From social media to digital ads to your blog, there’s no shortage of ways to touch base with customers throughout the day. One of the most valuable of these methods is email marketing, reaching customers in their inboxes with news, information, and great deals. But just like any type of cannabis marketing, email marketing for cannabis brands takes a bit more discretion and planning. Here are our tips, best practice suggestions, and some content ideas for your cannabis company’s email marketing strategy. 

Which email marketing platforms are cannabis friendly?

Before embarking on email marketing for your cannabis company, you need to get a sense of which platforms are willing to distribute your content. Unfortunately, not every platform is willing to welcome the plant with open arms. There are varying degrees of acceptance too, with some platforms allowing only CBD, while others will work with ancillary companies and others yet will work with any cannabis company. Here’s what you need to know about your options.

Cannabis-centric customer data platforms

Many plant-touching companies like dispensaries and delivery services opt to run their marketing, loyalty, and analytics with platforms that specifically cater to the cannabis industry. Not only do these companies specialize in the nuances of the growing cannabis industry, but since they’re built specifically for the industry, you can lean on their reliability. You won’t wake up one morning to find your account suspended or mysteriously deleted — and all your hard work along with it.

Some platforms to consider include:

  • Alpine IQ, which offers tools to manage loyalty systems, mobile apps, marketing messaging automation, and more
  • Springbig, a customer loyalty program with its own SMS and email marketing tools
  • Happy Cabbage Analytics, a retail optimization platform geared toward dispensaries and delivery operations

Not sure which is right for you? Evaluate each vendor based on their:

  • Flexible pricing tiers that can scale with your company as you grow
  • Available tools for segmenting your customer base
  • Integrations with your website for building your subscriber list
  • Ability to integrate with your tech stack for seamless operations
  • Additional features that enhance and improve customer engagement, such as data collection 

Customer relationship manager (CRM) software platforms

Some CRMs that dominate the market and have email marketing tools built in, like Hubspot, are now servicing the cannabis industry in all its forms. These platforms allow use of both their email marketing tools and their sales management software in the cannabis industry. The answer will vary from company to company, so if there’s a CRM software you have your eye on, it’s worth reaching out to customer service and asking some questions before committing.

Mainstream email marketing platforms

The content policy of various mainstream email marketing platforms varies widely from provider to provider. Each one maintains its own standards and terms of service (TOS).

Understandably, marketers may want to turn to platforms like Mailchimp, Klaviyo, and Constant Contact due to their ubiquity, popularity, and familiarity. But they’re not always the best solution for all cannabis companies or CBD brands. You have to do a little homework before committing to one of these platforms.

For example, Mailchimp’s terms of service doesn’t explicitly ban cannabis (THC) or CBD products in its acceptable use policy. However, it could easily be interpreted that cannabis is an “illegal good” under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and therefore not allowed on their platforms. CBD, while no longer federally illegal, may fall under herbal supplements that call for greater scrutiny from the platform. This would likely apply to “plant touching” companies and not necessarily ancillary companies. Anecdotal experience falls in line with this as well, with some dispensaries facing suspension or bans from Mailchimp, but ancillary companies not having the same struggles.

If your chosen platform allows cannabis — great! Forge ahead. If they don’t or their responses are wishy-washy, it may not be worth the risk. And even if your chosen provider has given the green light, it’s always worth brushing up on terms and conditions. Policy changes can happen at any time, so make it a point to read up on the fine print. And keep an extra close eye on these policies in the event of a sale or acquisition in the event that the new owners implement changes.

The long and short of it is — read the terms and conditions of any mainstream email marketing platform you want to use. If you’re unsure about a company’s stance from their documentation, reach out to customer service. If the answer is anything but an enthusiastic “yes,” it’s worth rethinking use of those platforms, especially if you’re with a plant-touching company like a dispensary.

The power of email marketing — and why it’s worth your time

Email marketing has a high return on investment (ROI)

While the precise amount varies between industries, it’s estimated that every dollar spent on email marketing can get anywhere between $36 and around $45 for the company. Not only is this a higher ROI than other marketing strategies, but email marketing is a lower-cost program to implement, manage, and tweak along the way.

Your email list is yours

It’s hard work growing an email list, but the power of having these data in your hands is unparalleled. With customers’ email addresses, you can address them directly without any intermediary standing in your way. If your social media accounts get deleted tomorrow, you lose all your hard work and all those eyeballs. Not so for email marketing — once you collect an email (unless someone unsubscribes, of course), it can’t be taken away from you.

