Many would agree we are living in an interesting time of unprecedented change. And one industry that has featured massive change and explosive growth is CBD. With the industry size projected to be around one billion dollars in 2020, CBD, which is cannabidiol derived from hemp containing no more than 0.3% THC, is legal in most states.
In 2018, The U.S. Farm Bill made the farming of industrial hemp legal for the first time since 1937 and gave state governments the ability to consider the legalization of medicinal and recreational cannabis products. (If you are curious about CBD’s legality in your state, you can use this tool to check its status.) And while the legal status of CBD does vary by state and federally, in general one of the most critical factors of legality is whether the CBD is derived from hemp or marijuana. While these two plants are closely related, they are classified differently under law, and understanding the difference is crucial to using and marketing CBD legally.
The rules and risks of advertising your CBD business
While this legislation has opened the door for CBD products to make it into the mainstream marketplace, you may have heard that generating demand for the products is a little trickier. Building a campaign using traditional channels is still challenging for a variety of reasons. Both the FTC and the FDA have made statements about the type of claims a CBD company can make. Due to risks of running afoul of this and similar regulation, Google, Facebook and Instagram — platforms that account for 57% of the total digital advertising market — are inaccessible to CBD brands for advertising.
It is worth noting that things might be changing. Facebook has modified their stance on hemp products slightly, offering the ability for topical hemp brands, but not ingested CBD, to advertise as of July 2019. Google is said to be testing ads from the hemp industry on its platform as well.
CBD Marketing: What you CAN do
So, if digital advertising is out of the question, what should you do to build your CBD brand online?
There are a few options to consider. Content marketing or creating unbranded content that is educational and answers questions users have is a good step in the right direction. It’s important to remember that the purpose of this content is to EDUCATE your readers about CBD products so they can make informed decisions. It cannot make claims about your product’s benefits or its effectiveness to treat certain conditions or ailments.
You can also use search engine optimization (SEO) to help Google and online shoppers identify the purpose of the pages on your website. Below are a few areas that you might want to consider as you build your site:
- The Product URL: Product URLs should include SEO terms.
- Product Images: Use actual product images to increase conversion.
So, how exactly do you optimize the product URL and images? Start with a category.
Since the CBD industry is expanding so rapidly, think about your products in terms of categories first. There are some foundational categories you will want to consider, like:
You also will want to have the flexibility to add your own categories as you build your brand. Once you have your product categorization figured out, you can add it to the URL of a webpage. Be sure to include the product category and size in the URL, like this example: yourCBDcompanywebsite.com/products/product-category-product-size
Let’s look at a live web example below by breaking down the parts of the URL:
Next, look at image SEO. CBD products are often marketed as having health benefits or wellness-enhancing properties, so it’s important that your product photography conveys that expression, as not to hurt customer conversion. Additionally, it’s equally important for SEO to match your unique image file names to the URL of the product page. Google will index all of the product images, and if you don’t consider a matching naming convention, you’re wasting a golden SEO opportunity. Using the above product URL as an example, a good file name could be cbd-gummies-450mg.jpeg.
CBD and Social Media
The next digital space you’ll need to consider for marketing your CBD brand will be social media. There are some different approaches you can take, so we will cover a few common ones that we see successful CBD brands utilizing.
Build a brand with community in mind
Creating a community of like-minded followers is essential to long-lasting CBD brand success on social media. It’s not as much about getting members to buy the product as it is about the network effect, gaining the reach of their respective followings. The buyers will come organically as your brand grows, but only if there is quality content and interesting information worth sharing. One popular CBD product on Instagram, Lord Jones, has taken this approach and created a unique community around their brand by posting stunning images and working with influencers.
Publishers are also helping brands reach larger audiences by offering advertising space and sponsored content opportunities. On GreenState, for example, you can see traditional “run of site” display style advertising on the home page, as well as syndicated content from other publications.
CBD marketing isn’t impossible
Despite CBD advertising being off-limits on most digital platforms there are definitely ways to get around this challenge. When combined, social media and content marketing provide a great opportunity for CBD marketers to educate and inform their audience and to build brand awareness without using direct selling techniques that could get your account banned from these platforms.
For the best chance of success at capitalizing on the “Green Rush,” perform thorough research before launching a CBD marketing campaign to better understand any limitations associated with the industry, federally, in each state and online. Ahead of your brand launch, make sure all claims you make are authentic, substantiated and accompanied by credible research.
If you’d like some help planning and executing your CBD marketing campaigns, Brandpoint would love to work with you. Contact us today to let us know your company’s goals, and we’ll get started right away.