The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.
Sustainable marketing, purpose-driven marketing, and corporate social responsibility (CSR) are terms that are getting more and more popular. Brands are expected to already have strategies in place to become as sustainable as possible, as quickly as possible.
With that said, there’s no one-size-fits-all way of measuring just how sustainable an organization is. Businesses are being told to do it now but are being left with no idea how to start.
I wholeheartedly believe that digital marketers can help with this, and by taking a more purpose-driven approach, the entire organization, their customers, and the planet can benefit.
I’m going to provide a glossary of terminology, give a brief history of how businesses have lost their focus on CSR, and show how taking a more purpose-driven approach to company operations and digital marketing doesn’t have to be a big scary thing. It can actually be fun, fulfilling, and hugely rewarding.
You can use these links to jump to each section.
Before I dive into everything purpose-driven marketing related, here are some definitions for terms I’ll be referring to throughout this piece. If you want to skip this and head straight to the next section, feel free to use the jump links just above.
What is sustainability in digital marketing?
Sustainability can mean one of two things:
1) Ensuring that your marketing efforts don’t cause harm to people or the planet and, where it does, taking steps to reduce or equalize that harm. This could include:
Offsetting your carbon emissions (although please, please, please, don’t buy carbon credits — these aren’t a true representation of carbon offsetting),
Reducing the amount of energy your product and employees use, and/or
Making efforts to update any products or services so that they are more environmentally friendly.
2) It can also mean future-proofing your brand so that it continues to thrive.
Whichever definition you like best, the two are not mutually exclusive now that 64% of consumers consider themselves to be belief-driven, choosing to invest in brands that they know make charitable contributions or have a strong CSR system in place. Breaking this down further, 60% of Millennials, 53% of GenZers and 51% of GenXers “buy on belief”. When it comes to sustainability in purpose-driven marketing, it can mean a myriad of things such as:
Reducing the carbon emissions created by our websites and the equipment used by digital marketing departments,
Ensuring that everybody has access to our websites whether they have disabilities or are data-poor,
Incorporating our sustainability efforts into our online campaigns.
What is corporate social responsibility in digital marketing?
Corporate Social Responsibility refers to a brand’s effort to have a positive impact on people and the planet. I’ll go into this in a little more detail in the brief history lesson section, but essentially, CSR revolves around businesses understanding that they have responsibilities towards society. The role of a digital marketer here is to advise, plan and execute communication strategies that tell the brand’s loyal and potential customers how they are fulfilling that obligation.
What social marketing means
Not to be confused with social media marketing, which you probably know like the back of your hand. Social marketing “…has the primary goal of achieving ‘common good’. Traditional commercial marketing aims are primarily financial, though they can have positive social effects as well.”
It’s a term closely related to purpose-driven marketing.
What is greenwashing and why is it a problem?
I can’t really talk about corporate social responsibility and purpose-driven marketing without warning about greenwashing, which is essentially using your marketing powers for evil. Instead of putting in the effort to protect people and the planet as well as hitting financial KPIs, some brands are either pretending or making outright unsubstantiated claims, appearing to be a purpose-driven company with good people and environmental values, but when you scratch at the surface (and most of the time you don’t even have to scratch that far) you’ll find that they aren’t really bothered and aren’t doing much.
The sad thing is that this has resulted in pretty cynical consumers, so even if you have extremely positive purpose-driven branding and a great purpose-driven culture, you have to be so, so careful in how you communicate to ensure that you don’t get accused of greenwashing.
What is the triple bottom line?
The term “Triple Bottom Line” was coined 27 years ago, essentially trying to convince companies to become purpose-driven brands, where they not only measure their financial success but also track how their actions are impacting people (including their employees, consumers, and even those who have no association with them) and the planet.
The triple bottom line is really what purpose-driven marketing is all about, and a corporate social responsibility strategy is the way to get there.
