The website is the backbone of every digital advertising campaign. Certainly!
Any digital marketer worth his or her salt in the cannabis industry will tell you that you can’t do much to generate website traffic without paid search, social media or email marketing. That’s it, that’s all. Period.
Wait just a minute! Is that really all there is for digital marketing! Counting the many hurdles to the cannabis business, Facebook, Twitter, and Google actually exclude any ‘cannabis’ or ‘marijuana’ related advertising. As the video from CBC News shows, marijuana marketers need to be creative while following the cannabis laws.
By force of necessity, we definitely need another alternative. If you want to get the most out of your website traffic, you need to get your hands into some old-school tactics. Here are a few wacky ideas for your websites. Some may be pricey, but they are far from ordinary.
1. Posters and Billboards
Posters and billboards are fast becoming the darlings of cannabis business adverting. You get your website URL out to the public. Here is one poster from a Seattle-based cannabis producer Dàmà:
For a long time, cannabis ad billboards were about getting voters out to support legalization. That changed in August 2014, when Dàmà unveiled more than a dozen ads across Seattle – becoming America’s first-ever cannabis business to begin a billboard campaign.
Billboards and posters can be great for generating website traffic for a couple of reasons.
First, consider where you add is placed. If you put it near public transit, you reach a large audience of transit people who are curious about cannabis products. If the URL is short and easy to remember, then it plays up to the convenience and appeals to them to read closely for special offers during their commute.
Second, the single worst thing any marketer can do is to promote cannabis as a product for hapless stoners. This ad by Dàmà challenges that stereotype with an outdoorsy feeling. Seattle is a health-conscious, outdoorsy city, so this mountain hike view has a better chance of catching a transit traveler’s attention.
Canada’s cannabis convention and conference seasons will soon be in full ramp mode. So many new consumers and so many new questions. Setting up exhibits at tradeshows or even hosting your own event are great ways for you to drive traffic to your website.
Here are some tips from the trenches:
- Hand out free swag. Offering pens, tote bags, stress balls, Frisbees, coasters with your name helps to spread your URL. Try to keep your URL short and memorable. If people spot someone walking with your tote bag, they can easily type in your URL into their phone or remember you.
- Put good signage. Put up a sign at your booth that shows your URL to your website. Again, make sure your URL is brief. You need to make it easy for passersby to key into their phone and remember. Consider having a contest, offering a discount code or giveaway to lure people with a reason to want to visit your site.
- Place an ad inside the event program. Usually, attendees receive a program about the event. It is likely that almost every guest will see your URL at one point or another. If you can, try to buy ad space in the pamphlet; especially close to where people read about the details of the schedule and the list of exhibitors.
- Sign-up sheet. Keep a clipboard, notebook, or tablet with you and ask every visitor who comes to your booth to sign up for your offer. But first, figure out what it is you want to offer your visitors. Do you have a coupon? A weekly newsletter?
Hear us out. This actually happened this year in California. Jaws dropped, crowds cheered, when W Vapes became the first cannabis company to advertise using the sky.
If you have never heard of W Vapes, they are a California business that sells vape products. Oh, by the way, they have also been winning first place awards at the cannabis festivals all along the California coast.
To the casual onlooker, it may have looked confusing; but this guerilla-marketing stunt gave an overwhelming sense that cannabis has reached the next level. Maybe skywriting is pricey for you.
But this example shows the sky is no limit when it comes to thinking of ways of driving traffic to your websites. W Vapes will go down in history for being the first in the cannabis industry.
4. Radio Ads
Whether you listen to traditional radio or stream music from TuneIn, Spotify, iHeartRadio or Pandora, radio ads have a lot of potential for generating traffic to your websites. Of course, radio advertising laws in Canada have yet to make this marketing venue easily permissible. But they will.
If you choose to advertise on traditional radio, then your URL needs to be extremely short and have a catchy jingle so people easily remember you. If you choose to advertise on streaming music channels, then listeners could just click on the ad and be hyperlinked to your website.
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5. Quora and Reddit
Participating in online communities is another way to drive traffic to your website. If you can give detailed and helpful responses as the expert, you may have another effective way to grow traffic.Having a strong, thoughtful presence on Quora, Reddit, LinkedIn, and Facebook can help you build a reputation for a cannabis business. Click To Tweet
At the same time, don’t become too spammy since the main idea of these forums is to be helpful — not to sell a product. If this is for you, then look for posts related to the cannabis industry and what you do, and be selective in how you link back to your website to an area that is relevant to the discussion.
Digital marketing is more than digital
Which unconventional website traffic method did you find most interesting? Do you have any lead generating tactics you’d like to share? Feel free to post them in the comments below. Digital marketing is more than the obvious routes of paid search, email marketing campaigns, and social media. These can only get you far. Whichever methods you choose, make sure you create a great first impression by creating a fully optimized website.
Milton Wani is interested in the business and regulation side of cannabis. Learning about cannabis is new for everyone. That’s why I wrote a book: Retail Cannabis Handbook. It’s meant for people who want to open and run a retail marijuana dispensary and for people who want to learn about the industry. You can also subscribe to the monthly newsletter and receive a selection of news stories from Canada and around the world.