispensary relies on a base of loyal, repeat customers who serve as your brand ambassadors. Customer loyalty programs are a great way to keep connected with your current customers, communicate store promotions, and acquire new customers through referrals. When they sign up for your loyalty program with their email or phone number, you’ll have their contact information for remarketing purposes, and information related to abandoned carts or similar data will help in further retention through valuable customer insights.

Start Your Cannabis E-Commerce Journey Now

In the cannabis industry, with its unique restrictions and regulations on how and where a company can market its products, it can be difficult to differentiate your dispensary brand from competitors. Ensure that your marketing communications are in compliance with all regulations and you are not violating any laws. Creating the foundation for a healthy online presence is an integral part of brand building. When you follow the cannabis eCommerce best practices for growing your online store, you'll experience the kind of steady, sustainable growth that supports long-term success. If you’re ready to start your cannabis eCommerce journey, Cova can help you figure out the best solution. Click below to learn more.

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