CBD Marketing and Advertising Guide 2021

CBD Marketing Guide

Written by Traffic Roots

This is the Traffic Roots main author archive were we post everything related to Cannabis Marketing, advertising and much more!

April 30, 2021

Savvy consumers are learning about the benefits of CBD and seeking solutions to a whopping tune of $18 Billion by 2025. Naturally, many entrepreneurs are attempting to leap ahead of the market by launching innovative CBD products. From the tried and true CBD tinctures and gummy chews to pet food and toothpaste. This competitive landscape has many brands, big and small, fighting to get onboard.

CBD Marketing Guide – Competition and Standing Out

Constructing a CBD marketing and advertising strategy that differentiates your CBD brand from your competitors is paramount. There are just a few keys to being memorable and earning consumer trust. When applied to a CBD marketing strategy, sales and growth simply follow.

  • Branding that attracts the attention of your target audience and converts them into brand enthusiasts. 
  • It is a product that delivers on your consumer’s anticipated results, i.e., your “promises…” even though you can’t make promises in this market—more on that below. 
  • A memorable voice with similar cadence and vocabulary as your intended audience. 
  • A brand that knows when to use that voice to discover who else is listening.  

An example of pristine branding, voice and cadence from our partners at DayTrip CBD.

CBD Marketing Guide

What Does a Multi-Vertical Marketing Plan Look Like?

We’re going to review the following vertices:

  • CBD Programmatic Digital Ads
  • CBD Email Campaigns
  • CBD Influencer and Affiliate Marketing
  • CBD Social Media Accounts – the risks and opportunities

Let’s review what a comprehensive CBD marketing plan looks like. Here at Traffic Roots, we specialize in programmatic media placement for the CBD, Cannabis, and Hemp industry. We’ve compiled the best practices to share, encourage and help you build your foundation before our services are most effective. But before we share those insights, let’s review your biggest challenge when advertising and marketing in the CBD industry. Compliance.

CBD Challenges, State and Federal Laws, Advertising Compliance

CBD marketers face advertising restrictions, unlike any other personal wellness industry.

The CBD industry went from a whisper to a raging speakeasy with the approval of the 2018 Farm Bill. While some state laws are still in flux, federal laws are strict about how you can market CBD products. (Do you recall the see CBD Snake-Oil promises circa. 2017?)

Your CBD advertising, content, and marketing must be compliant with local, state, and federal regulations. Exercise caution and apply best practices when writing copy and planning social media posts. Extensive social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram will not warn you if you fall out of compliance. If you are flagged enough times by wayward consumers or, I dare say, the competition, your entire business page can be shut down with no wiggle room to apologize. These social media platforms don’t even note what post or comment put you sideways. In the worst scenarios, we’ve seen the original owner’s account go dark overnight, taking a decade of family photos and memories with it. Yes, it’s that serious. All of those followers and feedback, gone. 

Still, want to play in the cannabis fields? Now that I’ve scared away the weak hands, let’s get optimistic, shall we?

What Are CBD Marketing Rules?

FDA guidelines, in a nutshell:

  • CBD products are not dietary supplements, so please don’t believe that stating them as such will get you the same get-out-of-jail-free card that vitamin and workout enhancers do. Basically, in this space, a brand can feel guilty before getting to prove themselves innocent. So, medically proven treatments for any illness? Show the study in a peer-reviewed medical journal. Otherwise, the FDA may consider this to be deceptive marketing.
  • CBD product and business statements should be backed by evidence. Proof-up by linking to scientific journals, surveys, etc., if ever in doubt.
  • Most social media platforms do not allow CBD advertising, but you can still maintain a social media presence. We’ve seen good traction on Instagram for B2C and LinkedIn for B2B CBD audiences.

CBD Advertising Platforms – Where Can We Get Loud?

Platforms are evolving their advertising policies regarding hemp products, cannabis, and CBD. Facebook says they have relaxed their CBD advertising policies, but we have yet to see any real change. Topical hemp and beauty products linked to landing pages on websites featuring topical CBD and hemp products only seem to be the only exception. The creative copy and image should not be of the product—error on the side of caution.

