Skip links

The Beginner’s Guide to Effective Cause Marketing Strategies

Marketing executives have seen the writing on the wall about cause marketing and how it can sway customers to choose their brand over a competitor’s. It works because for-profit companies partner with non-profit organizations for fundraising purposes to benefit a worthy cause. When a cause marketing campaign is orchestrated successfully, both parties win.

BNI reports that over the most recent 25 years, cause marketing has grown in popularity. Company leadership recognizes the need to promote an image of social responsibility in response to changing customer expectations favoring businesses that reflect their own values. As a result of a well-run campaign, a non-profit organization reaps the benefits of exposure to their partner company’s corporate contacts. In contrast, the for-profit company enjoys increased visibility, goodwill, and additional sales associated with the cause marketing campaign.

The first step in the process is to determine the objective of the cause marketing campaign. Causely reports that common goals increase brand awareness, promote sales, improve email marketing conversion rates, and increase website traffic, product promotion, and consumer engagement.

Benefits of Cause Marketing

Increased sales are one of the major benefits of cause marketing efforts. Zimmer Radio cites the Cone Study’s findings that most consumers are receptive to considering a new product when linked to a cause. On a level playing field, consumers are likely to choose the brand connected to a good cause. This behavioral trend is especially true for women who typically do most of the shopping for the family.

Increased loyalty from customers is another tangible benefit enjoyed by companies who participate in cause marketing campaigns. Considering the cost to obtain new customers, it is easy to understand how valuable a customer’s loyalty contributes to better customer retention rates. Trust and customer loyalty go hand-in-hand as major components necessary for establishing a solid business base.

Cause marketing is a useful recruiting tool. When highly sought-after candidates evaluate which job offer to take, a business linked to good causes has the advantage. Employees want to feel proud of their association with an employer.

The obvious benefits of cause marketing for non-profit organizations are the monetary donations and an increase in the number of volunteers. In addition, non-profit partners are also likely to enjoy increased advertising and visibility due to their association with the for-profit company.

6 Steps to Creating a Successful Cause Marketing Campaign

1. Select an appealing cause for your campaign.

When considering a cause marketing campaign, you must select a cause that your employees can get behind emotionally. Brandwatch reports that when staff members feel engaged, then they will work with passion. This goodwill is obvious and will produce the best results. Selecting a related cause that pairs well with your business is a crucial strategy to employ.

2. Set a goal.

Setting a goal is key to achieving the results you want. By doing this one simple step, your results are sure to be better.

3. Strategically select a good time for the campaign.

The adage about time being everything also seems to apply to cause marketing campaigns. By selecting a good time for the event based on corporate schedules and other market factors, a brand company can best leverage resources and make the most of the opportunity. For example, setting up a campaign during the busy season might not make sense since staff may be fully utilized in regular business tasks and unable to devote enough time to the campaign. Therefore, both the launch time and length of the campaign are important.

4. Get your customers involved.

Cause marketing is not about writing a big check and being done with it. Customer involvement is key for making the most of this type of opportunity. One proven way to get consumers involved is to insert relevant hashtags on consumers’ photos or posts to generate interest. Adding provocative one-liners to accompany the hashtag is advisable for obtaining the largest number of responses.

5. Use a variety of media to reach the most people.

By using different media tools, a campaign increases its chance for success. It is impossible to know exactly what will work best, so it makes sense to test several media tools.

6. Be sure to have a call-to-action that is clear, upbeat, and easy to follow.

Nothing happens in life or the world of cause marketing until someone takes action. Since the goal is to engage donors and consumers to take action by giving time or money to your good cause, it is important to know how to craft the perfect call-to-action statement.

MobileCause suggests using psychological tools when creating the ideal call-to-action. Appealing to a donor’s desire to look good to others is always a smart tactic to utilize. This recognition is referred to as social currency. It pays to broadcast donor levels and to acknowledge people who give more formally.

You must touch people emotionally if you want to inspire them to take action. People will pay attention if you can tap into the strong feelings of excitement, disgust, amusement, or humor. You have to instruct them on the exact steps; clearly, they need to donate. Remember, if you make it difficult to give, donations will suffer.

