How to Advertise Your CBD Brand Online in 2020: The Definitive Guide
The Challenges of Advertising Cannabis
Considering the current exponential growth of the cannabis industry, it might be natural to assume that the CBD market is overly saturated and that industry behemoths have taken over all available ad space.
However, the truth is that while CBD continues to remain a successful venture, running marketing campaigns – or even simple ads – within the cannabis scope can be incredibly tricky. The constantly evolving rules and regulations can be a major obstacle to promoting products across marketing channels.
That being said, tricky does not mean impossible. It takes a little bit of legwork but even relatively minor success in advertising can translate into significant improvements in your sales.
SEO vs. Ads
Focusing on SEO is very important for improving your ranking on Google. However, while you should invest time into fixing any SEO issues, addressing the right keyword phrases, and improving your search engine rankings, it will take time to see real results and monitor your website traffic and conversions. For more on SEO, click here.
A good combination of SEO and advertising can be integral to your business success. By diversifying your advertising portfolio, you increase your chances of success, so if you do end up with an ad or two canceled, you still have multiple streams of lead generation.
If you are looking for faster results, ads can get you leads today.
Myth: It’s impossible to advertise CBD online.
Let’s clear up the misconception that advertising CBD online is impossible and unprofitable.
Despite the passage of the Farm Bill in 2018 legalizing hemp-derived CBD, many platforms treat CBD as an illegal substance and refuse to allow companies to advertise with them. Though many channels make it difficult to do so, it is definitely possible to advertise your CBD brand online with the right advertising campaign that meets the unique needs of your CBD brand.
Need more basic information on getting started with your CBD marketing campaign? Click here.
Not all advertising is created equal.
When it comes to choosing the right form of advertising for your CBD campaign, how do you know which will work best for you? Understanding your target demographic and desired location will help you select from the numerous types of ads available.
Included is a breakdown of each type, a few effective tools and technology, and overall best practices to take with you when beginning your CBD marketing campaign.
Native Advertising for CBD
Advertising is considered native when it appears to be in its natural environment. Instead of showing up as an obvious ad, native ads don’t really look like ads; they fit in with the context of the page, looking more like its surrounding editorial content. This way, a reader might scroll through a blog page and see ads that blend in or look like the rest of the article on that page.
According to Outbrain, this form of nondisruptive advertising “exposes the reader to advertising content without sticking out like a sore thumb.” Giving your ads a context that makes them feel like they belong on the page, pushing users to interact with the ads more organically.
A Few Effective Tools
Advertising CBD online using a program like Outbrain is still somewhat restrictive, as the platform won’t allow you to include ads with whole CBD flower or images of people smoking or vaping. Like with any other kind of online CBD advertising, avoid making any extra claims about the benefits or effects of CBD, as these will get your ads blocked.
With that in mind, Outbrain boasts a 50-60% increase (or link claim) in CTR and 40% increase in RPM, so investing a little extra effort will yield even greater results.
Boasting an incredibly simple setup, Content.ad offers a number of different native advertising options at competitive costs. And the best part is that their packages are customizable based on your company needs. And bonus: customers reportedly experience 40-60% lower pricing on average compared to other networks.
With their own end-to-end cannabis-friendly digital advertising platform, Mantis has reduced the middlemen of the advertising process. They offer a variety of native advertising and display advertising options.
Don’t forget: Avoid making claims that connect a CBD product’s effectiveness, even when implied. Mantis has rejected CBD ads in the past for using the words like “high-strength” in the copy.
With a dedicated cannabis and CBD advertising genre, Traffic Roots provides an easy way to create native ads that highlight your unique solutions blended into popular publications. Their platform makes advertising easy, ensuring you stay compliant with the legal standards.
Traffic Roots has a Lookalike feature works just the way it does on Facebook Ads. This allows you to upload a list of successful, desirable customers, and if the list is large enough (around 1k+ is preferable), their algorithm can seek out people who match their demographics and online behavior. This will increase conversion rates while decreasing cost/conversion.
Search Advertising for CBD
Unfortunately for CBD companies, many companies like Google reject text search ads referring to CBD.
Search is the most well-known and the most powerful advertising platform out there. Why?
Because ads are only shown to people who want to see them, when they want to see them, as they appear as a result of their search query. This way, you can carefully craft an ad for each search query, so you can provide a solution to whatever problem users are having exactly when they need it.
Google Ads is a $100+ billion per year industry, because it is a very profitable advertising channel. Your goal should be to try to make it on Google Ads, one way or another.
That said, it is also the most difficult advertising channel to get accepted in. You will have to most likely use hemp-alternative versions of your website, as Google considers CBD to be against its terms and conditions. And be prepared to have a big budget, as this increases your chances of being accepted. Remember, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Expand your advertising options to include any and all that work for what your CBD brand is trying to accomplish.
