Helpful Hints: Cannabis and SMS Marketing

Cannabis and SMS Marketing

As an agency that works in the cannabis space, we often receive questions about the best practices for SMS marketing in the cannabis industry. With cannabis becoming legal in more and more states but still being illegal federally, our clients naturally have lots of questions.

“Can I use SMS marketing?”

“Should I use SMS marketing?”

“What do I need to watch out for?”

“What are best practices?”


In the spirit of answering those questions and offering help to those curious souls seeking answers for their business, the team at Conceited Marketing has put together this short guide. This is not a comprehensive manual of to-dos but is meant to push you in the right direction and give you the tools necessary to help you find answers to further questions that might arise.

Here you go, Conceited Marketing’s Helpful Hints: Cannabis and SMS Marketing.



The short answer…


While there are rules and regulations around SMS marketing, it is in fact a very powerful marketing channel for the Cannabis Industry. A quick peek at the numbers will verify just how powerful this marketing channel can be.

  • 95-98% open rates
  • 90-second average response time
  • 54% of consumers say they would like to receive promotions via text message

The numbers don’t lie! It’s a preferred channel! 


This question often follows the previous “can I use SMS…”, and to answer that we would like to point back to the numbers once again…

  • 95-98% open rates
  • 90-second average response time
  • 97% of all text messages are read within 15 minutes of delivery
  • 54% of consumers say they would like to receive promotions via text message

SMS is effective at reaching your target audience.

Think about it…

When was the last time you remember being separated from your phone for more than 15 minutes???

We go everywhere with our phones!

Wake up…

Check phone…

Eat breakfast…

Check phone…

Get to work…

Check phone (before clocking in)…

On break…

Check phone…

You get the picture!

We are rarely away from our phones. So why not take advantage of that fact and reach out to your customers in a way you know they won’t miss.

Don’t let such a valuable opportunity go to waste!



Now that we have covered the “yes, it’s legal” and “yes, you should”, it’s time to turn our attention to some important things to know about SMS marketing. When using SMS as a marketing tool there are important rules and regulations that must be followed. We will cover the most important ones below.

  1. Falls under SHAFT
  2. Governed by
    1. Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
    2. Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
    3. CAN-SPAM Act

1. Falls under SHAFT

SHAFT (Sex, Hate, Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco) are heavily regulated by CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association) and by the individual states. Both Cannabis and CBD fall under this categorization and as a result, SMS marketing in these industries is heavily regulated.

Familiarizing yourself with the SHAFT marketing restrictions can save a lot of time, headache, and money.

2. Governed by

  1. FCC
  2. TCPA
  3. CAN-SPAM Act

These agencies and laws directly govern the rules around SMS marketing and it is important that you play by the rules they have set. Not doing so can lead to FCC fines between $500-$1,500 per unlawful message, and that does not include damages or other legal fees. You don’t want to play games here. It is important to be “by the book”.

Here are 2 helpful hints to make sure you are playing by the rules.

  1. Use Double Opt-In
  2. Avoid Trigger Words

1. Use Double Opt-in

To make sure you are in full compliance with the law using a double opt-in will make sure that you are only sending messages to people interested in receiving them. There are two ways double opt-ins can work:

The first is a form-based opt-in. With this option, your client will be sent a link to fill out a form that will capture their information and receive consent for SMS marketing.

The second is a reply-back double opt-in. In this instance, a text will be sent to the client asking them to text back and confirm that they are agreeing to receive messages from you.

No matter which you choose, it is also important to include an option for your SMS recipients to easily opt-out of your campaigns. Having a “reply STOP to cancel” message clearly in your marketing will ensure that you avoid potential legal issues.

2. Avoid Trigger Words

In addition to using the double opt-in to ensure you are not breaking any laws, it is important to avoid the use of certain “trigger words” to keep yourself from being penalized and potentially being blacklisted by your phone service provider. Here is a list of words to avoid using in your SMS marketing:

  • cannabis
  • kush
  • flower
  • dab
  • marijuana
  • pre-roll
  • edible
  • indica
  • sativa
  • Any variant spelling of these words

This list is not exhaustive but is meant to give you some direction on how to avoid finding yourself in hot water.

You will need to get creative with how you market your products. The risk is not worth the shortcut. Play by the rules, and start thinking outside the box for new ways to market your products.



Knowing how to avoid the legal pitfalls of SMS marketing for the Cannabis industry will save you lots of headaches.


Knowing what not to do, is not the same as knowing what to do.

So here are 3 helpful hints for how to create effective SMS marketing campaigns.

  1. Use MMS to increase engagement
  2. Segment your audience
  3. Personalize your messages

1. Use MMS to increase engagement

While plain text marketing can be effective, using visuals such as gifs or images has proven to consistently generate increased engagement rates across the various marketing channels. Make sure to use images with smaller file sizes. The smaller the better. Larger images can lead to delays in delivery and even higher bounce rates. Don’t overlook the value of images in your SMS marketing strategy.

Yes, it is more expensive. But totally worth it.

And hey…

You know what they say about pictures.

“Worth a 1,000 words”

2. Segment your audience

Don’t send the same message to every recipient on your list. Taking the time to break out your list into segments will allow you to build more effective marketing campaigns. Here are a few ideas for how to segment your list:

  • New customers
  • Customers that purchase flower
  • Have not purchased within last 30, 60, or 90 days
  • Customers that have spent more than $1,000
  • Customers with a medical license expiring in the next 30 days
  • Customers that are within 20 miles of your location

By segmenting your customers you are able to create customized campaigns for each group and increase your marketing ROI.

3. Personalize your message

Personalizing your messages means adding in small details like the customer’s name or their birthday. These personalized campaigns will have a higher engagement rate and better ROI.

Not looking forward to the idea of typing out a personalized message to every customer on your SMS marketing list?

Sounds like too much work?

Sending personalized messages would be a daunting task. Lucky for you, personalization can be done automatically through the use of an SMS platform.


The right tools can make all the difference in your marketing strategy. Having a CRM that is not only robust but designed with the Cannabis Industry in mind will help you take your game to another level. There are plenty of CRMs out there that can get the job done, but we have 2 that we recommend:

  • DailyStory
  • SpringBig

Both of these CRMs have built-in tools to help you ensure that your SMS marketing does not violate any laws. The peace of mind is worth the investment to make sure that you don’t foolishly end up costing yourself in fines down the road.


Everything we have discussed is just the groundwork for creating a successful SMS marketing campaign. Perhaps the single most important action you can take for your brand is to partner with an experienced agency. Partnering with an agency that has navigated through these rules, regulations, and challenges increases your odds of success.

You don’t need to be the one to worry about every little marketing detail. Lean on a team that has “been there” and “done it” already. The Conceited Marketing team specializes in SMS and email marketing for the Cannabis Industry. We know how to avoid the legal pitfalls of the industry, and more importantly, we know what it takes to build successful campaigns.

Schedule a complimentary introductory consultation here, and let us see how we can partner together to make your marketing goals achievements.