Cannabis basically sells itself. That's what probably came to mind when you first thought of opening a cannabis dispensary. But with the overwhelming competition, especially from online stores, you've probably felt the need for a few marketing tactics to attract new customers and keep the ones you have engaged.
Unfortunately, the cannabis industry has numerous regulations, especially when it comes to marketing. This means that no matter how hard you try or how much money you're willing to put into it, your marketing options will always be limited.
Still, what if we told you there's a platform out there with the potential to completely revolutionize your marketing efforts? It even offers twice the results you get with any other strategy at half the cost.
That’s SMS marketing for you.
Here are a few reasons you should consider SMS marketing as part of your dispensary's overall marketing strategy.
Benefits of Using SMS Marketing for Your Cannabis Dispensary
1. SMS Messages Have an Incredibly High Open Rate
Email and social media marketing campaigns are great ways to reach your target audience. But what percentage of your target audience actually gets to see your campaign, let alone respond to it? Let's take email marketing, for instance. The average email open rate is 24.79 percent. Similarly, only two to three percent of your target audience gets a chance to see your social media campaign.
SMS messages, on the other hand, have insane open rates. With an average open rate of 98 percent, SMS marketing is arguably the most effective form of online marketing.
Attracting new customers is one thing. But running a successful cannabis dispensary also requires you to have them coming back for more. By simply getting new customers to opt in to your text message service (either by the allure of discounts or new product alerts), you can keep them engaged, thus increasing the possibility of return customers.
2. Instant Delivery
SMS provides one of the most direct marketing channels for any business. In just a few seconds, you can wish your customers a happy birthday or inform them of a special deal on a cannabis product they often purchase.
One of the most alluring aspects of SMS marketing is that it enables you to strategically time your messages. This way, you can send out messages when your target audience is ready to take action.
3. Your Customers Can Easily Opt In to Your Marketing Campaign
Like email marketing, SMS marketing is a permission-based marketing strategy for all businesses, not just cannabis dispensaries. Therefore, to remain compliant, your customers will have to opt in to your campaign.
In addition to compliance, it’s always a good idea to give your customers a choice where marketing is concerned. After all, you wouldn’t want to anger a potential customer with spammy texts.
The best way to make your customers interested in your SMS marketing campaign is by offering them a great deal once they sign up. You can also lure them in with the promise of up-to-date alerts on new products and discounts.
That said, there are two basic ways of getting prospective customers to opt in to your SMS marketing program:
- Encourage them to text a specific keyword to a short code number.
- Place “click to join” widgets on your website.
When customers text the keyword or click on a widget, they receive an invitation to join your dispensary's SMS-based loyalty program. That’s your chance to keep them updated on your inventory and deals.
4. Your Customers Can Easily Opt Out
Losing a subscriber is always unfortunate, but it's better than losing them as an actual customer. If you keep sending promotional messages to prospective customers with the hopes of getting them interested, you might end up losing them altogether.
That's why it's always a good idea to give your customers the choice to opt out whenever they want. Luckily, even if they opt out of your SMS marketing campaign, you could always win them back through other marketing methods.
5. You Don't Need an Internet Connection to Send Text Messages
Imagine creating the most beautiful campaign and sending it out at the right time, only for your prospective customers to miss it because they don't have an internet connection. That limitation could be frustrating.
While online marketing strategies work great and get your message delivered to a wide audience in a matter of seconds, they have one significant disadvantage. Your prospective customers can only see your campaign when they're online.
With an SMS-based marketing strategy, you no longer have to worry about whether your target market is online or not. Sending SMS messages ensures that your customers never miss out on alerts from your dispensary.
6. Get an Edge Over Your Competitors
The average consumer is exposed to more than 3,500 marketing messages daily. And that's only from email marketing and social media. As your customers get bombarded with messages left and right, it's easy for your brand to get lost in the noise. Not to mention, you’ll need to pour in a huge amount of effort into your campaign to even get noticed.
SMS marketing, on the other hand, is a relatively untapped platform. Not many companies use this strategy, much less in the cannabis industry. So, in addition to this unique marketing approach, you'll also be meeting your customers' needs with utmost expediency and convenience. That kind of service goes a long way in cultivating loyalty among your customers.
7. Improved Customer Service
Whether you own a brick-and-mortar store or operate an online dispensary, excellent customer service is vital to building customer loyalty and enhancing brand reputation.
Text messaging is one of the most convenient and effective ways to improve customer service. Your marketing team will be able to communicate with your customers with ease, especially when using an automated messenger chatbot. For example, your customers can make orders or send queries and get answers in real time. This is also an efficient way of dealing with frequently asked questions.
