The Ultimate Guide To Email Marketing For Your CBD Brand

As a cannabis brand, there are multiple marketing challenges that you need to solve for, such as: how to attract new customers, how to stand out from the growing competition, how to communicate your brand values and expand your base of dedicated fans.

With the restrictions on advertising channels that CBD marketers face and restrictions on messaging and health claims, marketing becomes even trickier than in other eCommerce industries.

How would you know what strategies are the most effective, especially given these restrictions, so you won’t end up wasting time and budget on stuff that doesn’t work? (or can get you into trouble) 

Read on to discover…


Table of Contents

One of the most effective channels in recent years has been email marketing. In a minute we’ll explain why we’ve found it to be the most cost effective for CBD businesses, as well as liberate you from a lot of the limitations of other channels. 

Before we go into details, you might be asking: do people actually want to get marketing emails, or see it as spam? We’ll just let the research speak:

60% of customers said they actually prefer to be marketed via emails as opposed to 20% who prefer social media! (source: OptinMonster

The thing is, you can’t (and probably don’t want to) just spam people with promotional emails… 

So how do you make sure that customers won’t be annoyed by emails and actually love getting emails from you?

In this guide we’ll go deeper into the recommended strategies, but in a nutshell – you want to provide them with valuable and interesting content that they’ll look forward to.

This is an example of a nurture email we created for Bailey’s CBD For Pets. Their customers love their emails, and this also reflects in consistent sales and brand loyalty:

Bailey's nurture campaign example

Pros and cons of email marketing for CBD businesses

Given that paid social advertising is mostly out of the game for cannabis brands, email marketing has emerged as the ultimate channel. 

Turns out that there are strong reasons to use email as the basis for growing and scaling your brand:

Controlling your messaging

With emails, you fully control your messaging. You still need to follow legal regulations, for example avoiding health claims…

But this is on a whole different level than the often capricious nature of social media advertising platforms – no more approval processes, rejection and account banning from the likes of FB and TikTok.

Owning your contact list 

Have you ever thought about what would happen if Instagram or Tik Tok disabled your account tomorrow? 

Giving social media platforms control over your audience could mean at best being a slave to their whims, and at worst – they can immediately and permanently disable a large part of your business.

While social media undeniably holds a place in effective marketing, it’s important to recognize the value in building a list of clients that is truly yours

With every email sent, you have the opportunity to increase your traffic, turn browsers into buyers and then turn those buyers into repeat buyers.

The ability to automate your communication

Not only does email marketing allow you to tailor the communication to your customers, you also have the ability to do more for less. 

With the right email sequences in place, your message will reach the right customer, at precisely the right time, with little to no effort – an absolute key in effective marketing.

The way this is done is via flows. These are automated sequences of emails that are being triggered automatically in response to your customers taking action: everything from browsing products on your site, to completing their second purchase or leaving a review.

An example of a Klaviyo Flow
An example of a Klaviyo flow. This sequence of emails gets sent automatically 21 days after the customer purchase their oil drops, reminding them that their product is about to run out, and prompting them to reorder.


The ability to personalize your communication

Modern email marketing platforms such as Klaviyo enable you to customize your messaging to individual contacts, automatically.

The most common example would be opening the email with a personalized greeting (“Hi Daniel”) or incorporating the contact’s name within the subject line (“You’re now officially a VIP, Daniel!”). 

But it doesn’t end there… You can have your email platform automatically refer to products that each customer has bought in the past, or “know” if this is a man or a woman, or if the customer needs products for a cat or a dog… Then, the platform can automatically customize the messaging and offer a personalized selection of products.

Lower cost and highest return on investment

Email marketing offers a higher return on investment than other marketing channels, offering on average $36 for every $1 spent (source: Litmus). This places email marketing as the most effective marketing channel. 

One of the reasons for email being so cost effective is that sending more emails does not add to your costs.

Compare that to all other channels: you pay every time you want to communicate to your audience through native ads, social media channels or influencers. 

Add to that the fact that automated flows, such as an abandoned cart flow or the replenishment flow shown above, can generate consistent revenue for months after it’s been implemented.

