Cannabis Digital Marketing: 10 Experts Share Their Best Tips

Cannabis leaf

The cannabis industry has witnessed a transformative shift in recent years, with legalization paving the way for a thriving market. In fact, 48% of cannabis consumers report using it every day with 78% of those surveyed sharing that their usage will only increase or stay the same in the next year.

However, with the changing landscape comes unique challenges, especially when it comes to promoting cannabis products and services in the digital world.

In this blog post, we delve into the realm of cannabis digital marketing and bring you insights from 10 industry experts, each sharing their top strategies for success. 

Article Contents

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What is Cannabis Digital Marketing?

Cannabis digital marketing refers to the use of various online marketing strategies and tactics to promote cannabis products, services, dispensaries, or cannabis-related content to a targeted audience. This type of marketing leverages the power of the internet, social media platforms, search engines, email, and other digital channels to reach and engage potential customers within the cannabis industry.

Key components of cannabis digital marketing may include:

  1. Website Optimization: Creating and maintaining an informative, user-friendly, and compliant website is essential for cannabis companies to establish their online presence. This involves optimizing the website for search engines (SEO) to improve its visibility in search results.

  2. Content Marketing: Providing valuable and educational content related to cannabis, such as blog posts, articles, videos, and infographics, can help build brand authority, attract potential customers, and increase website traffic.

  3. Social Media Marketing: Utilizing various social media platforms to share content, engage with the audience, run targeted advertisements (where allowed), and create a community around the brand.

  4. Email Marketing: Sending targeted and personalized emails to subscribers can help nurture leads, promote new products or services, and maintain customer relationships.

  5. Influencer Marketing: Collaborating with influencers or cannabis advocates to promote products or services to their engaged audience.

Challenges of Marketing Cannabis Online

Navigating the digital landscape for cannabis marketing poses a unique set of challenges that demand careful consideration and adaptability. In this section, we explore the hurdles that marketers and businesses encounter when promoting cannabis products online.

By understanding and addressing these challenges head-on, marketers can pave the way for successful and compliant cannabis marketing strategies.

1. Refusal to do business with cannabis companies

Marketing cannabis is becoming more complicated every year.

Hasty marketers can give legacy cannabis marketers a bad reputation when they fail to meet regulatory standards or acknowledge culturally essential elements in the industry. Cannabis marketing is not a stable playing field — regulations, consumer sentiment, and trends are constantly in a near-tumultuous flux. 

Many publications and organizations refuse to do business with cannabis companies as a rule, meaning cultivating deep communications relationships based on individuals rather than institutions becomes imperative.

Quote provided by Marissa Smith, Managing Editor at NisonCo PR

2. Legal restrictions

Undoubtedly, the biggest challenge of marketing cannabis online is navigating the complex and evolving legal landscape surrounding the industry. 

Cannabis marketing regulations vary significantly by state, making it essential to stay up to date with local laws and compliance requirements.

Moreover, restrictions on advertising and digital marketing pose challenges that can ultimately limit the platforms, methods, and even messaging that can be used to reach your target audience effectively.

Quote provided by Cristina Consalvo, Marketing Director at Champ Internet Solutions

3. Getting social media ads approved

Creating ads on social channels is hard to get by and a serious gray area. Even within jurisdictions where cannabis is legal, social media platforms can have inconsistent policies regarding cannabis-related content.

While some platforms may allow limited advertising for cannabis products, others may maintain a complete ban. This lack of uniformity creates confusion for marketers, as they must navigate different policies across various platforms to determine where they can promote their products.

Therefore, using ads in magazines or marketing agencies in your niche is key.

Quote provided by Stoned Fox Team

4. Tax Code 280E

The largest challenge in marketing cannabis is the tax code 280E. 

This provision in the U.S. Internal Revenue Code disallows deductions and credits for amounts paid or incurred in the business of trafficking controlled substances, which includes cannabis. 

As such, marketing expenses can't be written off as easily as in other industries, which makes it crucial for cannabis businesses to build marketing into their budget from the very beginning.”