Customers want your emails

Sure, nobody wants to sort through 500 spam emails in a day. But when a customer opts in, it’s a green light that they want to hear from you. While you should certainly be measured with this method of marketing — nobody wants 10 emails a day from anyone, let alone a company — you can plan campaigns knowing that your audience is attentive and interested in what you have to share.

Best practices for creating good email marketing content that performs

  • Strike a balance between clickbait and boring. There’s a lot of room for creativity here. Your subject line needs to strike a balance between enticing readers to open — and driving up that key open rate — and hitting the snooze button. Too much in either direction, and your email is headed for spam or trash.
  • Always include a call to action. Do you want visitors to fill out a form, sign up for a program, or look at your menu? Include a call to action that encourages readers to go one step further. And don’t forget to set UTM parameters around the URL in your call to action, so you can better track where clicks are coming from. 
  • Track your open rates. Keep an eye on which emails get the most clicks. Whether sales emails get a surge in open rates or people clamor to read your latest blog, open rates are an indicator of what your customers actually want to see in their inboxes.
  • Don’t forget about A/B testing. To help improve open rates and click-through rates, you can use a sample customer group to test which version of your email gets the best feedback. If you don’t have access to A/B testing, it’s a good idea to run your prospective subject line and content ideas past other people on your team to get their feedback. 

5 content ideas for your next email marketing campaign

1. Highlight the latest news about your business. Was your dispensary recently in the local news, or was the owner of the company interviewed on a podcast? Uplift the latest and greatest your company has to offer, no matter which medium it takes.

2. Showcase a product review. Fold a cannabis product review into your latest email marketing campaign. These reviews are not only great for SEO and social media, but help leverage brand recognition to bring a customer one step deeper into your marketing funnel. With the right review in their inbox, it may be just the ticket to bring them into the store.

3. Offer an enticing deal. Certainly, a good deal will turn heads. Consider creating specials just for email subscribers as an incentive for them to both sign up for your list and to keep opening your emails.

4. Promote a blog post. Call attention to the great information on your blog by adding a summary of its main points and a graphic to your email. Add a call to action to lead the reader to finish the blog on your site, increasing your web traffic along the way.

5. Add your latest video. Interactive content helps break up blocks of text and helps catch the eye of different types of learners. It’s also a great way to leverage omnichannel marketing by promoting video content hosted on YouTube or TikTok to a new audience. 

Additional ways to leverage email marketing

Use drip campaigns to simplify email marketing

Drip campaigns are automated emails that are sent to someone who takes action on your website. For example, if someone signs up to download a white paper on your website, a drip campaign can send them an email with the attachment, an email with a summary of the white paper with some eye-catching graphics, and a survey to solicit feedback on the white paper. Those campaigns can be set up relatively quickly and easily with the right email marketing platform and website integrations, and it takes all the follow-up work off your shoulders.

Get personal to encourage open rates

Personalization tools, such as addressing subscribers by name in the body of an email, have a significant impact on email open rates. Types of personalization include tailoring the content of an email to a specific audience, leveraging a customer’s data to show them how many loyalty points they have, or as simple as adding the subscriber’s first name to the subject line or the body of the email. 

Consider abandoned cart emails to bring back customers

Just because dispensaries in the U.S. can’t ship products to a customer’s house doesn’t mean what they’re doing doesn’t fall under ecommerce activity. And just like any other big-box store you might shop online, customers might put some items in their cart, get distracted, and forget to check out. 

Recapture them with abandoned cart tools that send a notice to the customer’s inbox with a reminder to complete checkout. These are called win-back campaigns, and they’re easy to implement with the right software. You can even include a special incentive for completing the purchase, like extra loyalty points or a coupon — whatever is allowed by law in your state. Abandoned cart emails have a high open rate, as much as 43% by some estimates, and a high level of conversion, too. This means more revenue for your business.

Cannabis brands: contact your customers with email marketing 

Take this important task off your hands. With CannaContent, you work with a team of award-winning experts who have years of experience building email campaigns that get results. We spin up great copy and have the technical know-how to implement your program, all while taking the rest of your marketing strategy into account. Our holistic approach makes the difference, ensuring no element of your marketing operates in a silo. We love what we do — contact CannaContent to learn about how we can put our skills to work for your company.