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State of SEO, Email and Content Marketing in 2021

What’s hot in SEO, email, and content marketing in 2021? Where are companies investing their marketing budgets? HubSpot surveyed 1,500 marketers and released the insights in its State of Marketing 2021 report. The good news for the cannabis industry is there are many opportunities to stand out using marketing strategies that have been proven to work.

State of SEO in 2021

According to HubSpot’s research, 69% of marketers invested in search engine optimization (SEO) in 2021. This includes creating a lot of amazing, useful, relevant content that provides a great user experience as well as optimizing that content so it’s easy for search engines to find it and effectively analyze it.

Overall, 75% of marketers believe their SEO investments are effective at helping them achieve their marketing goals, and 80% believe their websites are helping them reach their marketing goals.

The top three SEO tactics that companies are investing in during 2021 are:

  • Strategic keywords: 71%
  • Localization: 50%
  • Mobile optimization: 48%

The most important SEO success metrics that marketers focus on today are keyword rankings and organic traffic followed by time spent on page, click through rate (CTR), bounce rate, returning visitors and direct visitors, and domain authority.

The best way to make SEO work for your cannabis business is to publish a lot of high quality, original, useful content on your website. A well-written blog filled with authoritative content is crucial! See “State of Content Marketing in 2021” below for more details.

State or Email Marketing in 2021

Of the companies surveyed by HubSpot, 70% invest in email marketing, but only 24% plan on using email marketing in 2021. That means there is a big opportunity for cannabis brands to stand out in consumers’ email inboxes with effective email marketing strategies and investments.

This is incredibly important because HubSpot also reports 77% of companies have seen more engagement with their email marketing messages over the past 12 months. The way to get great results with email marketing is to send highly personalized messages to hyper-targeted audiences that build brand awareness and brand trust through nurturing before trying to sell products and services to recipients.

In 2021, marketers are appropriately focusing on personalization above all other email marketing tactics according to HubSpot’s research results:

  • Message personalization: 27%
  • Mobile-friendly messages: 24%
  • List segmentation: 20%
  • Automated campaigns: 18%
  • Dynamic content: 18%
  • Other: 1%

Not only is email marketing a big opportunity for cannabis businesses in 2021, but the data also shows two tactical opportunities that are not being prioritized effectively by other marketers based on the data above: message personalization and list segmentation. Rather than 27% and 20% of marketers investing in personalization and segmentation, respectively, 100% should be.

Today, the key to getting in the inbox (i.e., avoiding the spam folder) and maximizing return on investment (ROI) is creating hyper-targeted, segmented lists and sending personalized content based on that segmentation. Prioritize those two things in your email marketing and you’ll get the best results.

State of Content Marketing in 2021

Content marketing is one of the fastest growing marketing investments with 82% of marketers planning to allocate budget to it in 2021, which is up from 70% in 2020. This makes sense as content marketing is the most important marketing investment today. It fuels almost every other marketing tactic – SEO, email marketing, social media, and more. Very few cannabis companies are investing enough of their marketing budgets into content marketing today.

According to HubSpot’s research, the forms of media used most within marketers’ 2021 content strategies are videos and blogs followed by infographics, case studies, interviews, ebooks, white papers, and checklists.

It’s important to note that for content marketing to be successful, the content you create needs to have a purpose that aligns with consumers at a specific point in the marketing funnel. Use infographics and checklists for top of the funnel lead generation and brand awareness, and use white papers for nurturing consumers in the middle of the funnel. For people at the bottom of the funnel who are close to making a purchase decision, use case studies, interviews, demos, and free trials.

Interestingly, HubSpot’s research found that most marketers measure the success of their content marketing strategy by sales. This is a mistake. It’s not called content sales. It’s called content marketing. Content marketing should be used to power other parts of your marketing strategy and push people through the marketing funnel. Only part of that process is tied directly to bottom of the funnel sales conversions.

Marketers reported that following sales, they measure the success of their content marketing investments by web traffic, social engagement, lead generation, onsite engagement, SEO, and authority. All of those metrics are excellent indicators of how your content is performing as it powers other marketing tactics.

If those metrics go up, sales will go up as well. Those metrics show your content is effectively pushing consumers through the marketing funnel, so don’t ignore all of the essential metrics happening at the top and middle of the funnel that may not equal a sale today but are just as important.

Key Takeaways about SEO, Email and Content Marketing in 2021

Marketing budgets increased for nearly two out of three marketers (63%) in 2021 according to HubSpot’s State of Marketing 2021 report. Businesses in the cannabis industry should take note of where those investments are going and use the information to guide their own marketing plans and budgets.

SEO, email, and content marketing are essential investments today, particularly while social media and many digital advertising options are still not available (or extremely challenging) to businesses operating in and with the cannabis industry. Allocate your budgets to these three marketing channels appropriately and your results should increase over time.

Susan GuneliusSusan Gunelius

Susan Gunelius

Susan Gunelius is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc. (, a marketing communications company established in 2008 offering, copywriting, content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, and SEO services. Susan has been working with clients in the cannabis industry since 2015. She spent the first half of her 27-year marketing career directing marketing programs for AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more as well as businesses of all sizes around the world. Susan has written 11 marketing-related books, including the highly popular Content Marketing for Dummies, 30-Minute Social Media Marketing, Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps, and The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing. She is also a Certified Career and Business Coach and Founder and Editor in Chief of Women on Business (, an award-winning blog for business women. Susan holds a B.S. in marketing and an M.B.A in management and strategy.

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