Green Marketing as a Vehicle for Consumer Engagement

October 12, 2007

Today, smart marketers are focused not only on whether consumers view their message, but to what extent they engage with it.  One definition of engagement is as a measure of consumer involvement with a marketing vehicle.  As defined, it implies that engagement should be considered as both a marketing tactic and a metric that can be measured and optimized. 

The green space is ripe for engagement in large part because consumers are interested in green not just as a product category but as a social cause.  As a result, consumers are not only highly open to invitations to engage, but eager to do so when given the opportunity.   Many, in fact, actively seek outlets for their passion; marketers only need to activate them by providing the opportunity. 

Several marketers have already tapped into this passion by creating points of engagement that go well beyond your average marketing communication. 

One such example is CNN’s Impact your World.  CNN is one of the premier news brands today.  Traditionally, news organizations like CNN have provided ways to consume and subsequently react to news by providing the opportunity to comment on news stories – a form of engagement in of itself.  

Yet, CNN Impact takes engagement to the next level by providing consumers with a way to act on their interests in or passion for particular news events – green or otherwise.  One great example is the recent story of the small Iraqi child that suffered severe burns.  CNN Impact enabled its viewers not only to read articles about the child but to take action by making donations to cover his medical bills.   engagement-tactics_3.gif 

In the green space, CNN Impact provides the opportunity for viewers to take action through its “Planet in Peril” section.  CNN provides links to relevant content as well as to environmental non-profits where viewers can make a donation.  CNN facilitates donations by partnering with Charity Navigator to provide information on non-profits to enable users to make more informed decisions. 

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Another great vehicle for driving engagement was the recent Members Project by American Express.  In this project, American Express designated significant funds to be donated to a cause of its cardmember’s choosing.   A platform was created for cardmembers to nominate and vote on different projects over a three month period. 

In the end, American Express cardmembers chose to fund a UNICEF project to bring clean drinking water to children (a noble project that is at the intersection of green and human health).  American Express provided the platform for the project; cardmembers engaged with each other through this platform to determine the project’s outcome. 

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Smart green marketers should take advantage of green as both a product and a social cause by creating deeper opportunities for engagement with their consumers.  Companies can facilitate engagement in multiple ways: by enabling consumers to act on their interests (eg, by connecting them with volunteer opportunities, enabling donations as in CNN Impact) or interact with peers (eg, through community or discussion boards), by encouraging content creation and distribution, and by facilitating product ideation (eg, through collaborative environments) or direct feedback to a company.   

Moreover, marketers may motivate consumer engagement by wrapping a product with an affinity-based experience (eg, Members Project) or by providing access to an event or experience that has perceived value or is deemed exclusive. 

Given the passion that some consumers have for the category, marketers may be surprised by the response and the impact that such marketing vehicles may have on the bottom line.  

(Disclosure: American Express is a client of Digitas)

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Portal Strategy – Part I: Engaging Green Consumers on Yahoo!

December 28, 2006

Yahoo Auto’s Green Center is a powerful auto buying portal focused on hybrid and other eco-friendly vehicles.  Its web pages are packed with engaging content, tools and community features that help users evaluate, compare and find the green car that is right for them.   

Site features target consumer needs at every stage across the purchase funnel – from building awareness of green cars and technology to enabling comparison of available choices to facilitating purchases at the dealerships.  Moreover, Yahoo built the site using relevant proprietary applets such as Yahoo Answers, Groups and News that are used across its portal, while forming partnerships to do the rest.  In doing so, Yahoo is able to integrate best-of-breed tools within the site experience.

 

Yahoo Auto's Green Center

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Green Center Site Features and Partners

Features

Partners/Yahoo Applets
Content  
  Car information including pricing (MSRP and invoice), rebates and incentives, features & specifications, performance reviews, photos and videos JD Powers
Exclusive “Green Ratings” Environmental Defense
Federal and state purchasing incentives HybridCars.com
Gas saving tips; Hybrid newsletter HybridCars.com
Relevant news articles Yahoo! News, del.icio.us
Tools  
  Car comparison  
  Gas mileage impact calculator (consumption, costs, emissions) HybridCars.com, ACEEE's Green Book
  Alternative fuel gas locator US Department of Energy
  Financing (rates + quotes) CapitalOne, CarsDirect, Bankrate.com
  Insurance (quotes) Allstate, Progressive, GEICO
Community  
  Groups Yahoo! Groups
  Q&A Yahoo! Answers
  Opinion polls  
  Most popular/viewed cars  

One of the most engaging tools is the Gas Mileage Impact Calculator which enables direct comparison of vehicles based on gas milage, fuel costs and emissions.  Here I have provided a direct comparison between the Camry and the Camry hybrid.  Note the 2,500 lb reduction in carbon dioxide emissions when shifting to the hybrid.

Gas Mileage Impact Calculator
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One of the best community features on the site is Yahoo Answers which allows users to pose questions and others to provide answers. Users then select the best answer through popular vote.

Yahoo Answers on the Environment & Ecology


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