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Why Marketing Automation is A Win for Cannabis Companies

Published on
June 21, 2022
Raising your hand in support of cannabis marketing automation

Geoff Caldwell is a writer, researcher and marketing specialist with experience in everything from cannabis and crisis management to academia, sports marketing, publishing and the music industry. Before joining Grasslands, he wrote extensively about cannabis history, legislation and products for Where’s Weed. He also co-founded Yardarm Media, which provided editing, writing and consulting services for academic institutions and first-time authors. His professional background gives him unique insight into the ways impactful storytelling can elevate media relations and business growth. Among his diverse roles: he served as a trusted aide to the president of Duke University; was a key figure in the rapid growth of Chicago-based independent record label Thrill Jockey; a sports marketing television broadcast expert; a courier for the U.S. Army; and an intern at National Public Radio. A native of Alexandria, Virginia, he received a bachelor’s in History and Latin American Studies from Oberlin College.

Three media outlets I check every single day: The Guardian (global news and European soccer), The Washington Post, The Athletic

Super inspired by: Lilian Thuram

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: SOME (So Others Might Eat)

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Kids. Soccer. Music. Food. Travel.

Old-school automated email marketing flooded inboxes with irrelevant sales pitches. But with today’s sophisticated marketing automation, brands instead now send customized happy birthday wishes and news about sales of favorite pre-rolls to customers. The transformation of email marketing and automation has made it an extremely valuable branch of marketing, one powerful for businesses of all types and sizes—but especially for cannabis brands. 

Other avenues for cannabis marketing continue to face significant challenges. With Google’s tight grip on cannabis language restrictions, for example, effective brand promotion may seem impossible. For everybody involved with cannabis marketing, the sinking feeling of a disapproved Google ad is far too familiar. At the same time, it’s just as frustrating watching social media posts get blocked and shadowbanned or even worse—losing entire accounts due to inadvertent violations of the platform's community guidelines. 

When marketers control single messages that land directly in audience inboxes, however, they say goodbye to the harsh—and unpredictable—restrictions of other major outlets. 

What is Marketing Automation? 

Contemporary email automation invites brands to connect on auto-pilot with audiences, while incorporating personal touches into each communication. In essence, automation targets specific messaging to customers based on their brand interactions. With the right platform and strategy, brands can build systems and processes that automatically react to key actions and activities from potential customers. While planning and executing automation campaigns requires the savvy and expertise of seasoned marketing professionals, once it gets started the tedious manual work is less intense than in the past.

 Marketing automation tactics and technologies might include:

  • Chatbots
  • Welcome email upon subscription
  • Birthday discounts or email acknowledgements
  • Reminder emails to reinforce purchase cadence
  • VIP offers and loyalty rewards
  • Re-engagement offers triggered after a period of inaction
  • Surveys and feedback requests
  • Back-in-stock announcements
  • Review and testimonial requests
  • Product launch e-blasts
  • Shopping cart reminders
  • Event invitations
  • Price drop announcements
  • Lead prioritization, scoring and management
  • Inbound marketing support

The expansion of affordable and powerful automation tools by tech companies stands as a welcome development for email marketers. No longer is savvy email automation reserved just for big enterprises. Today, cannabis businesses of any scale use automation to amplify their B2B or B2C outreach. In fact, the simplest automated marketing efforts often have the biggest impact, especially for highly-regulated industries like cannabis.

Marketing Automation for Cannabis Brands

In an industry filled with fluctuating costs and unpredictable margins, pinpointing exact returns on marketing expenditures is especially important. Where evaluating effectiveness in the past involved a lot of guesswork, now marketing efforts aimed at turning leads into customers can be quantifiably measured by tracking automated, digital and in-person marketing campaigns. From hosting an event to sending out drip campaigns or distributing samples to high-scoring leads, brands today can monitor progress from start to finish with a dollar amount guiding future marketing efforts. 

Marketing automation also allows brands to control the way they show up in front of customers. While PR is an incredibly powerful tool for crafting brand awareness, building media relationships and broadcasting brand stories, it does not operate in a vacuum. Marketing and PR efforts should be combined with automation to create a more integrated, holistic approach that generates big results. 

The Segment of One

By utilizing first party cookies, for example, brands gather data from audiences about their interests and product engagement, both of which allow companies to target customers with specific messaging strategies. Whether launching an award-winning campaign or offering details about a new product, automatically segmented email lists often serve as the best place to share announcements. All of this targeted marketing allows teams to work toward the marketer’s dream: the Segment of One

Segment-of-one marketing tailors marketing efforts to single potential customers by tracking their activities and preferences through their behaviors. With tools like personalization tokens, merge fields, dynamic email content, time-based emails and cart abandonment triggers, the opportunity to get in front of customers at the right place and time becomes exponentially more attainable. 

As segment-of-one marketing narratives boost messaging relevance, so does the importance of having the proper technologies in brand toolkits. The work behind the scenes is far from automated—it takes skilled marketers to understand segment-of-one tools and how to leverage them for potent marketing campaigns. But the days of requiring hands-on, and expensive, attention to every step of a campaign is a thing of that past. 

This is valuable news for all companies, including start-ups. But in the realm of cannabis, where other marketing platforms and strategies are fraught with challenges, it is especially welcome.

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