Despite the relaxation in legislation, the number of high quality low/zero THC based products and the strict standards met by the products available in the UK, there are still a number of restrictions to advertising online with CBD oil.
I’ll cover each channel and talk about whether you can advertise on these platforms and what your best opportunities are to get your brand out there.
Why CBD Marketing is So Important
Before jumping into the ways in which you can advertise the brand, I also wanted to cover exactly why it is worth your time investing in marketing your CBD brand.
- Stand out in the crowd – The fact that I’m reviewing around 3 different CBD products per week and my blog has been going a fair period of time should give you an idea to how many competitors you have. The issue is there really aren’t many differentiators between products, so it can be hard to prove why you’re worth investing in, over another likewise product. This is where the power of branding comes into play.
- New avenues to customers – You can’t rely on your existing customer base and word of mouth to grow your business, unless you don’t plan on growing beyond your current levels. The beauty of technological advancements is you can easily reach people all over the world who are highly interested in buying your goods.
- It educates the world – Many people are ill-informed about cannabis and have poor founded thoughts based on previous negative propoganda against the plant. However, over time people are being educated to the incredible uses of cannabis and your brand should be a part of this process. Once the negative stigma is removed, the industry will reach incredible levels.
- Building a reputation – It isn’t about getting a quick buck, you want to build a strong reputation for selling high quality goods and gain brand advocates who will be long term customers, purchasing on a monthly basis. If you become a key brand, then journalists will turn to you when needing to feature a brand, which will in turn bring further exposure.
- Gain Insights Into Your Brand – We often think we know everything about our own brand, but it is only through performing marketing tasks that we really learn what people want. From learning what types of content perform the best, to reading comments and questions from potential customers, to adjusting ad copy and then pulling it into our web content. You may find from producing content that there are other product areas which might be worth broadening to, such as a different cannabinoid oil.
PR For CBD
Getting featured in a newspaper or magazine brings a number of benefits to your brand.
The link (hopefully a follow link) can help to enhance your rankings on search engines, one of the most critical benefits if you’re trying to enhance your online presence.
Magazines and newspapers tend to also have a strong readership level, meaning there will be a huge amount of eyes on your brand and potentially a number of sales on the back of an article. If the content is evergreen, you may find yourself getting traffic consistently for a number of years.
Being featured in big newspapers and magazines can also add a trust signal for customers. You can highlight on your website which big publications you’ve been featured in, which may calm any potential customers if they’re trying to work out whether you’re a reliable brand or not.
But for many, link building is an incredibly confusing and difficult area to crack. I’ve therefore written up a guide on link building for CBD, which covers various tactics you could adopt in order to build links through to your domain.
If you’ve never written a press release before then you can easily find templates on Google which will help you to shape your plan.
You should keep them in a Word Doc, not a PDF, as many journalists find this more frustrating. Try your best to include data and sales figures, any numbers that will add to the article. For example, imagine your latest product sold X in the first week and was completely sold out within a month, that will appeal to journalists.
Also, try to make your press release informational and interesting, not just a sales pitch. Try to imagine you’re a neutral reader, would this read like an advertorial or like an interesting article in a paper?
Don’t feel downbeat if your article isn’t picked up or gets a positive response from the first journalist you pitch to. As long as the story is good, you should be able to get it in front of someone interested, but it’s a numbers game. You may have to pitch to a huge number of journalists before you get a bite.
Make sure your subject line is really interesting, many won’t actually read the press release emails or article, they’ll look at the subject line and make a choice from that.
Influencer Marketing For CBD
Influencer marketing can both be one of the best avenues to build your brand and it can be the biggest waste of money.
Most of the time when it’s wasted money, it’s because people are won over by numbers versus ROI. If you see a reality star with 500k followers, you might be thinking about how many impressions this will offer your brand, but I want to raise the following points before you jump in:
- Do they often post promotional content? Many reality star Instagram accounts are full of ads and their audience become used to them and no longer believe the product is a good recommendation.