To learn more, check out this great resource.
E-Commerce Advertising for CBD
SourceKnowledge functions just like Google Shopping ads. You upload your shopping feed – the entire database of products, prices, descriptions, etc – and they will start advertising different products in an automated fashion based on whatever the algorithm determines will work best to produce successful results for you.
Display Advertising for CBD
Display ads work as images that will show up as you travel through other websites in your online browsing. These function more the way a television commercial does. where seeing it once is not as effective. It usually takes multiple times seeing the ad for it to actually work. So, the conversion rate is far lower than it would be for direct search advertising.
Be sure to test out different marketing messages – change up the copy, competitive advantages, and tone – and explore different products and categories to see which resonate best with your customers.
Display Ads Options
See: Native Advertising to learn more about Mantis
Building and customizing content display ads is easy with Fieldtest.la, a CBD-friendly display network with an easy to use online platform that allows you to choose from millions of high-performing audiences, send your campaign with the click of a button, and track your performance over time.
See: Native Advertising to learn more.
See: Search Advertising to learn more about Google Ads.
See: Email Marketing List for more info about Leafly advertising.
Email Marketing Ads for CBD
This is exactly what it sounds like. These companies have a list relevant to your industry. You will get a placement in one of their email blasts, tagged with a UTM parameter so you can attribute sales correctly.
The beauty of this is that you don’t have to skillfully disguise your CBD products as hemp to bypass the system. Send potential customers directly to your website. Everyone approves and you profit at the end of the day.
Email Marketing Ads Options
Marketing Solo offers email marketing campaigns catered specifically for the CBD market. They boast a 95% retention rate and every campaign you purchase currently comes with 6 free follow up campaigns.
Leafly offers a variety of different packages. Their email campaign placement costs $3,000 USD, display advertising at $3,000 for 1 million impressions, or both combined for $5,000.
Social Media Advertising
Unfortunately for CBD companies, no one allows advertising CBD products on social media right now, except maybe Facebook. Instagram, Snapchat, not at this point.
In 2019, Facebook updated some of their policies regarding CBD. Their platform will not promote CBD or ingestible hemp, but there are ways to get around this. For example, marketers can run ads for topical hemp, whereas they cannot run ads to ingestible hemp.
While those ads can link to landing pages featuring ingestible hemp and topical CBD, they cannot feature any of these products directly in the ads themselves.
Even if a CBD campaign is designed correctly, it is possible that you may encounter issues with Facebook still flagging your ads, but it is worth the effort to locate more channels to promote your CBD brand across social media avenues.
Make sure you avoid making any claims about CBD, as this will be heavily restricted. Use discrete imagery and references. With a huge budget and the right discrete message, you can be incredibly successful. Remember, invest your advertising in a few places to see where it is most successful. For direct to consumer brand growth, social media presents a huge opportunity in targeting potential customers directly.
Stay tuned for changes to social media, as these untapped markets will eventually shift their policies to include products within the cannabis umbrella. It is just a question of when. As CBD is welcomed into more drug stores, beauty markets, and even pet stores, social media will shift to compete.
A common belief persists that podcasts hit their peak years ago and remain too saturated. This is fiction, as the podcast industry is in fact very active. Podcasts are incredibly niche, so targeting works very well if you pick the right podcast. Joe Rogan just signed a $100M contract with Spotify, so it is safe to say that podcasts are making a lot of money.
Easy tip: Hire a voice-over actor for $25 on Fiverr. You’ll be shocked at how professional-sounding a voice you can get for how cheap.
Don’t forget: Make sure to provide a unique promo code in order to attribute sales correctly.
This platform connects podcasts with advertisers, determining which ads for products and services to place with different types of podcasts. They also allow for easy campaign tracking via their advertiser portal.
An affiliate program allows you to form a partnership with a company where you both benefit from the exposure. Companies only pay out for referred users who complete a purchase, which then splits the profit between the affiliate and affiliate network.
The beauty of this is that the affiliate partners do all of the hard work of advertising, and you can just sit back and monitor results, cancel the ones that don’t perform, and invest more in the ones that do.
Affiliate marketing usually works based on two different models. You either pay for traffic, or traffic that converts into sales. Many will try to trick you into signing up for the pay-for-traffic model, but you must insist that they provide you with the pay-for-sales model, as this is a rookie mistake.
Also, be sure to have someone tech-savvy to double check the numbers provided by the affiliate network as compared to your own numbers. Make sure that they match the numbers you have in-house and understand what you will do if there is a discrepancy.
Some Popular Affiliate Networks