Causes are Key to Brand Marketing in Evolution from Web2 to Web3
Marketing is experiencing a seismic shift for the better.
It started with the COVID-19 lockdowns and BLM protests. Like rebellious teenagers running amok on spring break, nature sent most humans on the planet to their room to reconsider their priorities.
At the same time, people were more connected than ever before. We saw behind the curtain; there is no wizard in Oz. We watched governments and institutions falter, even as extremism continued to coalesce and strengthen. Now we are all online more for work, play and commerce. We can share and witness each other's humanity, pain, and triumphs.
Pretty heady stuff, right? What's it got to do with marketing? What's a brand to do?
It turns out that marketing, a business discipline that many still deride and underestimate, is now the most potent driver of business growth. Customer experience is becoming a primary driver of profitability.
This post explains how brands accustomed to doing business in Web2 can dominate their space with Web3 tools and adopting a hybrid cause marketing model that aligns business outcomes with social or environmental impact.
Business needs to make the shift from adversary to ally in it's relationship with the environment and labor, and not just because it's a nice idea. Capitalism's development lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty. It also pushed the earth into a corner. Capitalism cannot evolve in the way it has in the past because if it does, it will kill the golden goose. We won't have robust markets to sell to or healthy people to buy our products and services.
The good news is that consumer awareness is driving business to a place where business for good will simply be good business. Let's take a closer look.
Problem 1 - Brands Evolving Beyond Web2
Marketers in Web2 know that online platforms stack the odds in their own favor, not people or brands'. The ad-driven social platform experience is deteriorating even as Web2 social platforms ultimately control brands' access to audiences.
Yes, data-driven ad models allowed unprecedented targeting. But the honeymoon is over. Consumers are increasingly worried about privacy. Third-party cookie data sources are dying out.
And maybe it's all OK, because it's not like the Web2 marketing dynamic has been nirvana for brands.
Brands spend time and money curating and attracting traffic to social platforms.
Those same platforms then :
- Control access to the brand's hard-won fans
- Harvest data from users without compensating them
- Sell that data back to brands
- Are exclusively pay-to-play. Organic reach is effectively dead.
Web 3 offers alternatives for brands to engage and cultivate users off of the large social platforms. We’ll mention more about that later.
Problem 2 - Trust and Connection in a Fragmented World
Consumer trust in institutions, government, and media is tanking. Even so, we are human and humans look to put their trust somewhere. I call it a trust void looking for a home.
Starting with globalization in the 1980s, people became more aware of what was happening in other countries, as well as how their actions impacted others. Today, the majority of consumers want to know what brands are doing to help people and the planet. 50% of consumers say it's important for brands to take a stance on social, environmental, or political issues. (Trustpilot).
In 2017, 87% percent of consumers say they would purchase a product from a company that "stood up or advocated for" an issue they care about. (Deloitte, Cone Communications).
People are very frustrated and afraid. And can you blame them? Wealth disparities are increasing, the economy is wobbly, and no one in charge seems to know what they are doing. Consumers have been sitting on their frustration with "the powers that be" for a long time. Companies can choose to be a maligned target or a constructive outlet for that energy.
Consumer demands for business to do more good is great news for brands like Toms Shoes or Patagonia that have impact baked into their DNA. The risk is that a lack of transparency from brands around verified impact can undermine consumer trust. #greenwashing #wokewashing.
Let's connect the dots more clearly.
Connecting the Dots for Connection, Causes, Emotion, Trust, and Brand Loyalty
Depending on which study you read, 50 to 70% of consumers factor in a brand’s stance on social or environmental issues when making purchases. At the same time, people are looking for authentic connections - and 62% of consumers feel they have a relationship with a brand already. (Deloitte)
Did a lightbulb just go off for you, too?
The majority of consumers already feel like they have a relationship with some brands. I'm going to make the leap and guess the 62% that feel that way may also be among those that looking to support companies with cause-related positions.
Here is the next bit. Brands can attract loyal, non-fidgety customers, if not raving fans, by authentically supporting causes that their audience cares about. People get emotional about causes, and emotion can spark trust and loyalty.
Why Emotion Matters for Customer Loyalty
A 2019 Deloitte Digital study found emotional factors inspire brand loyalty, and emotional connection requires developing two-way relationships between brands and customers that mirror human relationships.
Impact campaigns drive customer loyalty. When you set someone free to live their values, it creates a very powerful emotional tie. Donald Trump's followers are a stark, if controversial, example. Campaigns where woke brands or influencers link up to benefit causes build richer connections with customers and fans.
Tah dah! The brand fills the trust void.
For example, consider the emotional connection generated by the following:
- Colin Kaepernick - football and civil rights.
- Greta Thunberg: 16-year-old leading worldwide Youth 4 Climate student walkouts.
- Starbucks and LGBQT : When a shareholder asked about business risk due to the company’s support of gay marriage, CEO Howard Schultz responded “Feel free to sell your shares”. 👊
How Emotion Translates to the Bottom Line for Brands
So, does all this touchy-feely emotion stuff really translate to the bottom line? 🤷🏽♀️🤔
Yes, emotion drives profits.
