How To Construct an Effective Cannabis Marketing Plan

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Use This Guide For Your Cannabis Marketing Plan

It’s an excellent time to own and operate an online dispensary, mail order marijuana shop, or cannabis retail store in Canada or the USA and to update your current cannabis marketing plan

If we look at the United States, there’s been an increasing amount of individual states that are beginning to legalize cannabis. At the time of this writing, there are at least 18 US states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use for adults.

On the medical cannabis side of things in the USA, there are dozens of states that allow adults to use weed for medical purposes.

In Canada, recreational cannabis sales grew to CA$364.2 million dollars ($281.7 million USD) in Ocrober 2021. This was a 2.8% growth over September.

As of January 2022, a new report from ATB Capital Markets says that Canada’s recreational marijuana sales could reach 4.8 billion Canadian dollars ($3.8 billion) this year, which would be 19% more than 2021’s estimated figure.

This growth is only going to continue as other market research reports anticipate that the US cannabis market will be worth $39.4 billion by 2034, so any budding cannabis entrepreneur would certainly benefit from riding this wave. 

But in order to be successful in this growing industry, dispensary owners, weed delivery businesses, mail order marijuana dispensaries, and other cannabis-related businesses will need to understand how to craft, execute and manage a strategic cannabis marketing plan to build brand awareness, increase website traffic, and boost online sales. 

I’m sure you already know that there are too many ridiculous restrictions when it comes to building your cannabis marketing plan & strategy, particularly from big media companies like Facebook, Instagram, and Google. 

The good news is that our cannabis marketing agency has years of experience with creative cannabis marketing tactics designed to grow your retail dispensary or your online mail order dispensary.

Read on as we reveal how to craft a successful cannabis marketing to plan to grow your marijuana business.

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Limitations on Cannabis Marketing

One of the biggest challenges your cannabis marketing plan will face will be the limitations, i.e. restrictions that are placed on cannabis marketing in both Canada & US. 

It’s especially challenging in the US for a cannabis marketer because the rules and regulations for marketing and advertising cannabis differ from one state to another. 

For example, some US states may have cannabis advertising restrictions with outdoor media channels like billboards and transit posters, whereas other states are ok with dispensaries advertising on this platforms.

In Canada, at the time of cannabis legalization in 2018, retail dispensaries weren’t able to buy advertising on outdoor billboards let alone anywhere else. 

However, a year later, one Canadian outdoor media company started to allow dispensaries to advertise on their outdoor billboards which are always in high-traffic areas and busy locations in every city.

Our cannabis marketing agency has been able to advertise cannabis, THC, & delta-8 products on Google search and has been since 2017 for cannabis companies in Canada, the USA, and the EU.

You can view some of our case studies for dispensary advertising on Google.

While marijuana advertising might seem like a good idea, it can also become very, very expensive simply because of the heavy competition increasing the price of cannabis keywords with the intent to purchase.

You can expect to be paying at least $10/click and as high as $15+ per click USD for terms like “buy weed near me”, dispensary near me”, “buy weed online”, “mail order marijuana”, and “weed delivery near me”.

We highly recommend that your cannabis marketing plan includes essential cannabis marketing tactics like SEO & blog content marketing. These tactics are much more economical than Google advertising and will bring you “free traffic” from organic search for years to come.

Many retail cannabis stores and online dispensaries have chosen to focus on organic marketing tactics like dispensary SEO, Local SEO, blog content marketing, and local link building to promote their businesses – without any restrictions!

Let’s talk more about how to effectively use a marijuana SEO strategy in your cannabis marketing plan.

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Cannabis SEO & Blog Content Marketing = No Restrictions!

SEO for dispensaries, or Search Engine Optimization for dispensaries, is the absolute best & most necessary cannabis marketing tactic for every cannabis business because your customers will always go to Google when they have the intent to buy your products.

SEO is simply the process of getting traffic from free, organic, editorial, or natural search results in search engines like Google & Bing. Dispensary SEO aims to improve your website’s position in search results pages for relevant cannabis-related searches. 

