Welcome to Part Two of the main marketing lessons for dispensaries and cannabis businesses that I learned from MozCon 2016. In Part One of my three-part recap, I covered how cannabusinesses can use reputation marketing to their advantage. Today, I’ll go over some personalization marketing tips that can help improve people’s perception of companies operating within the adult use and medical marijuana industry.

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Make Connections With Personalized Marketing

A common theme of the session recommendations was improving the user’s experience on websites and other channels. Search engines like Google pay attention to how a brand’s reputation and digital experience is perceived when deciding if the brand should be included in their search results. Why is this important? On Google alone, there are over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year. And it’s probably the most common way new and existing customers will find and engage with you.

A good way to start finding user experience improvements is to think about what you like and don’t like when you’re interacting with a business. You may dislike or disengage with a company that treats you as nothing more than anonymous traffic and data. Conversely, brands that seem to speak, connect, and relate to us are always more intriguing and generally resonate better. Personalized marketing for customers is an old school customer service fundamental that applies to online success just as much as offline.

Here are some of the main personalized marketing tips I took away from the sessions. Many of the examples are related to dispensaries, but really any business could benefit from the overarching advice if they’re trying to better connect with their audience.

Make Email Newsletters Communications, Not Blasts

Do you know the names of your subscribers? Do you track what strains and content they tend to look at the most on your site? Do you actually ask them what they’re interested in seeing? If the answer is no to any of these, you’re potentially missing out on ways to personalize emails and make them feel less like a blast into the abyss.

If you know your subscriber’s name, newsletters can contain more personalized copy that appeals to the reader. If you’re tracking what subscribers look at most frequently when browsing online menus and content, you highlight new strains in stock or content on your site that matches. And if you don’t have a newsletter, maybe you should start considering one.

There are many ways to personalize and improve an email, and Justine Jordan’s session did a great job outlining a lot of tips to do so. You can find all of the recommendations from her presentation as well as links to resources about each topic on her company website.

Improve Personalization Using Cognitive Psychology

In the session by Sarah Weise, she explains how you can apply lessons from cognitive psychology to improve your customers’ experiences. According to the presentation, 95% of decisions are unconscious, and it’s important to understand this concept.

Try and appease one or more of the three unconscious decision-making parts of the brain: survival, emotional, and rational. Between all of these parts of the brain, you’ll find the lessons that can be used in your strategy:

Offer Social Proof

We all see the “friends who like this” feature on Facebook, and it’s natural for us to trust a brand that we see more of our friends liking. Likes, star ratings, reviews, and other similar metrics push people to engage by appeasing the emotional part of the brain. Dispensaries can adopt this by calling out “best seller” next to popular strains, highlighting which strains have the best reviews online on the homepage, prominently displaying reviews in general, and by even taking that “friends who like this” callout from Facebook and embedding it on a prominent part of the site.

Bonus Tip: You can add code to your website that will optimize your appearance in Google search results to people searching for your brand. It pulls in your reviews on all sites you’re listed on directly into the search results page, giving you more visibility on the page.

Highlight Scarcity

People are generally more motivated to want something if there is a limited amount left because of the survival brain. Dispensaries can satisfy this by calling out strains that are almost out of supply or post a timer on the site if there’s a sale that’s about to end.

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Call Out Loss Aversion

The survival part of the brain also tends to strongly prefer avoiding losses over acquiring gains. Try calling out what people might lose by not doing something. If you have an email newsletter, your marketing copy asking them to sign up could say something along the lines of “Don’t miss out on the latest weekly deal” (if you have a weekly deal) to help convince more people to opt-in.

Make Comparisons

Another old school marketing tactic is showing a price before and after a discount. Even if a product is still expensive, seeing the before and after can make the actual number look much better. If you’re ever having a sale, consider this tactic to speak to the rational part of the brain and convince more people to purchase.

Create Associations With Your Brand

Connecting with your audience is key to gaining loyal customers and improving your authority. Try adding visual components to the right messaging so people can better connect. When you start listing out those philanthropic efforts I mentioned in Part 1, show pictures of the people you helped – it helps create a stronger association with the emotional part of the brain. Another way to achieve this is adding staff photos and profiles to the forces at work in your store on the website; it also helps strengthen the emotional connection one might feel towards your business before or after they visit.

Be an Authority

The survival part of the brain will trust a brand more if it deems them as more authoritative, and the rational part of the brain decides it’s safe after collecting more information. Clearly call out notable news mentions, awards, and anything else that will instill more trust in people when they look at your dispensary website.

Provide Reasons

After appeasing the other decision-making parts of the brain, you need to be direct and specific in any messaging on your website or social channels and connect the dots; this way, the rational brain doesn’t have to do as much work. Give reasons for choosing your store, clearly call out what a person is gaining, and make the reasons as personal as possible.

Bonus Tip: In the session by Joanna Wiebe, a conversion copywriter at Copyhackers, she gives many examples that help show how you can write copy that gives reasons to readers. You can download her presentation here.

Hopefully you can apply some of these tactics to better connect with your audience and improve their interactions with you. In the third and final part of this series, I’ll provide some tips on how cannabis businesses can better utilize mobile marketing to connect with their customers.

If you’d like to dive deeper into any of the 2016 MozCon presentations, you can also request detailed notes from Unbounce for free.

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