Cannabis Marketing

Cannabis Marketing

The cannabis industry is rapidly progressing, so if you are in the marketing industry, it’s time to catch up.  Digital marketing for cannabis is where the money is at right now, but the price to pay is the rules and regulations that come along with marketing in this industry. This is nothing too challenging as long as you are aware of your state laws, appropriate vocabulary and catering to a strictly 21+ target audience. Below is everything you will need to know about digital marketing cannabis products:

Programmatic Display 

As we always say, Relevance Raises Reponse. Reach and frequency is key to having success in any campaign, but since cannabis marketing comes with more extensive regulations, it is especially important to be specific with whom exactly you are targeting. There is an art to programmatic display with cannabis. 

Here’s some of our tips:

  • ONLY target a 21+ audience
  • Use high quality sites to improve campaign performance
  • Analyze your data frequently with in-depth reporting
  • Retarget site visitors

 Advertising on general marketing sites like ESPN, msn, and theCHIVE are great places to reach your target audience, along with local news sites if you are permitted to.  This is much more effective than just serving ads anywhere online with no age restrictions and having ads appear mainly on cannabis related websites. We want to exclusively target our audience and appear on sites your best prospects visit often.  

Cannabis Creative Requirements  

  • NO products can be displayed in ads
  • NO use of the word “marijuana”
  • Clean & simple display
  • Ads can include offers
  • Ads must link to your company’s website
  • Include company name & logo
  • All ads must obey community rules and regulations in the geo targeted area where they are advertising
  • Ad Sizes accepted for 21+/Cannabis network: 320×50, 300×250, 320×480, 728×90, 1024×768, 320×568, 160×600, 300×600, 250×250, 200×200
  • Words that can be used: cannabis, prerolls, concentrate
Cannabis Ad

Device ID (DID) Targeting

 For DID targeting, you can create custom geo conquesting shapes around the areas you would like to target. This will enable you to target devices that have been in those geofences anywhere from a few days ago to six months ago, depending on the time period you create. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to be as specific as possible when geo fencing. You do not want to target the hair salon down the street, or the breakfast cafe next door, you want to reach the cannabis connoisseurs that are either visiting your or your competitor’s dispensary. 

Based on the consumer’s unique device, it can be associated with a residential address to gather profile data on those potential customers. This allows us to deliver targeted and relevant brand messages/offers.

Tracking ROI

Before the campaign even begins, define your success metrics. 

● Market Saturation – how many impressions did we deliver? 

● Website Traffic – how many clicks to the website? 

● Onsite Conversions – how do consumers navigate through the advertiser’s website after seeing or clicking on a display ad? 

○ Focus on Post Impression or View-Through Conversions 

● Foot Traffic Attribution (specific to Device ID Targeting) – how many people saw the ad then walked into the advertiser’s brick and mortar? 

John Wanamaker would be wrong today if he reiterated his famous quote: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the problem is I don’t know which half.” With cannabis geo conquesting advertising, we’ll let you know exactly how many consumers were served your ad and how many later showed up to meet your budtenders. We will set up “conversion zones” that will track the mobile devices of your consumers who have received your ads and then showed up at your cannabis retail store. Our foot traffic reports will tell you exactly how well your advertising is working. How cool is that?

Programmatic Email for Cannabis

Cannabis email marketing

Email is personal, inclusive and informative. ‘Direct Mail’ is no longer the only way to reach your target audience, everything is now online. Since the world is at our fingertips, unless the message is compelling, it will be ignored. Exclusive deals and limited time offers have been very successful for digital marketing cannabis products. Pairing deals with holidaze like 4/20 (National Cannabis Day),  7/10 (National Concentrate Day), or any other holiday is also very effective.

Personalization of your brand and brand statement allows you to stand out from your cannabis competitors. Be creative, from your copy down to the packaging of your products to create a memorable experience. Email allows you to directly hit your target audience, so fill them in on what’s new with your brand or what’s on sale, and include an internal link to your website to drive traffic. Targeting beyond your direct consumers, people interested in health, wellness, cannabis trade shows, support for legalization, medical issues that benefit from cannabis use and people interested in learning more about cannabis are all great to target.

Pay Per Click & SEO for Cannabis

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is also needed to ensure victory for your cannabis brand. Paid search, local SEO & organic SEO all come into play and are equally important.

  • Paid Search: Marketing of a business using paid advertising on search engine results pages (or SERPs). 
    • Marketers bid on keywords that users might enter when looking for certain products and/or services. 
  • Local SEO:  Is about your LOCATION being found on Maps and most Mobile Searches 
    •  Primary optimization platforms are listings including Google My Business (GMB)
    • Keyword rankings are not a priority metric
  • Organic SEO: Is about your WEBSITE being found for optimized keywords searches 
    • Primary optimization platform is the client’s website 
    • Organic traffic is a priority metric; keyword rankings support this.

