How To Market Your Cannabis Dispensary in 2021

By: CannaBud Marketing
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Dispensary Marketing Snapshot

This guide is designed to give you a step-by-step view of how we market for our own clients.

Its main purpose is to provide you valuable marketing help so you can grow your dispensary yourself. Feel free to take this information and run for the hills!

However, for dispensary owners who are looking for someone to do their marketing for them. Let this be the transparency you need to work with us.

Contents

Chapter 1

Getting Your Website Right

Chapter 2

Driving Buyers To Your Site & Store

Chapter 3

Establishing Brand Authority

Chapter 1:
Getting Your Website Right

In this chapter, we will be covering how to make a properly optimized site that converts online traffic into sales.

How To Generate Sales With Your Website via Dispensary Marketing

There is one main goal for your website – Convert online traffic into sales.

and the best way to do that is to provide your customers with a really awesome buying experience.

If you can provide them with what they want in a way that’s convenient for them you’ll make the sale. Let’s dive into what we can do to our website to accomplish this.

1) Improving Site Speed

40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. 

If your website is slow, then you’re not even making it past the front gate. Google provides site speed insights that can be found here.

Cannabud Marketing Site Speed

Below you’ll find a few quick things you can do right now to speed up your website.

Compress Your Images –Uploading full-resolution images to your website isn’t the best idea as this will definitely increase loading times. You can use a plug-in like Smush to compress your images.

Resize & Crop Your Images – Compressing your images are great. But it’s also important you crop your images to their appropriate size to remove what’s not being used anyway.

Minify Your Code – Just like how you can compress your images. You can also reduce excess bloat from your code. This can be done with Hummingbird.

Browser Caching – Caching loads your website onto the browser and keeps it there only until it’s updated. This prevents your website from having to render multiple times for the same thing. Hummingbird can also do this.

Reduce Widgets & Plug-ins – While very convenient to use excess widgets and plug-ins can contribute to the slowing down of your website. Ensure you only use what’s necessary and remove the rest.

Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) – A CDN essentially helps distribute your content across the globe with reference to their location. The further your servers are from your visitors the slower your site speed will be to them. A CDN helps with this issue. You can use Cloudflare for this.

Change Your Hosting Provider – Your website is hosted on the servers from your provider. If you don’t have your website on a properly optimized server your entire website will experience delays in speed. It’s important to do your research for a host that works best for you.

There are tons of other ways to improve your site speed. But this is a very good start.

 

2) Add Highly Visible Calls To Action

A call to action or CTA directs your visitors to take the desired action. It’s important to have multiple calls to action on your webpage to ensure your visitors know where they need to go. Typically this will be in the form of a button that says “Shop Here.”

You’ll be surprised to see how many people visit a website and just leave. If there are clear instructions that tell the customer what to do. They will follow.

3) Add Social Proof with Reviews & Testimonials

Getting online reviews and displaying them on your website is a very important way to showcase your authority. According to Brightlocal, 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

This is essential to convince your first-time buyers to purchase from you instead of the nearest competitor.

Think about the last time you made a purchase on Amazon and deliberately purchase a sub-4-star product. The concept runs the same for your establishment. According to Hubspot, 57% of consumers will only buy or use a business service if it has at least a 4-star rating.

Reviews on Google

4) Make Your Website Easy To Navigate

The harder your website will be to navigate the harder it will be to make the sale. Make it easy for your customers to find what they need.

This includes a navigation bar with 5 or fewer options.

Showcasing your flagship and most popular products, categories & brands on the homepage. As these collections have the highest chance of being what your customer wants. 

Since you are most likely a brick & mortar, having the essential contact information is of utmost importance. Make sure that your phone, address & hours of operation are highly visible. 

Over 50% of all website visits are now mobile. Ensure your phone number is hyperlinked so your customers can make calls directly from their device.

Cannabis Website Navigation

5) Eliminate Distracting Things

Social Media should be used to drive traffic to your website, not away from your website. Be careful with sending your precious website traffic to your social media channels. It’s great to get followers, but not at the expense of losing a sale.