A brief history lesson
I’m based in the UK, and one of our most famous chocolate manufacturers is Cadbury. When they outgrew their factory, George Cadbury and his brother decided that their next location wasn’t going to be as depressing or squalid. So, rather than invest in a factory premises, they bought 14.5 acres in a village in Bourneville (which is a lovely place to visit). This meant that factory workers didn’t have to live in crowded city slums, but instead had access to a good water supply, train line, and a canal (which was probably a lot nicer back then than they are now).
George Cadbury’s vision was to create a business in an area full of green spaces where his workers (and their families) wouldn’t be surrounded by city pollution. Way back in 1878, Cadbury nailed a corporate social responsibility strategy with the motto:
“No man ought to be condemned to live in a place where a rose cannot grow.”
This approach to business is actually how organizations historically believed companies should operate. Known as social enterprise, brands had a responsibility to provide support to:
Including contributing generally to the well-being, health, and wealth of society at large.
Sadly, in recent years, this could be seen as a scarce approach to running a business, with more and more brands focusing on hitting financial goals and generating more revenue and profit rather than the overall impact they are making.
The rise of purpose-driven marketing
Like I said earlier, the official Triple Bottom Line approach has been around for almost three decades and there is loads of data available showing that consumers want brands to be more intentional with how they operate, ensuring that everybody and everything benefits from their actions.
86% of millennials think that companies should be measured in terms of more than just financial performance, according to The Rise of the Social Enterprise. Since this generation currently makes up half of the global workforce, as well as being consumers, it’s something for every brand to consider.
More companies are also transitioning into B Corps, a label only given to companies who meet “high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability”.
Since B Lab’s creation in 2006, more than 5,000 global brands have transitioned into B Corps across 82 countries and 156 global industries (at the time of writing). That’s massive. And it’s really well-known, leading brands that are now B Corps including Innocent Drinks, Ben & Jerry’s, and BrewDog. And the US and UK are leading the way, having the most certified B Corp businesses.
What’s more, these brands are talking about these efforts as part of their online strategies:
It’s time for a rise in purpose-driven digital marketing
I’ve been devouring the Can Marketing Save the Planet podcast and reading as many books as I can get my hands on (annoyingly, books on this topic can be pretty expensive). What I’ve found is that, while there seems to be a huge shift towards more ethical and environmental values, the focus and efforts seem to lie in more traditional marketing campaigns rather than digital marketing.
But as you’ve seen here, the data shows that people are looking for how brands are implementing corporate social responsibility through different channels online, so there’s a real opportunity here for us as digital marketers to take the helm.
Whether you’re in-house or agency side, how often are you asked to advise on key decisions like corporate social responsibility and purpose-driven marketing campaigns? We have the audience. If we can start to close the gap between traditional and digital, and cross the line that’s drawn between brand decisions and marketing, we can achieve some exceptionally good things for everyone.
Tips for getting started with corporate social responsibility and purpose-driven marketing
First, you need to consider how you could approach putting together your own CSR strategy to become a more purpose-driven brand. If you work agency side, you can use this approach when helping your clients come up with their purpose-driven marketing campaigns.
I’m using what I’ve learned not just regarding CSR, sustainability, and brand purpose but also in my experience working in digital marketing over the last seven years.
There’s more information on each of these here, and it’s a great starting point to see if you or your client is already doing things that fall under these goals.
For example, The Digital Maze recently implemented a new sick pay policy. Previously, the company gave full sick pay for five days. Now, employees get five days of full sick pay per “incident”. So, if I were sick for five days in January and then again for five days in March, I’d get all of those days fully paid.
There has also been another recent policy change regarding working hours and locations so that employees can get out during the day — whether that’s for a walk around a local park or hitting the gym when it’s less crowded.
Finally, the hours of operation are fantastic. A standard working day consists of billable working hours for clients, however, employees are encouraged to step away from the screen between tasks, take a breather, and also do regular professional development.
All of the above could easily fall under goal two of the SDGs: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
It’s worth saying that these policies weren’t implemented because of the SDGs. The SDGs are a great sounding board for figuring out what you or your clients are already doing that you may not have thought fell under a purpose-driven approach.
