As a part of one of the currently most lucrative industries, cannabis companies are urged to ramp up their marketing to stand out from the daily growing masses. With CBD products being on the rise in Europe, domestic markets are steadily heating up as market participants are trying to find new ways to attract customers.
Here are six important elements of a successful marketing campaign in the European cannabis market.
Branding for cannabis companies
Even though a big part of Europe’s population is steadily warming up to cannabis-related topics, the overall debate surrounding the plant and its products remains largely controversial — at least for the moment. At the same time, you can observe numerous CBD startups entering the market in order to get their piece of the pie, many of which seem to lack professional branding. With the European CBD space becoming more crowded every day, it is absolutely vital to distinguish yourself through high-quality branding.
A memorable name, an eye-catching logo and an elegant yet easy-to-use website are the first aspects you definitely want to nail down. This might sound obvious, still, many shop owners seem to cut corners on this part. Nevertheless, branding doesn’t end with a chic website and a creative logo.
Preparing unique designs for your products and packaging is another great way to stand out from the masses. The Poland-based CBD company Reakiro, which recently won the award for the best product design in Strain Insider’s Top 10 CBD oil ranking, got our attention by going above and beyond with its product design.
Last but not least, branding is also about the content on your website. Do you have an intriguing story that customers can relate to? Are you taking any steps to reduce your CO2 emissions or are you engaging in other environment-friendly programs? What processes do you use to guarantee the happiness and satisfaction of your customers? All those things are crucial to convincing people to root for you.
Furthermore, branding is an omnipresent aspect of almost every section in this guide. Your social media accounts, your public relation efforts, your content strategy and your real-life engagements can all have a substantial influence on the perceived value of your brand.
Cannabis on Social Media
With cannabis advertising being banned on almost every single social network, social media marketing is a lot more tricky and time-consuming if you want to achieve significant results. In general, you are advised to update your social media profiles at least once a week, as this supports the overall perception of your company. If you are familiar with advanced social media techniques, it obviously makes sense to increase the frequency to daily posts or perhaps even more than that.
Related: Top 25 Cannabis Influencers 2019
There are possibly a dozen social media platforms that might be interesting to cannabis marketers, but, for now, we will focus on the four most common social networks.
Although it has lost a recognisable amount of influence in the past few years, Facebook still plays a critical role in communicating with your customers. Even in 2019, businesses are still strongly advised to maintain Facebook pages. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most complicated social media platforms for cannabis companies. Aside from advertising, Facebook also banned cannabis groups and is occasionally shutting down cannabis fan pages.
As a cannabis business, the number of ways to grow your Facebook page is depressingly limited. Implementing widgets for your Facebook page on your website or newsletter, crosslinking from other social media as well as asking friends to share your Facebook posts are some ways to grow your fan count, though they are certainly not fast ones.
Another time-consuming way is engaging in the comments of other fan pages. While this can certainly make other cannabis users aware of your page, it could actually harm your brand if you choose the wrong wording.
Those who are looking for rather time-efficient ways might want to partner up with other cannabis businesses and support each other through shout-outs. Companies with a decent budget for social media growth could buy promotions from already established cannabis Facebook pages, e.g. big cannabis events.
Growing your follower count on Twitter is, without a doubt, a lot easier than on Facebook. A great aspect of Twitter is that there is a lot of engagement going on. By investing only half an hour a day into commenting, liking, retweeting and following other people, you will already see your account growing at a very decent pace. There are also several tools available which virtually automate your engagement with the Twitter world, which can give your account a significant boost.
The situation on Instagram is essentially very similar to the one on Twitter. Engaging with other users is key to drawing attention to your Instagram account — it’s as simple as that. Apart from that, one could argue that Instagram leaves more room for creativity than Twitter and Facebook, due to its visual nature. From beautiful images of cannabis flowers to exciting insights into business operations — there are many ways to draft an interesting picture of your company on Instagram.
As the world’s biggest video-on-demand platform, YouTube offers opportunities to effectively reach a huge amount of cannabis enthusiasts. Many YouTube channels are growing without any advertising at all, which is why cannabis businesses are not as restricted as on other platforms. That being said, the production of high-quality videos that are actually interesting to watch and not harmful to your brand requires time, money and experience — resources that many startups are not able to provide in early stages.
Other social media platforms
Aside from the big four of the internet, there are also a couple of other social networks that could be beneficial to cannabis marketers. Pinterest, for instance, has the potential to drive tens of thousands of organic visitors to your page each month if used correctly.
