Social impact and conscious consumption are not only trending topics, but they’re here to stay. The competition for eCommerce and direct-to-consumer brands is steadily growing, which means brands need a way to stand out and differentiate themselves in the eyes of consumers to build strong customer loyalty. As the largest buying population, Millennials and Gen Z are leading the way in shifting buyer behavior and choosing to buy based on their values. Following the start of the pandemic, consumers aren’t spending less— they’re spending more consciously.
This comprehensive guide will give your brand everything you need to get started on your social impact journey, or help you elevate your current strategy so you can use social impact as a tool to retain customers and turn them into lifelong, loyal advocates.
The Current State of Social Impact
There are a lot of factors that go into the decision to purchase a product or service from a particular brand. Maybe they saw an ad, someone gave them a referral, or they just happened to stumble upon it. Regardless of how a consumer is finding your products, the decision making process doesn’t end there. In this era of conscious consumption, consumers are buying from brands who resonate with their values, now more than ever. In fact, consumers are 4x more likely to purchase from a company with strong brand values.
The growth of eCommerce and social media has brought opportunities for small businesses to reach a larger audience through platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Legacy brands, big box chains, and small businesses alike are all on social media and vying for consumer attention. So why do small businesses seem to be at an advantage when it comes to socially conscious buying behavior? It all comes down to trust. 40% of consumers will no longer buy from brands because they don’t trust the company, even if they love the products. On the other hand, when a company leads with purpose, consumers are 76% more likely to trust that company.
So what does all of this mean for your brand? It means that offering the best product or the lowest price is no longer the only way to attract and retain customers— today’s socially conscious consumer is looking at what a company stands for and making purchase decisions based on a brand’s values. By creating authentic value-alignment between your brand and your customers, you can create an engaging and meaningful experience for your customers that creates trust and builds strong customer loyalty.
The Benefits of Social Impact for Business
In addition to building customer trust, integrating social impact throughout your business can bring other benefits to your brand like increases in customer loyalty, lifetime value, average order value, and conversion rate. By giving back, you can enable purpose-driven purchases and show your customers that what matters to them, matters to you. Take a look at some brands who have seen success with giving back and how it’s impacted their business to build strong customer loyalty:
White + Warren: Increased Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV) by 18%
White + Warren sent an impact-focused email during Cyber Week to remind their customers of the opportunity to support their favorite cause by making a purchase, at no extra cost to the customer. Through testing, White + Warren saw that customers that shop and choose to donate on their first purchase come back 7 days sooner than any other shopper. You can read the full case study.
Natori: Increased Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) by 136.5%
Natori created an impact-focused paid ad campaign to test how impact messaging performs against their traditional paid advertising efforts. After testing, Natori discovered that the impact-focused campaign that highlighted their giving efforts far outperformed their general ad campaigns and resulted in a higher conversion rate, CTR, and ROAS. You can read the full case study.
Tactical Strategies for Integrating Social Impact
Now that we’ve covered the current state of social impact as it relates to eCommerce and touched on the benefits of implementing social impact for your business, it’s time to talk tactics. Whether you’re new to social impact or are looking for ways to elevate your current strategy, the tactics included here can help your brand boost retention and create strong customer loyalty through authentic social impact.
Step 1: Determine what cause(s) align with your brand values
The key to successfully integrating a social impact strategy into your business is to create authentic synergy between your brand and a nonprofit organization. It will be easier to get your company and customers onboard with your giving efforts if they’re aligned with your brand values. Some companies may choose a cause based on a personal connection to a nonprofit or based on the industry of the company. For example, if your brand is within the fashion and apparel industry, you may be more inclined to support a nonprofit that’s raising awareness for sustainability in the apparel industry, like Fashion Revolution. Whichever causes you choose to support, ensure that it makes sense for your brand and is a cause that you are passionate about, and customer loyalty will follow suit.
