This is the ultimate guide to CBD marketing on paid and unpaid channels.
In this in-depth article, we’ll cover how to:
- Brand CBD to tackle misconceptions.
- Leverage new marketing and advertising platforms to overcome regulations.
- Finesse traditional marketing approaches to outsmart your competition.
- Create a marketing plan that works.
Our goal is to give you up-to-date strategies and execution tactics to help you not only overcome legal restrictions but also dominate the cannabis sales and marketing arena.
You can even think of this as a handy (and free) alternative to paying for a CBD marketing course or seminar.
So without further ado, let’s get into it…
CBD Marketing Regulations & Challenges: Quick Recap
The regulatory grey area for cannabidiol (CBD) marketing has created roadblocks to using some of the most popular advertising and promotional channels today.
While the tides are transitioning, paid advertising (also called pay-per-click or PPC) on search engines like Google is currently prohibited for CBD products. Same goes for paid social media ads.
Although the FDA hasn’t clearly defined CBD marketing regulations, the agency has targeted companies selling CBD products that claim to cure diseases without getting FDA approval of such health and medical benefits.
To muddying the waters even more for marketers, the industry is inundated with public misconceptions about CBD. Not to mention the number of “rule breakers” who continue to ignore cannabis sales and marketing regulations.
So how can you combat these market and regulatory challenges?
Rebranding CBD within Your Marketing Strategy
It’s no secret that you need a successful brand strategy and voice before you do anything else.
So the first rule of CBD marketing is “removing the word ‘cannabis’ from ‘CBD’,” according to Paul Earle, a branding expert at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.
Earle says this change in terminology and tone is essential to dispel unfounded taboos and fallacies surrounding CBD products.
Using sophisticated product designs and packaging is also CRITICAL to separate CBD from marijuana and cannabis product marketing.
Beyond your product’s image and nomenclature, effective CBD rebranding also requires educating, not selling.
So instead of promoting reviews, for example, it’s best to focus on increasing public awareness of the science behind CBD (think: endocannabinoid system).
Closing the CBD knowledge gap goes a long way towards gaining the trust of the public and opening up the floodgates to a much larger market.
So, long story short…in order to build brand engagement and loyalty, you should foster CBD education, transparency, and “the lifestyle.”
Now that we’ve covered the basics of how to differentiate yourself as an authoritative and influential lifestyle brand, let’s get into the marketing.
What is CBD Marketing?
To move the needle and engage users with your CBD marketing campaigns, you have to effectively navigate the range of paid and organic (i.e. unpaid) channels available.
You also have to target your audience appropriately by segmenting them within each channel and personalizing your communications.
So then let’s discuss how to do so, shall we? Let’s dive into the following marketing channels:
- Paid Internet Advertising (PPC)
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Paid Social Media Advertising
- Organic Social Media Campaigns
- Word-of-Mouth Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Text or Short Message Service (SMS) Marketing
- Push Notifications
- Affiliate Marketing
- Billboard Marketing
Paid CBD Internet Advertising
Using the word “CBD” in your paid ads is not currently permitted by search engines.
BUT if you adjust your advertising to use phrases such as “hemp oil” and “full-spectrum hemp,” for example, then you CAN promote CBD on Google and other search engines.
And did you know that “CBD” in online paid ads is currently being tested by Google?
Google, “the world’s library,” recently approached several CBD companies to participate in a trial run for paid CBD ads, but the results have yet to be released to the public. So stay tuned!
But if you want to get creative with your paid internet ads and use hemp verbiage (or if you’re preparing for the green light to advertise CBD with PPC), then here’s our advice to get more bang for your buck…
Target a large number of lower-traffic terms rather than a small number of higher-traffic keyword phrases or terms.
You can pinpoint this information by using a number of keyword research tools available today OR the free Keyword Planner within the Google Ads platform.
CBD Search Engine Optimization
Effective search engine optimization (SEO) can get your website to the TOP of search engine result pages (SERPs) without having to pay for it.
But here’s the kicker: For SEO to work, you have to produce value-packed content. This means you need a blog with guides and VIDEOs.
Video content will make up 82% of internet traffic by 2022. So set up YouTube and include your videos within your posts.
Voice search is also HUGE. Just think about how many people rely on Siri and Alexa.
Beyond video and voice search, here are some other “on-page SEO” essentials for CBD marketing:
- Select focus keywords based on the latest CBD market trends.
- Conduct internet research related to your primary and related keyword phrases.
- Incorporate your keywords into the titles, headers, meta descriptions, URLs and image alt text.
- Include links to related posts as well as to relevant external content on respected websites.
- Submit your URLs to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.
- Be sure your website page load speed is LIGHTNING FAST and you’re using structured data (i.e. schema markups) where needed.
You also have to get people to link to your site for SEO to work. Link building campaigns take time, but they are a necessity.
But here’s something that should ease your mind: the number of sites that link to you is NOT as important as the QUALITY of sites.
Backlinking is what’s called an “off-page SEO” practice.
Other off-page strategies include guest posting and building your business listing. So for dispensary marketing, submit your site to menu listings like Potify and Weedmaps.