Large pop-ups are also highly intrusive to a customer’s buying experience. When used properly they can significantly increase conversions and sign-ups. But be careful not to have too many pop-ups on your website.

Additionally, the longer a customer has to scroll on your website to find what they want the higher chance they will click away. This is why it’s important to have your images play a purpose on your website. If your image doesn’t have any use, then remove it.

While not necessary, Crazy Egg provides a heatmap servicethat shows exactly what customers click on. You can use this information to remove things that don’t have any clicks on it and optimize for what does.

By combining these fundamental conversion strategies your website will be well on its way to generating significantly more sales.

Next Chapter: Driving Traffic To Your Optimized Site.

Chapter 2:
Driving Buyers To Your Website & Store

Now that we have built a highly converting website. We will now explain how we drive traffic to your website to significantly increase your sales.

We’ll be covering how to do this in two parts:
1) Organic SEO 
2) Local SEO 

Part 1: How Do We Drive Traffic To Your Website & Store With Organic SEO? 

As I’m sure you’re well aware. Cannabis comes with a plethora of restrictions and problems when it comes to marketing and advertising. This is why we use SEO or search engine optimization strategies to get your website ranking higher on Google.

This is not to be mistaken for paid advertisements. These strategies are purely organic, meaning we use different tactics to get our website ranked higher on Google.

For example, if someone is searching for a “dispensary near me” we want to make sure your business is the one that pops up first.

The next sections will show you exactly how we go about doing that.

Toronto Cannabis Dispensary Search

What is SEO?

According to Moz, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.

Essentially we’ll be using the SEO principles and best practices to rank our website to the top of Google and get you more clients.

SEO Overview

SEO can be broken up into two parts:

On-Page SEO & Off-Page SEO

On-Page SEO: is anything you do to optimize the web pages on your site. This mainly includes: 

– Any website content and how it’s organized including written, pictures, video

– Website Speed

– Mobile Friendliness

– Website/Page layout

– URL Structure

Off-Page SEO: is anything you do to optimize the web pages off your site. This mainly includes:

– How many other websites link back to your website (AKA a backlink)

– The quality of the websites that link back to your website

– If local, how close you are to the person that’s searching

– Reviews

– Other brand mentions such as press releases

Main On-Page SEO Strategies

1) Optimize Your URLs

One of the easiest things you can do is change your URLs to contain your relevant keywords. This is only relevant for your sub-pages and not your home page.

Go to your website and change your URL pages to the main keyword you’re trying to rank for. For example, if you own multiple dispensaries you must have the city name in your URL for their respective city. 

example.com/{City 1}, example.com/{City 2} 

This is also relevant for categories. So if you have an edibles category on your website your URL should be something along the lines of: example.com/edibles

Cannabis URL Optimization

2) Organizing Your Site Architecture

To follow along with the first rule. You must have realized that we can’t just stuff a bunch of keywords into the URL and expect it to rank.

This is where having a proper site architecture comes in.

Each category & location page must have it’s own page so you can properly rank for your keywords.

So, (in general) you’ll want to have one page associated with one keyword and other relevant phrases.

If you have 3 categories: Pre-Rolls, Edibles, Drinks

You should have a minimum amount of 4 pages created (1 homepage + 3 category pages).

Cannabis Category Optimization

3) Optimize Your Page Titles

The page title is the title that’s either found directly on Google when you see the search or in the tab that you’re in.

Consider this to be the main thing you want to rank for on each page.

Example Page Title: Shop Cannabis Edibles | (Insert Brand Name)

Cannabis Category Optimization

4) Optimize Your H1 Tags

Whether you’re using Wix, Squarespace or WordPress, there will be an option to change the H1 Tags when writing text. Use only one H1 Tag on your website and let that be the main header of what that page will be about.

Example H1 Tag: Best Cannabis Dispensary in {Insert City}

5) Optimize Your H2 Tags

H2 Tags will be used to organize the overall topic from the H1 Tag. Think chapters in a novel. They help organize the structure of the page. Unlike H1 tags you can have multiple H2 tags.