Marketing cannabis may be unpredictable waters to a professional not used to advertising in this field, but this fast-growing industry is doing everything but going away for the foreseeable future. Adapt to this change, expand your horizons, and enjoy the experience. 

Nina Rossi is a Marketing Specialist at Purplegator: mobile-first marketing agency in Philadelphia with offices in Des Moines, Buffalo, Dallas, and HonoluluNina is a proud Purplegator studying advertising in the Lew Klein College of Media & Communication at Temple University.

Types of Messages

Types of Messages

Sometimes the least sexy aspect of something makes the most sense.  Text message marketing is cheap and provides the single best ROI that you’ll likely experience with mobile marketing. 

Messaging used to be just one thing — text messaging. But, today it is much more. Below are the different types of messaging that are currently available.

  • SMS — SMS stands for “short message service” and it’s the one the public and many of its favorite businesses use every day. SMS has been around as a business mobile marketing tool since 1990 and became quite common for business use about 2007.
  • MMS — Multimedia Messaging Services enable a business or organization to send an image, video, meme, or voice file to its consumers. It is used most commonly by retailers in the fashion industry where the image is everything. It certainly is more engaging than SMS, but that comes at a cost. Expect your investment to be about five times greater when sending MMS versus SMS.
  • RCS — Rich Communication Services is the heir apparent to the tiring SMS message. It was created in 2007, but languished for over a decade until recently. RCS allows businesses to send high resolution images, logos, icons and all in color. If you’ve downloaded your airline ticket on your phone, chances are it was sent via RCS.
  • Text to Landline — If you’re 35 and under, you probably can’t recall a time when you couldn’t send a text message to a phone number. Many businesses that have been around for a long time, however, have legacy landlines that have been branded over time. But, on a typical landline, a text message goes nowhere. With Text to Landline, a business can text-enable its landline phone so that text messages sent to the number go to a computer or app where the business can interact with their interested customers while the traditional phone calls continue as normal.
  • OTT Messaging — Over the Top messaging is found on apps such as WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger or Snapchat. In other countries, where consumers pay a fee for every text message, the internet-based OTT messaging tools are considerable cost savers for consumers. OTT messaging is especially valuable for Americans when communicating internationally since there is no cost associated with it.


To brush over these definitions to those who are unfamiliar, SMS allows you to send a text message up to 160 characters to your clientele as long as you have their documented consent.  MMS allows you to send thousands of words and include images, voice files, videos, memes, etc.  For these reasons, MMS is the most popular form of messaging for the retail and fashion industry.  Usually, customers can send a keyword to a short code or a long code to opt-in and receive these text alerts, or reply ‘stop’ to opt-out at any time. The biggest features that differentiate SMS from MMS would be that SMS is considerably cheaper than MMS, mostly because it requires less data to send.

SMS Messaging vs MMS Messaging

The Power of Messaging: SMS vs Email Marketing

SMS is often compared to email marketing. But, the facts are that while the carriers and the aggregators do provide statistics on the delivery of messages to a business list, they don’t know how many messages were actually opened. This data is simply not available. You can’t track whether an individual opened your text message or not. (Although that could be especially valuable in the world of dating.)

There are many studies that contrast the power of SMS messaging and its comparison to email marketing. Some of those studies are clearly biased and were commissioned by companies that work in the SMS business. Regardless, one thing is for sure: the open rates for text messages far exceed those of email marketing. According to Mobile Squared, a UK research firm, the open rate for text messages is 99%, but that study was from 2010. A 2018 study showed that the overall open rate for SMS messages was as high as 94%. The most modern study of SMS shows an 82% open rate

Luckily, email marketing doesn’t have this same problem since email open rates can be determined. Mailchimp recently provided a study that pegged its open rate over many vertical markets. You can read more about the Mailchimp study here. In the restaurant industry, for example, the email open rate was 19.77%. 