Google, on the other hand, includes CBD in their list of unauthorized pharmaceuticals and supplements. As of now, they simply don’t allow CBD brands to run paid ads. Don’t fall for agencies that use black-hat techniques to circumvent Google’s ad approval process. From time to time, you may see cannabis and CBD products slip through and display ads. However, something that can be done (even if for just a couple of days) doesn’t mean that it should be done. If you decide to poke that bear with a stick, please don’t send traffic to your website URL. Once your Google Ads account is flagged, Google can remove you from search entirely. Do you want to lose that organic traffic you’ve been working so hard to achieve? 

The exception we’ve seen is CBD and hemp-infused beauty brands… they must have a soft place in their hearts over there in Google land.

To stay on the safe side, try display and video advertising on platforms outside of Google’s display network, such as Traffic Roots. As one of the pioneers of digital CBD and cannabis advertising, Traffic Roots has over five years of experience navigating the laws, trends, and success strategies. With premium publishers and flexible media buying plans, you reach your consumer CBD audience while staying compliant with state and national laws.

Your CBD Marketing Strategy Should Include Email Marketing

  • 99% of consumers check their emails daily. 46% of those individuals check their emails two to three times a day.
  • Email marketing has an ROI of $42 for every $1 spent. Email marketing is a great way to gain leads and convert them into loyal customers.

In searching for an email marketing platform, confirm that it is compliant with CBD products. Consider documenting that confirmation in writing. Closely review terms and conditions. It’s best practice to ask questions with the sales representative via email for documentation. If your account gets suspended, you lose your entire email subscriber list and want to proof-up for that asset loss.

CTA’s, Lead Magnets, and Coupons, OH MY!

Offer lead magnets (or Call-To-Actions, “CTA’s”) on your website. These are incentives that you can exchange for a visitor’s contact information. Typically this is downloadable digital content, such as PDFs, ebooks, white papers, or videos. For CBD e-commerce stores, coupons and discount codes are a great way to sweeten any deal. Bonus points if the shopping cart updates with the discount after sign up.

Once you have contact information, you can nurture site visitors into paying customers. If your branding and product information is valuable, consumers will consider you an authority and come to trust your brand’s voice.

Not sure what copy or lead magnet is bringing sales? By appropriately tagging the links in your website and email with macros, you can get detailed information on your creativity and audience. Properly setting up events in Google Analytics will deliver the data needed to manage your A/B testing successfully.

How to A/B Test your CBD Email Marketing

A/B testing is a systematic process of changing one variable between similar but split audiences—review results. Throw out the lesser performing variable and test again, or move on to the next variable. We suggest doing so in the following order:

  • Subject line
  • Graphics and colors
  • Call to action – placement, size, and the actual offer
  • Copy of email – more vs. less, educational vs. entertaining
  • Landing page – by far the most time-consuming. You will want to be finely tuned in the above optimizations before taking on landing page testing. There are so many landing page optimization tricks, ideas, and rules. We encourage your deep dive into research. Again, macro your links and have your Google Analytics events in check, so you get the whole story that your audience is trying to convey.

Website Improvements for User Experience and Checkout Ease

  • A checkout thank you page that triggers a sharable coupon for social accounts.
  • Chat Bot with a product sales rep to answer new consumer questions and up-sell.
  • Click to Call
  • Automated Shopping Cart Pricing Updates after taking a call to action (email list sign up for a coupon, etc.)
  • SMS Opt-In
  • Social share buttons
  • Automated email or SMS Testimonial and Review invitations a week after product shipping – Influencer invitations when appropriate

Sales Funnels to Support CBD Email and Programmatic Media Buys

Sales funnels are considered automated drip campaigns. Drip campaigns are a sequential release of messages based on your consumers’ actions on your website or content consumption. Like retargeting and negative retargeting campaigns in a programmatic ad buying campaign, each buying stage offers new messaging. These stages are tailored to consumer’s needs at that stage of the buying cycle.

Engagement emails: Keep your customers informed with engaging content to grow your relationships with them. (Customer Relationship Management tools, or CRM’s)

Educational emails: Offer authoritative content related to your products. Include research-backed white papers comparing CBD with other holistic remedies. They help build customer trust in brands. Referencing current events or pop culture headlines in tandem with your offer or message can keep you from sounding like a sales pitch. Your email heat maps and engagement metrics/re-open rates should reflect this in your A/B testing. This method reduces the unsubscribe rate, as well.

