Your online audience is constantly changing the channel, whether they’re browsing websites, scrolling on social media, or checking their email inbox. Capturing and retaining the attention of users while they’re channel surfing in this way is key for any business’s digital marketing efforts, which is where omnichannel strategies come into play.
Omnichannel campaigns are powerful tools in a cannabis marketer’s arsenal, especially when navigating regulatory restrictions and strict terms of service from third party platforms. Creating an omnichannel marketing campaign requires a lot of content, though, so it’s important to allocate your time and effort wisely to create content that will resonate on each channel you publish it on. To help you pull off a successful omnichannel marketing campaign, CannaContent has created this omnichannel marketing guide to get you started off on a strong foot.
What is omnichannel marketing?
Omnichannel marketing is an approach to digital marketing that includes all available marketing channels, with the end goal of consistently reaching your audience as they change channels online. It’s an effective way to deliver a particular message or call to action (CTA) in the most effective way possible, whether it appears on a search engine, social media, in an email inbox, on a digital ad, or somewhere else entirely.
“[In an omnichannel campaign, marketers] are hoping to deliver on as many platforms as are available to them and to keep that high touch, recency frequency going with an omnichannel campaign,” said Amy Deneson, co-founder of Phenolution and founder of Cannabis Media Council.
Omnichannel marketing campaigns involve the strategic repurposing of content to create an integrated experience across each of these marketing channels. For example, whether a user sees a social media post, email, or landing page associated with the campaign, each will reinforce the other and amplify the overall message a brand is trying to communicate.
“Many marketers, especially in cannabis, are solving for bandwidth constraints. So, they’re trying to look at how they can get their message out in as many ways to their audience and to their target markets as they possibly can,” Deneson said. “One way to approach an omnichannel campaign is to say we want this one or cohesive set of messages to appear in multiple touch points.”
Meeting a channel surfing audience wherever they are
An omnichannel marketing campaign takes place across all available marketing channels, which your audience traverses seamlessly during their time online. According to Deneson, you can think of marketing channels across four major buckets: owned channels, social media, earned media, and paid media.
- Owned channels: These channels include branded channels that are part of your own digital ecosystem, such as your website, email marketing, and text message marketing. In cannabis marketing, owned channels are generally the safest place to distribute content because you aren’t beholden to third-party platforms’ terms and conditions that restrict what you can do. So long as your content is legally compliant with applicable state and federal regulations, you can deploy it on owned channels.
- Social media channels: Social media channels are platforms like TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. These channels are generally more tightly controlled, each maintaining their own unique terms of service that must be followed to avoid account suspensions or bans. However, if you can navigate these terms of service well, social media channels offer a powerful way to build a community of engaged users who see your brand and engage with it repeatedly over time.
- Earned media channels: Earned media refers to public relations and traditional news outlets. You can work to gain earned media by sending press releases, speaking at conferences, hosting events, and more. It can be one of the most difficult channels to access, but also one of the most validating since earned media channels generally include reputable publications or sources of information. However, frequently securing earned media can be difficult, so it’s important to maintain more consistent messaging on other channels as well. In some cases, earned media may include influencer marketing, when the relationship is not transactional.
- Paid media channels: Paid media includes advertising and sponsorships, as well as most types of influencer marketing. This includes pay per click (PPC) advertisements on search engines, as well as display ads on websites and social media. In cannabis, paid advertising is somewhat restricted, though opportunities to advertise on paid channels do still exist if you know where to look.
Omnichannel vs. multichannel marketing campaigns
Although you may sometimes see the terms omnichannel and multichannel marketing used interchangeably, there is an important technical difference between the two. The prefix “omni” means “all”, and so an omnichannel campaign would focus on every available marketing channel. In an omnichannel marketing campaign, each of these channels work together to deliver an integrated message and unified experience for the customer or prospect. As a result, the primary focus of an omnichannel marketing campaign is the target audience.
The prefix “multi” refers to more than one, so a multichannel campaign still covers multiple marketing channels, but not necessarily all available ones. The style and message of content delivered on each channel may also be distinct from those delivered on others and the focus tends to be on the product or service rather than the customer or prospect. Still, despite this key difference, it’s still important to adhere to some level of brand consistency in terms of tone, style, and message when running a multichannel marketing campaign.
Choosing the right channels to reach your audience
When crafting an omnichannel or multichannel marketing campaign, it’s important to first identify which channels your audience frequents most. In cannabis, advertising and marketing restrictions may prohibit particular options, such as television or radio advertisements. So cannabis marketers need to create a plan that is compliant with all applicable regulations, including which channels through which they will deploy content.
“Once we determine what’s available to us that meets the strategy… then [we need to determine] what’s the likelihood that by activating that marketing mix, we’re going to achieve what will then be our key performance indicators,” Deneson said.