Advantages of Text Message Marketing

Text message marketing is a force to be reckoned with and here is why:

  • Your Personal Inbox — Messages flow right to your same inbox, right along with texts from your Mom. Most of us don’t have a burner mobile phone account like we do with promotional email messages which are sent to your old Yahoo or AOL email accounts.
  • Timely — Text messaging is interruptive. When you get a message, your phone notifies you. Have you ever been in a meeting, or talking to a friend, and they whip out their phone to check the text that was just received? Years ago that might have been considered rude; today it is (unfortunately) a generally accepted form of behavior. The immediacy of text message marketing makes flash sales very effective.
  • Spam is Low — Sure, we get the occasional spam message via text message, but it’s nothing like the tsunami of spam that outsmarts the spam filter of our emails. In general, the USA has done a great job of regulating text message spam. Hence, we are more likely to open our texts, because most messages received have a definite value. 
  • Trackable — Every business wants to know just how effective their marketing is. With text message marketing, you can set up tracking links and unique landing pages to track tap throughs and ultimately sales. This enables text messaging to quickly show its value and ROI.
Search Intent: Local Search Listings

Search Intent: Local Search Listings

According to Google, forty-six percent of all searches have local intent. (Google, 2021) Consumers are looking for open hours, finding availability of products, or making dinner reservations. 

But, Google isn’t the only place that people search on mobile. They also search for businesses on a variety of other platforms that are critical to getting found on mobile. So, it’s not just about optimizing your own website for mobile, it’s also about optimizing your listings on other sites on the local search ecosystem.

Let’s take a look at some of the most important listing sites.

Google My Business

If there’s only one listing that you can optimize, it’s Google My Business (GMB). Why? Well, if nothing else, it’s because, well…it’s Google. Google My Business is the single most important listing site that you should spend time with. Ensure that your listing in GMB is “accurate, complete, and engaging.” 

Pre-COVID, more than half of shoppers (59%) use Google to research products even when they intend to buy in-store. And more often than not, shoppers are looking for information to help them choose a nearby retail location and make an in-store visit. In fact, mobile searches with local intent result in offline store visits within 24 hours more than 75% of the time. Nearly 30% of those visits result in a purchase

A retail store’s appearance in search is a part of your customer’s overall experience with the brand. Yet a recent study found that 52% of local retail listings on Google (from a sample of 559 retail chain locations distributed nationally) were inaccurate and 56% were not claimed by the business at all! Listings in organic search and Google Maps had either the wrong address, phone number, business hours or a combination thereof. 

Make sure your listing is up to date and that you use the same NAP (name, address, phone number) on your GMB listing as is on your website. If you don’t have a consistent NAP, Google may think your different details are actually different businesses, list them separately, and you can confuse the customer. When you have a tricky address (is my business on “First Street” or “1st Street?”), use the official postal address for consistency.

Google pulls data from a variety of sources and you need to do your best to control the information that it is pulling from. That’s why it’s so important to add, claim and verify your business on GMB. You’ll need to do this not only on Google Search, but also on Google Maps. If you have multiple listings, each one should have its own unique Google My Business listing.

According to Google, your listing should consistently update your open hours, you should respond to reviews and you should add photos and videos to your verified listing. Google determines your ranking by relevance, distance, and prominence. Relevance relates to the user’s intent. GMB allows you up to 750 characters in your detailed description so use them wisely to help your relevance rating. Distance refers to the proximity of your current location to the business. Prominence is indicated by how well your business is known and the reviews that your organization has received. 

(Source — Wordstream.)


YouTube is the second largest search engine in the United States and the second most visited website in the world.  If your business has videos (and it should), you are likely using Google-owned YouTube to host those videos. 

There are several things you can do to win a YouTube video search:

  • Optimize your title tags and descriptions with pertinent keywords that users search for.
  • Name the video file with a keyword.
  • Use the category feature.
  • Provide a transcript of the video.
  • Use the geotag.
  • Link back to your company website.
  • Be sure your NAP matches the information on your website exactly.
  • Use the tag feature.
  • Embed the video on your company website.
  • Build links to the video.

Fun Fact: Here’s some trivia you can use at your next party. What was the first video ever uploaded to YouTube? The video “Me at the Zoo” was taken at the San Diego Zoo on April 23, 2005. This information won’t be required for your final project, but you can watch it here.


Yelp is one of those mobile-centric sites that is critical to the success of your business, especially for restaurants which represent 18% of all Yelp reviews. It is Uber-important to local businesses. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers will make a purchase after visiting Yelp. (Yelp, 2020)

Users of the app and website are highly coveted by local businesses. Exactly half  of Yelp users have incomes in excess of $100,000. 

To improve a business ranking on Yelp, one of the most important things an organization can do is to “respond to every review, even the positive ones.” 

There’s also a potentially seedy side to Yelp. Watch the movie “Billion Dollar Bully” on Amazon Prime and you’ll experience some of the many complaints that have been lodged against it from advertisers who claim to have been threatened by it when their important rankings went south after not renewing a paid advertising contract. Because of Yelp’s unscrupulous business practices, many businesses choose to stay away from its paid advertising opportunities, but it’s importance cannot be underestimated.