You still need to follow regulations

True, email is your owned channel and you don’t need to ask for any content approvals or worry about social media ‘censorship’… 

Email is still a liberating channel compared to the other channels, but you still need to follow the FDA rules, guidelines and any other regulations. In a minute we’ll dive deeper into that.


Emails support your other channels

It’s not a secret anymore that there are ways to work around the advertising limitations of Facebook, Instagram and other social media ad platforms. 

The idea is to publish regular Facebook ads that lead to advertorials on a domain different from your main one. In this way, Facebook doesn’t ban the ad account because the first domain doesn’t sell or even mention CBD products.

Then you collect email subscribers with a ‘lead magnet’ offer. Once you own the email addresses, you can send emails to your new subscribers and direct them to your brand’s domain where you sell the products. 

But it’s still a cat-and-mouse game where ads could potentially get removed and accounts are disabled, so if you choose to go down this popular route, do it cautiously.

Here at Email Composed we have been playing the cannabis email marketing game for a while and are happy to share tips on how to navigate the field. Let’s start with some important caveats and recommendations:


The Do’s and Don’ts of Email Marketing for cannabis businesses 

In the game of email marketing, it’s extremely important to ensure there aren’t any weaknesses in your strategies that could be used against you. 

With email marketing for cannabis brands, this translates to looking closely at anything you share about your CBD product that could be misinterpreted, flagged, and then lead you to be held legally accountable.  

Make sure your ESP is cannabis friendly 

First things first, make sure you and your ESP are on the same team. Have you reviewed their policies and found clearly outlined permission to support your CBD eCommerce? 

Sendlane, Klaviyo, Moosend, Drip, and Ongage are just some of the email service providers that are CBD friendly. 

At Email Composed, we prefer to work with Klaviyo over other platforms, for several reasons:

  1. Klaviyo was built specifically for eCommerce emails, which means the integration between Klaviyo and WooCommerce or Shopify is smooth, no fuss
  2. Klaviyo has direct access to the purchase data and history of each and every customer, which means you can optimize the emails and segmentation, and maximize the revenue opportunities
  3. Klaviyo has no hidden costs. You only pay for the number of email contacts you have.  
  4. Klaviyo offers easy segmentation. According to Garner, companies that use strong personalization and segmentation do better than their competitors by 20%. Proper segmentation ensures your customers are receiving relevant value, helping you build better connections and therefore increase your sales.

Avoid making any medical claims

With CBD marketing, it’s crucial to pay attention to your word selection. Although we might use the words “relieves” and “cures” interchangeably in regular conversation – in email marketing it could be a minefield. 

While this isn’t legal advice and no substitute to you consulting with a legal professional – it’s worth it to note that one of the ways to stay out of trouble is to avoid making any medical claims. 

According to an article published on the FDA government website titled Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products, Including Cannabidiol (CBD), medical claims are reserved for companies that navigate and receive a New Drug Approval number. 

Taken directly from the article mentioned above: “Under the FD&C Act, any product intended to have a therapeutic or medical use, and any product (other than a food) that is intended to affect the structure or function of the body of humans or animals, is a drug.” This applies to CBD products that are ingested as well as products that are applied topically, in humans or animals. 

So how does the FDA determine if your product is claiming to be a drug? None other than by the way you market it. And if you aren’t cautious when choosing your words, the language you use to sell your product could be the end of your business. Ironic, isn’t it? 

While you may feel confident that you have strong data to support your product, with medical claims like these, it’s better to be on the safe side. We aren’t legal advisors so you should definitely run your messaging through one. 

While the extensive regulations regarding the marketing of CBD might seem a bit overwhelming and discouraging, as a starting point we have summarized some of the key points to remember when communicating with your audience: 

  1. Do not use any medical words that could be interpreted as a claim such as (but not limited to) diagnose, prevent, cure, and treat.
  2. Do not guarantee results – instead, suggest that users “may” see results.
  3. Avoid mentioning diseases. For example, do not suggest your product is good for Alzaheimer’s.
  4. Do not make structure-function claims. This means you should avoid suggesting that your product affects the regular functions of the human body, such as reducing wrinkles.
  5. Do not include links to any research making medical claims, even if it’s not your own. 

