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Sustainability and Customer Engagement

A growing number of consumers are excited about sustainability and care about it in their own lives. These customers want to see businesses engaging in sustainability.

According to research from Cone Communications, 87% of Americans will purchase a company’s product if they advocate for a cause they care about.  There are two main ways to use customer engagement to enhance your sustainability strategy. First, explain your actions to customers and second, ask for their input. Think of engagement as a two-way street, both sharing your information and asking them for their ideas and input.

1. Tell customers what you are doing

Customers want to see your sustainability strategies and how your business helps the environment. The “tell” includes social media, newsletters, in-person, and on menus. Share energy savings on Instagram. State your goals for the quarter on Facebook. Do an Instagram story about the checklists you use to reduce water consumption, or how employees perform tasks to reduce water. Track engagement of these posts and respond to comments with additional information.

Telling customers about sustainability benefits you because it provides a competitive advantage. You are the sustainable pizza shop. Your pizza neighbor is a thin crust pizza shop. Customers feel virtuous supporting a business that supports the earth. Connecting your values to the customers values creates a deeper connection. And like the study referenced above, it works.  

Don’t forget about in person engagement as well. Talking to a customer about a sustainable product or the farm their meal comes from is engagement. If you’ve made a sustainable choice to remove straws, share that with the customer as you hand them the cocktail. Or, if you have kept straws but added a different type, share why.

Be sure that your sharing strategies stay true to your brand and voice. Don’t adopt a new persona or try to change what you’re posting to fit a sustainable mindset. Integrate sustainability into your existing outreach strategy. You can read more about sharing on social media here.

2. Ask for their input

Customers also want to have an impact. Ask what customers care about or are interested in. Do they care about where their food comes from or that you are using solar power? Ask them! Record their responses and follow up with them once you’ve enacted something that they have suggested.

You can’t be constantly tracking competitors to see what they are doing, but your customer is. They know which restaurant has a new salad or which one has metal straws. If you listen closely, you can see what they prefer and how they’ve reacted to competitor’s changes.

Use the same engagement tools above to gather feedback and input on what interests them. Take an Instagram poll to see what matters to customers. Name a cocktail after a customer that helps you set up a compost program.

Sharing and asking for feedback is an important way to show customers you care and take their considerations into account. Use your existing communication strategies to create a customer feedback loop on sustainability.

 

Eliza ErskineComment