Quote provided by Decater Collins, Founder & CEO of Hood Collective

5. Banking and financial constraints

Cannabis businesses often face challenges with banking and financial services due to federal restrictions. 

This can impact marketing budgets, making it necessary to be resourceful and creative in finding cost-effective digital marketing strategies. 

While seemingly an obvious challenge, it is far deeper than the ability to run standard business communications, working with agencies, making donations, hiring and all aspects of financially running a business makes for a lot of friction when making moves, so agility is coveted and hard to find.” 

Quote provided by Ann D’Adamo, Vice President of Marketing and Communications Inspira Marketing Group

6. Competitive landscape

The biggest challenge, beyond regulatory constraints, is the competitive landscape. 

Because the green rush presented so much opportunity, there are a lot of players competing for the same consumers. Finding ways to stand out from the rest in a meaningful way will be crucial to carve out some market share. 

Packaging is just one part of it. What is the brand presence like? How is it integrated into community events? What collaborations does it partake in? The more prevalent and present the brand is, the more brand recognition and loyalty it can garner.”

Quote provided by Ella Alpina, Marketing Director at

7. Traditional advertising is not an option

Many traditional advertising channels, such as television, radio, and print media, have restrictions on cannabis advertising. 

This limitation requires marketers to explore alternative channels such as digital marketing, social media, influencer partnerships, and event sponsorships. Even when using alternative channels the individual platforms have their own rules and regulations around communications about cannabis. 

In many cases this handcuffs brands that operate in multiple markets as they are relegated to watered-down/lowest common denominator messaging which makes building brand and community extremely challenging.

Quote provided by Ann D’Adamo, Vice President of Marketing and Communications Inspira Marketing Group

Cannabis Digital Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

Avoiding common pitfalls is crucial in the ever-evolving world of cannabis digital marketing. In this section, we delve into the most prevalent mistakes that can hinder the success of marketing campaigns, from being dishonest about product claims to overlooking the importance of transparency and brand identity.

1. Not being transparent

Obscuring the truth is an immense disservice to the entire cannabis industry's legitimization work. Therefore, to survive and thrive, you must focus on staying transparent.

Simple things like not having a FAQ page explaining your company and commonly asked questions can be enough for a person to choose a more transparent company that proudly presents its ingredients, services, and background. 

Being compliant and following guidelines set by federal and state laws will always work out to your advantage. A short-time boost in sales is never worth risking the time, money, and energy you have already sunk into growing your company.

Quote provided by Dallas Evelyn, Business Development Specialist at NisonCo PR

2. Having a lack of personality

When crafting a cannabis digital marketing strategy, there needs to be meaning behind the message. This includes relevant, honest statements. 

What’s more, a bland tone won’t draw in many consumers. Ramping up your overall messaging style can have a huge impact on how your brand is perceived.

3. Being dishonest

Dishonest or shady cannabis industry actors only work to confirm lawmaker, consumer, and patient fears: That the products and people running cannabis businesses fail to meet safety and integrity standards. 

Even if the truth is hard, or your cannabis company doesn't have an answer, it's critical to tell it like it is tactfully. 

Otherwise, distrust and prohibitionists win small battles that amount to poor public opinion of a plant with enormous potential. 

Quote provided by Marissa Smith, Managing Editor at NisonCo PR

4. Have no online presence

If your cannabis marketing campaign can't be found, it's useless in the modern world. Be sure to work with a reputable search engine optimization (SEO) and/or website development firm that specializes in cannabis to ensure compliance and search engine result page (SERP) ranking.

Quote provided by Marissa Smith, Managing Editor at NisonCo PR

5. Marketing cannabis on price alone

In my opinion, unless you’re a massive volume producer, you shouldn’t be marketing on price or promotion, because that’s only a race to the bottom that you won’t win. 

If consumers are told that what you have to offer is a lower price, they will see you through that lens and begin comparing you to others, likely finding a lower price. 

