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5 Digital Marketing Trends Driving the Cannabis Industry in 2022

The world is changing. Consumers are changing. Marketing has to change as well – even marketing in the cannabis industry. The reality today is if cannabis and cannabis-related businesses don’t keep up, they’ll lose sales, market share, and future growth potential to competitors.

With that in mind, below are five of the key digital marketing trends coming in 2022 that businesses working in and with the cannabis industry should know and leverage to win in their markets.

1. Email Personalization is Mandatory

Email marketing continues to be one of the most important marketing channels available to cannabis and ancillary businesses in 2022, but the old days of sending the same generic message to everyone you can are over.

This spray and pray strategy will end badly for anyone who uses it. Not only will it drive limited results, but it’s also a recipe for email service providers (like Google, Outlook, Apple Mail, and so on) to flag you as a spammer. As a result, most or all of your future messages will go to spam or junk folders rather than to inboxes.

Email marketing today is all about personalization. Segment your lists into highly targeted audiences, and send each audience hyper-personalized messages. Everything from the subject line to the content and call-to-action should be relevant and motivational for the specific audience who receives it.

2. A Cookie-less World Changes the Game

By 2023, Google will no longer track cookies in its Chrome browser in an effort to provide more user privacy (something that the Safari and Firefox browsers already do and that Apple’s iOS 14 update prevents for Facebook tracking). That means marketers in all industries must spend time in 2022 developing alternate ways to gather data about digital advertising and marketing investments.

For cannabis and cannabis-related businesses, many digital advertising and marketing tactics that relied on third-party cookies to track results have been inaccessible, so in some ways, the transition won’t be as significant as it will be for businesses in other industries. However, there is still work to be done.

Cookies represent third-party data, but the future or marketing will depend on zero-party data and first-party data collection and analysis. In simplest terms, zero-party data is the data your customers share with you intentionally. First-party data is the data you collect directly from your audience rather than that data being collected by a third-party and sent to you. For example, first-party data includes data you collect on your website and apps, through your social media profiles and pages, through subscription-based products and services, and so on.

Therefore, businesses that work in and with the cannabis industry should be developing marketing strategies now that increase the amount of zero-party and first-party data they can collect in the future. The death of third-party cookies is coming, so prepare now.

3. Voice Search Jumps in Popularity

“Hey Siri, where is the closest cannabis dispensary?” “Alexa, which cannabis edible is best for sleep?” More people are using voice search every day, and the numbers will continue to go up, so it’s essential that you optimize your website for voice search in 2022.

Two of the most important things to remember when trying to improve your website’s rankings for voice searches are to:

  1. Create conversational content that matches the way people speak in voice searches.
  2. Create frequently asked questions pages that provide answers to the questions people are likely to ask in voice searches.

It’s also a good strategy to think about how people use voice search compared to text input search. For example, most voice searches are conducted using mobile devices, so it makes sense to ensure you have content on your website that is optimized for localized voice searches.

4. Branding Matters More Than Ever

Branding is getting more important in the cannabis industry every day. For plant-touching businesses, we’re seeing mergers and acquisitions, creative financing to acquire new licenses, and more expansion within single states as well as into multiple states.

With federal legalization on the horizon, savvy companies are already positioning themselves to build recognizable brands. We’re also closer than ever to a time when consumers will have greater access to cannabis products and more choices in terms of the products they purchase and the channels through which they purchase them.

National brands are developing, and now is the time to start laying the foundation for your own brand to secure a place in consumers’ minds and preferences before your competitors do.

5. Influencer Marketing Dominates

In 2021, influencer marketing climbed to $13.8 billion, and it will continue to grow in 2022 and beyond. Since cannabis and cannabis-related businesses cannot promote their brands, products, and services using many popular digital marketing tactics, such as pay-per-click advertising, influencer marketing is extremely important. And yes, influencer marketing works for B2B brands as well as it works for B2C brands.

The key to working with cannabis influencers is to make sure you choose people who have the trust of audiences that would be interested in your products and services. In addition, they should regularly publish original content that their audiences actively engage with and share.

Don’t feel like you need to pay a lot for influencers who can promote your products or services to extremely large audiences. Working with a micro-influencer who has a niche audience can be even more effective in terms of generating positive returns on your investments.

Key Takeaways about Cannabis Industry Digital Marketing Trends in 2022

Digital marketing trends are evolving quickly, and businesses that work in and with the cannabis industry need to keep up. The good news is you don’t necessarily need a big marketing budget to integrate the five trends introduced in this article into your 2022 marketing plan.

With strategic planning, you can leverage these opportunities to build your brand and gain an edge over your competitors who may not be keeping up with digital marketing trends, evolving consumer behaviors, and changing consumer preferences.

Susan GuneliusSusan Gunelius

Susan Gunelius

Susan Gunelius is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc. (KeySplashCreative.com), 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 (WomenOnBusiness.com), 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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