Remember to also remain up to date with any state laws and regulations regarding CBD as these are ever changing! 

So now that we’ve talked about ways to protect your business when marketing for CBD – let’s talk about how to build strong relationships with your audience in a way that promotes your brand’s growth.

Should I buy an email list? 

You might be tempted by some offers to purchase a list of emails, supposedly containing people who had expressed their interest in cannabis.

We advise to never buy email lists or send ‘cold’ emails. This is a violation of the GDPR teams and CAN-SPAM Act, as well as risks your domain reputation.

On top of it, it’s likely to be ineffective. The reason being, even if you’re lucky and the emails are somewhat targeted to your interest group, and somehow not ending up in people’s spam folders… it is still an audience who has never heard of you.

A much better alternative would be to partner with non-competing businesses who have an audience similar to yours, so they can send emails to their subscribers telling about your products.

Having said that, if you’d like to build a list of your own as quickly as possible, your first priority should be to efficiently collect leads, which brings us to our next point…

Collect as many leads as possible

As opposed to other eCommerce niches, your advertising options for cannabis products are limited, and you’re also running the risk of your social media platform shutting down your account for one reason or another. 

Therefore, your best bet is to own as much of your audience as possible. This is done by capturing as many email contacts as possible, whether it’s on your checkout page, in-store, or a popup on your site.

According to research by IRP Commerce, the average conversion rate for Health & Wellbeing online stores is 3.0% which means that 97% of the traffic coming to your site is likely to exit without buying.IRP Commerce - conversion rates for Health and Wellbeing sites.png

Let’s note that number again to be sure it sinks in: 97% of your site visitors end up being lost! 

Unless… you install a popup on your site. No wonder almost all eCommerce sites feature a popup.

But it’s not enough to just put a popup, offer some discount or other incentive, and hope it works. Your goal is to capture as much traffic as possible, and convert them into contacts on your list, which represents your owned audience.

This is done through careful copywriting, graphic design and crafting a compelling offer. Then split-testing variations to maximize the popup’s conversion.

You’d usually expect to see around 6% – 8% of site visitors signing up for the popup and getting into your list. But well-executed popups can convert much higher than that. Here’s a popup we did for Bailey’s CBD For Pets:

And these are the stats, taken from their OptinMonster platform:

As you can see, more than 20% of site visitors registered for the popup. This is a fantastic number, translating into 145 new email contacts collected in just a couple of days.

Building a relationship with your customers

How likely are you to make a sale on a cat CBD product if the customer has three dogs? Wouldn’t your efforts be more successful if the same email was sent only to those engaged with your cat products?

We all know that it costs up to 25 times as much to get a sale from a new customer, compared to getting a repeat sale from an existing customer. In other words, customer acquisition is the most expensive marketing activity.

So it only makes sense, to want to retain the customers you paid so much to acquire. Emails allow you to build a stronger connection and trust with your customers, which translates into retaining them for the long run. 

Segmenting your emails is a great method to develop a relationship that’s personalized, following up with your customers with relevant offers based on the information you have about them. 

There are numerous strategies to segment your audience, so we won’t be able to offer a one-size-fits-all guide here. However we can definitely give you some great directions to explore. 

As a cannabis brand, depending on the types of products that you sell, the following is a list of segments that we found work well with cannabis marketing and are worth exploring: 

  • Health/fitness enthusiasts
  • Senior citizens
  • Newcomers
  • Product-based or category-based segments

We’ve seen some email marketers recommend including an age and location gate in popups as a way to segment your leads. 

But we’ve found that this tactic results in lower submission rates – less people would be inclined to submit their email and other details, so you end up losing leads that you could have otherwise segmented later if needed.

The Importance of nurturing your email list 

Not every email you send is supposed to be a sale. In fact, please do not try to turn every email into a sales brochure. 

The people who have signed up for your email list are telling you a very important thing: we want to hear more from you! Do not pass up the opportunity to share educational content that provides them with valuable information.

Nurture emails help you improve your relationships with your customers and help transition and convert those who might not yet be customers by providing them with the details and content they need to make the decision. 

Nurturing also helps you improve your targeting and personalization, since you can segment your audience according to how they engaged with specific pieces of content that you’ve shared with them.