- Are they related to your niche? If they’re completely different, their audience might not be interested at all.
- Do their numbers not quite add up? It’s very easy to buy likes or comments and it’s sadly a common aspect with ‘influencers’ nowadays. Take a look at the comments, you can sometimes spot when they seem fake, such as if they’re all unrelated to the image, e.g. ‘great photography, what camera did you use’ appears with a lot of notable fake ones.
- Where is their audience based? If they’re predominantly in the USA and you can only sell in the UK then this won’t benefit your brand.
Make sure to set out from the start what you expect for your money, set everything on the line, so there are no arguments or disappointment later on. I’ve created a list of the best CBD influencers which is worth looking through.
There are a number of YouTuber’s that talk on the subject and gain around 10,000-200,000 views per video, which as you can imagine is a much greater return on investment than the equivalent they would have to pay to Google or Facebook.
This will grow over time as more associated influencers come forward, myself for example, I’m very much open to reviewing and trying different CBD products.
Influencer marketing for CBD is great as it allows a third party to talk on the subject without being associated with the brand (this does however open you up to negative feedback, but if you’re confident in your product then this shouldn’t be an issue).
It can offer a steady stream of viewers over a long period of time on YouTube (the same can’t be said with Instagram, where the hit is more instant and short term). You’re also not risking your account, as it will be hosted on the influencers.
It can also offer engagement and questions, where you can direct them to your own website or guide them on how to use the product.
I’ve tried to avoid the common members you see, such as Jennifer Aniston, as I can’t see many brands being able to afford her costs. Often you’re better off lowering your targets a little and picking someone who’s audience is heavily invested.
Can I Advertise CBD oil on Google Ads?
No, you cannot advertise anything CBD related on Google’s ad service. You can have a look at their list of unapproved pharmaceuticals and supplements, where cannabidiol (CBD) is highlighted on there. If you try to advertise, the keyword will instantly flag on your account and at the very least the ad will be disapproved, or they could potentially remove your entire account! You could face a temporary or even a permanent ban.
Now is this to say people aren’t advertising on Google ads? No, some people are getting away with it. It is difficult to define how they have got away with it, but some seem to be being a bit naughty with their wording with keyword targeting and with words in their ads, while others are focusing on the hemp angle, which isn’t banned. What you have to understand is they will take closer notice if you have certain terms which might not be banned but are associated with the product, such as THC or Hemp.
Yet a number of us have spotted ads showing CBD products on there, all I can presume is they have either sneaked through and are temporarily on there before being banned, or something slightly shadier is at play. Either way, Google hasn’t opened the floodgates just yet to the masses.
Can I Advertise CBD oil on Facebook Ads?
Just like Google, Facebook has been very clear on the subject and has a strong no drugs policy, which they annoyingly group CBD in with, making it another prohibited area for advertising.
Even stranger, in January they actually deleted a number of CBD Facebook business pages! This was because they wrongly categorised CBD as prescribed pharmaceuticals in their algorithm and mass deleted associated pages. Many of these have since been recovered, however not all were successful and some lost their hard earned pages.
To be clear, this affected Facebook pages whether they were selling or just talking on the subject, however they have admitted themselves that this was a mistake and have apologised openly for this. In the future it should be safer, but they are equally nervous as Google about being caught up in any legal issues if allowing advertising due to its close relation to medicine.
Can I Advertise CBD oil on Twitter?
In regards to advertising, Twitter is ruled out, but their legislation is only for sponsored posts, therefore you’re welcome to create an account and push it naturally. Alternatively, you could push the account on ads from a natural perspective and then add in the CBD element afterwards, once the account reaches a certain level.
Considering the quantity of daily posts on Twitter around the subject, there is certainly an audience you can reach out to, however in general I don’t recommend this as the best avenue to spend your time on in order to build a strong audience and sales channel.
Can I Advertise CBD oil on Instagram?
