We recently wrote an article for the Email Experience Council that discussed the benefits of cause-related marketing. The topic deserves another visit during the holidays, when many brands choose to support various causes as part of their holiday campaigns. Not only do foundations get much-needed support during a time of high need, but positive brand relationships are fostered by the partnership between companies and their customers.
Several retailers encourage subscribers to give during the holiday season, using email messaging to invite donations or participation. Each of the brands mentioned below takes a unique and admirable approach to holiday giving.
•Macy's: Rather than asking for dollar donations, Macy's invites its subscribers to drop off Santa letters, and pledges to donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish-Foundation for every letter received, up to $1 million. This allows subscribers to feel like they're participating in the giving, but also establishes an image of generosity for the donor, Macy's.
•Petco and PetSmart: Everyone wants to be home for the holidays, right? PetSmart and Petco try to find adoptive homes for homeless pets over the holiday season. Both brands use email to advertise opportunities to adopt animals -- or donate to programs if subscribers want to help without taking home a new family member.
•Williams-Sonoma: Across its brands, Williams-Sonoma, Inc. uses email to encourage donations to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and then follows up by sharing its successes with subscribers. This Pottery Barn Kids email features a prominent banner that encourages giving. Customers are more likely to trust in the sincerity of brands that are upfront about where money goes and how much money is going there. This thank-you note sent out last holiday by Pottery Barn solidifies the trust of subscribers who donate, encouraging the longevity of the program.Sarah Mahoney's article in Marketing Daily recently reported that brands sometimes experience double-digit sales gains through cause-related marketing. It seems worth considering what could happen if brands incorporated fundraising causes into their marketing campaigns more frequently. In addition to driving huge sales, the increased attention could do a lot of good.