5 Ways to Advertise your Cannabis Brand Online

Paid online advertising is a critical tool used by many businesses, including those in the cannabis industry. However, it comes with a unique set of rules and challenges. Here are 5 effective ways you can advertise your cannabis brand online.

1. Paid Advertising and Retargeting

Search Engine Marketing

Companies can generate awareness and strategically target potential customers by using pay per click (PPC) advertising. Their sites appear as sponsored results in specific searches related to a product or service. This form of search engine marketing (SEM) can often be cost-effective, with measurable data-driven results.

However, current policies limit these tools for businesses in the cannabis space. As of 2020, Google’s terms of use deny “ads for substances that alter mental state for the purpose of recreation or otherwise include ‘highs,’” and lists “marijuana” among its examples. Bing, Verizon, and other search engines have adopted similar policies. 

If you’re running a Google search, you may encounter ads that violate this policy. Typically, these exceptions are temporary, and will be removed by Google momentarily.

In other cases, often with hemp-based products, carefully-selected products and keywords are allowed. With years of experience navigating these challenges, MOST can help analyze, advise, and present sustainable search engine marketing strategies for cannabis companies.

Display Advertising

Other digital advertising formats include display/banner ads, mobile, native, video, and digital audio. In the cannabis space, there may be more options for brands and services to reach their desired audience this way, often with less compliance and regulatory issues than SEM.

Thanks to cannabis being federally classified as a Schedule I drug, state laws currently govern digital advertising regulations. This affects a business’s advertising options based on geographic location. 

Many social media networks and advertising platforms are beginning to allow advertising for cannabis and CBD products, and there are programmatic ad-buying options specifically available for each. 

These automated advertising buys can connect advertisers with publishers using a real-time bidding system to accommodate individual budgets and audience objectives. Advertisers can now target particular app users (e.g., Leafly, Weedmaps, etc.), visitors of competitors’ websites, and different user demographics. Thanks to these perimeters, ads can be shown exclusively to 21-and-older users who live in a particular state. This makes advertising both compliant and cost-effective. In addition to display ads, these techniques can also apply to audio and video placements.

Retargeting

After using digital ads to introduce your brand, retargeting (sometimes referred to as “remarketing”) prevents a potential customer from walking out the virtual door. This strategy reaches online users who may visit your website or consider a product without purchase. Ads will appear at third-party sites to remind potential customers of your brand or product. This can reinforce reputation and serve as a needed-reminder. Like SEM, there are challenges to who allows retargeting in the cannabis industry, but this is another cost-effective, measurable way to convert interested audiences into customers.

2. Organic Social Media Marketing

Organic social media marketing works great in tandem with a paid advertising strategy. Creating engaging social media content can do the same thing as an ad: it can introduce a brand, celebrate a product, and emphasize a culture. This can be done for little or no cost, especially if the content is compelling and able to reach its intended audience.

Many social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit) have some of the same restrictions and limitations for cannabis advertising as search engines. These spaces are changing, and pending approval, some CBD and hemp products can be advertised through sponsored posts.

Even with paid posts, violating a platform’s terms of use can lead to removed or banned posts, and loss of account privileges. This limits the options for most brands, especially for paid social media campaigns. However, organic marketing treats social media as a democratic space and uses legal, compliant, and engaging social content to achieve the same outcome as advertising. 

Influencer Marketing

These limitations can often make it difficult for new and emerging brands to attract an audience through social media. There are successful ways to overcome this hurdle.

One is collaborating with social influencers. Social media can be a space for enthusiasts to assemble with common interests, hobbies, and lifestyles. There are trusted voices and personalities in the culture who are willing and able to share new products and brands with their existing followings. Collaborating with these influencers can create lasting results, between growing an audience, increasing social engagement, or generating sales. MOST specializes in partnering with influencers. As a cannabis marketing agency, we have established personal relationships with thousands of influencers across North America and in various sectors: cannabis, sports, health and wellness, fitness, cooking, and more.

3. Public Relations

Whereas advertising can get the word out, cannabis public relations makes sure that the word is correct. For those in the cannabis space, it is vital to gain press and recognition. Creating a PR strategy can ensure that the media are aware of your business, product, or service. Using relationships, media coverage of all kinds (print, video, social, blogs, podcasts) can create crucial awareness for any business. 

At MOST, we have more than a decade dedicated to public relations in the cannabis space. We can strategize, create and distribute press releases, pitch coverage ideas, and tap access to our network of journalists, publishers, and media outlets. We were also named one of the Top 24 PR Firms in Philadelphia in 2020 by Expertise. Focused on the relationship, we design each PR strategy uniquely for each client and their goals, working to deliver the results they want.

4. Search Engine Optimization

The adage “If you build it, they will come” applies to search engine optimization. While restrictions can limit SEM advertising and paid Social campaigns, having the proper SEO strategy is essential for any business in the increasingly competitive cannabis space. Your website and social media SEO must be working for you around the clock and stay up to date with the best rules and practices. Cost-effective strategies can be driven to accommodate local and national reach, based on need.

Given the unique challenges of the cannabis space, SEO considerations require an acute attention to detail. Web hosting providers should understand your specific needs, using keywords that precisely reflect your brand, product, or service is crucial, and creating the right site copy, keywords, and information the first time can save companies exponentially later on. Deciding on the right keywords to use requires proper analysis, even more so within highly-competitive markets.

SEO rankings are reinforced by ensuring that online reviews are present, informational, and accurate reflections of your brand. Creating link profiles that connect your own and others’ social properties to your website can help get the best SEO rankings for the right search.

5. Digital Events

Networking is crucial, especially in the cannabis space. Before cannabis was an industry, it was a community. Whether B2B or engaging customers, any brand should be mindful of the valuable opportunity to network through virtual events and programs.

In 2020, nearly all cannabis events have gone digital, and enthusiasts are ready to attend. This creates an excellent alternative to advertising online with the same desired results. Hosting virtual events can be necessary for any brand or business with tools that make doing this increasingly easy and effective. Events ranging from product tutorials and workshops to virtual parties and galas can make your brand stand out and attract attention and customers. Planning and executing a successful event can be a daunting task, so MOST can provide support in all aspects of the cannabis event planning process.