Even without federal legalization, the cannabis industry is growing rapidly in the United States. , and it is expected to exceed $ 23 billion by 2022. According to Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics’ The State of the Legal Marijuana Markets, 6th Edition, as reported by Forbes.
Demand for the product is not the only driving force behind this success, however. As more cannabis companies join the market, I believe e-commerce will continue to drive innovation in this growing industry in three ways.
1. Businesses and customers can buy (almost) anything they need online. While cannabis itself is not available through online channels, just about every other product related to the industry is. This includes personal use items like bongs, pipes, rolling papers and vaporizers as well as growing supplies. Cannabis companies and customers appreciate almost the same shopping experience found in almost every other industry, making the industry more accessible to everyone.
2. Engagement happens on digital platforms. From my observations, a number of e-commerce platforms are also directly assisting the industry. For example, LeafLink is an online wholesale marketplace and sales tool suite, and Baker is a CRM designed specifically for the cannabis industry.
3. Compensation technology connects and protects everyone. Of course, the cannabis industry still faces obstacles, not the least of which is legalization at the federal level. The specter of a Drug Enforcement Administration crackdown is still enough to prevent banks from accommodating state-approved sellers. While far from ideal, e-commerce has once again provided solutions like digital e-wallets designed to meet the financial needs of professionals in the cannabis industry.
Six Digital Marketing Strategies Cannabis Companies Should Implement
With these three drivers in mind and based on my own experience in the e-commerce arena, I see some specific areas where cannabis companies can be successful in their digital marketing efforts.
1. Facebook groups
Social media is always hostile (subscription required) to cannabis companies. None of the major platforms will support their ads, even when they’re for perfectly legal businesses. Nonetheless, Facebook recently lifted its ban on marijuana-related pages. This is still a relatively new turn of events, so it will be interesting to see if cannabis companies can take advantage of this opportunity.
One way to use these social media groups would be to post links to useful content, providing your own expert input, on behalf of your brand.
2. The influencers
While many industries are just starting to realize how powerful an influencer endorsement can be, I’ve noticed that cannabis companies have quickly embraced this practice of online marketing. Advertising week even went so far as to call influencers “the secret to marketing marijuana” (subscription required).
Cannabis brands looking to work with influencers should find ones who can help create campaigns that are sensitive to current issues and who won’t inadvertently shut down their social or advertising accounts. Important elements of a quality influencer or micro-influencer are someone who has grown their audience organically, creates original content, and reports high levels of engagement and social reach with that audience.
Search engine optimization (SEO) strategies for cannabis businesses are similar to those used in other industries. In fact, there are even specific companies that meet the unique SEO needs of this industry.
Dispensaries and brick-and-mortar stores can create a profile on Google My Business, which makes it easier for Google to understand what these businesses have to offer and to show up on those all-important Google Maps.
Then, platforms like SEMRush and Ahrefs are useful for finding relevant keywords that people search for when they are in the market for cannabis related products.
Affiliate marketing has long been a fantastic and affordable method of marketing, so it makes sense that there are plenty of cannabis companies offering these programs.
Better yet, a cannabis company only needs to list their affiliate program details on their website to start recruiting marketers to work on commission only. Companies can also actively promote their affiliate programs by contacting influencers, joining affiliate networks, or purchasing space on websites frequented by cannabis users.
5. Local directories
In every state that legalizes marijuana, whether for adult or medicinal use, dispensaries are starting to pop up everywhere.
While this is ideal for people who want to purchase cannabis products, it also presents a challenge. Cannabis connoisseurs are a lot like beer lovers when it comes to their breweries – they like to think seriously about which dispensaries they will attend.
With dozens of cannabis-specific online directories, it’s worth making sure your business is listed so that potential customers have another way to find you. Aside from this obvious advantage, directories are great for SEO.
It cannot be said that no industry is harnessing the full potential of e-commerce until it is inundated with applications. Popular social media apps in this space include MassRoots and High There. Another popular app, called MyDx, is a diagnostic app that comes with a companion device that allows users to test cannabis samples before imbibing.
Like everything else discussed above, the introduction of apps reflects how so many ecommerce solutions have long helped other industries. These apps make it easier for users to find and enjoy cannabis products.
To better market your cannabis brand, you can either build your own branded app that helps promote push notifications, reminders, sales promotions, and highly personalized messages. Otherwise, consider buying ads on other popular apps like Leafly, Weedmaps, or MassRoots to reach potential customers.
In many ways, the continuing evolution of the cannabis industry has e-commerce to thank. At the same time, innovative e-commerce companies are innovating, which perhaps would never have been done without the unique challenges facing the industry. Either way, the future should prove to be exciting for the marriage of e-commerce and cannabis.