8 strategies for reaching eco-minded customers

Reaching eco-savvy customers online (iStock)The green marketing space is exploding with new opportunities for brands to make their mark. And it’s no surprise why: According to a study released by Strategic Oxygen, GCI Group and Cohn & Wolfe more than 70 percent of global respondents said they “probably” or “definitely” would increase their preference for a brand’s green products if they were convinced of the positive impact on the environment and business. Almost 60% said they would expect to pay a premium for green products.

Brands that ignore the move towards greener practices (or exaggerate their sustainability efforts) do so at their own peril. Increasing numbers of watch dog sites such as the “Green Washing Index” evaluate brands’ environmental marketing campaigns for their authenticity.

But how exactly can brands participate in the “green” conversation online, showcase their sustainable efforts and products, and drive traffic to their online sites and physical stores in this space?

Several websites are now competing for the eyes, ears and voices of eco-minded consumers:

Green.yahoo.com (Number one site in this category: 1MUU/4M P/V per month, credible source, friendly for advertisers; willing to engage large advertisers for special front page promotions)

thedailygreen.com (200k~600k; avg, 400k) owned by Hearst Digital; has syndication relationship with Yahoo; 3,600 Facebook fans; YouTube channel, few subscribers, maybe because videos are hosted on main site; 8000 followers on Twitter.

Treehugger.com (1M UU average per month, some months are higher); included in Time Magazine’s 2009 blog index as one of the top twenty-five blogs.

Lime.com (60k)- A GAIAM company; A healthy living site that include blog posts, video content, a forum, podcasts, online store and a local store finder; a lot of banner ad placement opportunities

Dwell.com (60k); Online site for Dwell magazine; Focus on modern eco home design, products and comfortable living

Greenoptions.com (50~70k) Network of environmentally-focused blogs

Opportunities in the online green space  are not limited to display ads on green-focused Websites, and campaigns should consider integrating any advertising spend with a larger social media strategy including buys with social media sites such as Facebook or MySpace. However, creating a page on a social networking site like Facebook is more than just having a presence there, it’s about creating community around the product and among like-minded users who care about supporting environmentally responsible brands—and it can even drive traffic to stores.

Here are eight strategies for reaching today’s eco-minded consumer via online social media channels:

1. Appeal to customer passions – ask THEM what sustainability means to them
2. Must be relevant and transparent – social media consumers are savvy
3. Avoid “greenwashing”
4. Understand that it is a long-term commitment
5. Integrate with digital technology (mobile, DOOH, gaming)
6. Tap into UGC
7. Reward Users: i.e. “A percent of every sale will go to support a green cause of your choice”
8. Integrate couponing or event to campaign (Starbucks was able to drive traffic to their stores and gain millions of Facebook fans through their Facebook pastry give away campaign).