Step 2: Set a strategy for how to support your identified cause(s)
Once you’ve identified a cause you’re passionate about, the next step is to set a strategy for how your brand is going to support it. Whether it’s through donations, volunteering, or advocacy, actions speak louder than words when it comes to making an impact. If you’re leaning towards the donation route, ShoppingGives has multiple ways that your brand can create a customized social impact strategy that best fits your brands’ goals and will help you increase retention and customer loyalty.
Create donations on purchases, at no extra cost to your customers
Consumers are more likely to trust brands and are willing to spend more to support brands who give back. By giving back and showing your customers that you care about making an impact, they are more likely to become repeat patrons that turn into loyal customers. One of the best ways to do that is by donating a percentage of your proceeds when your customers make a purchase. Here’s some quick wins and ideas for how you can enable social impact to create a customized giving strategy:
- Donate a percentage of the overall purchase.
- Donate a flat dollar amount per each purchase.
- Donate on a specific product or collection of products and exclude all other products from being included.
- Adjust the donation amount on an individual product or collection of products to donate extra on.
Enable customers to get involved and create their own donations
To create a larger impact, you can also create opportunities for your customers to get involved in the giving as well. By offering round-up or add-on options, you can empower your customers to round-up their purchase to create a micro-donation, or you can give them the opportunity to add-on a flat dollar to be donated on their purchase.
Create an engaging customer loyalty program by combining rewards and donations
59% of customers are more likely to join a loyalty program for a brand that they love, but 29% wish that loyalty programs were more interesting. By integrating ShoppingGives with Yotpo Loyalty, brands can create a unique and engaging customer loyalty program that offers donation incentives that stand out from the usual offers for discounts.
Source: Sakara Life
Through this integration, brands can reward their customers with loyalty points when they opt-in to create a donation with their purchase, and empower them to redeem those points for donations later on. By including donations as a loyalty program option, you can help drive more purpose-driven purchases and meaningful interactions with your customers, leading to increased retention and customer loyalty.
Create a unique experience by supporting specific causes on specific products
If you’re looking for a way to get more granular with your giving, you can also customize your giving by setting specific causes to be supported based on the products that your customers purchase. This giving experience empowers your brand to create capsule collection impact and easily support a variety of causes. For example, you can support a nonprofit like Feeding America across site, but choose to support a nonprofit like the National Breast Cancer Foundation on a collection of pink products.
If you work with influencers, you could even designate your influencer’s favorite causes to be supported on the items within their collaboration collection. This is a great way to create more authentic and meaningful relationships with your partnered influencers, and opens opportunities for them to bring their followers to your site to support their favorite cause.
Create an omnichannel giving experience by enabling giving for Shopify POS
If you sell products online and in-store, this is a great way to engage your customers in your giving efforts, no matter where they shop with you. By integrating ShoppingGives with Shopify POS, Shopify brands are empowered to extend their online giving to their in-store customer base to elevate their brand identity, increase customer lifetime value, and incentivize purchasing behavior by supporting causes that are important to their customers. This experience is also a great way to support causes that are local to your in-store locations, creating an opportunity to build strong customer loyalty within your communities.
Step 3: Set a strategy for getting your entire company involved
Once you’ve determined how your brand is going to support your identified causes, it’s time to get the rest of your company onboard. 61% of employees choose to leave or consider an employer based on their values and beliefs, and now more than ever, employees are expecting the companies they work for to do more to make a positive impact.
As with anything, the success of an initiative is best achieved when everyone involved is aligned on the mission and goals. To get the ball rolling, you could host a training session within your company to inform and educate your employees of your new social impact initiative, and what this means for them. You can also discover volunteer opportunities for your company to participate in for your supported causes, and ask your employees what causes they care about for future initiatives.
Step 4: Integrate your giving efforts into your marketing strategy
One of the best ways to ensure your social impact strategy is a success is to ensure that your efforts are being noticed! Including your social impact efforts into your marketing strategy is an easy way to inform and educate your customers about what you’re doing to make an impact. Here’s some quick wins and ideas for how you can integrate social impact into your marketing strategy and organically build customer loyalty:
- Send a dedicated email to your subscribers to announce your giving initiative and what that means for them as customers.