In addition to identifying which channels are available, cannabis marketers also need to think about which channels their target audience is surfing, how they’re delivering their message on each, and generating conversions for their CTAs. In this way, cannabis marketing doesn’t differ from other industries, both restricted and not.
“We need to know what we’re trying to ask people to do,” she added. “If we want to drive foot traffic to a retail dispensary for a doorbuster sale, then a robust text message marketing channel is the most effective way to do that. If we want more of a long form campaign with multiple calls to action, email is still the most effective way to stay connected with cannabis consumers.”
Repurposing content for multiple marketing channels
After selecting all available marketing channels that will be effective, it’s time to develop content for each of them. The old adage “work smarter, not harder” can go a long way when running an omnichannel or multichannel marketing campaign for your cannabis business. Especially when you need to create content that will run across multiple channels, it’s best to reduce the workload by creating one piece of anchor content that can the be repurposed for use across other channels.
For example, if you’ve taken the time to interview a subject matter expert for a webinar, consider creating a blog post that recaps the session for those who couldn’t attend; create an email send that promotes the content; and promote it before and after on social media. By doing so, you can reach as many members of your target audience in as many places as possible. With luck, you’ll reach some of those customers multiple times, an important metric when taking the slightly outdated, but still relevant “rule of 7” into account.
However, when repurposing content, it’s critical to think about how it should look in the context of each marketing channel — it’s not just a copy/paste affair. For example, a 1,500 word blog post is very different from a related Instagram post linking back to that page. Both will look quite different from a related email aimed at driving your customers to your dispensary menu or your ecommerce store. A paid display ad on a publication’s website will look and feel differently still. Although you might be able to borrow that same content and tweak it for each platform, ensuring it’s optimized for the marketing channel you’re targeting is critical.
“Do not skip that step of making sure the creative, the messaging, the way in which you’re engaging with the community makes good sense [for the platform you’re publishing on],” Deneson said. “That includes things like making sure on Instagram it’s a ‘link in bio’ and not just a link dropped into an unlinkable space. That just looks like you’re cutting corners, and if you’re taking the time and effort to reach out and connect, it’s worth making sure your content is polished in each environment.”
How to maintain brand consistency when repurposing content
This need to optimize repurposed content for the channel on which it appears must also be balanced with keeping your brand’s appearance consistent. Although the content will need to be adjusted, it should always be done so with your brand book in mind, including your color scheme, tone of voice, messaging, and style.
“It’s still your brand, and it still has to have the same effect,” Deneson said. “It’s important to show up as glorious as you possibly can be. Make sure that for each incredibly precious moment you have somebody’s attention that you value it by being your absolute best polished self.”
Not sure how to start developing your brand? Check out our cannabis brand planning guide that can get you started in just 420 minutes!
Once your content is created and optimized for each marketing channel and you’ve ensured it reflects your brand properly, you can begin publishing. Create a schedule that strategically targets users in a way that keeps your brand, product, or service top of mind and gives you as many opportunities as possible to reach your target audience.
Measuring the effectiveness of omnichannel marketing
Once your campaign is underway and content has been published across multiple platforms, you’ll want to understand how well it’s working. That’s where tracking and analyzing results comes in, and there are a few important ways to do it.
“Attribution and measurement is one of the most complex parts of marketing,” Denson said. “But of all the KPIs I look at, most simply is for each individual instance of our call to action, did they do what we asked them to do?
“If we want them to enthusiastically opt into our newsletter, did they do it? If we ask them to go to a webpage, did they spend more than one minute or ideally two minutes on that page? If we ask them to share it, did they do it? If we ask them to come to a webinar or event, did they RSVP and did they actually show up?”
These examples include important marketing metrics such as open rate, clickthrough rate (CTR), dwell time, and engagement rate. However, Deneson said, as important as these “micro metrics” are, marketers should also consider the “macro” circumstances surrounding a campaign.
“For example, clickthrough rate attribution can be very difficult but what you may be able to see is that there’s an overall lift on your website, or an overall lift on your direct-to-consumer sales,” Deneson said. “We can’t always tie it one to one because, let’s face it, your memory gets jogged and what do you do? You go to Google and type it into the search bar.”
That type of traffic coming from organic search may seem tied to your SEO content strategy, not an omnichannel marketing campaign. But your campaign may be the reason that the user’s interest was piqued in the first place. So take a look at your data analytics before launching a campaign to understand a benchmark and then determine whether your campaign may have boosted key metrics after.
When your audience changes the channel, your message should still reach them
Your audience is constantly channel surfing, and with the right planning your omnichannel marketing campaign can be an effective way to reach them in multiple places. Consider which channels are worth your time and effort, and then identify ways you can easily repurpose content for each marketing channel in your plan. When done right, omnichannel marketing enables you to consistently remind users about your brand and its value proposition, keeping you top of mind when they are ready to buy. It also offers more opportunities to generate CTA conversions, whether that’s driving more sales, qualifying leads, attracting new customers, or anything else.