Remember, the higher the website is listed, the more people will see it. This is why dispensary SEO & blog content marketing are essential for your pot shop or ancillary business.

Data reveal that there are over 3.5 billion Google searches a day, and lots of weed consumers look for dispensaries online before they purchase weed. 

Guaranteeing that your dispensary shows up on the first page of a cannabis-relevant search on Google can bring your business a lifetime of success.

SEO for cannabis can be tricky. It’s not simple and does involve a lot of complicated data analysis and technical procedures to ensure your website is Google-friendly and can be found for relevant search queries.  

One of the best SEO tactics to use is to regularly publish high quality, in-depth articles that are relevant to cannabis and your customer’s needs & wants.

Creating specific niche content that is targeted at your customers based on what they’re likely to search when they’re looking to buy weed will help your dispensary’s SEO strategy and keyword rankings significantly. 

For instance, using keyword research and paid SEO tools can reveal all the questions your customers are asking about weed strains, edibles, concentrates, weed deals, bundles, etc. They will inevitably end up searching for the answers in Google or Bing.

If your cannabis marketing plan includes an optimized website that contains high-quality, relevant content based on your target customers’ search queries, customers will be able to find your website on the first page of Google when looking for answers to their cannabis questions.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to an SEO strategy for your dispensary. As we mentioned, SEO can be complicated and require a lot of experience to execute strategically.

However, using an experienced cannabis dispensary SEO agency can make this process a lot easier and much more effective for your business.

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Using SEO To Market an Online Dispensary vs. Retail Cannabis Store

The SEO tactics in your cannabis marketing plan will be different if you’re operating a physical retail cannabis dispensary or a mail-order marijuana online dispensary.

Having said that, SEO is SEO regardless and the same tactics can work, however, in our experience of “doing SEO” since 200-4 and cannabis SEO specifically since 2017, we know that there are a few key factors that can make all the difference to the success of your cannabis marketing strategy.

Retail Dispensary

If you run a retail cannabis dispensary, your focus should be the same as any other local business in your area in that your target market is people in your city, or, in your city but close to your location. 

You’ll want to focus on a local SEO strategy which is a little different than a regular SEO strategy because local SEO is specific to local businesses and having your dispensary show up in the local map on page 1 for relevant local cannabis searches.

In order for this to happen, you need to register your business (claim your business) on Google with your Google my Business Page (GMB). 

Once you have your GMP page verified, Google will make your dispensary’s location visible on Google Maps so that local customers in your area, or near your store, can discover you and visit your location when they’re looking to by weed.

A local SEO strategy as part of your cannabis marketing plan, with local blog content marketing & GMB page optimizations, are key digital marketing tactics for dispensaries to get people into their retail locations.

It likewise helps to list your dispensary cannabis-related online directories. WeedMaps and Leafly are 2 of the biggest websites for marijuana customers. Listing your dispensary here will make it simple for anybody in the area to find you when they’re searching for weed. 

As a bonus, you can advertise your retail location as well as your retail menu and offers via your profile pages on these directories. 

Online Dispensary

For mail order marijuana shops and online dispensaries, SEO is equally important but this strategy relies much less on local SEO tactics and GMB page optimization.

Having said that, SEO & blog content marketing is still super important for your cannabis marketing plan if you own an online dispensary. 

In addition to SEO, online dispensaries should also get themselves listed in cannabis-related directories like Weedmaps and Leafly and focus more so on organic social media marketing to create and build brand awareness.

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Cannabis Advertising is Possible, Just Expensive

As we briefly discussed above, it is possible to advertise cannabis on Google search as well as on popular websites using display/banner advertising & retargeting.

Your cannabis marketing plan should focus on the organic marketing tactics discussed above, but you should also leave some room, even if it’s optional, for cannabis advertising.

You will need a healthy budget to run a successful (i.e. profitable) marijuana advertising campaign. By healthy, I mean a minimum of $6k to $15k USD, per month.

