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The Big Question About Your Google Ads Campaign

Who is your audience?

This single question is the most important one you can ask when creating Google ads.

The second most important question is, “What is your core message?”

You’d be shocked at how many people get stumped when trying to answer these.

Scaling Quickly With A Concentrated Google Ads Campaign

Obviously, these questions are necessary for creating a coherent and highly-focused Google Ads campaign that will allow your business to scale easily and help you win your first 100, 500, or even 1000 followers.

After you gain 1000 followers, things start to snowball since your website will get a lot more attention on a regular basis.

In this respect, Google Ads are a highly effective way to supplement your long-term search engine optimization efforts.

This leads us to our main point:

  • Having a comprehensive strategy to market your CBD products is important—possibly more now than ever before due to the cultural and industry shifts related to the use of CBD in 2022.

Let’s take a look at the current industry changes that are happening today.

Google Ads, Merchant Processors, and CBD Products

One thing we’ve seen that’s really changed over the last six months is how mainstream merchant processors are starting to open up to the idea of accepting payments for CBD-related products, which for many years was a major problem.

There is still more work to be done, but the tides are slowly turning.

In the past, CBD sellers had to search for alternative payment providers that would charge ultra-high transaction fees.

With high fees eating into profit margins, a lot of small to medium sized CBD sellers had a difficult time making enough money to adequately reinvest in their businesses, which obviously limited what they could do with Google Ads.

Today in 2022, the CBD industry has come a long way. Transactions fees are lower, and what CBD sellers are allowed to do has broadened considerably.

Most high-risk payment processors, such as PaymentCloud, take payments for hemp-derived CBD products, for instance.

As for mainstream merchant processors, Square had a beta program that was approving people in the industry, but they recently stopped accepting some CBD businesses.

While CBD-proponents might feel like they are fighting an uphill battle with merchant processors, the real challenge is with corporate banks.

Corporate bank accounts are particularly problematic, even now. In fact, some smaller sellers in the industry have to go through extraordinary efforts just to get a corporate account because they keep getting turned downed by different banks.

Mostly likely, there will always be challenges in this industry, so it’s important to be quick on your feet and be ready for sudden policy changes.

It’s also important to have enough money put aside to sustain your marketing efforts, especially when it comes to Google ads.

Margins Are Everything To Marketing and Google Ads

You’ve got to have decent margins to do a lot of marketing. That’s one of the timeless rules of business.

So, finding ways to maximize your margins is a given.

During the startup process, some CBD companies don’t have their own brands, which is a contributing factor to low margins.

A CBD shop with multiple generic brands rather than one highly specialized brand with a loyal customer base is going to have a harder time justifying higher prices.

If you’re new to the game and either haven’t established a brand presence, or you are still trying to make your multi-brand shop work, then your budget will likely be small.

It’s possible to make the most of a small budget when it comes to Google Ads, but you’ll need to grind and put a lot of hard work in. You should treat every sign-up, email, or phone call you get like gold and do everything in your power to win the lead.

The Right Perspective For Google Ads

When running your Google Ads campaign, your mindset should be to provide an amazing service or product to your customers. Don’t think of making a sale.

It might sound paradoxical, but that’s just setting yourself up for failure. Think of satisfying a need instead.

If your customer buys something from you that improves their quality of life, they’ll come back to you again and again.

Sales are just kind of a byproduct of how you do business as a whole.

Education always comes first, especially in the CBD world. The best approach is to go the extra mile when people have questions about how to improve their quality of life.

Smartly tailored Google Ads offer you a great opportunity to direct customers to your educational content.

What You Can and Can’t Say In Google Ads

Knowing what you can and can’t say in Google Ads about your CBD products can be very challenging since the industry landscape is always changing.

For one, there are legal issues to consider.

Two, you are going to be facing so much competition in the CBD space and having to select between so many different types of products that it will be pretty hard (without a lot of research or some kind of educational resource) to even know what is a good quality product to promote in your Google Ads campaign.

If you run a multi-brand store, the last thing you want to do is promote a faulty product or make a claim about a product that is later falsified.

While these are challenges you’ll have to overcome as a CBD seller, they also offer you a big opportunity.

Here’s why:

Most people will go to a CBD website, and they’ll feel lost. There’s a lot of misinformation about CBD that makes picking great products hard.

Your BIG advantage is that you can create Google Ads that direct your customers to high-powered educational content that increases your customers’ trust in your brand name.

