Marketing in the cannabis, marijuana, and/or CBD industries is extremely unique to doing so in any other industry.
Unclear regulation and undefined social sentiment make navigating the cannabis marketing world difficult.
With this guide, we will clear up and lay out everything you need to know about cannabis marketing.
Measuring Your Marketing Success
Experimenting is a huge part of marketing and having the ability to measure the results of your advertising efforts will help reveal where your time and money are best spent. Before we dive deeper into the specifics of generating reach, its worthwhile to discuss how this will be measured.
Here are some tools you should set up before go all-in on your cannabis advertising.
Google Analytics is probably the most important tool you’ll be using to determine if what you are doing is working. Fortunately, it’s 100% free.
Analytics provides all the information you’ll need to analyze your site’s traffic, where it’s coming from, and who is visiting your site.
UTMs (Urchin Tracking Modules) are another essential part of analyzing the success of your advertising. Using a URL builder, you can create UTMs which allow you to track links across the internet.
Here’s an example of what a UTM looks like:
Take special note of what is after the question mark. Everything after the question mark is the UTM.
The 5 parts of a UTM are the following:
- Campaign Source
- Campaign Medium
- Campaign Name
- Campaign Term
- Campaign Content
Not all 5 parts need to be used for a UTM to work. Most commonly only the first three are used.
If you went to this link, your browser would treat it the same whether it had the UTM or not. The above link will bring you to Cannabound’s Cannabis agency services page regardless of if the UTM is there.
The only difference would be that, with the UTM, google analytics will let you know which link the visitor clicked on.
You can customize UTMs however you like to better track all kinds of links directing to your site.
Keep It Legal
Another step you need to take care of before really diving into your marketing plan is looking into the legal restrictions that may be imposed on marketing in your jurisdiction. Every country (and state if you’re American), has differing laws and ignoring them could result in hefty fines.
Social Media Accounts You’ll Need
In 2021 a social media presence is damn near required for brands. This rings especially true for CBD and cannabis companies.
Here are the essential accounts every cannabis marketing team should set up.
Nothing really allows for long-form video content quite like YouTube.
We recommend using YouTube to host any long content that explains your product as it is much easier to digest information in video form than text.
Additionally, YouTube videos are very easy to link to from other channels.
The fact that YouTube videos exist in perpetuity is another added bonus.
Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in 2019.
Also, Instagram stories are a great and quick way to showcase new updates at your company and give your audience a taste of your personality.
We recommend keeping your Instagram feed fresh with content regarding recent news and market updates in addition to sprinkling in some project updates.
Also, be sure to take a look at these top cannabis Instagram accounts.
Twitter is another vital social media platform to the Cannabis industry. Lucky for marketers, it is also much easier to create content on Twitter since it doesn’t require images/videos (although the best tweets do incorporate them).
If you’re just getting started, here are the best Cannabis accounts you should be following on Twitter.
Use Medium as a supplement, not a replacement for your on-site blog. Medium is great for drawing in new readers to your content but will do nothing in terms of SEO boosting for your domain.
Learn why brands in innovative industries need to pay close attention to these SEO tips.
Despite being the new kid on the block, TikTok has already attracted the attention of cannabis lovers across the world.
While the cannabis community hasn’t fully adopted TikTok we recommend getting in early to establish your account as a powerful voice in the network.
Check out some top Cannabis TikTok Accounts.
Reddit is the 15th most visited site in the world and self-described as the front page of the internet.
Once you’ve created a Reddit account be sure to check out these top cannabis subreddits:
Tools you’ll need to bring your Cannabis brand to market
Whats a tradesman without his tools, not much. These tools will ensure you have everything you need to market smarter and not harder.
If you plan to take SEO (Search Engine Optimization) seriously, Ahrefs is a necessity. Ahrefs is an extremely powerful marketing tool that makes it possible to identify keywords to build content around.
Ahrefs has four pricing tiers: Lite ($99/mo), Standard ($179/mo), Advanced ($399/mo), and Agency ($999).
Beginner marketers should find the Lite or Standard plan sufficient for their SEO needs. Despite being a leading cannabis SEO agency, Cannabound finds the Standard plan capable enough to perform all needed tasks.
Free SEO Audit Tool
Cannabound’s free SEO tool is the easiest way to quickly identify top easy-to-fix issues on your site that may be hindering your Google search rankings.
All that’s required is your domain name and an email address to send the report to.
Using this tool will send a free report to your email with the top 3 issues you should fix immediately to boost your Google rankings immediately.
Try it here:
For email marketing
Did you know that for every $1 spent on email marketing brands earn $32 in revenue? Pretty awesome right?!
Before you start shooting off emails to prospective customers be sure to check out our guide on how to write the perfect marketing email subject line.
Hubspot is one of the most comprehensive tools that exist in online marketing and sales. Best known for its CRM, Hubspot has also built a name for itself in terms of email marketing.
Hubspot’s emailing system gives users access to tons of templates, allows you to track open rates, CTRs, and a lot, lot more.
With paid plans, you can even set emails to automatically follow up with clients if they don’t respond to your messages.
Because of the attached CRM, it makes keeping all your emails, marketing-related or not, in one place.
We’ve found HubSpot to be a vital tool for keeping all of Cannabound’s team members on the same page.
Hubspot offers lots of services that digital businesses will find helpful. For email marketing, a marketing hub plan is needed.
The marketing plan comes in 3 tiers.
The basic plan, which starts at $50 per month provides all the basic tools you’ll need to send high performing email blasts. If you want to utilize Hubspot’s marketing automation tools, however, you’ll have to shell out more.