Instead, market something unique about your product and how it’s made, the founder’s mission, or the brand personality”

Quote provided by Ella Alpina, Marketing Director at

6. Delaying brand promotion

In my experience, one of the biggest (and most common) mistakes is delaying the development of a strong brand and marketing presence. 

Establishing a distinctive, compliant, and relatable brand should be among the priorities. Waiting too late to focus on this aspect will result in a competitive disadvantage and lost opportunities, and leads to too many companies trying to play catch up with better-established competitors.

Quote provided by Decater Collins, Founder & CEO of Hood Collective

7. Making false health claims

When marketing cannabis, there are certain pitfalls to avoid–over-promising. It's crucial to be transparent about the benefits and limitations of cannabis products. 

Avoid making exaggerated health claims or misleading statements that could erode trust with consumers. Provide accurate information and set realistic expectations. 

Quote provided by Ann D’Adamo, Vice President of Marketing and Communications Inspira Marketing Group

8. Forgoing conversations with cannabis industry experts

To navigate these green waters, it is best to find partners who genuinely understand the cannabis space and the nuances that come with cannabis marketing. 

Pairing with cannabis industry experts will prevent potential pitfalls or setbacks associated with having a partner working with incomplete industry knowledge. Additionally, you will spend less time explaining your products, services, and goals to someone who understands them already.

Quote provided by Dallas Evelyn, Business Development Specialist at NisonCo PR

9. Relying on "stoner" stereotypes

The cannabis industry has rapidly evolved in the last few years. 

Marketers must, therefore, move away from traditional "stoner" stereotypes. For instance, avoid glorifying excessive consumption or portraying cannabis in a manner that undermines its potential risks or societal impact. 

While personality and inclusivity are important, without professionalism, you will never be able to gain credibility and your brand could contribute to the negative perception of the cannabis industry, which we have long left behind.”

Quote provided by Cristina Consalvo, Marketing Director at Champ Internet Solutions

10. Rushing to market cannabis products

Many brands are still just rushing to market and not thinking outside of the box. 

Having a thoughtful and intentional brand is key to stand out from competitors. Aesthetics and identity are very important for a lasting brand. So many rush to market and spend a fortune without a streamlined layout of how they will execute their launch. 

Having unique, and tasteful experiences is one way to stand out. It's not about the stoner culture, It's about refining it.

Quote provided by Stoned Fox Team

11. Putting all your eggs in one basket

As Rama Mayo of Green Street Agency says, "Avoid putting all your eggs in one basket, it is better to spread your energy (& budget) across multiple ideas to connect with the community”

Additionally, relying solely on one social media platform or marketing channel can be risky.

While a particular platform may currently be popular among the cannabis community, trends, and user preferences can change rapidly. If that platform changes its policies or loses popularity, businesses may lose their main avenue for reaching their target audience.

12. Targeting Teens

Strict age restrictions apply to cannabis consumption. Ensure that your marketing efforts are targeted exclusively to legal age groups and comply with the regulations in your jurisdiction. Implement robust age verification measures to prevent underage access.

In the past 20 years, cannabis usage by teens has increased by over 200%. It’s of the utmost importance that cannabis brands stay out of advertising to this audience. Brands need to advertise to legal audiences while keeping an eye on related regulations. 

Quote provided by Ann D’Adamo, Vice President of Marketing and Communications Inspira Marketing Group

The 12 Best Cannabis Digital Marketing Strategies

Elevating your cannabis brand in the digital realm requires a strategic approach that stands out amidst fierce competition. In this section, we unveil the 12 best cannabis digital marketing strategies recommended by industry experts.

From prioritizing SEO and value-based branding to embracing education and authenticity, these proven tactics will empower your cannabis marketing efforts and lead to lasting connections with your target audience.

1. Understanding your brand’s purpose

Understanding your brand’s purpose and knowing how to effectively tell that story to connect with your community is what it boils down to. There are plenty of digital and traditional tactics to leverage that can help execute and improve brand awareness. However, you need to nail down your ’why’ and how it speaks to the audience you’re looking to attract.