The goal should be to use your Google Ads to establish your brand authority. If you say something is a good product and the company really does the right thing, people should be able to really believe and trust that you have their best interests at heart.

The amount of misinformation is a problem in general that a lot of people are facing, in many industries. Consumers are savvier today than ever and can easily decipher what is legit versus what is not.

When creating your Google Ads campaign, you’ll want to keep this in mind. Don’t try tricking your customers.

In our opinion, the best Google Ads strategy is to find an amazing product to sell, create a campaign with an honest AND compelling hook, and direct your customers to your educational content, product reviews, and promotions.

Using this simple formula, you’ll differentiate yourself from all the junk that makes it hard to rank organically and get your website out in front of people.

A People First Approach To Google Ads

It’s something that’s often overlooked when trying to grow a brand. People are so concerned about traffic or the number of visitors they have. They just lose track of the fact that it’s still a customer and it’s still a human interaction. An automated sequence can’t duplicate it.

You can do a lot with automation, and automation has benefits. You can implement AI and really understand the right message to send to the right person. But that human touch just can’t be duplicated.

Facebook created their groups for a sense of community, to bring like-minded people together. They share their interests and it’s about trust. People want to feel like they’re a part of something.

No one wants to be sold anything. They want to be educated, steered and led in the right direction, but they don’t want to be sold.

The CBD Industry: Edutainment

The goal is to offer both education and entertainment — “edutainment.” You should try to educate, but also try to entertain through infographics, live feeds through Facebook, etc. Just try to be creative and keep it fun, but also educational.

It’s about providing a great product or service. Like in our business, web development, we don’t look at it as, “Oh, let’s go make another sale of X amount.” It’s about, “Let’s provide the best quality service that we can.”

Money is a byproduct of quality work and caring about the client and staying in touch. Ask yourself, “How can I be of service to my members and my followers?” Sales will come.

Unfortunately, a lot of CBD companies out there don’t have that mindset. But the end, the ones who will be left standing are the ones who care more about individual members.

Low Barrier to Entry

The barrier to entry for a CBD startup is quite low. You can go yourself and white label a product, then have it shipped to your door and call yourself an authority. It’s a business that you can enter relatively easily, compared to a lot of businesses, and at a low cost.

But then once you get into it, it can be a challenge to really stand out from the rest. It can be tough if you don’t have the marketing budget, especially if you’re not super tech-savvy and you don’t know how to navigate your way through different issues.

See How Important Is Web Design and Digital Marketing?

Marketing Budget

The amount of money you need in a marketing budget really just depends on the overall strategy of what you’re trying to accomplish.

If you want brand presence, then you need to be able to have enough marketing spend to be able to get your name out in front of people. That can be done very inexpensively through Google, or specifically Facebook, or influencer marketing. But if you care more about making sales, it’s a very different plan than just spending on branding with no measurement of ROI.

One of the biggest variables for people getting into the CBD space is whether they’re developing and making their own product with their own brand. This is different from throwing a label on someone else’s brand and trying to sell it off as their own.

Borrowing someone else’s brand is much harder because it’s not going to be unique. You won’t have a story behind it to get someone to buy your product versus another product. And customers can’t really figure out which products are different or unique or going to help them.

At the same time, it’s not just about the story or the brand. You still have a medical component where you need to be able to convince people that it’s actually going to help them.

What’s the End Goal?

A lot of people who get in, maybe it’s their first business, maybe they like it because it’s cool. You can start a store for a couple of grand and you’re in business. But to be successful, it’s really a matter of asking yourself, “What’s the game plan? What does my end goal look like?”

For people who start up these websites, if the goal is just to get acquired, there’s nothing wrong with that. At that point, it’s all about growth. They just need the volume of sales.

But it’s different for someone who’s trying to build something sustainable that could last five or ten years or transition into something else. When someone like that is building a community, they are really onto something.

And you don’t have to start off the business knowing, “Okay, I want to get acquired in eight months.” But you should have a goal of what you want to do because there are different ways to start.

And the biggest thing, when we talk with our clients in the initial onboarding phase is, “Okay fine, you want to move forward with ads, great. But what is the end goal? At least right now, you can always shift it, but what do you want now? Is it purely just to get eyeballs? Do you just need influencers to push the product?”

But it can be a very expensive journey, especially when people don’t know their numbers, or they don’t have any clue of where the margins are. Regardless of what it costs to get started, how much can you afford to invest in the business if you have no clear direction? This is where the biggest disconnect usually occurs.

