Struggling to market your cannabis business online?
You’re not alone.
Whether you are running an edibles business or a cannabis testing lab, you face the same problem – you’re prohibited from using the majority of paid online advertising options like Facebook, Google AdWords, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Yet your business needs to have a robust online presence to make it in today’s business landscape. So how do you get your content in front of the right people, build an engaged following, increase sales, and spread your message to make a real impact – all while mitigating your risk?
We answer that question in this write-up with ten essential tips. Read along.
OPTIMIZE YOUR WEBSITE FOR SEO
Step one to making sure people can find your cannabis business online?
Have an SEO optimized website.
SEO, or search engine optimization, are practices that help your online content appear at the top of the search engine results pages (abbreviated as SERPs). In simple terms, SEO is how people can find your business for free in the online world.
Paid advertising (which makes your content appear on top of search results as sponsored content) is not an option at this point in the cannabis industry. Therefore, it’s vital you take full advantage of organic SEO techniques. As part of your SEO strategy, ensure your website renders perfectly on mobile, is easy to navigate, aesthetically pleasing, and informs your viewers clearly and concisely about your business. Additionally, each page of your website should be optimized for a single target keyword that you want it to rank for. The keyword should appear on the page URL, alternative text for images, tags, titles and body copy (though these may change with the constantly evolving SEO best practices). It is also important that you include links within your website, pointing to your main product pages or relevant blog posts. Make sure you also consider backlinks through guest posts, forum posts and other off-page SEO practices. To keep your website fresh and SEO friendly, create a blog and maintain it with regular, relevant and valuable posts. This will help your site with Google indexing and improve your brand visibility substantially.
BUILD RELATIONSHIPS THROUGH EMAIL MARKETING
If you want to promote your business online, you should be building a list. Your subscriber list is your most valuable asset when it comes to internet marketing.
Inboxes are a flooded place. If someone has invited you in, they want to hear from you. Well, as long as you make it worth their while. Make it a habit of mentioning people by name in your emails. It makes them feel recognized and like there’s a real person on other end, not just some robot. To build a list, you’ll need to use an email marketing program like MailChimp or Campaign Monitor.
Through your list you can send:
- Information about events
- Current promotions
- Special giveaways
- Industry related news
- Latest blog updates
- And much more!
Once you start, be sure to maintain a regular presence. Just be careful not to overdo it – this can be more hurtful than helpful. No one wants to be bombarded with a bunch of junk in their inbox. When in doubt, keep it valuable and stick to a schedule. Consistency is key here. If you are just starting out, I recommend aiming to send around 2-4 newsletters per month.
OPTIMIZE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS FOR MAXIMUM REACH
Social media is a rich source of organic traffic.
But to reap the full potential of these networks, you need to be strategic in your approach. That starts by identifying which networks your target audiences spend most of their time on and optimizing your account to reach them. Before you share a single piece of content, your profile should be optimized for maximum reach. Otherwise, you risk missing out on a lot of potential traffic, leads, and sales. So how you do you make sure your social media accounts are optimized?
Here are a few key things to keep in mind:
- Choose a standout profile picture that is either your logo or professional headshot
- Stick to a color scheme that best represents your brand
- Ensure that your description is keyword rich
- Make it easy for people to contact you (include multiple forms of contact)
- Keep in mind that the specific techniques you should incorporate will vary by platform. The limit for the length of your bio is much longer on Facebook than on Twitter or Instagram, for example.
For the biggest impact, you should optimize your profile according to the platform you’re posting on. In addition, update your profile regularly to share your latest news, products, and promotions.
PRODUCE AND SHARE HIGH QUALITY CONTENT
A big part of what determines how successful a brand is online comes down to content.
