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Earth Day Marketing: How to Speak Up for the Planet

Our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty. The objective is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all other human beings and all other living creatures.” – Gaylord Nelson

When Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson initiated the first Earth Day, held on April 22 in 1970, he probably couldn’t predict that 51 years later, the world would be celebrating the earth in the midst of a pandemic.

But even in the absence of concerts, workshops and close-proximity conversations, sustainability and climate change are still critical issues that resonate with the global consumer community.

As such, Earth Day presents a unique opportunity for brands of all types to align themselves with the environmental causes most important to their consumers and promote the good work they already do to preserve the planet. Doing good for the earth is good for business.

Earth Day as a Marketing Opportunity

“Green consumerism” matters to consumers (especially Generation Z shoppers). A 2020 First Insight survey turned up these insights:

  • 62% of Gen Z consumers prefer “sustainable brands,” compared to 54% of Gen X, 44% of the Silent Generation and 39% of Boomers.
  • Gen Z is more willing to pay more for sustainable products (73%) than Millennials (68%), Gen X (55%) and Boomers (42%).

Campaigns highlighting environmentally conscious efforts are an intrinsic expectation for a significant portion of consumers now. If your company is working on running a more environmentally sound operation, sells eco-friendly products or contributes company profits and employee time to environmental work, you should be running an Earth Day campaign.

The strategies and email examples below can help you create a marketing campaign that will speak to a wider base of customers and offer a change of pace from your regular promotions.

Top Email Strategies for Earth Day

COVID-19 taught us a lot about climate change. With pandemic lockdown restrictions, many have (re)captured their commitment to sustainability. As consumer sentiment evolves, brands have to adapt accordingly.

Consider these strategies when crafting your Earth Day campaign.

1. Go Behind the Scenes

Has your company reduced its manufacturing emissions, switched to recyclable packaging materials, reduced waste, reclaimed raw materials, or improved its supply chain? What about switching to sustainable lighting or increasing the use of solar or wind energy?

These behind-the-scenes efforts might not be all that glamorous, but they’re still something to share if the net effect is a lighter footprint on the planet. Transparency like this goes a long way in connecting with consumers.

2. Show Customers Why They Should Care

If you want to use Earth Day to connect with your customers, a vague statement about supporting the planet isn’t the best way to do it. Be specific about why your message matters for them and the environment.

Maybe customers could use your products to demonstrate their support for the environment. Maybe they need ideas about how to help out in their own communities. Take the lead and send an email with two or three suggestions. Your audience demographics or customer personas can help you decide which approach to take.

To be most effective, focus on efforts that would use your products, such as how to recycle your containers or shipping materials. Care/of’s email (keep scrolling to view below) is an excellent template to follow for this kind of email.

3. Partner With an Environmental Group

One decision to make on your email strategy for Earth Day is whether to offer a promotion or incentive or simply send a message of support. A generic 20%-off or free-shipping discount isn’t all that meaningful. However, you could highlight a product or assortment of sustainable or eco-friendly products and then donate the proceeds to an environmental group.

Another approach: Volunteer time or materials for local initiatives, such as park cleanups, and document your work in an email sent on or around April 22. This has added benefits: It puts your employees’ faces in your email, which humanizes your efforts, and it makes you accountable to your customers for doing what you said you would do.

For ideas, contact a local environmental clearinghouse or check Charity Navigator’s Protecting the Environment list of charities.

Seeing It All in Action

No matter where your brand is located on the spectrum of environmental friendliness, there’s an email here that can inspire you to create an Earth Day message that will resonate with customers.

Trade Coffee

There’s nothing wrong with combining commerce and environmentalism if they’re a compatible match for your brand. Coffee retailer Trade Coffee‘s “Picks of the Week” email highlights a product assortment of organic or sustainably-grown coffees—some listing the name of the certifying organization for additional authenticity.

Trade Coffee's Earth Day Recommendations

Add clout to your efforts by providing certifications. Source: MailCharts

Although Trade Coffee regularly features commentary by its “coffee guides,” like John Crisan, pictured here. Including an employee face in a cause-marketing email is another way to show accountability. 

Disney+

If your product is intangible, like digital media, do what streaming service Disney+ does and go into your library to gather a playlist of related content to attract new subscribers. This email—sent to non-subscribers who agreed to receive content from related Disney brands—uses topicality as a prospecting tool.

Disney+ Environmental Recommendations

When in doubt, help your audience find ways to learn or make a difference. Source: MailCharts

One design decision to make in creating an Earth Day email is whether to stick with your brand colors. If your brand colors are on the “hotter” end of the spectrum (reds, yellows, oranges) consider adopting a cooler color scheme of blues and greens which align with the environment.

Care/of

One way to get people more environmentally involved is to show them how easy it is to add a new and sustainable activity to their daily routines. That’s what Care/of, a subscription vitamin service, does in this email, which delivers an easy-to-follow guide for starting a compost pile, to which customers can add the packs their vitamins come in.

Care/Of Earth Day Composting Guide

Tips and tricks to get started are always helpful. Source: MailCharts

Pro tip: Click the email to see how its clever animation helps composting newbies understand how the process works. 

Leesa

Mattress provider Leesa‘s email shares the numbers that turn its sustainability pledge from a vague statement to action: its B Corp environment score and how many recycled plastic bottles go into a mattress (73!).

Leesa also mentions a behind-the-scenes figure that has an impact on its environmental footprint— reducing shipping distances between factories and customers. 

Leesa - Happy Earth Day email

Numbers are great for giving perspective to your impact. Source: MailCharts

Although Earth Day is the focus, it also includes a subtle promotion: a 15% discount badge on one of its images farther down in the email.

As You Build Your Earth Day Strategy…

Earth Day gives brands the opportunity to share their values, openly align with causes consumers care about, and promote the good work they already do to preserve the planet.

But approach your cause-driven marketing with caution—today’s consumers are quick to call out inauthentic brands. This is especially relevant for extractive industries: “Greenwashing,” or providing misleading information about how your products or processes are environmentally sound, will backfire.

Instead of promoting your carbon offset, try a more innovative and environmentally sound approach for your campaigns, like BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick Up In Store).

And remember, you’re not alone. Consult this list for more information and inspiration on Earth Day, as well as planet-friendly initiatives and recognized groups for partnerships:

  1. EarthDay.org
  2. 51 ways to stand up for the environment
  3. The Carbon Community (U.K.-based)
  4. Charity Navigator’s Protecting the Environment list of eco-friendly non-profits

You can also reach out to one of our experts to chat through how you can best share your Earth Day efforts with your audience. We’re always happy to help! 

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