In the age of conscious consumerism, ecommerce companies are expected to do more for their community than just provide goods and services. Customers also want brands to demonstrate social responsibility and take a stand on important socio-political issues.
And the data shows that modern shoppers support brands that take stances on issues such as environmental sustainability and social justice.
A study by Porter Novelli found that 70% of Americans believe companies have a responsibility to address these topics — and these customers spend their money with brands that support and act on these issues.
This shift in consumer behavior has led to the rise of a newer type of marketing strategy known as cause marketing.
Cause marketing is typically defined as a campaign that's used to both increase profit and improve society. It's deployed when brands use social responsibility to achieve strategic business outcomes. This is done to drive profits, boost customer acquisition and retention, and cultivate a positive brand image.
This isn’t a new concept.
Companies have been partnering with NGOs, offering political solidarity and donating to charities for decades. But cause marketing takes those efforts a step further by actually integrating these actions into strategic marketing campaigns.
Cause marketing can be a highly effective approach for ecommerce brands. According to ShoppingGives:
With evolutions around consumer expectations — especially with younger shoppers that tend to be more socially-conscious — cause marketing can help brands cultivate relationships with customers and build brand loyalty.
And Gen Z, which now makes up an estimated 40% of consumers worldwide, is just as politically conscious. They spend 10% more time online reading news and information sites than other generations, making them even more aware of social justice and environmental issues than other generations (including their millennial counterparts).
With this context on changing consumer demands, let’s look at how you can integrate cause marketing into your Shopify store this holiday season — and keep it going year-round.
Here are several stand-out apps you can use for your Shopify operation.
With as many as 75% of buyers expecting companies to address environmental issues, going green is an important topic among millennial and Gen Z customers.
One Tree Planted at Checkout is a lightweight Shopify app that makes it easy for ecommerce companies to take a stance on sustainability while empowering customers to do the same.
Completely free and easy to use, this app gives customers the option to donate $1 to One Tree Planted, a Vermont-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Every dollar donated is used for reforestation efforts around the world.
ShoppingGives is a scalable impact marketing solution that allows shoppers to donate money from each online purchase they make to causes they support. This tool also handles compliance issues, reimbursements, tax-deductible receipts and other red-tape issues associated with cause marketing.
Shopping Gives offers tiered pricing that caters to small, medium and large businesses:
The Plus and Partner tiers include additional perks, including influencer support, customer donation matching and widget customization.
Fundraiser is an app that lets you and your customers donate to a charity or organization of your choice. Simply choose where you’d like the money to be donated to and select between the two fundraising options:
After the app has been set up, Fundraiser will automatically deduct donations and transfer them for you.
While it doesn’t include advanced marketing tools, Fundraiser does offer basic features like progress bars to let customers know how much money you’ve raised. It’s also completely free for anyone who uses Fundraiser to raise money to fight COVID-19.
For all other efforts, pricing follows the following structure:
Shop for Good is a Shopify integration that lets brands donate to several causes, including holiday charities, breast cancer awareness and voters’ rights.
It’s flexible, too: You can choose from several different cause marketing campaign approaches, including:
Shop for Good also includes tools to help you measure the performance of your marketing campaign. The basic version of the platform is free, but there are also two premium versions with additional features.
Even something as simple as adding a donation option to your checkout process can increase your average order value (AOV) and boost sales.
Kobelli, a jewelry company, significantly improved its business operations after using a cause marketing campaign. When Kobelli introduced several donation events for organizations such as Judicial Watch, African Wildlife Foundation and 4 Breast Cancer, the company saw big results — its AOV increased by nearly 29% and the company had a 9% lift in conversion rates, according to ShoppingGives.
Starting with cause marketing now is a great tie-in with the holiday giving season; it's also a smart way to set your brand up for success in the year ahead.
You can reinforce positive messaging with customers by sharing the cumulative impact their efforts have made toward charities and causes. You can also work in what your company is doing to match shopper donations. And, a reminder, donations are good for year-end tax deductions.
All of these are great bonuses, and they’ll keep your company top-of-mind as consumers head into 2021 as well. Win-win!
Along with increasing sales and strengthening relationships with customers, cause marketing adds a sense of purpose to your organization. It empowers you to use your online store to help make the world a better place.
With so many modern tools and integrations available, there’s no reason not to test them out and see how they can help fuel positive ecommerce growth — while also doing good.
Kaleigh Moore is a freelance writer specializing in ecommerce content. She also contributes to publications like Forbes and Vogue Business on topics around fashion and retail.