Cannabis retail has come a long way since the early days, and with consumption and sales breaking new records year-over-year, dispensaries now are working with more data than ever before. When it comes to marketing campaigns and customer retention, what once was a guessing game now has the potential to be more insightful, precise and, ultimately, successful.
However, the influx of information may be a double-edged sword for retailers who are not prepared to leverage the insights strategically. Without the right tools to organize and understand the data, dispensaries could overlook critical consumer details and miss new acquisition opportunities.
With federal legalization on the horizon, it’s crucial for retailers to take a proactive approach in understanding customer data and engagement. Those with modern analytical solutions at their fingertips will be better positioned to grow their customer base in this increasingly competitive space.
Audience building remains a bottleneck for retailers
Loyal customers are truly the lifeblood of every retail business. According to Headset, a leading provider of cannabis market insights, 80 percent of dispensary sales in California are generated by the top 46 percent of customers. Most retailers understand targeted marketing campaigns developed around point-of-sale data drive customer loyalty, but execution is often the trickiest part. An increasing number of dispensaries spend valuable time and resources manually analyzing their trove of retail data to build targeted audience and segmentation lists. This may mean some are trying to combine, organize, and evaluate their data themselves, which is a huge opportunity cost, especially for smaller operations with limited staff and budgets.
Platforms like springbig aim to automate the process by offering unique key performance indicators and consumer filters that give retailers of all sizes access to a highly tailored audience-building system. On top of developing campaigns around product preferences and locations, retailers now have the ability to target SMS marketing campaigns around each person’s customer journey. This seamless process can identify key retention segments, from sporadic big spenders who are “potential loyalists” to less-engaged consumers who are “hibernating.” Through these hyper-targeted filters, retailers can map out exactly what each customer needs and send targeted promotions accordingly.
Fine-tuning campaigns based on customer feedback
Many retailers rely on conversion and engagement rates to evaluate a campaign’s success, but nowadays, businesses can’t rely on those performance metrics alone. As the industry becomes increasingly mainstream, it benefits dispensaries to actually solicit feedback from customers about their overall experience with marketing campaigns. Customers want to know they are being heard by their favorite brands, and cannabis retailers can finally utilize industry-specific feedback solutions to better serve their audiences.
Some services currently on the market blast SMS surveys to a dispensary’s entire contact list, but these mass surveys offer little insight into what consumers actually think about the targeted ads they receive. More retailers are searching for ways to integrate customer feedback with existing market data on specific products and track net promoter scores (NPS) to refine their menus and campaigns.
Companies like springbig understand this is one of the most important, yet relatively untapped, methods to drive consumer engagement. Retailers that utilize these comprehensive feedback tools can create bespoke product and promotional opportunities that make consumers feel valued and at home at their favorite dispensary.
10DLC presents a unique opportunity to apply SMS marketing insights
In June, telecommunications regulators upended the industry’s established SMS marketing ecosystem with the implementation of 10DLC. Under the new guidelines, U.S. carriers can block promotional text messages from brands and retailers across all industries. Cannabis retailers bear the brunt of the burden due to the industry’s heavy reliance on SMS marketing.
Although 10DLC has forced retailers to overhaul their marketing campaigns over the past month, several marketing platforms actually see the crackdown as an opportunity to create more strategic and effective SMS campaigns. To circumvent the changes about promotional texts, springbig clients are sending SMS messages that include a secure web link directing customers to a custom landing page. What once was limited to a carefully crafted SMS message now can come to life on a landing page that showcases a dispensary’s unique branding, promotions, announcements, and educational resources. The feature eliminates the need for coded messages or slang in SMS promotions and finally allows retailers to say what they want to say to their customer base.
Using promotional links also provides more accurate insights regarding campaign engagement. Text message open rates typically are calculated through surveys, and retailers cannot access open-rate metrics for traditional SMS campaigns. Through this new line of communication, dispensaries easily can see who is clicking on links and what consumers are drawn to on their landing pages. This source of engagement data ultimately supplies more information that can be used to create successful campaigns in the future.
Be ready for the boom
Once interstate commerce is federally legal, consumers inevitably will gravitate toward dispensaries that offer the most personalized shopping experiences and services. Mainstream retailers already use this approach and deploy marketing campaigns rooted in highly specific consumer data to proactively reach target audiences. Now that the cannabis industry has more data than ever before, it would be beneficial to follow suit.
Dispensaries should prepare for the impending retail boom by ensuring they are able to understand their consumer data, create campaigns that are unique to the dispensary and the customer, and secure lifelong customers before cannabis becomes a truly mainstream product.
Jeffrey Harris is founder and chief executive officer at springbig Inc. He also founded SHC Direct L.L.C. and serves as the company’s president and chief executive officer. Previously, he served as executive vice president of marketing and client services at S&H Citadel, Chicago, where he was responsible for all marketing and sales functions. Harris possesses more than fifteen years of marketing, sales, sales management, client services, and operations experience in the incentive marketing and loyalty marketing fields. He received his degree from Yeshiva University in New York City.
Founded in 2012, springbig is a leading provider in customer-loyalty and communications solutions for dispensaries and cannabis retailers. Serving 25 million consumers for clients across the United States, springbig is helping dispensaries and cannabis retailers keep their customers connected and engaged while allowing them to track their success and return on investment in real-time.