If you’re still in shock that it’s 2022, you’re not alone.
It’s been a rough few years and the landscape for pretty much everything has changed dramatically, including online shopping. The pandemic forced a lot of people to venture online to make purchases, but it also changed the way consumers approach the brands they buy from.
Now, they actively seek out merchants with purpose. Shoppers want to buy from brands that share the same values as them, which has led to an uptick in cause marketing. In fact, 88% of brands know that now more than ever, they must lead with purpose to gain a competitive edge.
So how can you get in on this trend in 2022 to raise brand awareness, increase profits, and improve economic and social conditions at the same time?
First things first, let’s get clear on what cause-related marketing is. It’s essentially a marketing tactic that aims to increase profits and make a better society. An example might include using an activist message in advertising or sharing views on climate change on social media. For best results, your cause marketing efforts should actively reflect the beliefs and values of your brand and not just “do good” for the sake of it.
While discounts seem to be the common go-to for ecommerce brands, they can often be detrimental to business. Not only do they drive down the value of your products, but they encourage customers to expect slashed prices from you. Not a good way to start out with new shoppers.
However, offering a donation incentive after a customer makes a purchase can drive up Average Order Value (AOV) and empower customers to donate instead of discount. This puts your brand in a good light, but it also means you can make a real change to the community and the world as a whole by giving customers the chance to donate to their favorite causes.
It also builds trust, too, since customers who align with your values will appreciate what you’re doing and continue to come back for more.
H&M teamed up with Givz to offer customers the chance to donate to their favorite charities at checkout. Loyalty members who spent over $60 could unlock a $10 donation incentive that they could spend with a charity of their choice.
The campaign resulted in 30% open rates for emails offering the Givz donation incentives and an 85% cost savings versus a traditional discount offer.
Holiday marketing is a must for ecommerce brands who want to compete with other similar brands. Holidays like Easter, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Christmas all present the perfect opportunity to promote your products and make a difference at the same time.
Instead of doing what the majority of brands do and pushing your own products and promotions at these pivotal times of the year, consider highlighting charities that are relevant to the current holiday.
For example, instead of promoting Black Friday offers, show your appreciation for small businesses and encourage shoppers to go local rather than grab hefty discounts from big corporations (Amazon, we’re looking at you). An easy way to do this is the highlight charities that are relevant to a current holiday to take the emphasis off corporate, commercial sales.
Rather than going all-in on Black Friday, think about promoting other, more charitable holidays around that time, like:
Outdoor brand REI runs their Opt Outside campaign every Black Friday, where they close all their shops and encourage shoppers to head out into nature instead. The aim is to take the spotlight off consumerism and focus on what we already have available to us.
Customers are invested in the good you’re doing. They want to know about the charities you’re supporting and how their money is helping the community and beyond. One of the easiest ways to do this is to share the results and effects of your charitable giving on social media.
Share videos, images, and copy that highlights what you’ve been doing and how you’re helping charitable causes in a way that drives engagement and showcases your beliefs.
Some customers will want to take it a step further than simply donating money to a cause – and you can facilitate that.
Help your audience become conscious consumers with volunteer opportunities that are close to your heart. Showcasing opportunities like this will dramatically increase brand trust and help you create deeper, more meaningful connections with shoppers.
Patagonia is a prime example of a brand that does this well. The brand is well-known for supporting grassroots activists that are making tracks in the environmental crisis, but they took it one step further by creating a volunteer program that matched up individuals with their grantees. It allows customers to take action on the most pressing issues they believe in while increasing awareness of Patagonia as a brand and its positive impact on the world.
The pandemic really changed the way American consumers approach online shopping and the brands they buy from. They were quick to dismiss brands that acted within their own interests and upped prices on essential products just to get a quick buck, instead choosing to invest their money in companies that empathized with the uncertainty people were up against and treated them like humans.
Cause marketing won’t just be about giving back in 2022, it will also revolve around creating human experiences for shoppers.
According to Deloitte, 56% of people want a more “human” experience from virtual environments like online stores. How this looks will depend on the brand, but it might mean using data points to serve personalized product recommendations or creating individual donation opportunities for different customers.
Toilet paper brand Cottonelle served a direct message to consumers during the pandemic to discourage panic buying and instead “stock up on generosity”. At the same time, they launched their #ShareASquare campaign together with United Way to tap into and alleviate consumer worries and fears.
Two minds are better than one, and teaming up with other brands to deliver campaigns that help the community and make steps towards changing the world can expand your reach and increase brand awareness. You can partner with a charity, a non-profit organization, or simply another brand that does something similar to you to create a wider reach and more impact.
During the pandemic, we saw a lot of brands teaming up to deliver meaningful experiences. Lyft partnered with Bread of Life to use their existing platform to give back by providing access to rides for essential workers.
The best cause marketing initiatives include your customers. Rather than soapboxing about your charity of choice or blasting your followers with your own views and beliefs, invite your audience to participate in the discussion to spread the word and increase engagement.
This might come in the form of a hashtag campaign, a competition, or simply getting customers to share UGC around volunteering or doing their bit for the planet.
Mythical Kitchen founder Josh Scherer teamed up with food YouTubers to take part in the #LeftoversChallenge that invited their audiences to create unique meals from their leftovers and share them on their social media platforms under the designated hashtag. Each video from the chosen hosts provided donation links so that viewers could also donate to the organization as well as take part themselves.
With an increasing number of consumers solely seeking out brands that have the same beliefs as them, it’s up to merchants to present themselves as more than just a place to buy products. Showcase your values and share how you’re doing your bit for the planet through key cause marketing tactics.
Use the examples here for inspiration and to guide your cause marketing strategy in 2022 and beyond, whether you decide to implement donation incentives, create volunteer opportunities, or partner with other great causes.
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