And be sure to set up Google My Business so you rank for “near me” searches. This goes for dispensary and MMJ marketing and any retail CBD shops.
Paid CBD Ads on Social Media
Facebook treats ingestible CBD and hemp products like the contraband we all know it’s not.
You can use Facebook to promote CBD and hemp products without paid distribution. But, as of now, Facebook doesn’t allow for the paid promotion of CBD.
However, there’s been some recent tweaks to Facebook’s paid cannabis advertising regulations.
You can now run paid CBD ads for topical hemp on Facebook as long as the products aren’t featured, according to a recent comment from the social networking platform.
Instead, your ads should direct users to a landing page featuring your CBD product or service.
Paid CBD ads on Twitter are typically a no-go, especially if they make any health or treatment claims. Instagram, on the other hand, isn’t quite as strict as Twitter or Facebook.
It’s generally safe to use Instagram post images, videos and stories that represent your CBD marketing strategy, especially if you’re positioning yourself as a lifestyle brand.
How to Promote CBD on Social Media Organically
Since organic social media promo is free and permitted across the board, it’s imperative to include in your overall CBD marketing strategy.
Organic CBD social media marketing provides the following benefits:
- Increases awareness, engagement, and loyalty in your brand.
- Boosts the odds of getting backlinks to your site to supercharge off-page SEO.
- Builds audience retargeting lists to support your remarketing efforts.
You can also take advantage of direct message marketing on social media. With tools like Mobile Monkey, for example, you can engage your contacts and set up chatbot campaigns.
Plus, messenger marketing touts an 88% open rates and 56% click-through-rate (CTR) on average. And it doesn’t have to cost you a dime.
Here are some other tactics to effectively market CBD on social media:
- Leverage hashtags and groups.
- Share educational and lifestyle VIDEOS and content.
- Interact with influencers to increase your fans and followers.
- Get micro-influencers to share your content and website link.
CBD micro-influencers typically have a more targeted following than social media “celebrities” AND will help you advertise for a LOT LESS.
Plus, CBD social media marketing (when done correctly) NOT ONLY expands your reach. It also enhances your SEO efforts by increasing website traffic, indexing, and domain authority.
The Power of Word-of-Mouth CBD Marketing
Word-of-mouth has been (and continues to be) one of the most powerful forms of marketing.
Let’s walk through some effective strategies to amplify word-of-mouth:
Trade shows: Trade shows, conferences, exhibitions, and other in-person networking events get your name out there. They also help to establish you as a thought leader and influencer in the CBD space.
In-store demos & educational seminars: The power of high-bandwidth communication is irrefutable. In-person demonstrations and seminars allow you to explain in person new CBD innovations.
And more importantly, they also help you understand your target audience segments using your existing network.
Referral links: Integrating referral links into your communications and incentivizing users to share them on social media is a SUPER effective way to ignite the power of “viral lopping” and accelerate your growth organically.
You can also track these referrals to identify your strongest advocates and nurture those relationships.
PR and media outreach: Consider scheduling a few public speaking events to build brand loyalty and extend reach.
Local outreach: Do some volunteer work, community service or sponsor a local event.
Talking face-to-face with your local audience base and getting to know them on a personal level can have rippling effects on your growth.
Social proofs: As humans, we tend to follow the crowd. Psychologists and sociologists have known this for centuries.
Social proofing is a type of content marketing and growth hacking technique that has similar impacts as word-of-mouth CBD marketing tactics.
Here are some effective social proof strategies: testimonials, ratings and reviews, influencer endorsements, certifications, “as seen in” media logos, subscriber counts, social connection counters, social shares, and client logos.
Permission-Based CBD Marketing Tools & Channels
Email, text and push notifications are all incredibly direct, intimate and nearly instantaneous ways to boost engagement and retention.
But you have to get permission from your contact lists before leveraging these highly personal marketing channels. This means users have to opt-in or sign-up to receive these communications from you.
You should also make it easy for folks to opt-out or unsubscribe. The LAST you want to do is annoy people that don’t want to receive these messages.
Now, let’s get into the best practices for using these permission-based CBD marketing tools.
How to Promote CBD Oil on Email
Most marketers today say that email marketing is STILL the best channel in terms of return on investment (ROI), engagement, and brand loyalty.
But CBD email marketing is NOT as straightforward as it is for most industries.
If you violate the CBD marketing policies of the email platform you’re using (whether knowingly or unintentionally), your account could be suspended. Or even worse, revoked altogether.
And if this happens, the email list and history you’ve worked so hard to build could go down the toilet in a flash.
So what can you do to avoid this worst-case scenario?
Here some CBD email marketing guidelines to remain in good standing with your provider… AND your subscribers:
- Get consent in writing to use the email platform for CBD communications.
- Segment your lists, whether it’s based on product preferences or location, for example, so your CBD messages resonate.
- Keep your email communications brief.
- Send mainly educational versus promotional or “salesy” content.
- Incorporate post-purchase email triggers and loyalty campaigns to incentivize referrals and viral looping.