Instagram is owned by Facebook, therefore the advertising matches the same level of standards. Having said that, there are a number of Instagram accounts which have built a strong following around CBD posts. You can post freely on the channel, using fun and interesting images and captions, but I will offer a word of caution. They don’t like it if you make medical claims about your product in association with CBD, therefore some accounts have been banned for this. Stick to the facts that the laws allow, so no claims of how it can cure certain ailments or how your product will ease anxiety.
Can I Advertise CBD oil on Amazon?
A consistent pattern is starting to form, but the Amazon seller central states that products containing cannabidiol (CBD) are banned as drugs listing controlled substances or products containing controlled substances.
If you were to place these on Amazon, they will be removed within 24 hours while your account will most likely be banned, or at the very least be removed for reviewal for a lengthy time period. This time period will involve several phone calls with an Amazon representative where you can fight your case, but you’re better off getting everything in place so when the rules change, you are ready to upload everything in an instance and push those lightning deals and special offers.
Just to be clear, the rule is on rich hemp oil containing cannabidiol, so you can’t get around it by focusing on the hemp side.
Can I Advertise CBD oil on my own website?
Yes, you most certainly can advertise CBD oil on your website. This is where SEO is absolutely critical, to help you outrank your opponents, as there are an increasing number of brands coming to market on a weekly basis, with minimal differentiators and a lack of market space to push their product to audience.
You should build out a comprehensive content strategy, however it is worth reading more about the Medic Update and how EAT signals are important.
Just to clarify, EAT stands for
This is why all your content should either be written by a qualified individual, or should be checked and approved by someone qualified to do so. This is also why many CBD brands had their websites hit by the ‘Medic update’ and saw their rankings drop.
It was nicknamed the Medic update as it largely hit websites in the health sector. The sites that were most affected were recognised as YMYL, meaning Your Money, Your Life. This means any website that will affect your health, happiness or wallet.
So even though CBD is being recognised as a food supplement, the articles often focused on a health perspective.
SEO For CBD
I’ve written an in-depth guide on SEO for CBD so I want dive too much into this subject within this article, but SEO should certainly be high on your agenda.
You need to build out a strong content marketing strategy so that you can start organically bringing in visitors who are interested in your product range.
While not wanting to over simplify this all, below are some of the considerations or tasks you should complete:
- Keyword analysis and gap analysis – then track your keywords and create a scorecard to measure progress over time.
- Make sure you’re fully tracking everything, meaning you should be setup on Search Console and Google Analytics, or an alternative offering you similar data.
- Build out a link building strategy.
- Create a content plan, which will bring in visits and earn natural links, largely based around your keyword analysis.
- Complete a technical audit of your website to look for any issues that might be holding your site back from performing optimally.
- Look into conversion rate optimisation tactics, so you can enhance the conversion rate on your website, or increase the basket size.
- Add relevant schema and structured data to your website.
- Make sure you have an XML sitemap in place and submit it on Search Console.
- Make sure your website is setup as the HTTPS protocol.
- Measure your page speed using tools like GTMetrix and improve your page speed if you have any issues. Some of the most common issues include large images that haven’t been compressed or are too large and are then being adjusted for their actual size.
- Build a strong internal link structure on your website, with your main pages accessible from the top navigation.
Can I Advertise CBD oil on affiliate channels?
You can offer an affiliate program on your website and allow others to be setup with your system to push CBD oil outwards.
In fact, this is a great tactic which works amazingly. However, many of the big affiliate platforms are hesitant to allow CBD through their system, as they are nervous about being associated with anything they feel might break any laws (despite it clearly not being illegal).
This I’m sure will change with time, but you can build an affiliate program quite easily on your own website, with a number of great plugins and apps out there easing the task at hand.
What Can’t I Say?
With many other industries, you focus on what you should be saying, the key terms that will pull in customers, help you to appear more prominently and increase the click through rate. The CBD industry is quite different, with so many legislation’s in place.
You have to be careful not to highlight any health benefits. You cannot claim it will cure your body from any form of ailments, as this will leave you in hot water. No medical claim can be made, as it is recognised as a novel food supplement.