Example H2 Tags: What Makes {Insert Business} Great, What People Say About Us

6) Optimize Your Written Content

Now, this has always been a huge topic among us, SEO experts. How do we make sure the content we write is “SEO Optimized?”

Back in the day, it used to be as simple as making sure your keywords were included in your paragraphs. Now, Google is a bit smaller and if you stuff too many keywords into your content you can actually get penalized.

The best thing I can tell you is to write genuine content that you think people will read and engage with. Think of this guide as an example. I’m not stuffing any keywords into this page. I’m trying to provide high value and engaging content.

The average page on the first page of Google is around 1500 words. Create content that your audience will find valuable. Ignore how many keywords you need to insert and just write content your audience will like.

That being said there are some awesome tools on the market such as Surfer. This tool helps both with keyword research and content creation.

However, if you’re just a brick & mortar. Keep it simple and provide value to your local community.

7) Optimize Your Images & Alt-Text

Upload images to your website and give them a name.
When you take pictures, the default file should be changed to something that would relate to the image.

Example: img_12394 change to Cannabis_Hoodie_Merch

Following this, you would also change the alt-text of your images.

Alt-text is what is used to describe the image if someone can’t see the image. Typically an impaired person would rely on alt text to understand the image.

In the image settings change it to something descriptive.

Example: i.e “New Brand CBD Drink”

8) Interlinking Between Pages

We’re going to touch on the power of links in the next section. However, what you need to do is make sure that any authority of your individual pages is shared with your “weaker” pages.

What we mean by this is whenever you create your category or location pages. They should link to one another. So that any “link juice” can be pushed to your other pages.

This also improves the indexability of your website and makes it easier for Google to crawl your website.

There are many other small details regarding on-page changes and every website presents different challenges as well.

However, if you’re starting from scratch this is a very good start. 

Now, on to off-page strategies!

Main Off-Page SEO Strategies

The bulk of Off-Page SEO strategy is trying to do what is referred to as backlinking. Which is getting high-quality websites to point a hyperlink on their website back to your website.

A great analogy is that you should think of links as “votes” from others around the internet. The more votes you get the higher likelihood your website is authoritative. However, it’s not just about the quantity. It’s also about quality. Having “bad” votes or links can result in negative effects on your Google ranking.

This is as you can imagine is hard to do. But if it was easy, then everybody would be ranking on the top of Google. Here are some backlinking & off-page strategies.

1) Build High Quality Content

You must build high-quality content on your website first. If you want anyone to share your work, this is crucial.

According to this content study, long-form content gets an average of 77% more backlinks than short-form content. This is probably because longer form content comes across a more valuable to your readers.

So, developing a robust content strategy can significantly help you increase the links to your website.

2) Boosting Social Shares With Influencers

Similarly to how influencers are used to create strategic marketing campaigns. They can also be used to help generate off-page traction. By partnering with the right people they can help become a catalyst for a viral piece of content that will help increase rankings.

3) Engaging With & Effectively Using Social Media

Social media can no longer be ignored when it comes to SEO. Social media drives valuable traffic to your website that further boosts website authority and user engagement. All of these things positively benefit the ranking of your website.

4) Sponsoring Events

When you sponsor events you can get a link back from the sponsor’s webpage. This is a very effective way to not only generate some extra traffic, but to leverage your sponsors site as a backlink to your own.

5) Community Engagements & Charity Work

Since you own a brick & mortar, engaging with your community should be part of your marketing strategy already. Use that engagement to work with local charities or do work with the community. These are also great ways to generate links to your website and also grow on social media too.

6) Guest Blogging & Interviews

Bloggers, interviewers & podcasters are often looking for content to have on their website.

As a dispensary owner, you definitely have some insights and value that can be added to cannabis bloggers. Engaging with your online community and writing guest posts or participating in interviews can get you some free promo and great backlinks.

7) Launch an Event & Tell Your Local Reporters

Similarly to bloggers. Reports & journalists are always looking for the next thing to write about.

If you live in a smaller city, any type of launch would be big enough for them to write an article on the local website newspaper.

Even better you’ll have more eyes on your dispensary.

8) Create Tier 2 Links To Increase Indexability

Tier 2 links are essentially links that are created to manually improve how well links can be indexed.