For more complex services, you can allow the customer to start the conversation and then direct them to a human budtender, who can then cater to their specific needs via text or over the phone. This enhanced customer service can give your competitors a run for their money.
How to Use SMS Marketing for Your Cannabis Dispensary
By now, you’re probably already sold on the idea of using SMS marketing for your cannabis dispensary. But like any other marketing campaign, doing it right will yield optimal results. Here are a few ways to take your SMS marketing strategy to the next level.
- Be Ethical
Sourcing your prospects' phone numbers the right way is not only a best practice but also a legal requirement. Countries have different regulations when it comes to sourcing phone numbers for commercial purposes. If you live in the United States, you'll have to follow the CAN-SPAM Act, established in 2003.
Failure to comply with these regulations can be pretty expensive. Penalties can reach up to $43,792 for every message that violates the given regulations.
- Create a Dedicated Team
Putting together a successful SMS messaging campaign takes a lot of work. It requires a viable strategy, research, A/B testing, and analysis. You might think it’s doable to take on this task yourself, but note that it’s best to have a dedicated team doing it for you. The size of your team all comes down to the size of your company. If you own a small dispensary, one or two people can get the job done. What’s important is that the people chosen for this role will be able to focus most of their time on it.
- Keep Your Messages Short
Long text messages can get tiresome, even from friends and family. So, you can just imagine how a lengthy text could anger a potential customer. The average length of a text message is about 160 characters, so it’s best to keep your messages within that limit.
Recipients appreciate clear, straight-to-the-point texts, so stick to information that’s relevant to your customers. Not only do you avoid being a nuisance to your recipients, but you also end up saving money. If you send a text that is equivalent to two SMS messages, your service provider will charge you double. Now, multiply that with your target audience. Doing the math will challenge you to keep your messages short and clear.
- Beware of Your Keywords
Many telecommunications carriers flag certain keywords they deem inappropriate. Some even flag keywords related to cannabis. When this happens, your messages won't go through. Therefore, it’s crucial to strategize the best use of keywords before sending the messages.
You might have to be a little more clever with your word selection. But considering the risks of being careless with your choice of keywords, the effort will be well worth it. You can also take advantage of other SMS-based strategies like Multi-Media Messaging (MMS). Unlike SMS, telephone carriers can't read the text in images, which makes it possible to bypass their filters.
- Don't Forget to Add a CTA
A call to action (CTA) is one of the most effective ways to boost customer engagement. Whether you want them to click a link, buy a product, or visit your dispensary, CTAs clearly tell your customers what you expect them to do.
Additionally, providing your target market with actionable items will enable you to keep track of your campaign's performance. Without a CTA, you would have to rely on deliverability and open metrics to track performance, and unfortunately, those don't drive sales.
- Track Your Performance
Like any other online campaign, it is important to measure the success of your SMS messaging campaign. Otherwise, you wouldn't know if it's working or not.
Tracking the performance of your SMS messaging campaign can also bring other issues to your attention. For example, if you send out 1,000 messages and only 10 of them are opened, that could mean there’s a problem with your server.
Cannabis SMS Marketing Compliance
All aspects of the cannabis industry should comply with regulations, even SMS marketing. Luckily, you only have to familiarize yourself with these two:
1. CAN-SPAM Act
The CAN-SPAM Act regulates electronic communications (both email and text message) for B2C and B2B transactions. Any communications identified as an advertisement or deemed non-compliant to federal law can make you liable to penalties and fines.
The regulations stipulated in this act are especially problematic for cannabis retailers looking to send bulk texts with lots of cannabis keywords. You can stay compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act by:
- Limiting the size of your campaign: You can do this by targeting your campaigns and reducing spammy texts to potential customers.
- Segmenting your target audience: This not only keeps your campaign small but also makes it more effective. You can filter your target audience by considering things like purchase behavior and brand preference.
2. A2P 10DLC
A2P 10DLC is a set of requirements and regulations set forth by telephone carriers to ensure compliance among subscribers. The term A2P means “application to person,” while 10DLC is the 10-digit code in phone numbers. Some major telephone carriers vet businesses with SMS campaigns for violations such as text enablement, program evasion, grey route, and content violation.
Ready to Start Using SMS Messaging for Your Dispensary?
SMS marketing is a vital tool for any cannabis retailer. It offers an excellent way to notify your customers about new products, discounts, promotions, and other information relevant to your business.
POS systems feature SMS marketing tools that allow you to contact any number of customers. You get to choose a plan that suits your needs. Once implemented, you can upgrade or downgrade your plan at any time, depending on your specific needs.
A dispensary SMS marketing strategy can be a valuable tool to reach your target audience, grow customer loyalty, and increase revenue. As you implement your SMS marketing strategy, remember to stay compliant and apply best practices for maximum efficiency.