How to Market Your Cannabis Business Part 3: Digital Marketing and Cannabis Advertising Strategies

Published on April 7, 2015 · Last updated July 28, 2020
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Leafly’s Cannabis Business Marketing series is designed to provide marijuana businesses with the tools and tactics necessary for their success. To learn more about cannabis marketing opportunities, check out Leafly’s Marijuana Advertising Services.

Advertise your business on Leafly Put your business in front of the largest  cannabis audience in the world. Find out more

In Parts 1 and 2 of our How to Market Your Cannabis Business series, we looked at some general do’s and don’ts for marketing your new cannabis business, and we also explored some traditional marketing channel opportunities. This time we’ll dive into digital advertising and look for ways to help your cannabis business grow while navigating the current, fragmented landscape of the marijuana market.

What Is Digital Marketing and How Can It Help Your Marijuana Business?

Digital marketing encompasses all web-based or electronic communication from your brand to your audience. Examples of digital marketing include websites and blogs, search engine optimization and advertising, and email marketing.

For businesses both big and small, digital marketing is becoming increasingly appealing for a myriad of reasons. Not only are more people going online than ever before, making digital marketing efforts to reach these folks a no-brainer, you can better measure the success (or failure) of your digital marketing strategies using key performance metrics like impressions, clicks, and conversion rates. This type of information gives you crucial data to determine whether your marketing efforts are paying off or need to be rethought.

Digital Marketing Tips for Cannabis Businesses and Advertisers

Below are a few recommendations on how you can use digital channels to successfully grow your marijuana business:

1. Take Advantage of Advertising Opportunities on Industry-Relevant Websites

Make a list of cannabis-specific websites and online communities (like Leafly!) and either list your business there or look into advertising opportunities.

2. Learn the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)’s Standards for Digital Ad Placement

The IAB has developed standard dimensions and guidelines for developing digital ad units. When working with design agencies, advertisers, and publishers to build your ad package, you can use the IAB framework to streamline your workflow. This will help you to build scalable ad campaigns that can be displayed across a variety of digital advertising space.

3. Sponsor, Develop, and Collaborate on Digital Content

As the old saying goes, “Content is king,” and that’s especially true for the cannabis industry. As more people become curious about marijuana in the wake of growing legalization movements, you can take this opportunity to create blog posts, infographics, videos, and other compelling media for your own website or in partnership with larger industry publications (like Leafly!). The more this content is viewed and shared, the more your brand is exposed to a new audience that may be interested in what you have to offer.

4. Engage in Search Engine Optimization Best Practices

Search engine optimization (SEO) practices are designed to ensure your website can be easily indexed by search engine crawlers. You know how you perform a search in Google or another search engine and click on a result that seems the most promising? Your webpage can be the result your targeted audience is searching for.

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To take advantage of search traffic, make sure you’re targeting the keywords you want your webpages to rank for (shoot for distinct keywords across different pages) in areas such as your title tag, meta description, and page copy. Only link to reputable, relevant industry sources to further boost your credibility. For example, if your business has a Leafly listing, link to it from your website so search engine crawlers can factor reputable, industry-appropriate relationships into your overall ranking algorithm. Try to update your website often so search engines become accustomed to crawling your site on a regular basis.

Search engine optimization strategies can quickly become complicated, but every business owner should at least understand basic best practices and can hire consultants or agencies to help with more advanced tactics once the quick-hitting opportunities have been addressed.

5. Explore Native Advertising Opportunities

Native ad example

Native advertising can also help boost your business’s SEO value. Basically, native advertising presents ad messaging in content form, working to seamlessly integrate with the look and feel of the website.

As consumers become aware of ad placement, they slowly learn to block it out in a sort of “ad blindness.” By using native ads, you can captivate the audience with well-presented material that doesn’t stand out as blatant marketing and instead offers visitors some inherent value. Creating this inherent value is what gives native advertising its benefit. By having another relevant and influential site pick up or share this content, you drive the SEO value of native advertising.

6. Don’t Underestimate the Value of Animated GIF Ads

Smoke Cartel animated gif ad

That’s right, animated GIFs. They’re quickly becoming a new way to capture your audience by providing movement to an otherwise static form of advertisement. GIFs give you the ability to present a scrolling variety of content to give a bigger-picture context to your product or service than the limitations of fixed images. The changing images help draw the attention of page visitors, making your ad stand out more.

7. Promotional Codes and Tracking URLs Are Your Friend

It’s crucial that you keep track of your marketing efforts and how well they’re performing; otherwise, you won’t have any idea which tactics to replicate or expand upon and which to retool or abandon. Offering a special deal? Use a promo code to track adoption. Have a special landing page for a campaign you’re running? Implement a tracking URL (Google has a URL builder you can use for custom campaigns) on that landing page so you can track how many people are getting to that page and from where they’re coming.

These tracking mechanisms give your business the ability to monitor your efforts and determine how well your audience and potential customers are responding to them. It should be noted that URL trackers are not holistically accurate, they simply serve as a ballpark guideline. Be mindful that trackers often don’t (or can’t) reflect the added effect of brand awareness. Furthermore, limiters like ad blockers, privacy settings, and other ways to disable referring traffic signals can cap tracking metrics.

8. Collect Your Customers’ Data to Build Targeted Campaigns

Building a list of customer emails and data is crucial to successful communication because it will help you build a targeted list that will give you the ability for direct communication with your customers about events, promotions, or other news-worthy information. Establish a regular cadence with your mailing list so that they don’t forget about your business or the fantastic services and products you offer. Just don’t email them too much — nobody likes a spammer!

In Part 4 of our Cannabis Business Marketing series, we dive into the exciting world of social media and highlight some social media strategies your cannabis business can utilize.

Ready to start working on valuable marijuana marketing tactics for your business? Check out Leafly’s Cannabis Advertising options and learn how Leafly can help take your cannabis business to the next level!

Advertise your business on Leafly Put your business in front of the largest  cannabis audience in the world. Find out more

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Leafly Staff
Leafly Staff
Leafly is the world’s largest cannabis information resource, empowering people in legal cannabis markets to learn about the right products for their lifestyle and wellness needs. Our team of cannabis professionals collectively share years of experience in all corners of the market, from growing and retail, to science and medicine, to data and technology.
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