Text message marketing can be a highly effective way to stay in touch with your customers, especially for companies in the cannabis industry who have difficulty advertising in more traditional ways. With text message marketing (also called SMS marketing), you can reach your audience in real-time where they spend most of their time -- glued to their phones.
Many cannabis companies use SMS marketing, but not all are using it to its full advantage. From staying compliant to keeping an eye on performance, here are seven ways dispensaries can use text message marketing to take their marketing initiatives to the next level.
Create a Dedicated Team
Successful SMS marketing campaigns aren’t a DIY project that you throw together last minute. As with dispensary pop-ups and in-store classes, SMS marketing campaigns require research, strategy, A/B testing, analytics, and reporting. Depending on the size of the company, this “team” can be made up of one person or a handful, but the important thing is that the individual(s) chosen for this role should focus the majority of their time on social media and SMS marketing.
TLDR; SMS marketing requires lots of work, and the more robust your team is the greater the outcome of your text message marketing will be.
Be Ethical (& Legal!)
Perhaps the number one rule when it comes to SMS marketing is to be ethical. This includes sourcing your phone numbers ethically! Not only is it a best practice, but it’s actually a legal requirement. Depending on where your company is located you’ll also have to comply with the rules of your location. In the United States, this means following the CAN-SPAM Act. Established in 2003, the CAN-SPAM Act’s main requirements include:
- Don’t use false or misleading header information
- Don’t use subjective subject lines
- Identify the message as an ad
- Tell recipients where you’re located
- Tell recipients how to opt-out of future updates
- Honor opt-outs promptly
- Monitor what others are doing on your behalf
And this doesn’t just apply to text messages - it covers all commercial messages, including email. And non-compliance can be expensive. Per the FTC, each separate message that’s in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $43,792.
TLDR; Make sure you’re following all local and federal laws and regulations (including those that are specific to the cannabis industry); otherwise, you could be in for some pretty hefty fines.
Keep Messages Short
Nobody likes long text messages, even from their friends and family- so why would they want a long text message from you? The cut-off for a single SMS is 160 characters, so make sure yours falls in line with that. Only include the most crucial and need-to-know information; the recipient will thank you for it! Plus, it’s beneficial for you, too. If you’re finding that you’re sending text messages that are the equivalent length of three separate SMS’s, you’ll be charged for three messages. Multiply that across all your patients, and your costs will quickly go up.
TLDR; When it comes to text messages, the shorter, the better. Keep ‘em under 160 characters, and your recipients (and your bank account) will thank you.
Be Aware of Your Keywords
Another reason to keep things short is that many telephone carriers will flag certain keywords they deem inappropriate. Unfortunately, when this happens, your message won’t go through. Therefore, it’s imperative to be thoughtful about your word selection. Some SMS marketing platforms may flag words related to cannabis. You might have to get a bit crafty with your language, but it’ll pay off in the long run. It’s for this reason that many cannabis companies like using Multi-Media Messaging (MMS) -- images aren’t readable by phone carriers and they have a higher likelihood of making it past the filters...even if problematic language is used.
TLDR; Some telephone carriers (and SMS marketing platforms) might filter out keywords they deem inappropriate, but you’ll still be charged.
Don’t Forget a CTA
Calls-to-action, or CTAs, can increase customer engagement with your SMS marketing texts. Whether you want them to enter a contest, visit your dispensary, or click a link, it’s important to make it really clear to your customers what you expect them to do. Plus, providing them with actionable things to do can help when it comes to tracking the performance of your campaign (see our next point!) Without a CTA, the only metric you have to track performance is deliverability and open metrics -- and those don’t drive sales! Some good CTAs for dispensaries include “show this text during your next visit for 10% off your next order” or “click here for more information about our latest pop-up event.”
TLDR; You need to give your customers clear directions on what you expect from them, whether it’s an in-store visit or a contest buy-in.
Keep an Eye on Performance
As with sale performance or social media shares, it’s important to measure the performance of your SMS campaign- otherwise, you won’t know what’s working (and what’s not.) Plus, it can help bring issues to your attention. For example, if you have 100 recipients and only two of them opened your message, there might be something wrong with your server or the numbers are no longer in use. Many text message marketing tools/providers include analytics in their services, so make sure to research the types of insights various tools provide before choosing one over the other.
TLDR; If you don’t keep an eye on the performance you won’t know what is (and isn’t) working!
Use It as a Tool for In-Store Recs
Many dispensaries are providing better in-store customer service by taking advantage of text messaging. Here’s how: invite your patients to text you questions about products or inventory before they head to the store. If a patient finds out that their favorite strain isn’t in stock, it could save your company from being on the receiving end of a complaint on Yelp. Plus, if a patient already knows what they want or need before heading into the store it’ll ensure that your budtenders have even more time to perform their other customer service duties. Plus, not everyone is comfortable using the phone!
TLDR; Think of text messaging as an extension of your customer service team- encourage your patients to reach out and ask questions before heading into the store.
Companies to Check Out
With so many text messaging services competing for space in the market, it can be difficult to choose one. Here are a few cannabis-friendly companies to check out:
- Sprout- Many of the largest, fastest-growing vertically integrated cannabis operators and brands have switched over to Sprout. With a combination of Multi-Media Messaging (MMS), Standard Messaging (SMS), Mobile Coupons, Mobile Surveys, and Email Marketing, Sprout is the all-in-one solution for your business.
- Alpine IQ- Alpine IQ is unique in that they empower you to leverage the tools you and your marketing teams love without having to learn what's allowed and not allowed in the industry. They keep full backups of data movement logs and activity to meet strict regulations and prevent you from breaking CCPA/ GDPR privacy acts.
- Blackbird- Catering specifically to cannabis brands, Blackbird for Brands allows cannabis companies to collect customer information, build targeted lists for SMS and MMS marketing, using real data from your products. This way, you can use data like sales numbers and customer demographics to inform your SMS strategy.
For even more business tips for your dispensary, bookmark our wholesale blog or check out How to Optimize and Leverage Your Google My Business Profile.