I wasn’t kidding when I said it was expensive. But does it convert? If conversion rates are high (10%-20%), then monthly media/PPC fees of $10k+/month may be feasible. 

If your cannabis brand has a high level of brand awareness and a decent amount of website traffic, then cannabis advertising should be an option in your cannabis marketing plan for sure. 

Conversions will be higher if you have more brand awareness.

If you’re a new brand with little brand awareness, your advertising campaigns should be focused on creating awareness and driving website traffic – and not focused on sales/customer acquisition.

The reason is, you won’t be profitable, your conversions will be low, your media/PPC spend will be high, and your competitors with more brand awareness will likely end up with the sale.

Here are the options our cannabis advertising agency offers:

1. Google Search Advertising

We target people on Google who are actively searching to buy weed online, get weed delivered, or to find a dispensary near them with compelling search advertising (text ads at the top of a search results page) that links to your website or promotional landing page.

The average cost per click can be between $10-$20 so we recommend a minimum monthly media/PPC spend of $150-$200 per day.

Google will allow for cannabis advertising if you know their “rules” as well as their unpublished in’s and out’s and do’s and dont’s. 

Fortunately, we’re familiar with all of this and can help you manage your Google search ads if you’re interested.

2. Programmatic Display Advertising

We’re able to advertise your dispensary, weed delivery, or online dispensary on popular/mainstream websites using customized display/banner advertising & retargeting.

This means that we can target people with display ads who have never been to your site before – and – we can retarget everyone who has visited your site but didn’t purchase, with dynamic & customized display ads.

This is exactly the way digital advertising should be done and is done for any other product at this time!

Our DSP partners allow for cannabis adverting but do require a minimum monthly media/PPC spend of $15k/mo USD.

This large financial requirement for PPC makes this option unmanageable for many companies, which is why, again, we highly recommend using organic cannabis marketing tactics like SEO & blog content to market your dispensary.

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Email Marketing for Cannabis Dispensaries

Many cannabis retail stores and online dispensaries will as an email marketing element to their cannabis marketing plan which is a very, very smart tactic to implement.

One of the crucial advantages of email marketing for cannabis is that you’ll be engaging with people who have already confirmed their interest in you by opting into your email list or by purchasing weed from you recently.

Using email marketing with this type of “warm/hot” audience is an excellent way to get people back to your site, increase website traffic and site engagement, and motivate them to buy weed from you again.

Cannabis dispensaries can use email marketing platforms Klayvio and SendPulse to make handling their e-mail marketing simple. As a bonus, you should know that each of these platforms allows for both email and SMS marketing!

It’s simple for your customers to get involved. 

They can register on your website or via an email marketing campaign to get email and/or SMS alerts and, in time, you’ll build up a highly targeted and lucrative email database of people who have opted in or bought weed from you before that you can now directly market to each week.

A few examples of what type of content you can use to populate your email newsletters are simple things like flash sales, in-store promotions, free gifts, etc. 

If you add a ‘sense of urgency and tag a deadline or an expiry date on any offer you send, they’ll be a lot more likely to make a purchase.

You can also use e-mail and SMS marketing for promoting your blog content, hosting suppliers, and requesting feedback from your customers.

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We Can Help You With Your Cannabis Marketing Plan!

If you’re ready to build your cannabis marketing plan or if you want to update & upgrade your current cannabis marketing strategy, we can help you!

We have worked with several dispensaries in Canada and being from Canada, we are very comfortable with the cannabis marketing laws in Canada for licensed retail dispensaries, since 2018.

We also have experience working with legacy cannabis businesses & managing mail order marijuana online dispensaries and weed delivery services in the United States & Canada since 2017.

To see an example of our dispensary SEO strategy for a mail order marijuana business, see this case study.

For an example of our Google advertising strategy for a mail order marijuana business, see this case stud and to see an example of our local SEO & blog content marketing for licensed cannabis pot shops, check this case study.

Please call us for a free 30-minute phone consultation or email us to request a quote.

We’re Ready To help You Grow!

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