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How Does CSR Affect Your Customer Journey and Bottom Line?8 min read

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We all know that optimizing and mapping out the customer journey is a crucial part of increasing repeat and loyal customers and boosting conversion rates. Consumers have come to expect a seamless shopping experience from ecommerce brands that includes features such as a simplified user experience, easy and secure checkout, and accessible customer service.  Nowadays, these are bare minimum expectations. So how can you differentiate your brand in an already oversaturated ecommerce market? Three words: Corporate Social Responsibility. Let’s dive into the benefits of incorporating CSR into your customer journey.

1. Appeal to the Largest Purchasing Population

Millennials and Philanthroteens (Gen Z) are rising up as industry disruptors and unapologetic activists who believe that companies should do good and operate for more than a profit (2018 Cone/Porter Novelli Purpose Study). For these two generations, CSR is becoming increasingly more important when choosing where to shop and what brands to support.

As conscious consumers are choosing to shop with socially conscious brands over brands that do not display strong ethical initiatives or support a cause, the latter falls behind. Today, it is not enough to simply offer lower prices or sale promotions in order to beat out the competition. In fact, many consumers are willing to pay extra if it means that they can buy products from a brand who acts sustainably and ethically (Forbes, 2018). Many customers realize their purchases have power, and will seek out brands that actively support a cause.

2. Create Authentic Moments with Your Audience

In short, the customer journey is the complete culmination of experiences that your customer goes through when engaging and interacting with your brand. This means that every interaction a customer has with your brand, is part of their customer journey, and by mapping out this experience you can better optimize this process and build a long-term relationship.

Every engagement that a customer has with your store should be an authentic, positive one. As conscious consumers begin to dominate the market, they understand they are essentially voting companies into power every time they make a purchase which has lead them to supporting brands that align with their values. By integrating a corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy into your business model, you can attract this growing population while also doing more than just turning a profit.

“88% of Millennials would be more loyal to a company who gives back.” – 2016 Cone Communications Millennial Employee Engagement Study

3. Transparency Leads to Trust in Transactions

With the growing trend of turning to social media or online reviews for information and shopping inspiration, the amount of customers who research brands ahead of time before deciding to make a purchase is increasing. In fact, even when it comes to new products, Gen Z-ers primarily find out about new products through social media, as opposed to television advertisements (Bloomberg, 2019). 

Researching a company before making a decision goes hand-in-hand with trust and transparency. Customers want to know who they are shopping with and what their money is helping to support. If a company does not make an effort, customers take notice and may choose to shop with a brand who is vocal about social injustices and uses their power for good. It’s important for brands to be transparent about their beliefs and be honest with customers

By mapping the customer journey, you can gain a better insight into common pain points from your customers’ perspectives. This will also help you to “benchmark against your brand promise” (Salesforce, 2016). As a brand it is important to not over-promise or under-perform on things that you promote to customers.

The first step to mapping out the customer journey is to understand who your customers are. Since no two customers are completely alike, it is beneficial to create a couple customer personas. It is also important to understand the goals of your customers throughout the customer journey. This will help you to deliver on these goals at every touchpoint.  You should also map out common pain points, so that you can eliminate these roadblocks. The customer journey should be as seamless as possible, and mapping out this process will help you best in doing just that.

4. Build a Conscious Brand Story Worth Sharing 

Since the customer journey includes every touchpoint that a customer has with your brand, it is important to know that basic awareness and perceptions of your brand are included in this as well, even before the customer steps foot into your store or visits your website.

The way that customers perceive your brand from the start is important in keeping them engaged and getting them through the funnel to eventually become a loyal, repeat customer. By having a strong CSR strategy that people are aware of will aid in speeding up the process of getting the customer from basic awareness to making a purchase.

“What you stand up for and speak up about has an even bigger effect of earning new customer loyalty” – WWD, 2018

While having a clear purpose and telling your story are all important in building your brand story., standing up for what you believe in and making a difference is equally as important. Customers may be more likely to tell their friends and family that their purchase from your brand donates meals to families in poverty, as opposed to bragging about the low price of shipping. Being able to feel good about purchases and knowing that your brand supports  social causes gives customers all the more reason to come back.

