In fast-growing, saturated markets like CBD and cannabis, how do you reach new audiences and grow your customer base? As they gain popularity, these particular markets pose their own challenges – for both startup and well-established companies.
With a low entry barrier and new CBD and cannabis users every month, many are hopping on board the green train – from both sides. In fact, we estimate the CBD market alone is on track to hit an estimated $16.8 billion in sales by 2025, while cannabis is on track to reach $45 billion. That’s quite a lot of interest from consumers now and in the coming years.
Amidst all of the growing hype, CBD and cannabis marketers must be innovative to reach a larger audience and provide a great customer experience. This means you’re not just looking to stand out but to provide an experience that CBD and cannabis customers are looking for. So how do you grow your customer base in these industries and keep buyers coming back when they have increasing options?
Data-driven strategies are key.
Your current consumers are looking for what you have to offer. But you can’t grow a customer base by throwing darts in the dark. Let’s look at a few tactical approaches for refreshing your current buyers’ journey, invigorating consumers, and expanding your customer base for the scalable long-term.
Hone in on a target audience with data
In order for a brand to have a consistent and impactful presence, your entire purchasing funnel should align with both current and prospective customers. Finding the right audience for you may be a struggle at first. But once you identify who a typical customer would be, you can tailor your marketing efforts accordingly and build more meaningful relationships.
Trying to target everyone is not affordable, and inefficient. Target market identification pinpoints the appropriate audience for your CBD or cannabis products and presents your brand with a very focused strategy.
How do I identify my target audience?
A great place to start is with the resources you already have. Consider your current customers: What’s their behavior like? Where are they located? To paint a clear picture, factor in as much demographic data as possible to identify a customer persona that matches a typical user for your brand.
To really dive into your target market identification and align your marketing strategies, consider the following questions:
- What consumer groups should we target?
- What is our competitive advantage?
- What are the best ways to target our customers?
Targeting a specific market does not mean that you are excluding people who do not fit your criteria. Approaching your CBD or cannabis brand with these guidelines is one of the best ways to increase your customer base because it ensures that your actions are attracting the right customers. Meanwhile, you are getting the most out of your efforts. This is a foundational part of your marketing process and a cornerstone to continue growing your customer base.
Keep a close eye on new users
New users of CBD - aka the Newbies - are users who reported CBD use for 3 months or less. In Q3 of 2020, these new users made up 14% of the market. Meanwhile, 31% of the entire CBD market from Q1 to Q3 was made up of those using CBD for less than half a year. New users entering the market at this rate confirms that the industry is still growing, and signifies opportunities for larger trends within the industry to arise.
New users can be an indicator of emerging trends in the market. In 2020, we found new CBD users were:
- Switching to and sticking with online purchases
- Still strongly using tinctures/oils
- More knowledgeable about their dosages
Identify gaps in your purchase funnel
A solid funnel should move people from the awareness stage to making final purchase steps on a fairly regular basis. Finding where your shoppers are dropping can signal where your product triggers hesitation. Whether that’s your price point, product messaging, a lengthy payment process, bad reviews, or even safety concerns, these gaps must be addressed.
Ultimately, fixing any gaps in your purchase funnel improves your marketing strategy, ROI, and conversions rates. According to BuyersGap, “the 5 biggest gaps in the buyer’s journey are found in discovery, social proof, experience, responsiveness, and competition.” Each customer journey is unique and any factors preventing a purchase could be your opportunity for growth. In order to fix any gaps, you have to know where potential customers get lost in the funnel.
How do I find the gaps?
Finding where potential buyers get lost in the funnel can seem daunting, but the data is already available to you. Utilizing your current marketing and e-commerce tools makes this easy. The idea is to think about each step that a buyer has to make – from the awareness to the purchase stage – with your brand.
With the five biggest gaps in mind, here are a few questions to consider while you analyze your buyers’ journey:
Understanding your audience experience firsthand is crucial if you want to meet customer expectations and make it as easy as possible for people to interact with your brand. Identifying each stage of the funnel tells where your attention is needed. When interacting and purchasing from your brand is simple and intuitive, your customer base can grow that much smoother. Invigorating customers can be as straightforward as providing a streamlined, stress-free interaction.
Leverage your existing fan base
Brand preference is budding for consumers. One of Brightfield Group’s recent reports on CBD loyalty found that 58% of all CBD consumers typically buy from the same brand. Purchasing decisions are heavily based on whether a brand aligns with them or not.
A look at your existing customers is a prime opportunity to understand who already aligns with your CBD or cannabis products. Although the reasons your customers have purchased from you in the past may be unique, return customers all have one thing in common – they enjoy your products! And you want to find out why.
How do I leverage my fan base?
Your fans or loyalists are those who have consistently purchased from you on multiple occasions. They’re the experts you want to hear from. Customer feedback and surveys are essential to know how your products are perceived, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and how you can do even better. This is especially helpful to identify when a customer-turned-sour can be provided a solution– and perhaps become another return customer.
Once your customer base knows you take their feedback seriously, they are more likely to return to you. Typically, happy customers spread the word about your products to others, further increasing your reach. (Hello word of mouth marketing!)
In fact, a study done by McKinsey found that 70% of the buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. The better the customer experience you provide, the more likely your customer base will continue to draw people in.
How to build a CBD or cannabis customer base from scratch
If you’re just starting to build your brand and market to an audience, the road ahead might look scary. The key is to engage and delight your customers, every step of the purchase funnel. Here we share are a few tips for building a customer base from scratch.
Creative ways to get new CBD and cannabis customers
Advertising CBD and cannabis products are limited in the digital marketing landscape right now. Small businesses can especially struggle with this at first, but getting creative with available channels is key. Once you have done the research and identified your target audience and competitive analysis, these digital marketing strategies help set you up as you find ways to stand apart from the competition.
Email is the most effective way to directly reach your audience. While some may suggest otherwise, this channel is very much alive and kicking. To put it in perspective, statistics show that email marketing is more likely to drive sales than social media marketing. Best of all, email marketing is free and easy to use.
A compelling newsletter, for example, helps you stay top-of-mind. You can also use this strategy to be a source of inspiration and educate your prospects on how CBD or cannabis products fit into their lives.
Most marketers agree that content is king. But content doesn’t have to be limited to blogs. Videos, podcasts, and even e-books have their advantages. Creating high-quality, engaging content is not easy to do, yet it’s an effective way to share your brand’s story and immerse your audience with the experience you are curating as a CBD or cannabis brand. Think of it as an added layer that further educates your readers and builds trust with consumers at any stage of the buyer’s journey.
This may be an obvious one, but important nonetheless. Social media allows you to share your distinct identity as a brand on a daily basis. Engagement is good to have, but when you are just starting out, consistency is key.
Build your voice, chime in on relevant conversations that are happening, and deliver a message that resonates with your target audience. Educating is valuable as teaching your audience is an opportunity to show authority and investment in their wellbeing.
How do you attract and keep customers?
“Get, keep and grow customers” is a common startup phrase we hear when small businesses in the CBD and cannabis space are just starting out. Creativity and innovation will always be important to grow your brand -- and to continue growing your customer base in the future. So, once you have figured how to get customers, how do you keep them?
The key to success is satisfying each individual customer. No matter how they found you or which stage of the journey they are in, customer retention is essential to keep customers coming back for another enjoyable experience.