The cannabis industry has been on the rise for over a decade, exceeding many growth projections. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted how far the industry has come when many government officials have chosen to declare dispensaries “essential businesses”.
Not only has the pandemic impacted industry growth from a revenue perspective, but it has also pushed cannabis companies to explore new acquisition and retention channels, especially those related to digital marketing. .
Cannabis becomes essential
Legal cannabis sales in the United States exceeded $17.5 billion in 2020a 46% increase over sales in 2019. For many Americans, stocking up on marijuana was as essential as stocking up on toilet paper.
Where permitted by law, cannabis delivery businesses have seen an increase in customer numbers. In some areas, cars lined up for curbside and socially distanced order pick-up. Customers stood outside the dispensaries, six feet apart as they waited for their chance to enter. People wanted their weed and dispensaries found ways to get it.
After the rush to secure cannabis supplies subsided, owners and traders were tasked with determining the best strategies to maintain momentum in a new environment.
Digital Marketing for Dispensaries
With lockdowns in place, many consumers have found themselves spending more time at home and online. In the space of a few weeks, digital marketing quickly went from “nice to have” to a necessity, focusing on five main areas:
- Ease of purchase
- Increased visibility
- Consumer Education
- Customer Engagement
- brand identity
Ease of purchase: Online orders
In a lockdown situation, consumers need to be able to get their products in the most efficient way possible. Queuing for hours without knowing what would be available inside is the opposite of efficiency.
Many dispensaries have moved from a basic list of products on their website to a full menu of in-stock products and online ordering capabilities. Although marijuana cannot be purchased and shipped online, it can be ordered and ready to be picked up from the local dispensary or delivered, reducing wait times and, with timely inventory updates, ensuring The availability of products.
This convenient shopping method has become common for many consumers who simply want to purchase their product without having to wait to speak to a budtender.
Increased visibility: local search
Dispensaries are physical businesses, meaning they cater to a specific area. With consumers required to limit their travel, the location of the dispensary has become increasingly important during the pandemic.
Online directory listings are a powerful way to help customers find nearby businesses. They are also an effective way to build a website’s domain authority, increasing search engine optimization (SEO).
These directories can basically include anywhere that lists your business location, such as your website, Google Business, social media, yelp, and cannabis-specific directories. They can also include customer reviews and photos, which help provide potential customers with a level of familiarity with the business before they visit.
More and more consumers are using Google to review local businesses. In 2021, 81% of consumers used this platform, compared to 63% the previous year.
Consumer Education: Quality Content
Searching for a 2022 Digital Synthesis Report reveals that the “typical” global internet user now spends almost 7 hours a day – 6 hours and 58 minutes to be precise – using the internet across all devices. Much of that time is spent absorbing content about things that interest them or that they find entertaining. Cannabis content can be both.
During the height of the pandemic, the internet played a crucial role in delivering important information to people around the world through various channels. Some channels are more reliable than others. Likewise, providing quality cannabis content that educates potential customers helps cultivate trust in your brand.
Educational content can take many forms, including product description pages, blogs, videos, graphics, social media posts, and more. With more free time, consumers are able to research more carefully the products they intend to purchase. This search-driven buying behavior has created a more value-conscious consumer, even in the post-Covid lockdown era.
Customer Engagement: Building Relationships
The pandemic has removed many traditional options for unmasked face-to-face interactions, forcing dispensaries to find other options for building relationships with clients. According to the Salesforce CMO survey, 84% of customers say a company’s experience is as important as its products and services.
Live website chats, social media interactions with clients, and a steady cadence of emails have kept dispensaries digitally engaged. Emails also provide ongoing and profitable touchpoints with customers, which can include the distribution of educational content, discounts, events, product launches or requests for feedback.
Integrating on-site customer reviews and loyalty programs has also become commonplace for customer retention.
Brand identity: dispensary differentiation
During the pandemic, consumers have grown accustomed to brand empathy. Whether that message involves putting people before profits, appreciation for essential workers, or sympathy for those battling disease, brand voice and authenticity have become more relevant to observant consumers.
A company’s values are digitally communicable through visual style and voice as an overall indicator of brand culture. Digital marketing for dispensaries during the pandemic has driven many brands to define their message and audience to emphasize their core values.
Dispensaries that are able to cultivate a distinctive brand identity have a higher likelihood of building lasting brand loyalty.
The impact of Covid on digital marketing for dispensaries
As a relatively new industry, many dispensaries had minimal online presence before Covid, but digital marketing has played a key role for dispensaries during the pandemic by providing channels to attract and capture new customers as well as interact with existing customers. Dispensaries that used search engine optimization, directories, blogs, social media, display advertising, and other marketing tactics had the edge over their competition and drove traffic to their stores.
Ultimately, the pandemic has made digital marketing a priority for dispensaries. In 2022 and beyond, new and established businesses must step up their digital marketing to deliver ever better and more competitive customer experiences.
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