2) Involve the entire company
At a recent client meeting, the client asked if they should be talking about charitable efforts their employees are involved in independently of the brand.
I, for one, think this is a great idea, and an even better one is involving all of your employees in defining your brand’s shared values. A simple anonymous survey could be taken by your team if you’re a marketing agency looking to implement your own purpose-driven marketing campaign, or you can provide your clients with a survey template to give to their employees.
Ask what they stand for, what they want the business to stand for, and any ideas of how to get there. In a short space of time, you’ll be inundated with ideas that you can work through.
3) Don’t take on too much, too quickly
Slow and steady will win the race here. Rather than trying to do everything quickly, the result of which would be not achieving much at all, start with one, two, or three values at the most, and really explore what you can do to make a difference.
When it comes to sustainability, there’s always this concept of time looming over our heads. While time is indeed running out, it’s better to do a few things that make a substantial difference than trying to do a lot, getting overwhelmed, and achieving nothing.
4) Have fun
Yes, this is an incredibly important topic that needs to be taken seriously, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Some might even argue that when it comes to a successful digital marketing campaign, “fun” is often the secret ingredient.
There will undoubtedly be things that you need to do as a purpose-driven brand operating in the digital space (like calculating carbon emissions) that you wouldn’t necessarily do as a hobby, but it can also be a passion project.
Once you confirm what’s already being done, you can start creating marketing strategies to get this information out into the world and in front of your target audience.
5) Don’t be scared to tell the truth
I’m so impressed with Costa Coffee’s CSR page (I have no affiliation with this brand whatsoever, but they are my go-to coffee shop of choice when it’s a jumbo coffee morning). If you scroll down you’ll see a rundown of how sustainable their coffee cups are. But the bit that really stands out is in their cold cup section, where they say that their lids are only made from 40% recycled plastic and that they have more work to do.
Remember the old days when companies were hesitant about using social media because they didn’t want to get caught up in complaints? Well, the same thing is kind of happening in purpose-driven marketing. Companies are so worried that they will get flack for not being 100% perfect that they choose to do nothing, or to not talk about it.
Costa is a great example of how to do this: communicating that they are aware of where they need to be, but are also proud of how far they’ve come.
6) Choose your platforms
Just as you would with any marketing strategy, you need to have a plan of what platform each campaign will use. Every single company operating online should have a CSR page on their website so that consumers who are looking for this information online (remember, that’s 75% of people) can find it easily.
41% of those consumers are looking for this information on social media platforms, so if your analytics shows that this is where your audience is spending their time and interacting with you, it’s worth testing some strategies there, too.
Innocent Drinks does this very well via a Twitter strategy that supports The Big Rewild. Here are just a couple of their posts:
“I’ve not seen a bed that wild since a tiger broke into my bungalow” “wow… I didn’t know you lived in a bungalow, Clive” “yeah, terrified of stairs, Jeff”#WildOrMildhttps://t.co/mg06mzyUGT
This isn’t to steal ideas, it’s more for inspiration. What societal issues are they trying to tackle? Are they focusing on climate change, for example?
It’s a good sounding board but, remember: just because your competitors are doing something, that doesn’t mean that you should be doing the exact same thing. It all comes back to defining your company’s values.
Take these steps to get started in CSR
I hope this has helped take some of the scariness away from such a big and important subject. Whether you’re working in-house or as part of an agency, taking a purpose-driven approach is only going to get more important and in-demand.
If you’ve already gone through the process of setting up purpose-driven campaigns and CSR strategies, I’d love to hear about your experiences on Twitter.
Collecting high-quality data is crucial to making strategic observations about your customers. Researchers have to consider the best ways to design their surveys and then how to increase survey completion, because it makes the data more reliable.
I’m going to explain how survey completion plays into the reliability of data. Then, we’ll get into how to calculate your survey completion rate versus the number of questions you ask. Finally, I’ll offer some tips to help you increase survey completion rates.
My goal is to make your data-driven decisions more accurate and effective. And just for fun, I’ll use cats in the examples because mine won’t stop walking across my keyboard.