Motista reports these spending stats from customers with emotional ties:
- Spend up to 2x or more with their preferred retailers
- New customers can spend 7X higher in their first year
- Stay with a brand for an average of 5.1 years vs. 3.4 years
- Emotionally-connected customers spend avg $699 per year with a company, versus $275 from regular customers.
- Have 306% higher customer lifetime value (CLV).
Word of mouth and retention:
- Recommend brands at much higher rates: 34% vs. 7%
Customer Loyalty = Higher Retention, Less Churn = Higher Profits
Brands that create emotional ties with their customers enjoy higher brand loyalty and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). Lower churn, more repeat purchases, more word of mouth referrals. Customer retention also introduces a multiplier effect.
Studies by Bain & Co with Earl Sasser of the Harvard Business School, have shown that even a 5 percent increase in customer retention can lead to an increase in profits of between 25 and 95 percent. (source)
Trust and Customer Loyalty
The Deloitte study also says knowing what data is OK to use (and when) is vital to building and maintaining trust with customers. In Web3, the customer controls their data and is compensated for sharing it. Brands don't necessarily have to pay them money for their information. People will share data for perks and rewards, too.
Proceed with caution, though. Consumers are increasingly sensitive to privacy issues. Brands that respect and support customers' right to privacy engender more trust and loyalty. And as we've seen, brands also build trust by championing causes customers care about.
Problem 3 for Brands - Customer Experience (CX) Is Now Everything
Sorry, we're back to another problem for brands. Of course, the flip side is always an opportunity, right?
Old truth: You are competing with your competitors.
New truth: You are competing with the last best experience your customer had.
- Janet Balis. CMO Practice Leader, EY Consulting
Deloitte says customers expect a consistent, contextually appropriate experience of brands across all interactions. (source) Customers are looking for better experiences and Web2 experiences for fans suck.
It is almost impossible for brands to deliver rich experiences in Web2. Beyond posted content, brands have no control over UX on Facebook or IG. The social experience is cluttered and spammy. Instagram is riddled with fake profiles and spam in the comments section. Facebook saw a drop in daily logins in 2021 for the first time.
Enter Web3 Marketing. Sort of.
While Web3 offers some interesting new tools for engagement, the front door experience for most Web3 "native" platforms is also majorly sucky for people new to the space.
Heads up all you cool cats up in Web3 already. If you want to feast later you need to eat some humble pie now. Create better experiences for people new to the space. Especially if you are working with clients or influencers. I've seen some major celebrity NFT drops go belly up - DOA. You can't blame it lack of community when someone is already famous with a following. The reason is nobody apparently thought about the customer journey from IG fan to NFT buyer, for example.
Many Web3 experiences are confusing, condescending, and proudly unfriendly to the mainstream wave of folks that are coming over and looking for a home.
I listened in on a webinar where the CEO of a unicorn-in-the-making, the company recently acquired for a zillion dollars. He was openly dismissive of some of the Web2 pain points of the people in the audience, aka potential customers.
Guess who jumped in to redirect and try to save his uppity ass? His marketing lead.
End of sad story time, back to business.
The best way to create an emotional connection and increase customer loyalty is to create fab experiences and empower fans to easily help causes they care about.
That's why we are building Impactoverse with a fan-first mindset, aka prioritizing ease of use over wonkery. We want to help brands help their fans have a good time.
Exciting Brand Opportunities in Web3 Marketing
Web3 offers brands new ways to empower and unlock the personal agency of their followers in a world where they often feel powerless to make a difference. In Web3, brands can reclaim control of experience and relationships.
Web3 marketing allows brands to create new and personalized branded experiences building on direct access to fans. Brands can siphon off their best customers and fans from social media platforms.
Using NFTs, wallets, games, tokens, creative reward programs, branded virtual meeting spaces in the metaverse, and things we haven't even thought of yet, brands can directly engage and reward customers beyond just email or text.
1. Run smart campaigns that offer people actionable, easy, fun experiences AND a chance to live their values by helping causes they care about.
Example: Our homegrown impact initiative PetDropsNFT is all about giving people a fun, accessible way to immortalize their pet on the blockchain, help animals in need, and learn about NFTs, wallets, blockchain, and crypto in a safe environment. No Discord or cryptocurrency required.
2. Build emotional connections that spark trust and increase brand loyalty.
3. Watch your churn drop and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) climb.
Web3 tools are purpose-built for nurturing two-way relationships in ways current social media marketing can’t touch. They also provide automation and transparency around results so that your brand name doesn't get conflated with greenwashing or impact fakery.
Done right, Web3 tools can solve many of the problems of web2 marketing.
Impactoverse is the brand's secret weapon to help bridge Web 2 - 3 and reap the bottom line benefits of emotional connection and Web3 experiences.
And we all save the world in the process.
This is how business for good becomes business as usual.
You with me? Feel free to reach out for a chat.