CANNABIS CULTURE – This “green rush” has grown to incorporate more than 600 publicly traded marijuana companies, eager to get their products out there and capitalize on this growing, exciting and lucrative industry.
Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done in today’s evolving marijuana market from Marijuana stock investing advice to apps for weed enthusiast photo sharing. When it comes to promoting your cannabis products online, you should be aware of the many restrictions and regulations in place that may limit your potential reach. Here’s are five key guidelines for getting your marijuana business in front of an online audience, without getting in trouble.
State-by-State Breakdown of Digital Advertising Restrictions on Cannabis Products
Since the U.S. has seen legalization vary on a state level, advertising and marketing regulations depend on which area of the country you’re serving. For an easy breakdown, let’s first sort states by their high-level restriction status.
If you’re from one of the states listed below, then it’d be wise to check with your state government before proceeding with expensive or extensive online promotional campaigns. States with legalized marijuana and digital advertising and marketing restrictions include:
If you live in one of the states listed below, then you don’t have to worry! States with legalized marijuana and no restrictions on digital advertising and marketing include:
If you don’t see your state listed, you’re likely going to be faced with strict online regulations that you’ll need to abide by when it comes to marijuana advertising and marketing. Additionally, if you’ve tried advertising on platforms like Google AdWords or Facebook, you already know that some of these companies don’t take variances in state laws into account when setting their policies. Most of the time, the big advertising platforms simply put a blanket restriction for all users, even if you’re implementing state-specific targeting. You may be able to run an ad for a day or two, but eventually, you’ll be shut down for drug promotion.
Until federal marijuana regulations evolve, you’ll have to get creative when it comes to promoting your cannabis products online. Luckily, there are some guidelines you can follow to protect yourself and business – below are some of the ways to avoid getting in trouble when promoting cannabis products online.
1) Search Engine Optimization for Cannabis Businesses
It’d be great if your cannabis company could use online advertising platforms like AdWords or Facebook to drive traffic to your website – however, as stated, most of these platforms have restrictions on marijuana promotion. Since you can’t do online advertising spends, you need to focus on an organic search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to drive potential customers to your site. SEO is simply the practice of improving your website to the point where Google, Bing and Yahoo! recognize it as an authoritative resource within your industry and place it on page one for related search queries.
For example, when someone enters a search query into Google that says , “Edible Marijuana Candies”, you’re much more likely to obtain clicks from those users who see your website on the first page of results. In fact, 75 percent of users never click past the first page of search results.
So, what are the best ways to implement a solid SEO strategy for your cannabis company? Here are a few you can try today:
- Do keyword research – before starting, head to Google’s Keyword Planner and find some low-competition/high-search keywords within your industry. Mark them down in a list.
- Optimize your website for keywords – implement those keywords throughout your website; within the page content, header tags, image ALT text and URL strings.
- Build a blog – start writing and posting relevant articles each week based around these keywords. This increases your keyword net and your chances of capturing relevant search traffic. Additionally, search engines like to see “fresh” content, and blogging provides just that.
- Improve your backlinking efforts – another important component of SEO is the number of backlinks you obtain to your site. A backlink is when one website’s pages link to your website pages. Reach out to your network, industry influencers or other related professionals who may be interested in putting a link to your website on their site.
2) Branding and Packaging Guidelines
Not only is branding and packaging incredibly effective at selling your cannabis products, it’s a crucial part of complying with state and federal regulations. All companies that sell cannabis products must ensure that their packages are tamper-proof, child-proof, and in accordance with their local laws. Some branding efforts may be restricted, as well, depending on where you live. Since it seems like rules and regulations are constantly evolving, businesses are forced to constantly change branding and packaging to follow the laws put forth. Speak with a city or state official to determine whether or not your branding and packaging comply with local, state and federal regulations.
3) Adding Your Brick-and-Mortar Business to Locator Apps
If you operate a dispensary, you want to drive as much traffic through your doors as possible. Now that the majority of the country is connected to the Internet via smartphone, you can add your information to various apps used by those interested in purchasing marijuana. A business directory provides a link and a local citation. Create accounts on the directories below, which are all free!
4) Know What to Post on Social Media
Be careful on social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, otherwise you risk your ads being removed and your accounts potentially being shut down completely. As any good business owner knows, social media marketing is crucial to selling more products. Unlike traditional industries, however, cannabis accounts seem to be getting shut down daily. Before posting something that you consider risky, always read the fine print and follow platform guidelines to decrease the chances that your social media accounts will be removed.
5) Move to Where Your Market Already Is
Even if most your ads get blocked, there are plenty of places where cannabis culture thrives online. People are starving for information from marijuana brands, and these restrictions block access to the consumer learning more about these brands’ products. At the end of the day, if a site is producing valuable content, there is an audience ready to consume that material.
When you’re trying to promote your cannabis products online, go to where your market already is. For example, there are a ton of cannabis-centric social networks popping up around the internet – sites such as MassRoots, valued at a whopping $44 million and already maintaining over 725,000 users, and the social app Duby, which is a photo app for cannabis connoisseurs.