Why Measure Survey Completion
Let’s set the scene: We’re inside a laboratory with a group of cat researchers. They’re wearing little white coats and goggles — and they desperately want to know what other cats think of various fish.
They’ve written up a 10-question survey and invited 100 cats from all socioeconomic rungs — rough and hungry alley cats all the way up to the ones that thrice daily enjoy their Fancy Feast from a crystal dish.
Now, survey completion rates are measured with two metrics: response rate and completion rate. Combining those metrics determines what percentage, out of all 100 cats, finished the entire survey. If all 100 give their full report on how delicious fish is, you’d achieve 100% survey completion and know that your information is as accurate as possible.
But the truth is, nobody achieves 100% survey completion, not even golden retrievers.
With this in mind, here’s how it plays out:
Let’s say 10 cats never show up for the survey because they were sleeping.
Of the 90 cats that started the survey, only 25 got through a few questions. Then, they wandered off to knock over drinks.
Thus, 90 cats gave some level of response, and 65 completed the survey (90 – 25 = 65).
Unfortunately, those 25 cats who only partially completed the survey had important opinions — they like salmon way more than any other fish.
The cat researchers achieved 72% survey completion (65 divided by 90), but their survey will not reflect the 25% of cats — a full quarter! — that vastly prefer salmon. (The other 65 cats had no statistically significant preference, by the way. They just wanted to eat whatever fish they saw.)
Now, the Kitty Committee reviews the research and decides, well, if they like any old fish they see, then offer the least expensive ones so they get the highest profit margin.
CatCorp, their competitors, ran the same survey; however, they offered all 100 participants their own glass of water to knock over — with a fish inside, even!
Only 10 of their 100 cats started, but did not finish the survey. And the same 10 lazy cats from the other survey didn’t show up to this one, either.
So, there were 90 respondents and 80 completed surveys. CatCorp achieved an 88% completion rate (80 divided by 90), which recorded that most cats don’t care, but some really want salmon. CatCorp made salmon available and enjoyed higher profits than the Kitty Committee.
So you see, the higher your survey completion rates, the more reliable your data is. From there, you can make solid, data-driven decisions that are more accurate and effective. That’s the goal.
We measure the completion rates to be able to say, “Here’s how sure we can feel that this information is accurate.”
And if there’s a Maine Coon tycoon looking to invest, will they be more likely to do business with a cat food company whose decision-making metrics are 72% accurate or 88%? I suppose it could depend on who’s serving salmon.
What is survey completion rate?
Survey completion rate refers to the number of completed surveys divided by the number of total survey respondents. The result is then multiplied by 100 to get a percentage. Survey respondents include those who completed the survey, and those who started the survey but didn’t complete it.
While math was not my strongest subject in school, I had the great opportunity to take several college-level research and statistics classes, and the software we used did the math for us. That’s why I used 100 cats — to keep the math easy so we could focus on the importance of building reliable data.
Now, we’re going to talk equations and use more realistic numbers. Here’s the formula:
So, we need to take the number of completed surveys and divide that by the number of people who responded to at least one of your survey questions. Even just one question answered qualifies them as a respondent (versus nonrespondent, i.e., the 10 lazy cats who never show up).
Now, you’re running an email survey for, let’s say, Patton Avenue Pet Company. We’ll guess that the email list has 5,000 unique addresses to contact. You send out your survey to all of them.
Your analytics data reports that 3,000 people responded to one or more of your survey questions. Then, 1,200 of those respondents actually completed the entire survey.
3,000/5000 = 0.6 = 60% — that’s your pool of survey respondents who answered at least one question. That sounds pretty good! But some of them didn’t finish the survey. You need to know the percentage of people who completed the entire survey. So here we go:
Completion rate equals the # of completed surveys divided by the # of survey respondents.
Completion rate = (1,200/3,000) = 0.40 = 40%
Voila, 40% of your respondents did the entire survey.
Response Rate vs. Completion Rate
Okay, so we know why the completion rate matters and how we find the right number. But did you also hear the term response rate? They are completely different figures based on separate equations, and I’ll show them side by side to highlight the differences.
