All Things Digital

Cause Marketing – Decoding Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility is no longer a novel concept; in fact, customers are more willing than ever to buy products and services of firms that have invested in CSR initiatives. Consumers have now realized that they can be a part of the social change through a positive action. A Nielsen study indicated that 66% of respondents were ready to pay more for products from brands committed to creating positive social impact.

Cause marketing works on the principle of creating a cooperative platform where for-profit and a non-profit work together for mutual benefit. In terms of a digital brand, consumers who visit your site and social media pages & are exposed to your brand content seek to know that you share a cause that is close to their hearts and are taking steps to create social value. Digital Action campaigns are a great way to reach out to an audience to show support of a cause – these actions can include Facebook ‘likes’, reposting a status update, watching a video, or donating a small amount. Here are some strategies for cause marketing in the digital sphere that will add the additional altruistic value to your brand’s CSR efforts.

#1 Set a suitable campaign goal
Identify a cause that you care about and that resonates well with your brand’s value to your customers and your overall CSR strategy. Your cause marketing initiatives should involve all key stakeholders, including your employees, suppliers, vendors and of course customers, so it becomes a collaborative effort, which is at the heart of any CSR initiative.

#2 Aim to overlap CSR initiatives with digital campaigns
Incorporate small aspects of your cause marketing into your digital and social media campaigns. For example, you can publish a post on your brand’s blog about the latest cause that the business has supported or how far along the goal you are of raising funds for a particular charity. Johnson and Johnson has intertwined their cause marketing efforts into their blog, to give their consumers a daily insight into what the brand’s CSR efforts look like. You can also budget a small portion of your digital spending to boost your brand’s CSR related content.

#3 Leverage social media platforms
Create communities on social media for your causes and ask your consumers and audience to join these communities. Social media platforms are a great way to reach a mass audience, and market your cause in a cost effective manner. Not only do you get the word out, you can also foster relationships with consumers and supporters of your cause, and cultivate a network of influencers and charity partners for your upcoming events. TCS leverages social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to market their annual cause-driven World 10K Marathon. Similarly, your brand can ask its social followers to share a cause-related status, ‘like’ the page, retweet a snap or a video, and so on.

#4 Incorporate a relatable call-to-action
Every successful social or digital campaign has a definite call-to-action. Similarly, your digital campaigns for the cause require a call-to-action that answers the what, why, who and how of the campaign. One of the frequently used call-to-action is requesting consumers to spread the word by sending a media asset (like a video, a banner or a text message) to their friends to help them reach a wider audience.

#5 Fully integrate Cause Marketing with Online Content Marketing
A strategy common with big brand names such as Coca Cola and Microsoft is a complete integration of marketing efforts with digital content marketing initiatives. This lets you leverage social sharing and digital tools to boost your cause. Seek to add a humanitarian touch to your digital campaigns by means of video blogs, podcasts, online banners, apps and so on. Although this strategy requires greater planning and
execution, you transform your brand’s perception into a relatable face that cares for society’s needs – something that customers love!

#6 Build long term partnerships
Charity partners seek brands that can offer long-term partnerships across various events. Use social and digital assets to showcase that your brand is serious about the cause marketing initiatives – your social media pages and website act as a record of your CSR activities. Use these platforms to forge fruitful partnerships with charity partners, NGOs and sponsors.

Finally a word of caution. CSR initiatives should not be used to conceal the wrongdoings or the harmful effects of the operations of the company. If you are a chemical company whose products damage the nature, you cannot say that a program to undo it is a CSR initiative. That is being merely responsible enough towards the society. A CSR on the other hand, if done well enhances the brand image. In the age of social media, people often see through the intention. So it is best to stay true to the cause.