If your high authority backlink isn’t even crawled by Google then it doesn’t matter if you received that link in the first place.

You can create free links on high authority websites such as Weebly, WordPress & Tumblr that can link to your high authority links. These don’t pass any link juice, but they create a network that can improve the rate at which your links get indexed.

That concludes the main off-page strategies you can use today to grow your rankings.

Now, on to part 2 – Local SEO!

Part 2: How Do We Drive Traffic To Your Website & Store With Local SEO?

Local SEO mainly refers to strategies put in place to help you rank your Google My Business Listing (GMB) within what’s called the three-pack. The three-pack consists of the top three listings for a local service or brick & mortar. Many people also know this as a Google Maps listing. You can see an example of this below.

For example, if someone types in “Dispensary near me” you want to show up within this three-pack.

It’s incredibly important to rank here as well because approximately 33% of all clicks go towards this pack. We’ll uncover different strategies we can use to rank your Google My Business Listing (GMB).

Best Marijuana Dispensary in LA

Local SEO Overview

As credited to the team over at Local Viking. There are 3 things that go into ranking your Google My Business listing (GMB). These are:

1) Distance – The distance your physical location is to the person that is searching for specific keywords.

2) Relevance – How relevant your content is to the person that is searching for those specific keywords.

3) Prominence – How signals are built towards your GMB profile that boost it’s authority in a local setting.

Local SEO – Distance

This is self-explanatory. The closer your location is to the user that is searching, the higher chance you will have to show up in their search. This is the reason why if you’re looking for a dispensary in Colorado another location in California wouldn’t pop up.

This is also why it’s important to create multiple GMB locations for each store you open up. While there’s not much we can do with this ranking factor. The other two factors we have much more control over.

GMB and Distance SEO

Local SEO – Relevance

1) Content
Similarly to how we adjust our on-page content to have the right keyword structure. We must do the same on our GMB profile. This means having content on your website that’s relevant to your chosen keywords.

You have a few sections in your GMB profile that you can edit. This mostly includes your posts. Within your posts, you can write descriptions. Google uses these to determine if your content is relevant to the search intent of a user.

2) Choosing The Appropriate Category
If you have a brick & mortar dispensary your category should be “Cannabis Store.”

3) Location Page Optimization
If you own multiple brick & mortars you will want to create separate location pages on your website to help establish relevance based on region.

Cannabis Store Category Example

Local SEO – Prominence

1) Social Media
Social media plays a huge part in business these days whether you like it or not. Google knows this as well. How many well-established businesses do you know that don’t have social media accounts? Not many.

In order to increase your GMB authority creating social media accounts are now more important than ever. You should strive to create profiles for the big networks + any cannabis-related platforms if possible.

2) Building Out Citations
Citations are simply a reference of your business’ name, address & phone number online. However, when we mention citations it mostly refers to business listings and directories that we can submit our business to.

Examples of this are Yelp, Yellow Pages, Better Business Bureau etc.

The reason why citations are powerful for ranking locally is that they essentially reinforce that your business exists. By having a consistent NAP Google perceives this as a higher chance your business is legitimate.

3) Collecting Reviews
Reviews are a really great source of social proof. In the eyes of a customer they would rather buy from a place that has 50 5-star reviews instead of 50-4 star reviews.

Similarly, Google understands the power of these reviews and factors that into their ranking algorithm.

However, it should be noted that having more reviews than another competitor doesn’t necessarily mean you will be ranking higher.

Reviews on Google

By using this guide as the foundation of your SEO strategy you’ll be well on your way to ranking higher on Google.

Next Chapter: Building Up Brand Authority.

Chapter 3:
Building Up Brand Authority

The third and final (for now) section of this guide is going to walk you through how we will use social media to build up your brand authority and equity.

The first two sections really went into detail on how we can generate more traffic to your website/store and how to convert those visitors into buyers.

However, if you want to truly build a well-established business. We need to build up your brand equity. As the cannabis industry gets more mainstream and the products more commoditized we need to build your brand. So you are the go-to place to purchase the best cannabis products.