Completion Rate = # of Completed Surveys divided by # of Respondents
Response Rate = # of Respondentsdivided by Total # of surveys sent out
Here are examples using the same numbers from above:
Completion Rate = (1200/3,000) = 0.40 = 40%
Response Rate = (3,000/5000) = 0.60 = 60%
So, they are different figures that describe different things:
Completion rate: The percentage of your respondents that completed the entire survey. As a result, it indicates how sure we are that the information we have is accurate.
Response rate: The percentage of people who responded in any way to our survey questions.
The follow-up question is: How can we make this number as high as possible in order to be closer to a truer and more complete data set from the population we surveyed?
That is a heavily loaded question. People in our industry have to say, “It depends,” far more than anybody wants to hear it, but it depends. Sorry about that.
There are lots of factors at play, such as what kind of survey you’re doing, what industry you’re doing it in, if it’s an internal or external survey, the population or sample size, the confidence level you’d like to hit, the margin of error you’re willing to accept, etc.
But you can’t really get a high completion rate unless you increase response rates first.
So instead of focusing on what’s a good completion rate, I think it’s more important to understand what makes a good response rate. Aim high enough, and survey completions should follow.
I checked in with the Qualtrics community and found this discussion about survey response rates:
“Just wondering what are the average response rates we see for online B2B CX surveys? […]
Current response rates: 6%–8%… We are looking at boosting the response rates but would first like to understand what is the average.”
The best answer came from a government service provider that works with businesses. The poster notes that their service is free to use, so they get very high response rates.
“I would say around 30–40% response rates to transactional surveys,” they write. “Our annual pulse survey usually sits closer to 12%. I think the type of survey and how long it has been since you rendered services is a huge factor.”
Since this conversation, “Delighted” (the Qualtrics blog) reported some fresher data:
The takeaway here is that response rates vary widely depending on the channel you use to reach respondents. On the upper end, the Qualtrics blog reports that customers had 85% response rates for employee email NPS surveys and 33% for email NPS surveys.
A good response rate, the blog writes, “ranges between 5% and 30%. An excellent response rate is 50% or higher.”
This echoes reports from Customer Thermometer, which marks a response rate of 50% or higher as excellent. Response rates between 5%-30% are much more typical, the report notes. High response rates are driven by a strong motivation to complete the survey or a personal relationship between the brand and the customer.
If your business does little person-to-person contact, you’re out of luck. Customer Thermometer says you should expect responses on the lower end of the scale. The same goes for surveys distributed from unknown senders, which typically yield the lowest level of responses.
According to SurveyMonkey, surveys where the sender has no prior relationship have response rates of 20% to 30% on the high end.
Whatever numbers you do get, keep making those efforts to bring response rates up. That way, you have a better chance of increasing your survey completion rate. How, you ask?
Tips to Increase Survey Completion
If you want to boost survey completions among your customers, try the following tips.
1. Keep your survey brief.
We shouldn’t cram lots of questions into one survey, even if it’s tempting. Sure, it’d be nice to have more data points, but random people will probably not hunker down for 100 questions when we catch them during their half-hour lunch break.
Keep it short. Pare it down in any way you can.
Survey completion rate versus number of questions is a correlative relationship — the more questions you ask, the fewer people will answer them all. If you have the budget to pay the respondents, it’s a different story — to a degree.
“If you’re paying for survey responses, you’re more likely to get completions of a decently-sized survey. You’ll just want to avoid survey lengths that might tire, confuse, or frustrate the user. You’ll want to aim for quality over quantity,” says Pamela Bump, Head of Content Growth at HubSpot.
2. Give your customers an incentive.
For instance, if they’re cats, you could give them a glass of water with a fish inside.
Offer incentives that make sense for your target audience. If they feel like they are being rewarded for giving their time, they will have more motivation to complete the survey.
This can even accomplish two things at once — if you offer promo codes, discounts on products, or free shipping, it encourages them to shop with you again.