The great thing about implementing CSR into your customer journey is that the customer doesn’t have to search to find out what you believe in. Whether you support environmental sustainability, gender equality, or humanitarian aid, your customer will know you are focused on making a difference.

5. Build Messaging Around Giving Back

Whether you already have Corporate Social Responsibility ingrained into your business or are in the process of initiating a strategy, at some point it’s time to make your customers aware of it. While you should implement CSR to do good and make an impact, it’s also important to note that it is beneficial to you in terms of customer perceptions and brand awareness. Be proud of your efforts and make it known!

One way to promote your CSR strategy is by improving your messaging tactics. There are dozens of ways that you could do this, but we’re about to make it simple for you: Gorgias and ShoppingGives have recently partnered with each other to bring together the power of customer support pop-ups and giving back. With this partnership, not only is it easier for you to integrate a CSR strategy seamlessly into your business, but you can easily promote your giving initiatives to customers as soon as they come to your eCommerce site.

With this partnership, you can utilize popups and chat campaigns through Gorgias to notify your customers that you donate 1% on purchases to the cause of their choice. By engaging customers with your giving strategy as soon as they come to your site, you increase the chance that they will not only find the donation widget when making a purchase, but you also increase the likelihood that customers will be aware of your CSR initiatives upon first engagement.

ShoppingGives Shopify App, Change Commerce is a Shopify enables your eCommerce store to seamlessly integrate CSR into your business strategy. With Change Commerce’s end-to-end donation management system, you can engage your customers through frictionless giving. While your customers shop your site, they can choose a cause to support through our donation widget, at no extra cost to them. They shop, you donate, and we handle the rest.

As an eCommerce retailer, conversion rates and AOV should be top-of-mind when it comes to measuring business performance. One of the best ways to increase your store’s conversion rate is from tracking and recording everything that visitors do on your store (Kimler, 2019). With Change Commerce, you have access to business and data insights that can help you optimize the customer journey for your website visitors.

Change Commerce also allows you to compare your donation data against baseline data. This means that you are able to compare metrics such as conversion rate, AOV, and activation rate (orders with donations only) on orders with donations and orders without. You are also able to  see your top nonprofits and your AOV by nonprofits.

Being able to see and understand where your customers are choosing to donate to allows your brand to create a cause marketing campaign around your customers’ preferences. Put a personal touch back into your business through personalized communication. While eCommerce and technology are great for businesses, many customers still would like to see human interaction when engaging with brands (Woolnough-Rai, 2018). 

With the type of metrics listed above, you can plan campaigns around specific nonprofits that you know your customers support, and through engaging content and media, bring them back to your site to place another order while still supporting their favorite cause. Whether this is done through email or social media, you are not only increase the chance to bring a past customer back to your site to make another purchase, but you are reminding your customers that they can still generate a donation to the cause of their choice when they shop with your brand. This engages your customers directly with your CSR initiatives and gets them excited about making another purchase.

With the upcoming holiday season, having a CSR strategy revolved around giving back is the perfect way to get your customers involved and to spread that holiday cheer. The holiday season is not only the most profitable but also the most charitable. , ShoppingGives and Gorgias can help you maximize profits and implement a strong CSR strategy year-round.

Whatever fits with your brand best is what is going to make your CSR strategy a successful one. As a brand, it is important that you feel connected to the causes you support and what you stand for.By picking a cause that you feel connected to, it will be easier to implement into your CSR strategy and truly make a difference.

 

This article was originally published by our friends at Gorgias.

About the author

Steve Hutt

I'm obsessed with entrepreneurship, commerce, and Shopify. If you have the desire to implement what's working today for direct-to-consumer brands on Shopify, I'm excited you're here! Get the Shopify help you need. This industry blog and podcast is my digital brain where my guests and I share cutting-edge marketing strategy, must-have Shopify apps, and marketing platforms that will help you build and scale lifetime customer loyalty. To do this, I'm part of the Merchant Success Team at Shopify Plus and host of the eCommerce Fastlane Podcast.