Optimizing CBD Marketing for the Holidays and Beyond

The holiday shopping season is the holy grail for consumer brands, particularly for those looking to recapture markets lost during the pandemic. However, this season is also the most competitive when it comes to marketing, and it can be a challenge to break through the chatter without breaking the bank. 

For CBD brands, the added difficulty is to resonate with target audiences while staying squarely within regulations. However, with the right digital strategy, it is possible to optimize budgets and achieve meaningful results.

Holiday marketing in a pandemic

Already a growing trend, eCommerce has become the new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most Americans are stuck at home and spending more time on devices, and nearly two-thirds are expecting to change their buying habits by the end of the pandemic. 

To capture these audiences and convert those who are open to new brand preferences, it’s important to keep campaigns running and maintain a full sales funnel, with messaging, marketing tactics, and a customer experience that is sensitive and tailored to the pandemic and to the holiday season. 

Meanwhile, brands should not lose focus on their loyal base. Remind customers what makes your brand special with regular communication and messaging that conveys a solid grasp on current events and emphasizes gratitude for their continued patronage. Building a positive, emotional relationship with customers is one of the strongest moves that businesses can make during this difficult time.

Businesses should also keep in mind that Q1 has become an important shopping season in itself, and extending campaigns into the beginning of 2021 can bring significant returns. Most platforms allow for 180 days of audience data storage, providing a perfect opportunity to retarget and remarket when costs per impression are much lower. 

CBD marketing 101

Given the added hurdles of marketing CBD products, success during the holidays will depend on a clear understanding of where you can advertise, where you can’t, and where it may not be worth it in the first place. 

Most importantly, CBD brands will run into problems advertising on Facebook and Google. While it was reported that Facebook lifted their ban on CBD ads, in practice compliance with their rules can be very difficult, with the rules themselves changing quickly. And though Google does seem to be trending in the right direction, neither platform is worth the risk at this time. 

CBD marketers can also make mistakes when it comes to targeting. While there is overlap with THC audiences, keep in mind that consumers use the two products for very different reasons. Rather than promoting CBD to the same audiences that use recreational THC, fine tune targeting to focus on fitness and health management audiences. 

Despite these pitfalls, marketers can find more fertile ground with programmatic, social, and search marketing. 

  1. Programmatic 

When it comes to CBD marketing, programmatic benefits from much easier compliance and limited regulation compared to other forms of digital advertising. With a multichannel approach, programmatic empowers marketers to find nearly anyone across platforms. Focus on leveraging multiple ad types, including display, native, programmatic audio, preroll, and connected TV, to capture the full benefits of programmatic campaigns. 

       2. Search

While CBD brands are not able to use paid search, organic search will be a cornerstone of effective digital marketing and lead-generation. Consider content marketing at each stage of the funnel, and when structuring campaigns consider three rules: Who do you want to reach? What do you want to say? And what do you want audiences to do?

When creating content, high-quality educational material is the gold standard. Focus on differentiators such as price or quality, and remember that great content itself can be a differentiator.

        3. Social

Social compliance can be incredibly challenging – however, Snapchat may be one worth pursuing. Though it’s technically complicated to market CBD on the platform, when done correctly these ads can have an impressive impact, with as much as fifteen to seventeen dollar return on ad spend. Snapchat also has a number of new tools for advertisers, such as AR/VR, brand profiles, dynamic ads, and the Snapchat audience network.

No effective marketing campaign is complete without a strategy to meaningfully track success. Keep a close eye on the actual dollars and cents being spent on advertising — and how they translate into ROAs — as well as metrics such as attribution and spend from each channel. 

Meanwhile, keep in mind that CBD customers can be much more loyal than most other CPG categories. Metrics such as predictive lifetime value, cost of new email sign-ups, and net new people are efficient means to gather and retain a loyal base. 

Holiday marketing is about working smarter, not harder. This is doubly true for CBD brands, who can tie themselves into knots solving compliance problems and never get a solid foot out the door. Use this as a guide to help simplify holiday marketing during COVID-19, and spend ad budgets with confidence. 

Scott Waldman is a Senior Account Executive at digital marketing agency Adtaxi. A native Californian, he graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to joining Adtaxi, Scott has dedicated himself to numerous industries focused on sales & marketing pursuits for various verticals over the last 18 years including e-commerce, CBD, Consumer Electronics, Education, Health & Beauty, Automotive, Tech, Brick & Mortar retail, and numerous others. Scott enjoys travel and cooking in his spare time and believes that helping other people is the key to accomplishing your goals.

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