The cannabis industry has been on the rise for over a decade, and has exceeded many growth projections. The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted just how far the industry had come, with many government officials opting to declare pharmacies an “essential business”.
In addition to impacting industry growth from a revenue perspective, the pandemic has prompted cannabis companies to explore new acquisition and retention channels, particularly those related to digital marketing.
Cannabis becomes indispensable
Legal cannabis sale in the United States exceeded $17.5 billion in 2020a 46 percent increase over 2019 sales. For many Americans, stocking up on marijuana was just as important as stocking up on toilet paper.
Where permitted by law, cannabis delivery services have seen an increase in customers. Cars were queuing in some areas for socially distanced curbside order pickup. Customers stood two meters apart in front of the pharmacies while waiting for their chance to enter. People wanted their weed and dispensaries found ways to get it.
With the rush to secure cannabis supplies abated, owners and marketers were tasked with finding the best strategies to maintain momentum in a new environment.
Digital marketing for pharmacies
With lockdowns in place, many consumers were spending more time at home and online. In a matter of weeks, digital marketing quickly went from a nice to have to a necessity and focused on five main areas:
- ease of purchase
- Increased visibility
- consumer education
- customer retention
- brand identity
Easy purchase: online orders
In a lockdown situation, consumers need to be able to receive their products as efficiently as possible. Standing in line for hours without knowing what’s in it is the opposite of efficiency.
Many pharmacies went from a simple product listing on their website to a full menu of in-stock products and online ordering options. Although marijuana cannot be purchased online and shipped, it can be ordered and picked up at your local pharmacy or delivered, reducing wait times and ensuring product availability through timely inventory updates.
This convenient purchasing method has become commonplace for many consumers who simply want to purchase their product without having to wait around to speak to a budtender.
Increased Visibility: Local Search
Pharmacies are brick-and-mortar stores, which means they serve a specific area. As consumers need to limit travel, pharmacy location has become increasingly important during the pandemic.
Online directory listings are a powerful way to help customers find businesses in their area. They are also an effective way to build a website’s domain authority and improve search engine optimization (SEO).
These directories can essentially include any place that lists your business location, such as: B. Your website, Google Business, social media, Yelp, and cannabis-specific directories. They may also include customer reviews and photos, which help give potential customers some level of familiarity with the company before they visit.
More consumers than ever are using Google to review local businesses. 2021, 81% of consumers used this platform, compared to 63% last year.
Consumer education: Quality content
research by a Digital overview report 2022 shows that the “typical” global internet user today spends almost 7 hours a day – 6 hours and 58 minutes to be precise – using the internet on all devices. Much of this time is spent picking up content about things they are interested in or find entertaining. Cannabis content can be both.
At the height of the pandemic, the internet played a crucial role in bringing vital information to people around the world through multiple channels. Some channels are more trustworthy than others. Likewise, providing quality cannabis content that educates potential customers helps build trust in your brand.
Educational content can take many forms, including product description pages, blogs, videos, graphics, social media posts, and more. With more time, consumers can research the products they want to buy more carefully. This research-driven buying behavior has led to a more value-conscious consumer even in the post-containment Covid era.
Customer retention: building relationships
The pandemic eliminated many traditional options for face-to-face interactions, forcing pharmacies to find other ways to build relationships with customers. According to Salesforce CMO Survey 84% of customers say The experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.
Website live chats, social media interactions with customers, and a constant email cadence have enabled pharmacies to engage and stay digital. Email also provides low-cost ongoing touchpoints with customers, which can include distribution of educational content, discounts, events, product launches, or feedback requests.
The integration of customer ratings and on-site loyalty programs has also become commonplace for customer retention.
Brand Identity: Dispensary Differentiation
During the pandemic, consumers have grown accustomed to brand empathy. Whether those messages were putting people before profits, appreciation for essential workers, or compassion for those struggling with illness, brand voice and authenticity became more relevant to conscious consumers.
The values of a company can be communicated digitally through the visual style and the voice as an overarching indicator for the brand culture. Digital marketing for pharmacies during the pandemic has prompted many brands to redefine their messaging and audience to emphasize their core values.
Pharmacies that are able to maintain a distinctive brand identity are more likely to build sustained brand loyalty.
Impact of Covid on digital marketing for pharmacies
A relatively new industry, many pharmacies had minimal online presence before Covid, but digital marketing has played a key role for pharmacies during the pandemic, providing channels to attract and engage new customers as well as connect with existing customers. Pharmacies that leveraged search engine optimization, directories, blogs, social media, display advertising, and other marketing tactics had an edge over the competition and drove traffic to their stores.
Ultimately, the pandemic has made digital marketing a priority for pharmacies. In 2022 and beyond, new and established companies need to ramp up their digital marketing to deliver ever better and more competitive customer experiences.
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