A How-To Guide to Dispensary Marketing

An almost step-by-step guide to digital marketing success for cannabis dispensaries.

After years of campaigns, experiments, tests, hard work, and trial and error, we’ve developed a winning approach to driving dispensary success. And despite the apparent challenges (and what you’ve heard), digital marketing is a valuable tool in your cannabis dispensary marketing toolkit. 

Why digital marketing for cannabis?

In contrast to radio, television, and print, digital marketing allows cannabis businesses (and marketers) to view data in real-time, and measure ROI for every digital marketing channel. For example, you can see how many people visit your website and get live notifications and reports on how customers 

cannabis digital marketing

(and potential customers) engage with social media profiles on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more. 

Cannabis dispensaries can use digital marketing tactics to target customers and make changes on the fly – something that’s not possible with traditional marketing.

Our data-driven approach to cannabis dispensary marketing helps you prioritize digital marketing tactics and strategies, and maximize ROI (at every budget). 

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing applies to all web-based or electronic communication between a brand and its audience. With the rise of digital channels – particularly search, social media, and mobile – today, people are consuming more digital media than ever before. 

And while traditional marketing outlets are unlikely to disappear (we also use traditional tactics), every cannabis dispensary must include digital marketing in their overall marketing plan. 

Digital marketing opens channels to attract and retain fresh customers and engage those you already have.

Gain the attention of new customers by using SEO (Search Engine Optimization), social media, email, web directories, display advertising, and other marketing tactics to increase foot traffic, and ultimately, generate sales. Once the customer is in your dispensary, however, it’s up to you to deliver an outstanding experience. 

Unlike traditional marketing, it’s relatively easy to track the ROI of digital marketing.

For example, we can calculate the number of requests for directions on your Google My Business profile and use a simple equation to demonstrate return on investment. If $35 is the average ticket value in your dispensary, and 2,000 customers requested directions via Google, it’s safe to assume an ROI of $70,000 ($35 x 2,000).

Today, online research is as essential as word-of-mouth. And while federal cannabis prohibition limits digital advertising opportunities (nearly all paid digital ads are off the table, including social media and google), it’s nothing creativity can’t overcome – and it’s temporary. It’s only a matter of time until cannabis is federally legal. 

Where do you start? 

Develop a strong brand. 

Your brand is your identity, it tells customers what to expect from your dispensary, and it differentiates you from your competitors. It’s who you are, who you want to be, and how you want to be perceived by customers. 

The best branding is authentic.

In the words of author and marketing guru Simon Sinek, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do proves what you believe.” 

Look no further than Apple to see exceptional branding at work. Without their brand, Apple is just another technology provider. An impactful brand makes you unique – it gives your dispensary an edge in this growing and competitive industry.

Without an effective brand strategy, you’re just another pot shop. It’s that simple. 

You need a website. 

cannabis dispensary website front page A website is your virtual storefront – it’s the digital equivalent of your physical business. And it’s too often something cannabis dispensaries neglect. 

78% of Internet users search for products online (HubSpot). And with the number of global Internet users approaching 5 billion (Statista), it’s easy to argue that your website is a powerful marketing tool. And, there’s a lot to consider. 

Your website must be built and optimized for both mobile and desktop, and you need to give customers a digital product menu with online ordering (if allowed in your state). Make sure contact information is easy to find and accurate, and always include a map to your location(s). And then there’s conversion: you need a way to capture customer information, like an email newsletter with sales and specials or a free download. 

Don’t make the mistake of designing your site in isolation from the rest of your marketing efforts. Effective web design encompasses everything: from your brand identity to SEO, to customer acquisition, site design influences every aspect of your digital presence. 

Investing in your website is an essential component of success in the digital age. For a deeper dive on cannabis dispensary websites and how they should be built to drive revenue, read this blog: 5 Revenue Driving Essentials for Every Cannabis Dispensary Website. 

Content is king. 

Content marketing focuses on creating and distributing relevant, valuable, and consistent content to attract and engage a community of followers – and drive revenue. Content marketing is your opportunity to educate prospects with useful content that provides actual value. It’s not a sales tactic. 

The term content marketing gained popularity with the rise of the Internet. Still, it’s been used by generations of B2B marketers in the form of white papers and reports to attract a target audience. Content marketing is an inbound tactic to attract, engage, nurture, delight, and retain customers through meaningful and honest conversations.

Create remarkable and shareable content that stimulates interest in your cannabis dispensary brand through blogs, infographics, guides, checklists, videos, and other media. 

If you need ideas about how to generate excellent long-form content, check out our Ultimate Cannabis Long-Form Content Ideabook.

Your dispensary needs Search Engine Optimization (SEO). 

cannabis website SEO Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, drives traffic and visibility from search engines to your business. SEO allows you to reach customers when they’re ready to make a purchase.  

When your customer whips out their phone to search “dispensary near me,” your dispensary needs to be the first result. 

Here are a few points to consider:

  • The number one position on Google search results (desktop) has a 34.36% click-through rate. (Advanced Web Ranking
  • The average first-page Google result has at least 1,890 words. (Backlinko
  • Over 50% of searches contain four words or more. (Wordstream)

Search engine marketing is involved. Following a set of fundamental principles, like meta tags, optimized keywords, and the correct (and consistent) display of your brand name, address, and phone number (NAP), ensures that search engines can find you, and, more importantly, so can your customers. 

Yes, you need social media. 

Social media allows you to activate a community of dispensary customers. And while the ever-present eye of Facebook and Instagram (we’re looking at you, Mr. Zuckerberg), inspires fear in the hearts of cannabis marketers, and paid ads are off the table (for now), there are still plenty of opportunities to wring value out of your social channels. 

And you don’t have to be on every social media platform. 

Focus your efforts on the places your customers spend their time digitally. Make sure your posts are relevant and valuable to the community and, most importantly, don’t post and run. Engage with your audience, and they’ll be more inclined to share your content. 

Post often (and consistently), post relevant content, engage with your followers (and the people you want to follow you), and lean heavily on analytics to figure out when and what to post. 

Pro-tip: Include social sharing buttons on your website, print social URLs on your receipts (physical and digital), and prominently display them in your store. 

There are more ways to drive cannabis dispensary success with digital (and traditional) marketing, but we can’t give up all our secrets… 

Get in touch if you want to learn more. Let’s have a conversation and see where things go. 


“Hands, touching hands Reaching out, touching me, touching you…”