Digital Marketing 101 For The Cannabis Industry

By Jon Lowen, CoFounder of Surfside.

There is a common misconception that cannabis brands and dispensaries are unable to market their businesses using modern day digital advertising tools.

While it is true that the major players in online advertising (e.g. Google and Facebook) have severe restrictions or outright bans on advertising cannabis and/or hemp products via their advertising platforms, there are digital advertising solutions (such as Surfside) which cater specifically to the cannabis and hemp industries that can be equally or more effective in helping a company acquire and retain customers. 

The best of these solutions make use of the same cutting-edge tools that mainstream digital marketing providers offer, including data modeling, intelligent targeting, and programmatic advertising.

However, effective digital marketing takes more than the right tools -- you also need the right strategy. Here are some tips that can help maximize the impact of your digital marketing efforts:

1. Get to Know Your Customers

The most important thing a company can do in order to accurately target new and existing consumers is to understand who its current customers are and how they are interacting with the brand.

This means being able to track every touchpoint a customer has with a company in both the physical and digital worlds. These kinds of interactions include purchases, brick and mortar visits, social media interactions, website visits, and participation in loyalty programs or other offline events.

Aggregating all these siloed events and creating a single-view of the customer allows a brand to see all the different interactions a consumer may have with a brand to better understand what touchpoints are leading to certain actions.

Understanding how customers enter and exit the purchase funnel will allow you to influence existing and new customers at the right moment and location in order to continue to grow your business.

2. Personalize Your Message

Once you have created a schema to collect and analyze your customer data, you can begin to segment those customers into different audiences based on their attributes.

Audience segmentation is a great way to identify and market to similar consumers based on their purchase habits, similar demographic profiles, or even their behaviors in the physical or digital world.

By analyzing your customer data and the attributes that define a given segment, you can start to personalize the messaging and experience for each audience. This allows your brand to create tailored and unique experiences based on the interests of your different audience so that there is less friction for the consumer when making a purchase or interacting with your brand.

These personalized experiences can be utilized within advertising copy, website design, and even product development so you are always growing and developing based on changing market demand. 

3. Understand the Power of Lookalike Audiences

In order to grow your business you will need to reach people who are not yet your customers.

But how do you know who you should spend time and money on trying to reach?

This is where the power of lookalike audiences comes into play. Lookalike audiences enable you to identify and market to people who most closely resemble your best existing customers.

By tracking real-world cannabis behaviors, like purchase history and dispensary visits, and marrying these attributes to a larger demographic profiles, including financial and lifestyle attributes, you can use your current customers to identify prospective customers through advanced lookalike modeling. By reaching people who are most similar to your best existing customers, you are much more likely to find new customers in a much more efficient manner than trying to reach the entire online universe. 

4. Stay Compliant

One of the tricky parts of marketing cannabis products in the digital space is ensuring you are in compliance with the laws and regulations that govern each state’s cannabis industry.

This means ensuring your ads are only being seen by individuals of legal age in states where cannabis is legal.

One of the best ways to ensure this is through location-based advertising and device-level targeting to verified audiences. Location targeting is essential in cannabis/hemp advertising as it ensures that you are not targeting locations that are blacklisted, like schools, and stay within the bounds of states, cities, or even stores.

Audience targeting allows you to predefine the type of consumers you are looking to reach before delivering a campaign – this could be legal-aged consumers, lookalike audiences, dispensary visitors, or people who recently purchased cannabis products.

The combination of location targeting and audience targeting ensures you are reaching the right people in the right locations. In order to accomplish this type of targeting at scale, it is necessary to use programmatic advertising platforms.

Programmatic advertising allows advertisers to access billions of ad impressions with enough targeting and filtering options to be able to reach your predefined audiences in the right locations. Another value to the scale of programmatic advertising is that you can advertise in apps and on sites that have audiences that are 71.6% or greater over the age of 21, which is generally a requirement for any property you advertise cannabis products on.

5. Optimize, Optimize, Optimize

As you begin to run your digital advertising campaigns targeting your different audience segments and lookalike audiences, you will start to collect enormous amounts of data on how effective and efficient these campaigns are.

Measuring the success of these campaigns requires the ability to track engagements beyond simply clicks. It is necessary to receive full attribution data on your media so that you can understand if your ads are driving sales. Once the proper measurement is in place, experimenting with slight changes to your targeting parameters, ad design, and calls to action can have significant impacts on how effective your digital advertising campaigns are.

By collecting and comparing data from all these minor variations you can identify the optimal combination of ad attributes and targeting parameters to dramatically improve the performance of your campaigns and reduce your customer acquisition cost. 

Image courtesy of Surfside.

The preceding article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.

Posted In: Cannabis MarketingCannabis Marketing PlatformJon LowenSurfsideCannabisNewsEducationMarketsGeneral