How to Find a Partner for Your Cause Marketing Program

Identifying a compatible partner for your cause marketing campaign is sure to make the experience more enjoyable and successful. Therefore, the question becomes one of determining how to evaluate potential partners and knowing where to start in your search for this ideal match. One obvious suggestion is to seek out partners with a similar mission.

For example, if your business sells “green” gardening and farm supplies, partnering with a nonprofit company that promotes sustainable farming practices for a cause marketing campaign will likely produce the type of synergy that generates excellent fundraising results. Organizations with common goals and purposes can leverage like-minded customer and donor bases predisposed to get involved.

Before selecting a partner, it is a good idea to take a peek at their mission statement. This document of purpose should tell you whether your philosophies will mesh.

Much like any partnership, you must put things in writing. There are legal requirements that must be considered before moving forward with your campaign. Nonprofit organizations are protected against predatory contracts by strict state regulations. Therefore, it makes sense to get an attorney involved when it is time to draft a contract.

Due to the legal responsibilities linked to any legal partnership formed to raise funds for a charity, it is important to recognize your exposure based on the partner you select. Again, trust is key for peace of mind.

Remember, the contract must describe how the donations collected will benefit the cause. In some states, co-venture contracts must be submitted to state charity officials for review. Typically, any required paperwork must be filed within a specified time period before the campaign launch.

Cause Marketing Examples

The data is irrefutable. Consumers want to buy from companies making a difference in the world and give back to societal causes. Successful cause marketing campaigns are memorable and raise substantial funds for a deserving charity while expanding both the nonprofit organization’s and for-profit company’s reach. Tapping into a donor’s pocketbook or checkbook is all about accessing them emotionally. Cause marketing is a win-win proposition when orchestrated properly.

Maker’s Mark “Give Cozy, #GetCozy” Truck Tour

A holiday season campaign that pulled all the right heartstrings gave away warm coats and hot chocolate to poor Americans. The partnership that made this possible was between Maker’s Mark and a nonprofit organization is known as One Warm Coat. The campaign was organized as a truck tour that traveled across seven states armed with 5000 cups of hot chocolate, over 3000 gingerbread cookies, and 20,000 pre-owned winter coats.

The event was a big hit, largely due to the social media outreach and emotional appeal. Brandwatch reports that 26.41 million impressions published on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram attracted 40,000 new Maker’s Mark followers. In addition, this down-to-earth campaign allowed people to give something everyone can relate to in the winter months, offering basic warmth from the elements for people who can’t afford the expense of buying a coat.

Fight Hunger, Spark Change Campaign

Walmart partnered with the nonprofit organization Feeding America for this campaign. As a result, Walmart took an active role in educating shoppers and consumers online and in the store about the number of Americans who worry about whether they will have enough to eat from day to day. In addition, Walmart harnessed the power of social media and donated 90 cents to pay for food for the disadvantaged for every relevant #FightHunger hashtag posted.

Additionally, Walmart partnered with influencers to spread the word. As a result, the campaign ended with an impressive 80,000 people involved with the Snapchat filters.

Stats about Cause Marketing

Statistics speak volumes about the social impact of cause marketing and why corporate brands are lining up to find the best way to make it work for them. Below are some numbers worth mentioning.

  1. Engage for Good reports that cause sponsorship increased 4.6 percent in 2019, climbing to a predicted total of $2.23 billion.
  2. North American shoppers say that they are willing to pay more for a brand committed to making a positive difference in social and environmental causes, as published by A-Good Cause.
  3. Consumers notice the positions a brand takes related to societal issues, with 64 percent of consumers boycotting or avoiding a particular company because of their stance, as reported by Engage for Good.
  4. Engage for Good cites the Unilever Consumer Study that found that 33 percent of consumers intentionally choose to spend their hard-earned money with companies supporting social and environmental causes.
  5. Americans rate brands using socially conscious criteria seeking out businesses viewed as responsible and rewarding those that give back to societal causes. A whopping 79 percent prioritize environmental causes, as reported by Engage for Good.