Please Note: Constant Contact recently announced that it would be banning Cannabis and CBD email marketing teams from using the service.
This tool is another great option for CBD marketing teams that are just looking to dabble in adding emails to their marketing strategy. While not nearly as robust as Hubspot, Constant Contact is a very budget-friendly tool.
Constant Contact is one of the cheaper tools on the market which is appropriate given its limited scope.
The basic version will cost $20 monthly while the plus subscription, which includes more tools, runs $45 per month.
Active Campaign is a slightly lesser-known option for cannabis email marketing but it is also one of the few email providers that we haven’t heard of any issues with when it comes to them banning cannabis businesses.
Banned Cannabis Email Marketing Providers
It’s worth noting that, over recent years, many email marketing service providers have banned Cannabis, CBD, and hemp businesses from using their services. Email service providers on this list include:
- Campaign Monitor
- Get Response
- Marketo Spark
For graphic design
Canva is a seriously incredible tool for creating beautiful graphics quickly.
While it won’t be able to create graphics of the quality more advanced programs like Photoshop could, it’s more cost and time effective and plenty capable for most early-stage companies.
Canva works on a freemium model, meaning there are both free and paid versions.
The free version is capable of most of what you might need on a really basic level but skimps on important features like the ability to create transparent .png files.
The paid premium version costs ~$13 per month. We use Canva on a daily basis and feel it is WELL worth the price.
Advertising methods and channels
Along with the recent explosion of interest in the weed world is that of influencer marketing.
In fact, 63% of marketers plan to increase their influencer marketing budget for the upcoming year and this study revealed a return on investment of $6.50 for every $1 spent advertising through influencers.
What’s especially interesting about influencer marketing is that it offers significantly higher levels of trust than that of traditional paid media.
The most popular avenues to promote cannabis brands are Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.
As a leading cannabis influencer marketing agency, Cannabound has access to the world’s largest network of cannabis content creators, KOLs, and influencers.
Banner ads are one of the oldest methods of internet marketing.
The concept is simple. Get your brand in front of as many people as possible at a low cost. The problem here is that it’s 2021 and almost everyone has adblockers installed.
Blockchain-based browsers that have built-in ad and tracker blocking like Brave has made this even more true for innovative demographics.
Regardless, Banner ads are still a highly cost-effective strategy for some brands.
Based on our research, cannabis brands should expect to pay between $6-$14 CPM (cost per thousand impressions) to get their banner ad on a cannabis-focused website.
CBD and Marijuana audiences love Podcasts. Podcasts are super easy to access and can be consumed casually while relaxing or driving.
This cannabis podcast marketing section comes in two parts. Marketing on other people’s podcasts and marketing on your own.
Marketing through your own podcast
This is one of those types of super cost-effective strategies that just requires a bit of time and hosting your own podcast is an incredible way of doing a few things.
1. Position your brand or a member of your team as a thought leader in the space.
Cannabis audiences are some of the most untrustworthy in the world. To achieve true success in this business you’re going to need people’s trust. By hosting a podcast you show that you are both a real person and that you know what you are talking about.
2. Give you more content to share
Because podcasts are relatively low-effort, episodes can be put out frequently. This gives you a ton of shareable content to blast on social media and keep your brand name in the minds of consumers.
At Cannabound, we have found really great results stemming from our own podcast, The Marketing Show.
Honestly, it’s pretty fun too.
Marketing on other people’s podcasts:
Like we said, hosting a podcast is a great way to get eyeballs on your project. However, not everyone has the time to put it all together.
If you fall into this category it’s still worthwhile to explore getting exposure through others’ podcasts, either as a sponsor or as a guest.
Sponsoring a popular podcast is the easier, albeit more expensive option. What this typically involves is creating a script or short sound bite that will be read or played by the podcast’s host.
If you’re more interested in actually be featured or interviewed on a podcast you’re probably in luck as the market is still young and podcasts aren’t super difficult to get on.
Going on a podcast will give you a great platform to give a more detailed explanation of who you are and what your company is about.
What would you say if we told you that for every $1 you spent on marketing, you would earn $32 in revenue? You’d pay pretty close attention to what we had to say next, right?
Well…that’s email marketing.
In 2018, brands earned, on average, $32 in revenue or sales for every $1 spent on email marketing. Wow.
How can this be? Is it that emails convert at some crazy high rate or is it just that email marketing is extremely inexpensive.
It’s likely the latter.
The basic plans for email marketing run are extremely cost-effect, often running under $50 per month.
Because the industry is so new, there has yet to be comprehensive research conducted on average open rates specifically for brands in the marijuana industry.
However, using data from other industries, you can expect an open rate of around 17.92%
Shoot for an open rate above 20%
Not to pat ourselves on the back too hard but, Cannabound maintains an email open rate of over 40%. A lot of it comes down to knowing how to write an email subject line that drives engagement.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most cost-effective ways to advertise your weed brand over the long term.
The key to maximizing the time spent on SEO growth is keyword optimization. By using tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush, and Google Keyword Planner you can better identify which words to work into your site’s content.
On average, you can expect the results of your SEO efforts to become fully evident approximately 3-5 months in.
Being a marketer in the cannabis space isn’t always easy but, with the information contained in this guide, we hope you feel well prepared to dominate the competition.
Good luck and remember you’re not alone! There are plenty of super-capable cannabis marketing agencies out there. Here are some of the best.
If you have any questions feel free to shoot us a message.
Want to learn more about cannabis marketing? Check out our weekly cannabis marketing newsletter. It’s full of helpful, actionable tips and strategies to grow your brand in the cannabis industry.