CBD Marketing: There’s Hope Beyond Black Friday

by Scott Waldman

Black Friday is widely considered the holy grail for holiday sales. Marketers will spend months preparing the perfect campaign to win conversions between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday – but then what happens? Is it still possible for CBD brands to boost sales and capture new markets through December, or even into January?

The answer is yes, with the right tactics. Sustaining conversions will require fine-tuning campaigns at the crossroads of CBD regulations, pandemic considerations, and a crowded and competitive post-holiday environment.

Eyes on compliance

Successful post-Black Friday CBD marketing will first and foremost rely on a clear understanding of where campaigns are permitted to run. The bad news is that Google does not allow CBD advertisements, and though Facebook may be an option in the future, for now compliance is inhibitively difficult.

On the positive side, CBD marketing is possible through programmatic. Because of its audience targeting capabilities, programmatic is an efficient and effective way to advertise CBD products. However to take full advantage, it is critical to have the right audience data. For example, CBD companies may think it logical to target THC audiences, when audiences interested in sleep, well-being, and physical and mental health will be much more fruitful ground.

If you have the expertise or partners to help navigate complex compliance, Snapchat can also be a valuable platform for CBD, with serious potential for return on ad spend (ROAs).

In addition to programmatic and social, SEO is one of the most important tools in the CBD marketer’s belt. This is where content really matters. Get deep and get creative, covering a variety of benefits and use cases that help differentiate you from competitors’ content. Then, highlight your content across many channels, from social media to email marketing to native ads on your website.

Fine tune pandemic marketing

There is no business as usual under COVID-19, and that includes marketing. Unlike some other crises, this pandemic requires quick adjustments in response to fast-changing consumer behavior and government-imposed restrictions. As we endure the worst phase of the pandemic to date, an adaptable and empathetic approach will be the gold standard.

How you communicate with your customers during this period is critical for your long term relationship. Being perceived as a trusted and human-first brand will result in more customers now and in the future.

It costs five times more to attract a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. During this difficult time, prioritize contacting and serving your existing customer base before pursuing new business.

During this period, there are also numerous steps that CBD businesses can take to improve overall long term results. In addition to doubling down on SEO, take the opportunity to optimize website performance and customer experience, as well as refining audience lists and improving online reputation through customer interaction and reviews. Each of these is a low or no-cost step that will help boost overall campaign performance.

As conditions change, take the time needed to respond appropriately – do not panic and make purely reactive decisions. Take stock of your unique situation, take inventory of current marketing and be proactive where possible. And finally, given that you are marketing a wellness product that has maintained high demand throughout the pandemic, keep an eye out for opportunities to enhance your position. It will take creativity, but opportunities will present themselves for brands to either capitalize on the current environment or prepare to capture increased market share in the months ahead.

Resonating beyond Black Friday

Even after the Black Friday marketing bonanza, most CBD companies will never match the average campaign budgets of retail chains and e-commerce giants. That means marketing smarter, not harder, to stay competitive.

Smart and resonant marketing relies on personalization. Focus on lifetime value when building custom and look-a-like audiences. For example, who has spent the most money with you, and who shops with you most frequently? Who have been your most recent shoppers? These are prime targets for upselling and cross selling, by diverting extra ad spend, suggesting related items, offering bundling at a discount or awarding a gift at checkout.

While nurturing lifetime shoppers, don’t forget to track and target newcomers. Retargeting with display ads is one of the most effective ways to convert new customers, so make sure to record these visitors’ activity and focus on building segmented lists.

To keep customers new and old coming back throughout December and into the new year, keep campaigns running and maintain a full sales funnel and with messaging and a customer experience that is sensitive both to the pandemic and to the holiday season. Most platforms allow for 180 days of audience data storage, so use this opportunity to retarget and remarket in Q1 2021.

Despite the challenges of the past year, the 2020 holiday season has seen record online sales. This illustrates the opportunity not only in December but through the beginning of the new year and beyond for CBD marketers to leverage these tactics to attract customers and build meaningful momentum.

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