Brands have always needed to stand out by telling stories in unique ways. That’s why content marketing is so effective; it provides new methods for educating and connecting with customers.
But these days, even the most cleverly packaged campaigns can fall flat if they don’t have social causes built into them.
Consumers increasingly insist that their chosen brands partner with organizations that promote important causes. In fact, 89% of people surveyed in a 2013 Cone Communications cause marketing study said they would switch to a different brand at a similar price point if it was associated with a cause.
Millennials are particularly keen to support companies that invest in social projects, so if you want to find future success in this increasingly conscious climate, it’s essential to incorporate cause marketing into your big-picture strategy.
Causes Call For Authenticity
Cause marketing should create a community around your brand, your consumers, and your beneficiaries. The community aspect is key to long-term growth, which is why you need to strike the right tone in your marketing and only work with causes that suit your organization.
If you get it right, consumers will want to support the cause right alongside you.
Chase Bank hit a cause marketing home run with its community giving campaign, in which customers could vote via Facebook for which nonprofits the corporation would fund. The campaign had global reach, thanks to the online platform, as well as local impact in its beneficiaries’ communities. People were engaged by the call to action, and it was easy to participate because the campaign happened on a social network they use every day. It worked at every level—consumer, brand, and beneficiary—making for a perfect cause campaign.
Chase Bank struck the right emotional notes, but it also leveraged the power of digital marketing. Online tools allow you to connect with audience members instantaneously to find out what they value, what interests them, and what inspires them to give to a cause. Digital also enables you to share details about your partner organization and why your brand stands behind it.
Trying to convey the nuances of that relationship in a traditional print ad or a 30-second radio spot simply won’t do your partnership justice. And it’s certainly not a compelling way to generate interest in your company or the mission. Traditional media also lacks the immediacy of digital, rendering it ineffective for raising funds for urgent causes like natural disaster relief.
But digital marketing doesn’t just make sense for cause promotion; it’s also good for business. Let’s examine the core benefits of building digital-driven campaigns:
1. ROI: Cause marketing can be quite costly when pursued through traditional means. Not only must you pay for the TV spot or print placement, but you are also compelled to provide financial support to the cause without a clear way for consumers to engage. Digitally focused cause marketing allows you to contribute to the partner organization while also creating smart, shareable content for your community.
Cadbury recently proved digital advertising’s effectiveness with its Chocolate Charmer campaign. Only 7% of the budget on that initiative went to digital, but those elements yielded 20% of the total sales. Consumers increasingly buy online, especially via mobile. If you want returns on your investments, meet customers where they already are.
2. Instant engagement: Followers can like, share, comment, sign petitions, or donate immediately when you use digital tools, which is especially important when you’re promoting a cause. Millennials respond to urgency, and mobile campaigns take advantage of that trait far more than traditional methods do. You want people to take action right now, whether that’s jumping in on your brand conversation or promoting your partner organization.
3. New customers: One of the greatest benefits of a digital campaign is that your followers will likely share it on social platforms. This gets you in front of people who wouldn’t normally be interested in your brand. The fact that you’re associated with a social good campaign and are recommended by a trusted source may inspire them to check out your company when they would have ignored it otherwise. Word-of-mouth marketing—especially when associated with a positive cause—is the best first impression a brand can make.
4. Relevance: If the cause you’re partnered with is a good fit, you’ll be able to meet the right consumers with both a product and a mission they’re excited about. This will create instant relevance for your brand. Social media plays a huge role in how Millennials learn about and promote the brands and causes they support, making digital absolutely crucial to staying on their radars.
5. Community: The digital landscape has created unprecedented opportunities for community development. Online marketing campaigns enable you to not only tap into existing communities, but to also create new ones yourself. Use digital avenues to drive the conversation around your cause, and shift your brand conversation from transactional to transformational.
Cause marketing is a powerful way to connect with customers and elevate key social projects. Your brand wields incredible influence, and your audience wants to see you put that power to good use. Digital platforms and cause partnerships are a match made in marketing heaven, so use them together to be both a force for good and a powerhouse in your industry.