The same applies to Reddit, although the platform comes with three major flaws: it is mainly used by North American citizens, the Reddit community appears to be extremely captious and the traffic is often of low quality, resulting in fairly short session durations and low conversion rates. Depending on your business model, LinkedIn represents another popular platform that is especially attractive to B2B companies.
Content strategy for cannabis businesses
Further success-bringing marketing efforts for hemp and marijuana startups can be found in native content production strategies. They can not only be rolled out to educate your customers about all kinds of aspects of your products but also to underline the value of your brand by showcasing the professional environments of your company. Let’s take a brief look at the three most common native content strategies.
In-house blogs are common among almost every niche on the planet, as they can be highly effective to reach new potential buyers and maintain relationships with existing customers. When installed correctly, blog posts come with the chance of getting your website in the top ranks of valuable Google search results, which will be discussed in the next section. Besides, they can also be used to explain how to get the most out of cannabis products, which increases the likeliness of gaining loyal customers.
European cannabis businesses, however, often fail to focus their strategy on European keywords. In the current situation, the majority of people searching up cannabis-related keywords are based in North America. By picking the topics which are only interesting to Europeans, a company blog comes with a lot more potential to generate precious leads.
Every marketer worth his salt knows that maintaining a newsletter comes with significant benefits for website owners. In fact, depending on your business model, the average monthly value of each individual subscriber can be as high several dollars. By leveraging the content of your blog, you have the ability to distribute valuable information several times per week, thus, creating strong relationships with your customers.
Videos are a great tool for showcasing and explaining your products to your customers. Think of tutorials, education and further information on a product or phenomena related to your product. Video content is easy to combine with other content platforms of yours, e.g. blog, newsletter and social media.
SEO for cannabis websites
The concept of Search Engine Optimization, commonly known under its abbreviation SEO, is already practised by many cannabis-related websites. In 2019, most websites come with a responsive layout and modern design, which can be seen as very basic SEO aspects. In SEO, however, it’s undoubtedly worth it to go the extra mile.
Many cannabis entrepreneurs have no technological background, which is why they have never heard of on-page / off-page SEO, keyword research and backlink strategies. If you make yourself familiar with these types of techniques or hire a professional to do the work for you, you may find your own website ranking a lot better than those of your competitors.
Tactics you should definitely look up are long-tail keywords, link building techniques, page speed improvement and general SEO guidelines.
Public relations for European cannabis companies
PR, or public relations, is an essential element of marketing campaigns of established companies. Due to the fact that it can certainly be quite expensive, many European small to medium cannabis businesses, like CBD online shops, seem to relinquish PR and communications entirely from their marketing.
NordicOil is one of the most established CBD online shops in Europe, with one of the highest conversion rates and average transaction values. When visiting the German website of Nordicoil, you can see several logos of reputable German outlets that covered NordicOil in one of their stories. Obviously, this instantly establishes trust and the feeling that you are dealing with a reputable company.
Therefore, CBD shops that are willing to spend resources on media coverage will most likely win in the long run through returning customers, customers that are willing to pay more as well as superior brand awareness. This can also be achieved by sending your products to the editorial office of various cannabis, health and fitness publications — at least if your products are actually of high quality.
Apart from appearing in the news, other effective public relations elements include engagement on rating platforms, such as Trustpilot, as well as working with social media influencers, e.g. on Instagram or YouTube.
Attending cannabis events
It may be a rather old school marketing method, however, attending real-life events, like conferences and fairs, can be an incredibly effective way of finding new customers and connecting with other businesses. No matter what exact business model you are following, if you are a cannabis entrepreneur, you absolutely must attend at least a few events per year.
Despite the fact that cannabis business is only getting started in Europe, there is already a considerable number of cannabis consumer-orientated fairs and B2B-focused conferences all over the continent. On the consumer side, the most prominent events include the Cannatrade in Switzerland, the MaryJane in Berlin, the Hempfest in Prague, as well as dozens of other cannabis fairs.
Which marketing techniques should be my top priority?
While it makes sense for startups to only focus on the most important elements of business, cannabis companies are strongly advised to provide resources for all the above-mentioned marketing measures. In the European cannabis market, the noise is virtually getting louder every single day, which results in a situation where it’s not enough to just be good at marketing — you need to be fantastic.
If you still can’t afford to roll out a full impact marketing campaign, aspects that deserve a little more attention are branding, content marketing and attending events.