3. Keep it smooth and easy.
Keep your survey easy to read. Simplifying your questions has at least two benefits: People will understand the question better and give you the information you need, and people won’t get confused or frustrated and just leave the survey.
4. Know your customers and how to meet them where they are.
Here’s an anecdote about understanding your customers and learning how best to meet them where they are.
Early on in her role, Pamela Bump, HubSpot’s Head of Content Growth, conducted a survey of HubSpot Blog readers to learn more about their expertise levels, interests, challenges, and opportunities. Once published, she shared the survey with the blog’s email subscribers and a top reader list she had developed, aiming to receive 150+ responses.
“When the 20-question survey was getting a low response rate, I realized that blog readers were on the blog to read — not to give feedback. I removed questions that wouldn’t serve actionable insights. When I reshared a shorter, 10-question survey, it passed 200 responses in one week,” Bump shares.
Tip 5. Gamify your survey.
Make it fun! Brands have started turning surveys into eye candy with entertaining interfaces so they’re enjoyable to interact with.
Your respondents could unlock micro incentives as they answer more questions. You can word your questions in a fun and exciting way so it feels more like a BuzzFeed quiz. Someone saw the opportunity to make surveys into entertainment, and your imagination — well, and your budget — is the limit!
Your Turn to Boost Survey Completion Rates
Now, it’s time to start surveying. Remember to keep your user at the heart of the experience. Value your respondents’ time, and they’re more likely to give you compelling information. Creating short, fun-to-take surveys can also boost your completion rates.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2010 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
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Cynthia Ramsaran is director of custom content at Third Door Media, publishers of Search Engine Land and MarTech. A multi-channel storyteller with over two decades of editorial/content marketing experience, Cynthia’s expertise spans the marketing, technology, finance, manufacturing and gaming industries. She was a writer/producer for CNBC.com and produced thought leadership for KPMG. Cynthia hails from Queens, NY and earned her Bachelor’s and MBA from St. John’s University.
Imagine browsing for your dream car on Amazon, with the option to seamlessly purchase, pick up, or have it delivered—all within the familiar confines of the world’s largest online marketplace. Buckle up as we explore the potential impact of this monumental partnership and the transformation it heralds for the future of auto retail.
Driving Change Through Amazon’s Auto Revolution
Consider “Josh”, a tech-savvy professional with an affinity for efficiency. Faced with the tedious process of purchasing a new car, he stumbled upon Amazon’s automotive section. Intrigued by the prospect of a one-stop shopping experience, Josh decided to explore the Amazon-Hyundai collaboration.
A hassle-free online car purchase, personalized to his preferences, and delivered to his doorstep. Josh’s story is just a glimpse into the real-world impact of this game-changing partnership.
Bridging the Gap Between Convenience and Complexity
Traditional car buying is often marred by complexities, from navigating dealership lots to negotiating prices. The disconnect between the convenience consumers seek and the cumbersome process they endure has long been a pain point in the automotive industry. The need for a streamlined, customer-centric solution has never been more pressing.
Ecommerce Partnership Reshaping Auto Retail Dynamics
Enter Amazon and Hyundai’s new strategic partnership coming in 2024—an innovative solution poised to redefine the car-buying experience. The trio of key developments—Amazon becoming a virtual showroom, Hyundai embracing AWS for a digital makeover, and the integration of Alexa into next-gen vehicles—addresses the pain points with a holistic approach.
In 2024, auto dealers for the first time will be able to sell vehicles in Amazon’s U.S. store, and Hyundai will be the first brand available for customers to purchase.
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Driving into the Future
The Amazon-Hyundai collaboration is not just a partnership; it’s a revolution in motion. As we witness the fusion of e-commerce giant Amazon with automotive prowess of Hyundai, the potential impact on customer behavior is staggering.
The age-old challenges of car buying are met with a forward-thinking, customer-centric solution, paving the way for a new era in auto retail. From the comfort of your home to the driver’s seat, this partnership is set to redefine every step of the journey, promising a future where buying a car is as easy as ordering a package online.
Embrace the change, and witness the evolution of auto retail unfold before your eyes.