Whether you’re a new license holder getting started with email or a multistate operator (MSO) growing their list and email program, it can be challenging choosing the right email service provider (ESP) for your marketing needs. On top of that, if you’re a CBD or cannabis brand, you have even more limitations and restrictions when choosing an ESP because many email providers don’t permit CBD or THC email content.
Additionally, ESP account suspension is a serious issue and can be a waste of time, money, and opportunity. It’s important to find the right email service provider to meet your needs so you can grow with them in the long term. Your ESP does NOT have to be cannabis industry focused for you to be successful. In fact, some of the marketing tools I’ve seen out there that niched down to cannabis but not their marketing function are pretty pathetic, break frequently, and have an awful user interface with limited automations. They tout themselves as built for cannabis but lack the email knowledge to maintain good deliverability with inbox providers. As long as your ESP permits THC content, use a platform that’s popular in the email space, has good deliverability, and actually has a badass reputation and user experience.
If you think it’s hard knowing which ESPs are friendly to cannabis or CBD, the email service providers themselves are just as unsure in some cases. Mailchimp has vague policies and since their recent merger with Intuit, it’s helpful to keep an eye on what those policy changes could mean to your email program. At Iterable, at the time I spoke to them, they were not taking on any more cannabis clients, but they did have some active cannabis clients that they were allowing to stay on, including Eaze.
Since there’s a lot of confusion out there, I compiled a list of cannabis and CBD friendly email service providers. It is important to note that the use of CBD and cannabis is regulated differently in different states, countries and jurisdictions, and some email service providers may have policies that prohibit or restrict the promotion of these products. Some email service providers may be more permissive when it comes to CBD and cannabis brands, although it’s often hard to discern from their terms and policies online. It is recommended that you research the policies of various email service providers and choose one that is compatible with your business needs.
Disclaimer: We are referring to email marketing. Most SMS policies for these companies have different rules for their SMS marketing, typically restricting cannabis and CBD senders. Also, email service providers can change their policies and stance on any given day. We will do our best to maintain the accuracy of this blog, but please always check directly with the provider to confirm their most up-to-date permissions.
Here’s the list of cannabis and CBD friendly email service providers:
Klaviyo: Cannabis and CBD Permitted
Klaviyo is hands down the best email platform out there for retail dispensaries and anyone else in the business to consumer (B2C) space. They are a cannabis and CBD friendly ecommerce platform. You can easily integrate Klaviyo with your website, online shop, or POS, enabling the ability for smarter, data-driven automations to easily convert consumers at the right point in their customer journey.
They have been open and transparent about their policies in our direct conversations. Their parent company for SMS, Twilio, is NOT cannabis friendly though, so don’t get too excited about their SMS offering just yet. But for email, it’s a top tier tool that we highly recommend.
Drip: Cannabis and CBD Permitted
Drip is a powerful platform allowing cannabis brands to send timely campaigns and sophisticated automations. It’s worked well for small lists, or lists of 100,000. I love the automation capabilities and customer support from Drip, so I highly recommend their platform for cannabis or CBD senders.
However, be aware of their terms of service which limit the promotion of cannabis or CBD for their SMS service: “By subscribing to Drip SMS, you also acknowledge that you are not a business who sells consumable drug products, including cannabis and CBD oil. Text messaging has stricter federal regulations than email marketing.”
SendinBlue: Cannabis and CBD Prohibited
SendinBlue doesn’t have the most clear policy out there but all resources I have seen seem to point to the fact that they won’t let CBD content on their platform. The same is said to be true of cannabis, yet brands like Green Dragon dispensary and Doobba cannabis delivery have used the SendinBlue platform in the past. Cannabis and CBD are prohibited on SendinBlue.
Active Campaign: CBD Permitted. Cannabis Prohibited
Active Campaign permits CBD email marketing. Active Campaign prohibits cannabis email campaigns. It’s a great platform for small to medium-sized CBD businesses looking for a reliable email and automation solution.
Aweber: Cannabis and CBD Permitted
AWeber’s acceptable use policy states that they allow the promotion of cannabis, hemp and CBD products as long as they are legal in the sender’s jurisdiction and comply with relevant regulations.
Mailchimp: CBD and Cannabis Prohibited
Unless they come out with a clear and certain stance on cannabis and CBD, don’t work with Mailchimp. Yes, I know some cannabis companies are getting away with using the platform on the B2B side of the industry (ancillary providers). However, Mailchimp has banned accounts in the past and it’s not worth the risk when other providers, with better platforms, accept cannabis senders.
So what’s the deal with Mailchimp’s policy?