Go back to, “Who’s your audience and what’s your message?” Forget about what your product is. You have to have a story, something that’s going to set you apart.

What’s the Value of an E-Commerce Business?

At the end of the day, when you start evaluating an e-commerce business, what is the actual value?

Possibly, a decent domain will carry a couple of dollars’ worth of value. If you have inventory, potentially that could have value if someone’s going to keep it. But overall, there’s not a lot of value.

So, it’s really your customer database and who’s in your network and on your email list. That’s the only thing that you’re going to be able to sell. It’s not a brick-and-mortar business where you have real estate and you have assets and other elements. Those businesses are valued very differently.

See Top 5 Digital Marketing Tools

Be Different

Don’t try to be all things to all people. In CBD, it’s a lot of the same product, and it’s marketed the same way. Instead, you can market your product specifically towards an ailment or towards a specific market.

For example, golf is seeing huge explosion of CBD right now with some of the golf pros. The PGA has done a lot for CBD recently. So, are you marketing towards golfers?

Rather than just creating a CBD for all, realize that you can’t be all things to all people. Just have a specific target market in mind and go after it.

Even when you’re in such a niche vertical, you still need to have a target clientele. You only need a small percentage of whatever industry you’re in, and you can easily sustain a very good business from that.

But by spreading too far too fast, you’re just another retailer at that point. It’s a challenge people often see when trying to enter into the CBD market.

The CBD Industry Pulls Together

It’s an amazing industry with a lot of people who care a lot about other people. You just have to ask for help. Those who are in the industry are always willing to help other people.

A lot of people, when entering this CBD market, might be detoured away from asking for help.  Many people, not knowing where to start, think they have to have all the answers first, which puts them at a disadvantage.

Some of the best clients we’ve worked with have come in looking for help. At the end of the day, if you have all your answers, what do you need us for?

Start Small and Wonderful

One of the favorite brands that we’ve come across in the CBD industry is a brand called “Elevation Hemp.” They started with two products — two tinctures — which are the oils that you put under your tongue. And they have one for daytime they call “Awake,” and one for nighttime they call “Calm.”

And the level of details they put into branding their product looks like something Apple created. It’s just very sleek and amazing. It’s a beautiful product. And what’s inside the bottle is even better. It’s a fantastic CBD.

They could have taken the startup money that they had and created three or four different strengths of tinctures. They could have done a topical, they could have done all these different things, but they decided to do two products really well. And they are succeeding because of that.

Keep the Quality Amazing

So do a few small things very well, especially on the e-commerce site. Sure, you have your initial cost to get the business up. You have your advertising costs, and how much it costs to acquire a customer.

But then, people don’t always think about the actual product. Or they get so hung up on, “I’m getting all these negative reviews. How do we hide them?” And sure, there are ways to work around negative reviews.

But customers are very good at understanding a good product versus a bad one. And when they buy a bad product, sure you’ll get a handful of negative reviews, but that’s not the worst part about it. The worst part is that you ruin your relationships.

You’re not going to get someone to come back and buy from you a second time. Even when you have people buying from you two or three times, if you sell them one bad product, it could ruin the whole relationship.

The Lifetime Value of a Customer

People put all this effort into getting the customer and getting the store to look nice, and then someone buys from you and it’s not a great experience. Sure, you made a couple of dollars, but how are you going to optimize that customer lifetime value where you actually make money for the long term?

Fine, you might not make money on the first one order. Best case scenario, you make a little money. But is it reasonable to break even on the first order? Absolutely.

Especially if you’re a third-party retailer and you have minimal margins, and your cost of acquisition is high and in competitive markets. Having a subpar product — it’s just not sustainable.

And often, when you look at the ones with the negative reviews, it’s not so much “How do you get rid of the negative reviews?” Maybe it’s time to start reevaluating the actual products they’re selling online because the customer is the market.

Customers Appreciate Sincerity

Just be honest with customers. They appreciate sincerity a lot more than beating around the bush. Just tell them like it is, basically.

In our industry, when we have a sales call with somebody new, we’re pretty much saying why we don’t think it’s a good fit, why we don’t think it’s a good idea.

Not because we don’t believe in it, but we really want to be the devil’s advocate. We want to make 100% sure when someone is going to invest money into some kind of a new process, that we’re 100% certain that it’s with eyes wide open.

