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Extending a (Virtual) Hand: A Guide to Community Outreach for eCommerce Stores

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We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: today’s online shoppers have dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of options when they’re searching for a particular item. And while there are plenty of factors that ultimately affect their choice of where to purchase said item, it’s important to focus on the ones that you can control. Maybe you can’t beat out the price of an (arguably) questionable listing from a Chinese seller on Amazon. But you can show your customers that you care about something. And that matters more than you might think.

In this blog, we are going to focus on the concept of outreach, why it matters, and how you can use it effectively for your eCommerce business.

What Is Outreach?

Outreach can mean a few different things, but what we’re referring to here is building a community and fostering relationships with your customers. In this instance, we are going to discuss corporate social responsibility and working with nonprofits to help you (wait for it) reach out to more customers.

What Are the Benefits of Doing Community Outreach?

Sure, the fluffy feel-good types will tell you that working with a nonprofit is just the right thing to do and that it makes you feel good. They’re probably not wrong, but if that’s not enough to convince you (or your boss), then check out that cold, hard data:

  • 66% of consumers around the world are willing to pay more to buy from a sustainable brand (Nielsen)
  • 50% of consumers say that their purchase is influenced by sustainability factors, including environmental friendliness, natural or organic ingredients, and commitment to social values (Nielsen)
  • 91% of Millennials would make a switch to a brand if it were associated with a cause (Cone Communications)

Really, there is no reason not to start getting involved with a charity or nonprofit organization to enhance your brand’s image.

How to Perform Outreach for an eCommerce Store

Now that you’ve decided you want to incorporate outreach into your overall marketing strategy, you may be wondering where to start. We did say this was a guide, remember?

Step 1: Identify your audience and what they care about.

As with all of your marketing efforts, knowing your audience is absolutely crucial to success with your outreach efforts. Are your customers animal lovers? Vegans? Social activists? Think about the types of things that they are passionate about.

Step 2: Consider your product and your passions.

Your product or store started with an idea. An idea that you cared about a whole lot to bring it to fruition. Go back to your roots to find a cause that you can personally get behind. Today’s shoppers appreciate authenticity and transparency, so it’s best to include something you’re actually passionate about. 

Step 3: Select an organization or cause. 

Now that you’ve evaluated both your customers’ and your own values, see where they align. Make a Venn diagram if you’re feeling particularly fancy. Once you find the overlap, you can start searching for organizations that align with the beliefs of both you and your customers. 

Step 4: Reach out to organizations from your list.

Explain what your brand is and how you intend to help the organization. From there, see what kind of partnership you can create — it’s likely to be mutually beneficial!

Step 5: Spread the word!

No one is going to know how much you care about the environment or cats’ rights unless you tell them. Utilize social media to highlight your new partnership and how your brand is helping to do the right thing. You can even create a hashtag for your campaign to help gain some momentum.

When in Doubt, Reach Out

Doing the right thing the right way is more complicated than it might seem. Fortunately, you can lean on others who have been there before to help you hit the ground running with an effective outreach strategy.

Reach out to our team of eCommerce and social media marketing experts today to learn more!

About the Author:

Sabrina Lopez is the Managing Editor at 1SEO whose passion for grammar is surpassed only by her love for her avian companions. When she is not chasing her tiny human offspring around, she may be found basking in the purple glow of her PC or watching a fantasy flick with her husband.

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