TripAdvisor is not only an important listing site that you’ll want to monitor, but its impact goes beyond the site itself. Some TripAdvisor reviews may also display on your Google listing. 

Imagine what a positive rating on TripAdvisor can mean for your business. Its ranking algorithm, “is based on the quality, recency, and quantity of reviews that a business receives from users–and the consistency of those reviews over time.” It places a higher value on quality and recency over the quantity of reviews.

TripAdvisor recommends you do the following to improve your brand’s presence:

  • Claim and verify all of your locations’ listings.
  • Monitor reviews and respond quickly. 
  • Share reviews on your website or Facebook page.
  • Promote TripAdvisor reviews on your website.

Bob Bentz is president of Purplegator. He is also an adjunct professor at West Virginia University where he teaches the graduate level course in mobile marketing. Bob not only loves gators, but also loves elephants.

Mobile SEO

Mobile SEO

Most digital marketing professionals have heard of Google’s E-A-T: Expertise, Authority, Trust. If you want to improve your search engine rankings, boosting your EAT is crucial. Bob Bentz, President of Purplegator has a great analysis of the E-A-T theory:


Be an expert in what you love to do. The number one reason that consumers turn to Google or any of its competitors is that they have a problem to solve. Therefore, a site must show that it has expertise in your subject matter. Providing in-depth information is the way to make this happen. See why it’s so hard to rank higher than Web MD or Wikipedia?


 Potential customers need to know that they are at a website that is giving them the right information. This is why it is so important to have positive reviews from third party sites that link back to your website. It’s why Google My Business is so important to your business.


Trust is hard to gain, but easy to lose quickly. Consumers shy away from sites that are overly salesy or use linkbait. Become the recognized trusted source and the business will naturally come.

Now, here are some tips on how to optimize your mobile website for search engine optimization. 

Search Intent 

Effective search engine optimization is more than just choosing keywords. A huge part is understanding search intent. Some keywords can actually mean something unrelated to your business. Take the term “mobile marketing,” for example. In earlier days, the term actually meant the large mobile advertisements that drive up and down the Las Vegas Strip! Paying for a pay per click visitor for that product would not be beneficial to you.

There are four types of intent when it comes to search. Winning those keywords that are at the buying stage will be the most valuable to your business.

  • Navigational Intent — In this case, consumers are looking for something specific, but have no idea of where to find it.
  • Informational Intent — Consumers are looking for an answer to a problem.
  • Commercial Intent — Doing research in the final stages of the buying process.
  • Transactional Intent — At this point, consumers know what they want, and they are just looking for the best place to make the purchase.
How To Make Your Website Mobile Friendly

How To Make Your Website Mobile Friendly

How can you tell if your website is mobile friendly? Luckily, Google has a quick answer to this question. Test any website or page here, just type in your URL and Google will do the rest. 

How to Check If Your Website is Responsive Design

Here are two easy tricks to check if your website’s design is responsive:

  1. Bring up the site on your desktop computer. Go to one of the corners of the site and drag that corner diagonally to the middle of the screen. If you see the elements of the website start to “stack” on top of each other, then it’s likely a responsive design website.

But, there’s an even easier way to do this with one of the many responsive design tools that are online. A Purplegator favorite is ResponsiveDesignChecker.com.  Here, you can simply enter your website URL on your desktop to check if it uses responsive design. 

2. Make sure you check the top right corner of the page, that is where the resolution is listed. Of course, it’s always width x height so the first number will always be higher on your desktop and lower for a mobile phone.

 Now, enter the resolution you wish to use for a smartphone. The most common resolutions in the United States are 750 x 1334 and 1080 x 1920. Once this is plugged in, you will see how the site will look on mobile. 

Did the elements “stack” on top of each other? If so, it’s likely a responsive design. Congrats! Your website’s design is responsive and you are ready for viewers to visit. 

Some More Mobile Web Design Tips…

Here is a resourceful infographic that summarizes some of the best mobile web design tips the web world has to offer. This graphic is especially useful for restaurant owners because mobile access is by far the predominant access point.

Some companies that use adaptive design often provide a scaled down version of their desktop site on mobile. One of the key considerations of Google’s mobile-first indexing is making sure that your mobile site has the same extensive content, as well as clear and meaningful headings following copy as your desktop version. Since only the content shown on the mobile version will be used for search engine indexing, this is extremely important. If your mobile site has less content than your desktop site, you may have lost some traffic as of Spring 2021 since Google won’t be viewing the complete desktop site anymore.

Of course, if you use responsive design on the entire site, losing content from the desktop site will not be an issue. Responsive design is a key success factor for a functional mobile website. An easy-to-follow website makes your site more approachable and drives viewer engagement.