It’s no coincidence that the rise of legal cannabis coincides with the digital marketing revolution. Digital services—including ads, email, internet searches, mapping and countless others—are an integral and indispensable part of the human experience. And digital ads in particular are a big reason the cannabis industry has skyrocketed in value, recently surpassing the NBA in terms of yearly revenue. From employing cutting-edge tools like hyperlocal marketing to geofencing and beyond to supercharge our clients’ marketing buys, digital cannabis ads are a crucial factor that help make this an incredibly exciting time to be in the cannabis marketing business.
But not all digital ads are created equal. Just as building a website without these essential pages is a little like running a marathon with your laces untied, it’s important that you get the most from your digital ad budget. When it comes to properly marketing your cannabis dispensary, we want you to succeed. So with that in mind, here are a few top-level goals you should keep in mind when you’re designing your digital marketing plan.
Plan, Plan, Plan
One of digital’s strengths might be the promise of instant gratification, but an effective digital campaign long before any ads run. Because the key to digital marketing’s success is its ability to target likely consumers, it’s vital that you’re making use of all the resources at your fingertips to identify those customers before your digital ad campaign begins.
Of course, this includes first-party data like your email list and members of your loyalty program. But while these are your most valuable customers, they’re far from your only one. You should be cataloging your website visitors with a tracking pixel, then saving their properly anonymized data in preparation for launching your campaign. Seeded with the data you’re already collecting from your POS interface, you’ll be well on your way to optimizing and fine-tuning your campaign before it even starts.
Know Your Audience
If you think of your digital ad campaign as a series of concentric rings like an archery target, the ring just outside your existing customers (and those who browse your website) consists of third-party data sets. Compiled by and purchased from firms who specialize in classifying and segmenting the vast universe of online users, these lists enable you to significantly broaden your targeting: Customers over 21? Those who’ve downloaded apps from Weedmaps or Leafly? Yes, please!
Write Clean, Action-Oriented Copy
In a sense, all of your consumer-facing content is marketing of a sort. But ad copy is different from website or newsletter copy: What you share in your digital ads should be timely, compelling and succinct. What’s more, less is often more here. While describing your luscious and alluring tinctures and edibles in detail has a time and place, this probably isn’t it.
That speaks to another point about ad copy: Make the call to action (CTA) simple, unmistakable and unforgettable. What do you want customers to know about? A SALE! When do you want them to know about it? TODAY ONLY!
Of course, one huge advantage of digital cannabis ads over print and other forms is their adaptability. Which leads right into our next point….
Not sure which CTA is most compelling? Experiment! Run two ads with different messages and see which draws more clicks (as well as when and where they draw those clicks, obviously). The same goes for your ad copy. It may turn out that adding or dropping a few key descriptors drives your clickthrough rate up. Again, one of digital’s strengths is its adaptability: Don’t be afraid to change up and compare results.
Design Is Key
Then there’s the question of where those ads lead consumers. While it might seem self-evident to direct them to your homepage, in practice that’s not typically the best result. Just as ad copy has a different purpose than website or newsletter copy, the destination for your digital ads should have a different message than the page that welcomes visitors to your website. Be sure to have at least one custom landing page tailored towards those who clicked your sweet, succinct and action-oriented ad. You can bring your experimental spirit here too, by creating several different landing pages and seeing which one converts best!
The only reason we saved this one for next-to-last is because we’re so sure you’re already following all applicable cannabis compliance regulations in your municipality. (Right? Please tell us you are.) If you have any doubt about what’s allowed in digital cannabis ads and what’s not, read our guides on state-by-state cannabis advertising and data compliance. If you haven’t already, trust us: You’ll be glad you did.
Finally, getting the most from your digital ads is first and foremost about learning. As we hinted earlier, your moves in the digital realm are infinitely trackable. Compare the results of your experiments, take note of what worked and what didn’t, and put it all to good use in your next campaign. Success in the digital ad doesn’t typically come in a day. Instead, we invite you to think of as a series of challenges in which you’re constantly learning by comparing results and strategies. Stay loose, stay lean, and keep your eye on the long game.