Quote provided by Amina Mecca, Director of Revenue Strategy at Advance Media NY

2. Prioritize SEO 

It’s key to improve SEO when marketing cannabis. Including SEO in your cannabis marketing strategy will not only improve your site ranking but it’ll also improve the quality of your content. 

If your cannabis marketing strategy can't be found, it's useless in the modern world. 

Be sure to work with a reputable search engine optimization (SEO) and/or website development firm that specializes in cannabis to ensure compliance and search engine result page (SERP) ranking.

Quote provided by Marissa Smith, Managing Editor at NisonCo PR

3. Focus on website lead generation

The best cannabis digital marketing strategy will depend on the goals you have in mind and the budget you have to spend. 

Since we are in a tighter economy, every dollar needs to go further, and with that being said, SEO can be a cost-effective and powerful marketing strategy for companies seeking to be found.

It is best to develop keywords and an approach that targets customers with a high intent to buy. 

Having traffic coming to your website is essential, but having one qualified lead coming to your website is more valuable than a hundred unqualified leads.

Quote provided by Dallas Evelyn, Business Development Specialist at NisonCo PR

4. Educate yourself

Education is one of the best ways to market cannabis online. 

When you work with a trusted influencer who has a strong following you tap into their customer base. Educating people on where they can purchase your brand is also very important since you can't always find the brand nationwide. 

Assisting with making it accessible is key so you can execute effortlessly.

Quote provided by Stoned Fox Team

5. Rely on cannabis consumer data

When it comes to cannabis digital marketing, it is important to understand your target audience. What are their buying habits? How do they become aware of dispensaries? What is their preferred way to consume cannabis?

These questions among many others can be answered through dispensary customer surveys or secondary research reports such as the Cannabis Consumer Report.

Using insights from surveys allows dispensaries and cannabis brands to gain insights into their customers' preferences, needs, and pain points. And by understanding what customers are looking for in cannabis products or services, brands can tailor their digital marketing messages to better meet those needs.

Additionally, dispensary customer surveys can help segment your target audience based on different criteria, such as demographics, preferences, or consumption habits. This segmentation enables companies to create more personalized and targeted marketing campaigns, which often lead to better engagement and conversion rates.

Quote provided by Emily Rodgers, Marketing Manager at Drive Research

6. Network with local organizations

The best strategy is strategic relationships. 

Whether you’re a producer, brand, or vendor, this industry is all about partnership. The networking effect is real.

Just make sure to thoroughly screen a partner, both operationally and reputationally, before entering into any agreement, as any bad actions or PR of them will reflect on you as well.

Quote provided by Ella Alpina, Marketing Director at

7. Develop a robust company brand

For companies, particularly those operating on a limited budget, the primary focus in a cannabis marketing strategy should be investing in high-value assets. 

This begins with developing a robust company brand, including elements like the name, logo, style, and voice.

A professionally designed, user-friendly website is also critical. These are long-term investments that can sustain your business through the inevitable boom and bust cycles of state-segregated markets.

Quote provided by Decater Collins, Founder & CEO of Hood Collective

8. Create a value-based brand strategy

The best marketing strategy is a value-based brand strategy. As regional markets get saturated and a dispensary crops up on every corner, it is key to brand yourself in a way that weeds out the competition. 

This means honing in on your core values, your target audience's emotional drivers, and your mission to craft messaging, visuals, and more that align with a vision that everyone can get behind. 

Being more than your product is, therefore, the best cannabis marketing strategy out there.

Quote provided by Cristina Consalvo, Marketing Director at Champ Internet Solutions

9. Remain compliant

First and foremost, a great cannabis marketing strategy is a compliant one. 

Many platforms and regulating agencies restrict the manner and language with which cannabis is advertised, so working alongside cannabis-specific marketing experts who stay up-to-date with the latest rules is vital. 

