CBD has exploded onto the scene as one of the most popular consumer products of the last few years and it shows no signs of slowing down
With so much money at stake, it’s no surprise that thousands of online retailers now offer some sort of CBD product. Even big-name brands like CVS, Ulta Beauty, GNC, Urban Outfitters, and Walgreens are carrying CBD products in their stores. In addition to major retailers, the online marketplace for CBD has grown exponentially with thousands of eCommerce websites coming online in the last 3 years selling a
wide range of CBD tinctures, gummies, salves, and other products.
Despite the booming market demand for CBD, online retailers face some major challenges when it comes to advertising. Despite CBD containing little or no THC, it’s still technically a cannabis product in the eyes of many. This has closed off most major online marketing channels for CBD brands. Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, and Amazon are all off-limits for retailers.
With few options available, how can brands set themselves apart on the online market space? We tapped Madison Fiore of Hawke Media for insight on how CBD brands can set themselves apart in a crowded market place with limited options.
Online Advertising Tips for CBD Brands
As with any type of business, you can’t be everything to everyone. How you define your brand determines how you talk to your audience.
A lifestyle brand incorporates CBD into the culture, ideas, and activities that resonate with their audience. Rich media, videos, events, and social presence are all key components of lifestyle CBD brands.
A medicinal brand aims to solve a physical or mental problem for consumers with their products. medicinal CBD brands rely heavily on educational content and the science behind their product.
Regardless of brand definition, it’s important to remember that CBD is just an ingredient, you still have to solve a problem for consumers and make a value proposition.
2. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing relies on other websites to generate referral traffic and sales. Publishers, blogs, and marketplaces feature your product with the intent of sending buyers to your site and earning a commission on the sale. These commissions are solely performance-based, meaning if the affiliate doesn’t generate any sales, you don’t have to pay. Just as with other marketing channels, some affiliate networks don’t allow CBD products so it’s important to look at network product policies beforehand. Here’s a few places to start.
CBD Affiliate Networks
3. SEO and Content Marketing
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of making the pages of your site appear higher in search results for specific queries like “Buy CBD oil” which drives organic traffic and sales. SEO is one of the most powerful tools in online marketing, being on the first page of search results can allow your site to capture a massive number of user searches every day. SEO and content marketing is a long term investment that requires continual upkeep and optimization. Especially in the CBD space SEO is not going to pay off for several months (if not longer) and brands should be wary of any agency or provider who claims they can make things happen instantly. SEO is also a labor-intensive process. Content development, technical optimization, and offsite activities can command a hefty monthly budget. A price tag of $5,000-$10,000+ per month is not uncommon for quality SEO strategy and implementation, but a solid SEO strategy is well worth the investment.
4. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing allows brands to place their content in the social media channels of popular personalities. By tapping into the influencer’s followers, you quickly have exposure to a larger audience with product recommendations coming from a voice they trust. Having your message and products shared by a celebrity or athlete lends their credibility and trust to your brand. Picking the right influencers is crucial for success with influencer marketing. You need to find the right personality that melds with your brand voice, has the right audience, and the right engagement to see large scale success.
5. Display Networks and Native Advertising
While the Google Display Network is off-limits to CBD brands, several display networks have popped up that cater specifically to the cannabis and CBD market. The networks will run your ads on publisher websites and allow you to target specific audience demographics. You are generally charged a network fee for using the platform and pay an additional fee either per click (CPC) or per 1,000 impressions (CPM). These networks can help get your brand in front of a massive number of users but can have a lower conversion rate. For maximum success with display networks, it’s important to get your creative and audience targeting dialed in. These networks are a great place to start.
CBD Display Networks
6. Organic Social Media
What brand wouldn’t want a devoted following of fans on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook? Building an organic audience of brand followers on social media is a powerful way to create buyers and brand evangelists. Starting from scratch it can be an uphill battle, but with the consistent posting of engaging content, following the right people, and refining your strategy, your brand can build its following. Like SEO, building an organic social media following is a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time in crafting content and messaging that is authentic, defines your brand voice, and will resonate with your audience.
What's Next For CBD Brands?
As the popularity of CBD products continues to grow globally restrictions may ease on advertising platforms. Google, Facebook, and other platforms have the potential to earn hundreds of millions in retailer ad spend, but until federal laws around cannabis change, those doors are closed. Until then, CBD retailers have to get creative in how they advertise online.
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