- Dig into the analytics consistently to iterate and optimize.
- Regularly update your email database to maintain clean lists, improve deliverability, and avoid being blacklisted or marked as spam.
It’s also helpful to have your subscribers opt-in to weekly or monthly newsletters. This way you don’t email them too frequently (or infrequently).
Emailing regularly keeps your CBD brand at top of mind.
So what should you include in your emails? Share the latest industry news. You can also briefly incorporate new educational articles (i.e. your SEO blog posts) you’ve published.
Email content promotion also boosts your SEO by driving traffic to your site and speeding up the crawling and indexing of your post by search engines.
How to Promote CBD Oil using Text Marketing
Text message or Short Message Service (SMS) marketing is ideal for dispensaries, doctors and retail shops who deal directly with end consumers.
You can easily have your customers opt-in (and out) at your physical location. Or you can add “Click-to-Join” widgets to your website, social media accounts, and via browser requests
90% of texts are read within 3 minutes of being sent. This means there is a TON of potential dollars just sitting on the table waiting for you to grab with a CBD text marketing campaign that stands out.
And in addition to on-location and online opt-ins, you can also have them opt-in by sending them an invite text that includes a way for them to give you the go-ahead to send future messages. This can be as simple as responding with a YES or short code number.
If you choose to send an initial invite text, be sure to incentivize them to join your text message program and show them the value of the service. But as always, keep it short and on point.
So what is the best text marketing for cannabis dispensary or other cannabis establishments? SendHub, Baker, Green Marimba, springbig, and Sprout are all SMS software providers who serve the cannabis industry and adhere to its marketing standards.
How to Promote CBD Oil with Push Notifications
Similar to email and text marketing, mobile and desktop push notifications are another fantastic way to engage users with a click of a button.
Push marketing allows you to send a notification to customers phones or at the top of their desktop screen when you come out with a new SEO article, educational video, or promotion.
And the best part? Push CBD marketing is relatively cost-effective…and converts into sales. So you can see a high ROI with the right marketing copy in your push campaigns.
But don’t overdo it.
Sending push notifications to your lists too often can end up backfiring. This is true for any mode of communication with your CBD contacts.
CBD Affiliate Marketing Campaigns
Affiliate marketing builds high retention rates. When done correctly, you make money in your sleep.
Affiliate marketers inform the world about your CBD product without you having to lift a finger.
But only big CBD companies tend to attract affiliates.
So before exploring this avenue of promotion, we recommend focusing your attention on building brand awareness and engagement using the other channels we’ve discussed.
CBD Billboard Marketing
And now for one of the more innovative ways to promote CBD: billboards.
Billboards are an excellent form of local marketing and advertising.
You can boost foot traffic, brand awareness and customer loyalty with billboard promo.
Future of CBD Marketing
Because CBD is confined by the boundaries of legality, it’s tricky to pinpoint how much bigger the industry could get.
According to a CBD industry forecast from Fior Markets, a futuristic market intelligence company, the market is projected to balloon at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36.3% from 2019 to 2026.
This means that the global CBD market will reach $17,345.80 million by 2026, with North America dominating the highest share.
Yet other analysts predict much, MUCH more growth.
For example, predictive consumer and market intelligence analysts forecast the U.S. CBD market will grow from $600 million in 2019 to $22 billion by 2022.
Every sector that deals with CBD should see significant increases, from cultivators, operators, distributors, and brands, to dispensaries, smoke shops, recommending doctors.
So laying the roadmap for a CBD marketing plan now is vital to grab hold of the skyrocketing market.
How to Make a Cannabis Marketing Plan that Works
1. Focus your CBD marketing efforts on one channel at a time.
Marketers keep saying that marketing is moving to omnichannel, which is true…BUT it’s super important to have laser focus on perfecting one channel before tackling all of them.
If you can’t get one channel right, then it doesn’t seem very realistic that you’d be able to get all of them right at once.
So what channel should you start with first for cannabis marketing?
Look at which ones you’re good at and what’s working. Also, take a look at what competitive cannabis industry brands and CBD marketing experts are doing. What’s bringing them traffic and sales?
This will help you determine which channel provides the best odds of succeeding right off the bat.
After you’ve perfected one channel, then move to the next, then the next, and so on.
2. Create and manage a SMART schedule for each channel AND segment over time.
Your publishing schedule should include SMART goals. So what does this mean exactly?
The goals within your segmented, omnichannel posting schedule should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based.
Source: Minute Movement
3. Make use of CBD marketing agencies and industry experts.
CBD marketing companies are experts for a reason. So consider taking advantage of their knowledge.
Consulting with a well-respected CBD marketing company is a small price to pay to enjoy increased growth and profitability long after the fact.
4. Stay on top of the latest CBD news, legal changes, and advertising restrictions.
The industry is changing at the speed of light. So subscribe to email newsletters and RSS feeds to keep up with the competition.
And if you enjoyed what you learned from us today, be sure to check back on our blog for the latest CBD marketing training, strategies, and tactics for implementation.
Do you want to broaden your reach?
Connect with us today if you want to engage a larger audience and grow your business.