- Include an evergreen email footer that reminds customers of your giving initiative at the bottom of every email.
- Create an announcement post on your social media to inform your followers of your giving initiatives. (Pro tip: You can even tag the nonprofit that you’re supporting for extra exposure!)
- Include impact-focused messaging in your paid ads and A/B test to see how they perform compared to your traditional paid ad campaigns.
Elevate your on-site marketing strategy
To capture the attention of your website visitors, you can utilize impact-focused messaging on your website homepage. Whether it’s an eyebrow or hero banner, this is an easy way to tell your website visitors up front that your brand gives back. And if you’re looking to reduce cart abandonment or exit intent, you can utilize popups from solutions like Justuno, that trigger once a potential customer is about to bounce away from your site. Offer your customers the opportunity to create a donation with their purchase with a call-to-action to continue shopping and increase the chances that your customers will move forward in the checkout process. This simple tactic is a great way to engage your customers in your giving strategy, leading to increased retention and customer loyalty.
Create a unique influencer marketing program
Trust is an important factor to consumers when considering a brand and they often turn to family, friends, and peers for referrals and recommendations. As a result, the influencer market is playing a key role in driving purchase decisions, especially amongst Millennial and Gen Z consumers. Today’s consumers want authenticity, and leveraging micro influencers with a solution like Gatsby to collaborate on nonprofit partnerships can be a great way to engage your customers and build strong customer loyalty.
As mentioned before, you can work with influencers to support their favorite causes on any collaborations that you do together, which will help to create more meaningful partnerships, and more interest from your influencers’ community of followers!
Brands That Successfully Integrated Social Impact— And How They Did It
Coach x Dream It Real portfolio
Coach and Coach Outlet partnered with ShoppingGives to empower their Coach Insider customers to create a positive impact on their purchase. Coach Insiders can shop for their favorites while supporting the cause of their choice or the Dream It Real portfolio— a program aimed at driving social equity through educational opportunities for young people from underrepresented backgrounds and low-income communities. By donating on behalf of their customers, Coach is able to create authentic and meaningful shopping experiences that creates opportunities for retention and builds customer loyalty.
Sakara Life x Wellness in the Schools
Sakara Life uses their partnership with ShoppingGives to drive impact for Wellness in the Schools, a nonprofit organization that promotes healthy eating, environmental awareness and fitness for children in New York City public schools. In highlighting their social impact efforts throughout their marketing, Sakara is able to keep their customers informed of their giving initiatives so they know that whenever they shop with Sakara, their purchase will always make a positive impact.
Blind Barber x Yotpo Loyalty
Blind Barber is committed to giving back on every purchase made from their website, but they took their giving efforts even further by utilizing ShoppingGives’ integration with Yotpo Loyalty to create a unique customer loyalty program. Through this integration, Blind barber rewards their customers with 1 point for every $1 that their purchases donate, as well as enables them to redeem those points for additional donations. Through this experience, Blind Barber is creating a more engaging and meaningful loyalty program for their customers, all while creating a larger positive social impact.
Chantecaille - Beauty That Gives Back Collection
Chantecaille utilizes their partnership with ShoppingGives to create capsule collection impact and support specific causes on specific products. Through their Beauty That Gives Back collection, Chantecaille aligns individual products with causes that correlate to the product. Using this experience enables Chantecaille to get more customized and granular with their giving, while empowering their customers to support multiple nonprofits on a single purchase.
Are You Ready to Increase Retention and Build Strong Customer Loyalty Through Social Impact?
People want to buy from brands that stand for something and that align with their values, and we hope that this guide will help you enable giving to increase retention and build customer loyalty. If you’re interested in discovering even more tactics to navigate social impact, you can download our free Impact-Driven Marketing: A Tactical Guide below.
Looking to strategize how you can enable social impact for your business? Schedule a quick chat with one of our Impact Agents to get expert guidance on how to create a strategy that’s best for your brands’ needs.