What’s content? Everything that you share online with your fans and followers. So, whether it’s in the form of video, GIFs, text or images; you want to make sure it is packed with valuable information that people in your target demographic crave AND need. Content is your means to show people what your brand has to offer. Therefore, you’ll want to be selective in what you share. Your main aim should be to use your content position yourself as the go-to source of value for your target audience. Aim for 70% of your content to be educational/entertaining and about 30% promotional. In addition, incorporate a variety of content types and shift from one type to another to avoid becoming monotonous in your delivery. Create blog posts, videos, infographics and other compelling content. Share it on your own website or partner websites to expand your reach. The more people view your content and find it useful, the more likely they are to share it with their friends and family. There’s no limit to how vastly this activity can boost your brand, online and off.
DISTRIBUTE YOUR CONTENT ACROSS SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
Putting all of your eggs in one basket is never a good idea, especially in this industry.
You don’t want to spread yourself too thin by trying to promote your cannabis brand on every social media platform possible. But you also don’t want to limit yourself to a single source. It’s still risky for cannabis companies. The reality is that cannabis brands have been shut down overnight without warning, especially on Facebook and Instagram. What would happen if one of your social media pages was removed tomorrow? Hopefully you would still have a list (THIS is yet another reason it is so important that you have a subscriber list) Ideally, you would also have at least 1-3 other social media accounts. This way, your entire social media marketing strategy won’t be completely crippled if one of your pages were to be removed.
CONNECT WITH INDUSTRY INFLUENCERS
Take your brand to new heights by partnering with industry influencers.
Working influencers can help you tap into their fanbase, broadening your reach. This relationship can evolve through mutual trade, paid means or some other arrangement. Whatever the means, it’s important that you find businesses and/or individuals with solid influence that fit well with your brand. The key part here being fits well with your brand. You do not want to work with every influencer in the industry. Remember, not everyone will be relevant to your audience. Focus on targeting influencers who could bring the most value. But be prepared to bring something to the table. Influencers mailboxes are flooded. If you want to work with them, make it clear how THEY will benefit from your offer. Be prepared to give more than you receive.
LEVERAGE LINKEDIN GROUPS
LinkedIn is a great resource for connecting with cannabis professionals along with following industry news, updates, and insights. One of the most undervalued resources on LinkedIn though are the groups. However, this is arguably one of the most valuable features of the entire platform! LinkedIn Groups allow you to connect, engage with, and share content within a concentrated niche. It’s your opportunity unity to be vocal, get noticed, give value, and be real. If you haven’t done so already, start being active on LinkedIn Groups in the cannabis community.
Here are a few groups to get you started:
- Cannabis Investors & Entrepreneurs
- Cannabis Medical and Recreational Insider
- Cannabis Industry Journal
You will need to ask to join each group before you can start engaging. Typically, this is a relatively short period of time. Once you become a member of a group you will be able to like, comment, or share content. Like anywhere on social media, be strategic and don’t overdue it, especially when it comes to direct promotions. Administrators of a group do have the power to kick you off if they think you’re acting spammy.
COLLABORATE WITH INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS
Incorporating the voice of industry experts such as doctors to your brand can be a powerful way to add credibility to your story and business.
Regardless of what side of the industry your business falls under, there are opportunities for strategic partnerships. For example, let’s say you are a company focused on educating people about the medicinal value of cannabis. You may reach out to doctors who are experts on cannabis and offer them a percentage of sales if they participate in a webinar you’re hosting. A good partnership helps you achieve a specific aim or outcome AND brings value to both parties. Working with other professionals in the industry can help you reach new audiences, increase your influence, and spread your message worldwide.
ADVERTISE YOUR BUSINESS THROUGH CANNABIS CHANNELS
Even though Google and Facebook will not allow you to promote your cannabis business through their paid channels, you can get around these restrictions by leveraging industry-specific channels
KEEP PRODUCING VALUABLE AND RELEVANT CONTENT
Above all, when marketing your content online, the one thing you need to keep in mind is that you need to constantly provide value to your audience. There are a lot of things competing for someone’s attention. Why should they pay attention to you? It may sound harsh but it’s the truth.
Show up, give value, and share your authentic voice to make a real impact. The opportunities in this space are here but you have to be strategic to take advantage of them.
These tips by no means cover everything when it comes to internet marketing for cannabis companies. However, this post will hopefully give you some key takeaways for building your brand online.