Mailchimp was recently acquired by Intuit, who is not cannabis-friendly for payroll. Mailchimp supposedly allows the promotion of CBD and hemp products as long as they are legal in the sender’s jurisdiction and comply with relevant regulations. Some articles suggest they could be cannabis friendly as well, even supporting dispensaries with email marketing.
However, according to Mailchimp’s Acceptable Use Policy, “illegal goods or services” is prohibited which leaves us in a gray area with Mailchimp. Not a risk I would be willing to take for my email program when there are better options out there.
Sendlane: Cannabis and CBD Permitted
You don’t have to look far to know that Sendlane is THC and CBD friendly. Check out an excerpt from their website: “Promote your products and services to subscribers without fear of having your account suspended. We’re 100% supportive of Cannabis & Cannabinoid businesses.”
They also offer webinars and other resources focused on the CBD or cannabis industry. On their website, Sendlane says “As the CBD industry has fierce competition and regulations that other industries do not have re: advertising—the need for a strong brand, effective marketing & optimized strategies is more important than ever.”
I’d always recommend an email service provider built for email and deliverability, that supports CBD and cannabis customers (such as Sendlane or Klaviyo), over an email solution “built for cannabis” that doesn’t take deliverability and email best practices into consideration. You want an email vendor that actually knows email versus someone that knows the industry but builds a poor performing platform with few analytics and limited functionality.
Alpine IQ: Cannabis and CBD Permitted
Alpine IQ is a cannabis and CBD friendly solution made for the cannabis industry. From email marketing to loyalty programs, they can sync your consumer experiences online and offline for more thoughtful, conversion-focused campaigns that will drive more revenue for your cannabis or CBD business.
Hubspot: Cannabis and CBD Permitted
HubSpot is cannabis and CBD friendly. Their work alongside the industry explains why their former legal chief smoothly transitioned from HubSpot to cannabis fintech company Dutchie. Besides that circumstance, HubSpot has allowed CBD and cannabis senders to use their customer relationship management (CRM) and email technology.
Moosend: Cannabis and CBD Permitted
Moosend is a cannabis and CBD friendly email marketing and automation software. The platform offers a range of features that enable users to create and send email campaigns, track performance metrics, and automate various marketing tasks.
Mailerlite: Cannabis and CBD Permitted
MailerLite is an affordable email marketing software for small businesses that permits cannabis and CBD emails. The platform is designed to be user-friendly and intuitive, making it accessible to beginners in the email space.
Flodesk: Cannabis and CBD Permitted
You can’t use Flodesk checkout (probably because of the integration with Stripe) for cannabis or CBD but you can use Flodesk for email needs. If you’re only planning on using them for legitimate email marketing in legal markets, you should be approved to send emails.
Additional providers who are cannabis or CBD-friendly:
Salesforce Marketing Cloud
Now that you know which email service providers you can work with, you can start building your email list.
For a dispensary, having an email list to market to can be a highly effective way to reach out to customers, build brand loyalty, and drive sales. Here are some reasons why:
Direct Communication: Email marketing provides a direct line of communication to customers who have opted-in to receive messages from the dispensary. This allows for personalized and targeted messaging to a receptive audience.
Customer Retention: Email marketing can help dispensaries retain existing customers by keeping them informed about new products, special offers, and promotions.
Brand Awareness: Email marketing can help dispensaries build brand awareness by keeping their brand top of mind with customers.
Increased Sales: Email marketing can drive sales by promoting new products, offering exclusive deals, and highlighting limited-time offers.
Customer Feedback: Email marketing can be used to solicit customer feedback, which can help dispensaries improve their products and services.
Cost-effective: Compared to other marketing channels, email marketing is cost-effective, making it an ideal choice for dispensaries with limited marketing budgets.
Overall, having an email list is an essential tool for dispensaries looking to engage with customers, build brand loyalty, and drive sales. With targeted and personalized messaging, dispensaries can increase customer satisfaction and retention while also growing their business. If you’re not driving 20-40% of your revenue from email marketing, let’s chat!
It is important to note that these policies from the email service providers mentioned above may change over time, and it is recommended that you check with the email service provider directly to confirm their current policies.
Also, different regions have different regulations. To some, cannabis is an industry that is restricted internationally and engaging in fraud, which will result in account suspension and is strictly prohibited.
Therefore, know your needs and your subscriber base to understand which cannabis-friendly ESP is right for you. And whatever you do, please comply with ESP policies, global email laws like GDPR and CAN-SPAM, local laws, and other standards.
For a free video audit of your email program, reach out to our team of email geeks at email@example.com.
Kristin is the Founder and CEO of The Source Marketing Group. The marketing agency is focused on elevating female-, veteran-, and minority-owned businesses in the cannabis and craft beer space.