Everyone in the marijuana industry knows that marketing marijuana products and services – even products and services that are only related to marijuana – is extremely challenging thanks to a myriad of state and local rules. Many traditional and digital marketing tactics are out of bounds for marijuana and marijuana-related businesses or they’re highly restricted, including direct mail, print advertising, Facebook advertising, Google AdWords, and social media marketing. The good news is there are some ways businesses working in or with the marijuana industry can promote themselves using these marketing proven tactics without getting into trouble with the law.

For example, most email marketing providers such as MailChimp, Aweber, and Constant Contact won’t allow users to send messages related to marijuana businesses, products, or services. The mere mention of marijuana could get your account banned with these popular email marketing software providers as happened to Cannabiz Media some time ago.

It was when MailChimp closed Cannabiz Media’s account without notice (despite the fact that Cannabiz Media never touches actual marijuana products and instead, provides a database of marijuana license information to a wide variety of businesses, journalists, researchers, regulators, and more) that the team at Cannabiz Media realized there had to be a solution to the email marketing problem for the marijuana industry. As a result, email marketing was built into the Cannabiz Media License Database product. Each user can send messages to key people without fear of having their accounts disabled without notice.

Now, people who want to connect with marijuana license holders via email can do so. But why would you want to invest in email marketing and how can you use it to generate profits for your business? In other words, Cannabiz Media gives you the tool, but how can you make that tool work for you? Keep reading to find out!

Why Email Marketing is Essential to the Marijuana Industry

In simplest terms, the power is in your list. When you can connect with a highly targeted audience of people via email who are likely to be interested in what you’re offering, and when you send them highly relevant messages that solve their problems and address their pain points, the likelihood that you can convert them into paying customers skyrockets. Given how restrictive advertising and marketing regulations are for businesses operating in or around the marijuana industry, having a way to connect directly with a targeted audience is like tapping into a gold mine.

Think of it this way – where do people spend most of their time these days? Research shows that people spend a significant amount of time every day using social media, texting, and reading email. With email marketing, your brand can be present as part of a common daily activity for the majority of the population. You can’t advertise on social media sites or through paid search advertising, but you can get your brand and messages in front of your target audience using email marketing – if you’re using the right email marketing tool that is.

How to Leverage Email Marketing for Profits

The key to leveraging email marketing for profits in any industry, including the marijuana industry, is to consider the buyer journey and create messages and offers that meet recipients’ needs depending on where they are in the buyer journey. In Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing for Business, I explain that there are five stages to the consumer buying cycle:

  1. Not in the market yet
  2. Problem identified
  3. Research and evaluation
  4. Preferences established
  5. Final decision

Your goal is to consider where each person on your email marketing list is in the consumer buying cycle and send them messages that will help move them to the next stage. For example, a person who is not in the market yet or has just discovered that they have a problem which needs to be solved could benefit from receiving educational content, checklists, short ebooks, and worksheets. On the other hand, a person who is in the research and evaluation stage and is in the process of establishing their brand, product, or service preferences could benefit from receiving case studies and how-to videos. Finally, people who are ready to make their final purchase decision and just need an extra nudge to choose your brand could benefit from receiving competitor comparison tables, testimonials and product reviews, or discounts and special promotions.

With all of this in mind, you can create an email marketing plan filled with different types of content, promotions, and offers to connect with people at various stages of the consumer buying cycle that effectively push them to the next stage – and closer to choosing your brand as their final purchase decision.

Keep in mind, email marketing doesn’t end after a purchase is made. You should continue investing in email marketing to nurture prospects and build relationships with them that lead to future sales and brand loyalty (i.e., repeat purchases and word-of-mouth marketing from vocal brand advocates).

Before you run out and start sending email messages to people in the marijuana industry promoting your business, there are some email marketing “don’t’s” that you need to be aware of. For example, you must be careful to ensure your messages aren’t flagged as spam by email service providers or recipients. Stay tuned to the Cannabiz Media blog for my upcoming article about email deliverability and making sure people actually receive your messages!

I’ll leave you with a final thought about email marketing and the marijuana industry. Every day that you’re not connecting with stakeholders in the marijuana industry is a day that your competitors can sweep in and steal market share from you. The power is in your list, so use it!

Susan Gunelius, Lead Analyst for Cannabiz Media and author of Marijuana Licensing Reference Guide: 2017 Edition, is also President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company offering, copywriting, content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, and strategic branding services. She spent the first half of her 25-year 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 small businesses 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, The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing, and she is a popular marketing and branding keynote speaker. She is also a Certified Career 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.