Quote provided by Marissa Smith, Managing Editor at NisonCo PR

10. Publish educational content

Don't forget about the approachability and educational element. 

While aloofness, exclusivity, and mystery work for some companies as a dedicated style decision, most brands will find their audience has many questions they must answer before securing business. 

To support approachability and educational targets, hosting easy-to-find FAQs, explainer videos, and resource blogs can be an excellent way to both inform clients and increase your search presence.

Quote provided by Marissa Smith, Managing Editor at NisonCo PR

11. Overcome the stigmas

Cannabis is still surrounded by stigma and misconceptions. 

A strong marketing strategy should prioritize education to provide accurate information about the benefits, usage methods, and safety considerations of cannabis products.

By empowering consumers with knowledge, you can help them make informed decisions and foster a positive perception of the industry. This is the most underutilized and unregulated area within the cannabis space as there are so many voices saying so many different things. 

Communicating valuable, helpful information to elevate the consumer’s knowledge will pay huge dividends at checkout. A confident consumer is a constant consumer.

Quote provided by Ann D’Adamo, Vice President of Marketing and Communications Inspira Marketing Group

12. Share your unique story

Consumers value transparency and genuine connections. 

A successful cannabis marketing strategy should focus on portraying the brand's values, mission, and unique story. Highlight the authenticity of your products, cultivation practices, and commitment to quality. Building trust with consumers is essential in this evolving industry. 

We exist in a world filled with excessive information–a lot of it untrue/not accurate. Being able to convince the consumer will go a long way to building a solid reputation within the community.

Quote provided by Ann D’Adamo, Vice President of Marketing and Communications Inspira Marketing Group

Frequently Asked Questions About Cannabis Digital Marketing

How are cannabis companies marketing?

Cannabis companies are marketing through a variety of channels, including digital advertising, social media, content marketing, email campaigns, influencer partnerships, and in-store promotions. Additionally, they may utilize customer loyalty programs, educational content, and product packaging to appeal to different segments of the market and comply with advertising regulations specific to the cannabis industry.

Can you advertise cannabis on social media?

The advertising policies for cannabis on social media platforms vary depending on the platform and the specific country's regulations. In some regions, advertising cannabis products or related content was prohibited due to the substance's legal status.

However, in areas where cannabis is legal, some platforms may allow limited advertising for certain cannabis-related businesses, subject to strict guidelines and age restrictions. It's essential to refer to the specific policies of each social media platform and comply with local laws when considering cannabis-related advertising on social media. 

Does Goole allow cannabis ads?

Google's advertising policies do not permit the promotion of cannabis products on its ad platforms, including Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords). Google has historically restricted ads related to substances that are illegal in many jurisdictions, including cannabis. However, policies and regulations regarding cannabis advertising are subject to change, especially as more regions and countries legalize or decriminalize cannabis. 

Final Thoughts

In the rapidly expanding cannabis industry, digital marketing plays a pivotal role in promoting products and services to a targeted audience. Despite the challenges posed by legal restrictions, social media limitations, and the evolving regulatory landscape, cannabis businesses can thrive with strategic approaches.

By prioritizing transparency, authenticity, and compliance, while utilizing SEO, value-based branding, and educational content, brands can build strong connections with their audience.

Embracing these expert-approved cannabis digital marketing strategies will pave the way for success, allowing brands to navigate the dynamic digital landscape with confidence and carve out their place in this flourishing market.

Contact Our Market Research

Drive Research is a full-service market research company specializing in qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Our team has conducted several market research studies with cannabis consumers to understand what drives purchasing behaviors, consumption, usage habits, and more.

Based on our research, dispensaries, growers, and cannabis brands have been able to drive decision-making when it comes to marketing, product development, sales, and more.

Interested in learning more about our services? Contact us today.

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  4. Text us at 315-303-2040


Lark Allen

As a Content Marketing Specialist, Lark has a strong background and passion for creative, professional, and journalistic writing. She is also a self-proclaimed music freak and 90s enthusiast.

Learn more about Lark, here.

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