Organic Traffic is Your Best Friend
Paid search is usually an obvious channel for eCommerce companies to invest in.
Unfortunately, it’s not the best option if you intend on targeting a lot of popular cannabis-related products.
Google categorizes cannabis as a “dangerous product” under the subcategory “Recreational drugs”, which it defines as:
“Ads for substances that alter mental state for the purpose of recreation or otherwise induce ‘highs’”
It specifically mentions “marijuana” as one of these drugs and even those that provide “legal highs”. Cannabis-derived CBD is out; hemp-derived CBD is OK, as long as you don’t mention it.
Therefore, if you’re trying to sell products for the “recreational use” of cannabis, you’re out of luck with Google Ads.
Google-owned YouTube is no different. Over time, it has relaxed its stance on weed-related content. If your videos push the boundaries regarding illegal activities, expect YouTube to take action.
And even if you play it straight with your videos, you can’t link to your website in the description if you sell products. Growers, cultivators, and distributors of cannabis products. Obviously, ads for these products are a no-go, too.
Facebook isn’t a fan of marijuana, either. You definitely can’t run ads for your cannabis products on this platform. You can further try to start pages around marijuana but expect Facebook to take those down pretty quickly. Unless you make a “lifestyle” page about more general topics and only post about marijuana occasionally. You’ll eventually attract the wrong kind of attention from Facebook.
That may not always be the case, but this kind of volatility makes the social media giant a poor choice for cannabis companies looking for reliable marketing ROIs.
Use “Cannabis SEO” to Attract Traffic to Your Site
So, the name of the game is “cannabis SEO”. A term that has grown in popularity as more and more companies realize they’ll need to focus mainly on organic traffic to find new customers online.
But before you go pursuing SEO for your cannabis products, be sure to check with your hosting provider to make sure they don’t have any rules against talking about the drug on sites they support. It’s becoming less and less common these days. Even though you should double-check before putting “cannabis” and “marijuana” everywhere on your eCommerce website. Otherwise, you could find out the hard way that your provider will pull hosting for selling these products.
Otherwise, the trick of cannabis SEO is that it’s pretty much the same as the traditional version
As such, you’ll need to do your keyword research and then create relevant service/product pages and blog posts around them.
Fortunately, the cannabis industry has come such a long way that there are plenty of websites out there already generating plenty of traffic. Use competitor analysis to see what’s working for their SEO campaigns and you can reap the same results. Further avoiding going through the same amount of trial-and-error.
While content marketing may be necessary to hit all of your cannabis SEO goals. Prior to creating your category pages, make sure you have SEO-friendly product descriptions. Depending on how competitive your piece of the industry is, this may be enough to start seeing results relatively quickly. You can always go back and create blog posts later.
But Don’t Completely Give Up on Paid Ads
Now, as long as you’re not selling products that customers could use to ingest cannabis, you may be able to use Google Ads to advertise your products.
You still can’t use terms like “cannabis” and “weed” in the text for your ads or on their corresponding landing pages, but Google will let you target these kinds of queries.
Ads show up. They just don’t mention any unapproved terms.
Most buyers in this industry are savvy enough to know what kinds of products they need even if their pages don’t have “MARIJUANA” flashing in big green lights.
Interestingly enough, it looks like a lot of relevant terms carry fairly low average CPCs, too. Given how much ambiguity there is around using PPC ads for cannabis, I guess this shouldn’t be too surprising, though.
Market Yourself on The Right Platform
You can build your company’s reputation within the legalized marijuana market by submitting blog posts to relevant industry websites.
As with other elements of SEO, this approach is nothing new. Guest posting has been an important strategy for years.
The big advantage you have as a manufacturer of cannabis products is that this industry is still relatively new, meaning there may be a huge demand for your expertise without the corresponding supply.
For example, if your company sells packaging supplies, you probably know a thing or two that growers who are new to the business would be excited to learn about.
You could blog about this topic on your own site, but when you’re just starting out, you may see a lot more value by offering this guest post to an industry site that gets significantly more traffic. Not only will you earn a helpful backlink. You’ll also put your company in front of all of those prospects who regularly visit – and trust – that site for information about their industry.
Still, if your company is new to the industry, it could be extremely helpful for your marketing goals to attend trade shows and other events. Aside from meeting with potential customers face-to-face, you can also learn about their unique needs.
This approach can prove especially helpful for B2B cannabis companies as some of your prospects’ demands may not be wholly apparent just by running reports with SEO software.
Again, if your company sells packaging examples, perhaps growers have specific needs that they struggle to find online. By speaking to these requirements on your site, you’ll have an easier time keeping the traffic you attract, which means lowering your bounce rate (great for SEO) and earning more conversions.
Depending on the types of cannabis products you sell, affiliate marketing may be an option, too. In short, this strategy is when you outsource your marketing to companies and individuals who earn commissions when they bring you sales. There’s no upfront cost to your business.
Just like with influencer marketing, many companies have used cannabis-specific affiliate programs to launch their products and skyrocket sales in a very short period of time.
Starting your own affiliate marketing program is easy enough. In order to attract effective marketers, you’ll need to spread the word unless your SEO is already paying off. Growing your network by attending industry events could also help you find these potential partners.
Here at WJ Media Group, we provide the services cannabis companies need to successfully market their company. We have a broad education in cannabis marketing and work with multiple different companies currently. Further, contact us here or at (732) 670-6402.