By implementing a nurturing email marketing strategy, you’re staying top-of-mind with your leads. The next time they’d want to buy a tincture, skincare product, or (insert your product category here…) they’ll think about you.

They’ll also associate your brand name with interesting and helpful information, so you can expect to receive a better response to your sales campaigns down the line. 

This all means that nurturing instead of being “pushy” for sales, actually results in more repeat sales and more brand loyalty, which translates into a higher Customer Lifetime Value, which translates into higher overall revenue. 

How segmentation helps nurture & convert

Grouping your audience into segments allows you to better understand your customers and what they seek from you and your brand. 

Remember, you never know how close a subscriber might be to converting into a customer. Your subscriber has clearly shown interest in your cannabis products but they might still be on the lookout for the last thing before biting the bullet and making the purchase. 

Your customers leave behind bread crumbs every time they shop and interact with your brand. Take advantage of these and put the bread crumbs together – in a segment – to gather all the information you can find about them, so when it’s time to reach out again, you can make sure that the content they receive is one they find relevant and valuable. 

Building these segments sometimes takes time and patience, but the results are well worth it. For one of our clients, a CBD supplements brand, this strategy resulted in over twice the revenue from campaigns: 


Before segmentation:


After segmentation:


In this case, after diving deep into researching the brand’s audience, we came up with an array of segments. Most of these segments were based on interactions with the previous campaigns that we’ve sent, as well as the activities of visitors to the brand’s website. Then we focused each campaign for a separate segment, so each segment got highly relevant content and offers.

The results speak for themselves: when you speak directly to your audience, they hear you out. 

The must-have automated sequences (flows)

As part of your goal to nurture and convert your list contacts, be sure to have at least the following basic flows set up on your email platform:

Lead Generation Welcome Flow

Once you collected a lead through your website’s popup, newsletter sign up box or other lead capture elements, it’s time to nurture them towards their first purchase. 

This sequence of emails welcomes new leads to your brand. Be sure to showcase the value you could bring them and social proof that you have (while being careful to avoid the temptation to include any medical claims).

Abandoned Cart Flow

It might come as a shocking surprise to some, but most online shoppers end up abandoning their cart – between 60% to 80% (research here).

Having a carefully tested and optimized abandoned cart flow in place is critical, to prevent leaving all that money on the table.

Post Purchase Flow 

This flow helps turn a first-time shopper into a loyal and repeat customer. 

It welcomes the new customer to your brand, sets expectations and contributes to a great buying experience. 

You can also include offers for related products, upsells or a subscription offer to significantly increase the lifetime value of your new customer.

Replenishment Flow

Since most cannabis products are consumables, this flow provides a great mechanism to make sure your customers return to buy more of the product they’ve used up.

For example, if a certain tincture is expected to last for 30 days, this flow automatically sends the customer a friendly and well-timed reminder to buy another one.

Within this flow you can also suggest similar products that the customer might want to try.

Besides the above 4 flows there are other important ones (such as a Win-back flow, Sunset unengaged, VIP customers and more). 

However if you have nothing in place yet when it comes to automated sequences, these are the first you need to ensure you set up.


Next steps

As you’ve probably well aware now, cannabis marketing is not as straightforward as marketing for other industries. Growing a cannabis brand can mean lots of trial and error. It takes expertise in the industry to exploit the opportunities, especially as a bad move, no matter how small, could result in a critical blow to your business. 

After all, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link – building your brand by collaborating with the right team of marketers can help ensure that your efforts will be successful.

Here at Email Composed, we’re a boutique team of copywriters, graphic designers and Klaviyo masters who know CBD email marketing from head to toe, inside out. 

We’ve created countless emails for a variety of CBD/cannabis/hemp products across the industry. This means we know by experience what works and what doesn’t, so you can be as effective as possible with your marketing.  

We’d love to lend you our best players and help you scale your cannabis eCommerce brand. Click the button below to book a discovery call with us – plus remember – when you have a team of experts taking care of your email marketing, you get more time for the things you enjoy the most!  

Need help getting your email marketing dialed-in?
Click the button below and let’s talk!

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