Just like how you would choose Nike (or another established brand) over the dollar store shoes. We’ll need to do the same for your business.

How we do this exactly is with social media.

For simplicity sake we’ll be focusing on Instagram. While Facebook business pages should still be used. Engagement on pages have been significantly reduced.

A Note For Paid Ads & Cannabis 

While using paid ads to advertise your cannabis business on Facebook & Instagram is possible. It comes with tons of restrictions and inevitable bans on your account. This is why you shouldn’t focus all of your eggs into paid ads. Since once your account is suspended you could go weeks or even months without access.

This is why we’ll be focusing on the brand building aspect of organically growing your social media.

Instagram & Facebook Cannabis Guidelines

These are Instagram’s guidelines word for word on their policy of sale on Marijuana.

“Instagram doesn’t allow people or organizations to use the platform to advertise or sell marijuana, regardless of the seller’s state or country. Our policy prohibits any marijuana seller, including dispensaries, from promoting their business by providing contact information like phone numbers, email addresses, street addresses, or by using the “contact us” tab in Instagram Business Accounts. However, we do allow people to include a website link in their bio information.”

Unfortunately, not all cannabis companies abide by these rules, and as you may have noticed they have been getting away with it.

It would probably be in your best interest to play the long game and stay in IG’s good graces.

Additionally, these are Facebook’s community guidelines which are quite similar:

“To encourage safety and compliance with common legal restrictions, we prohibit attempts by individuals, manufacturers, and retailers to purchase, sell, or trade non-medical drugs, pharmaceutical drugs, and marijuana.”

Long story short, we’ll be using these platforms to provide information and NOT to sell anything.

Marketing Cannabis on Instagram

Two Foundational Pillars of IG Growth

These two things are the most important for you to do. However, they are simultaneously the easiest and hardest tasks.

It’s easy to complete them, but it’s hard to maintain consistency. These things are:

Posting High-Quality Content Regularly & Always Engaging With Your Audience

Instagrams objective is to get as many people on the platform as possible and keep them there for as long as they can. In order to do this, their algorithm is built for user experience.

So, in order to grow and cater to their objective. You need to always have consistent posts that your audience will engage with. Then to keep your audience engaged you to have to interact with them. These days customers are relationship-centric. Meaning they don’t want to deal with a “business” they want to deal with a person. IG allows you to do this perfectly.

More Strategies

Improving Business Transparency – Customers love when they know exactly how their product is being handled and the lengths you are going through to provide them with the best service. IG is an awesome way to showcase this. Show your customers that you care for them more than the competitor down the street.

Geo-Tag Posts – Geo-Tagging posts allow your followers to know what location you’re posting from. If you run a dispensary it’s not always obvious what location you’re in. Especially if you show up in the explore feed. Geo-Tagging allows you to create geographical relevance to your audience. If your post gets seen locally it further enhances brand recognition.

Create Local Relevance – In addition to geo-tagging, you want to create local relevance for your brand. If you run a retail location, your goal is essentially to get locally famous. There’s no need for you to try to become the best cannabis dispensary all over Instagram (for now). You can do this by showcasing local landmarks, making posts about the things happening in your local area, and any jokes/memes that come with it. This creates a more friendly social media presence for your immediate customers.

Or even better, working with local charities.

Cannabis Local Relevance

Leveraging Software For Posting & Graphic Design – Posting can definitely get time-consuming. Especially if you’ve created a content strategy to post every day. By using a platform like Later you can schedule your posts ahead of time.

Additionally, there are platforms like Canva that allow you to create graphic content easily without a steep learning curve.

Start Using Reels – Instagram reels are the newest edition to the platform and it’s their way of taking over some of the Tik Tok market shares. You’ll have noticed that reels automatically pop up in your explore feed. Since not many businesses even care to use reels, it’s a less competitive space to get your brand seen. Another sweet bonus is that they have the highest likelihood to go viral based on the way IG is pushing reels in its algorithm.

Instagram Reels

We hope you gained tons of value from this Cannabis Marketing Guide. If you’re looking to grow your own cannabis business. Whether it’s retail or online.

Send us a message below!

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