Abandoned cart emails: Send these if a person adds your products to their cart but leaves without making a purchase. This can nudge lost customers down the sales funnel.

Re-engagement emails: Direct this to customers who purchase sporadically. Drive them to re-engage with your brand by reminding them about your UVP and past interactions with them. Sweeten the deal by offering enticing offers.

Event emails: Use these emails to inform consumers about branded events. In this way, you can get your customers to attend your events and deepen the relationship with them. Or you can at least get them to engage with your event pages on social media or websites.

Cross-sell and up-sell emails: Improve your CBD marketing by leveraging cross-selling and up-selling opportunities. When customers purchase a specific hemp product, email them offers for complementary products or upgrades.

Recommendations: Send recommendations based on customers’ past purchases and browsing history.

Affiliate and Influencer Marketing to Reach CBD Buyers

A CBD marketing strategy that includes influencer marketing can significantly increase name recognition, consumer loyalty, and trust. This is especially true when just launching your brand. In simple terms, consumers don’t know who you are yet. Your competitors are fighting for their attention all day long, and potential CBD consumers may start to zone out. If they have an established relationship with an influencer (follow a podcast, watch their YouTube channel, etc.), they are more inclined to tune in. The influencer has already earned a portion of the trust you need to gain sales. It’s your foot in the door. If you have a solid product, you may have earned a lifelong consumer.

Data on Influencer Marketing

70% of millennials consider their influencers’ recommendations when making purchase decisions. Some people discover new products through influencers. Plus, people tend to be loyal to brands promoted by relevant influencers.

This means your CBD marketing can do wonders if you partner with the right influencers. Influencers can help you earn new customers as well as retain existing ones.

Influencer Campaign Metrics: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Consumers have a bond with influencers and trust their opinion.
  • Niche audiences – they may already fit your ideal consumer, so adopt their voice and speak to their interests already identified for being a loyal fan of your influencer.

Cons:

  • Tracking sales/reach – sophisticated software can assist, so be sure to review your options carefully. Your unique goals and KPI tracking should be considered before your first influencer outreach.
  • Can’t A/B test 
  • How many other similar products have they reviewed in the last 6 months – you can manually do a deep review of their past activity, but this can be a time invasive process. Especially if they post often. Don’t be afraid to ask for their for screen shots of any metrics or past reviews they have done in the past. 
  • How many real users do they have? Again, ask to review their page metrics. These are mini-employees and anyone eager to represent your brand should be enthusiastic about representing themselves as transparent and capable of representing your brand.

Of all the social platforms that influencers leverage to promote brands, Facebook and Instagram get maximum returns, and Twitter gets the least. Consider your target audience; if sub-35 is your age range, go with Instagram. Do your research and see what stands out. We’ve seen much traction and more leeway on Instagram vs. Facebook, despite being owned by the Facebook brand. You can use these insights to build a more precise CBD marketing strategy.

Leveraging influencers in your CBD marketing can help you organically promote your CBD products.

What Type of CBD or Lifestyle Influencers Should you Partner With?

To find the right influencers for your business, look deeper than at a large number of followers. Micro-influencers drive the most engagement due to the niche market they engage with. Even just several thousand highly engaged followers are more likely to see the influencer as an authority in the space and willing to give a new product a try.

If it’s hard to procure influencers, ask your loyal customers to vouch for CBD or your brand/products. Consider asking for a 15-20 second video testimonial. Not only are these videos user-generated content for your CBD e-com site, but they can be used here at Traffic Roots as your video creatives for digital advertising. We’ve seen these organic videos perform as much as 300% better than professionally created varieties in the CBD beauty brand markets. To make the deal equitable for your loyal consumer and your brand, offer cash or near-net pricing for them. Then, they become your affiliates. 

In Closing

These CBD marketing tactics exponentially grow your sales, reach, and brand awareness. Please reach out to speak with an expert in CBD advertising and marketing. We’d love to hear what you’re working on.

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