The Truth about Moderating a Facebook Group

Group moderating is challenging and it’s not something everyone can do. As the group grows, you need help from people. It’s better if you never want to control the narrative too much.

If people disagree with each other, let them disagree. Don’t try to control what people can and can’t talk about. There comes a certain point where you have to step in if they become disrespectful, but you can leave other areas open.

For example, you could let other people sell their own products in your group. If they want to talk about a product they love or they represent themselves in the comments, great. Let them go ahead if they’re passionate about it. If you created this platform, then let it be of service to others.

But realize that moderating involves many, many hours per day at no return. Especially when you’re first starting up, it’s not something you’re going to make money with. But it just adds value in the end.

You have to love the group and have passion for it, especially because it’s going to take up a lot of hours of your day. You’re approving every single post. Imagine the time it takes to approve 75 to 100 different posts a day.

There are certain rules that you have to create. There’s a standard that you have to set within the group, and you have to monitor whether people are following those rules.

Realize that you’re probably going to hear negative remarks, and you just can’t let it get under your skin. If you need to, turn off the commenting. Don’t make the mistake of taking it personally because you have to get negative comments to be legit.

Instead, when people say something negative, you could offer to help them. You could show them the steps to building their own groups or starting their own platforms. It’s not an easy task an admin to a group, but it’s definitely rewarding.

See How to Deal with Negative Online Reviews

Start Your Own Group

First you want to decide, what’s your niche? What do you want people to think about? It could be anything. There are Facebook groups about absolutely everything.

One insider tip that worked for some people to grow their groups, is to create a Facebook page as the same name as your group. Some people ask, “Why would I do that? It doesn’t make any sense.”

Well, the answer is that you can run ads on Facebook pages, but you can’t run ads on groups. Facebook is okay with running an ad about a CBD group, so you might be able to grow your group fairly quickly that way.

There are a lot of other little details or certain tags that you can put on your group. Facebook has their own SEO within Facebook. Ultimately, they just want engagement. So, the more people who are engaged in your group, the more Facebook is going to recommend it to others. That’s key. You want to stay in Facebook’s good graces because they will help you.

What If I’m Not on Facebook?

First, we would ask why? Facebook is king. Instagram works as well, but many people have just seen the most results from Facebook. Nevertheless, everyone has their different strengths and you just need to play on those strengths.

Evolving in the Industry

As you evolve in any industry, it’s like peeling back the layers of an onion. You get deeper into it.

Many people don’t realize that they should be asking for much lower and lower prices below wholesale as time goes on. As your group grows, you can use it as leverage and get much better pricing on items.

Ultimately, people create their own brands, even a white label, just because of the different pricing and the margins. It gives you the ability to have more of a marketing budget.

One goal is to get people to trust your brand enough that when they think of CBD, they’re going to go to your website first just for education. After they build that trust and get that education, you can then focus on selling products.

Word of Warning

It’s important to never answer any medical questions about CBD unless you are a licensed medical professional. You can have medical professionals within your group who, whenever a medical question comes up, you can tag them and let them answer it.

That’s one of the problems with CBD. You have a person who’s maybe a hairdresser by day, but they’re giving medical advice on Facebook about CBD.

This is not to say that laypeople can’t know a lot about CBD, but there’s so much more to it than that. When you get into medical, people are asking about taking other medications and do they contradict with CBD. So, you have to be extremely careful.

Move with the Times

You start at one place and evolve as a business to survive. It’s crucial to move with the times.

You have to be able to foresee, “Hey, what’s happening in the industry? Where is it moving? How can I position or leverage myself or my business in a way that can move with the times and not just be stodgy?”

It’s also really important to have multiple income streams. Think creatively and find other paths that tie into yours. Reach out and ask for help.

See 20 Questions to Ask a Web Design Company Before Hiring Them


This post was adapted from a conversation with Sage Digital and Gino Bongiorno, the founder of CBD 101, who has one of the largest organic social media followings in the CBD industry.

Born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, he spent many years at a very high level in the hospitality industry. In 2019, when the farm bill was approved, Gino saw an opportunity to enter the world of CBD. Since Gino’s launch of CBD 101, he just exploded onto the scene and he’s very well versed in some of the challenges you’ll face in the industry.

He started his company on social media, as a Facebook group. He has a good friend who was doing very well with different niches and Facebook groups. And he said, “Gino, you have to start one with CBD.” So, he took his advice and the rest is history. His group exploded to 10,000 members very quickly. It’s a very organic way to start a company, which involves creating the audience first.