Cannabis Marketing 101: SMS Text Messaging

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Compared to virtual concerts and live-streamed yoga, SMS text marketing has been around for a while, yet it remains a powerful tool for product discovery and customer engagement. In 2020, 75 percent of consumers who own mobile phones were okay with receiving marketing messages after opting in for the service, according to a report from TechJury. Text message open rates average 98 percent, and they have a 209-percent higher response rate than phone, email, or Facebook. Moreover, consumers redeem SMS-delivered coupons ten times more often than other types of coupons.

Colorado-based dispensary Ajoya’s, experience with texting opted-in customers has been overwhelmingly positive. “Our text open rates are really high, and we see a quick response from customers,” said Ajoya marketing consultant Kate Heckman. “We built text messaging into our content calendar. Also, if we have excess inventory or want to promote a flash sale, we can quickly reach out to customers via text and get a response.”


While text-based marketing may sound like an easy solution, it’s not cheap, and retailers need to understand the landscape before implementing a text marketing strategy. Businesses should be savvy to mobile carriers’ content filters, which screen for words related to cannabis that might indicate illicit drug sales. Optimizing text copy by using words like “tasty treat” instead of “edible” can help improve the delivery rate, noted Heckman.

Retailers also need to make sure texts comply with Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) regulations designed to limit telemarketer solicitations and spam. The rules, administered by the Federal Trade Commission, require businesses to get two forms of consent and offer a clear opt-out option for consumers who change their mind after signing up. Failing to follow the FTC’s regulations can result in steep fines, lawsuits, and hefty court settlements, as several cannabis businesses recently discovered. The Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) offers best practices and suggestions for keeping SMS marketing within federal guidelines.

Article excerpt from mg’s 2021 Cannabis Retail Strategies.

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