Empathy in Action: Building Lasting Connections via Cause Marketing

Published: | By Nikola Baldikov

The worldwide internet penetration rate is at around 65.7% and constantly climbing.

This means that as businesses take advantage of their online presence, consumers are also becoming more discerning in terms of which business they choose to support.

The internet has introduced unparalleled transparency. That’s why many companies are opting to cater to these consumers and become more transparent through a marketing strategy known as “cause marketing”.

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In this article, we delve into the heart of cause marketing, showcasing how brands can authentically connect with their audience, foster loyalty, and make a positive impact on society.

Understanding Empathy in Cause Marketing


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Cause marketing requires an understanding of empathy. Why? Because empathy is the driving force behind successful cause marketing strategies. Let’s explore this topic in a bit more detail.

Definition of empathy

Empathy is an emotional or cognitive response to a person or people experiencing strong emotions. Through this response, we go beyond merely listening and recognizing how a person feels.

Instead, we take it one step further to try to understand the “why” behind the feelings. By putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, we are better able to view and understand things from their perspective.

Empathy vs. sympathy in marketing

Empathy and sympathy are often used interchangeably but they are not the same.

Having clarified that empathy is about understanding why someone feels a certain way, sympathy is about simply recognizing the emotion. That’s why empathy goes a lot deeper.

And when it comes to marketing, businesses that try hard to recognize and understand others’ perspectives and emotions go further than their competitors.

How empathy enhances customer relationships

When a business shows that it cares about social causes and is transparent about its support, customers are much more likely to trust that business and increase their loyalty towards it.

This means businesses can benefit from enhanced customer relationships when they focus on understanding deeper and meaningful societal issues.

In short, business empathy towards a social cause = customer trust, and loyalty = greater revenue.

So, what is cause marketing?

We’ve briefly touched on cause marketing until now, but it’s time to delve a little deeper into this concept.

Cause marketing is when a business uses a digital marketing strategy to align with the cause of a nonprofit organization, for a dual benefit: a greater and more positive societal impact and improved revenue.

Of course, the nonprofit organization also benefits from this relationship through various ways in which the marketing campaign is executed. For example, they can receive greater awareness and exposure, financial donations, or other forms of support.

The Impact of Cause Marketing on Brands


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Having mentioned some of the perks of cause marketing on nonprofits, let’s explore some of the benefits of this strategy on brands and businesses.

Benefits for businesses

While there are many ways in which a business can benefit from cause marketing, some of the most important advantages include:

  • Meeting corporate social responsibility expectations and requirements
  • Boosting the brand’s corporate image and perceptions of it on a broader scale
  • Building and enhancing community relationships
  • Increasing customer loyalty to the brand and improving the business’s bottom line
  • Boosting employee morale through participation in causes that team members believe in
  • Differentiating themselves from the competition
  • Meeting increasingly demanding customer expectations for social awareness and action

Examples of successful cause marketing campaigns

Today, there are thousands of examples of successful cause marketing campaigns. However, one of the very first instances when a corporation introduced it goes back to 1983.

This is when American Express decided to raise money for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty.

What this organization did was donate $0.01 each time one of its customers used their charge cards. As such, what was called the “Restoration Fund” raised over $1.7 million and card use rose by 27%.

Incorporating Empathy Into Cause Marketing Campaigns

If you are convinced that cause marketing is the right approach for your organization, your next step is to create your campaign. However, this requires following several steps to ensure your campaign’s success.

Below is an outline of these steps to help you get started.


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Step 1: Choose the social cause you want your business to be associated with

The very first step is to select your cause.

Ideally, you want to do your research into various causes that speak to your business’s vision and align the cause with your brand.

This will ensure your strategy comes across as professional, clear, and more authentic.

Step 2: Set benchmarks and key performance indicators for the campaign

What gets measured gets managed and while supporting a social cause may seem like a fluffy concept, it should actually be strategic and you should introduce measurable key performance indicators (KPIs) and goals to be achieved that ensure you can make data-informed decisions based on the campaign’s performance. You should also be able to clearly define the contribution that you are willing to make.

Contributions could include time, services, products, money, or other valuable assets.

Step 3: Set aside time and resources for the cause marketing campaign

Since every marketing effort in any organization is usually associated with costs, you need to make sure that you have a dedicated budget for your cause campaign.

You also need to decide on a time frame for its implementation. Pay attention to corporate schedules, global events, team availability, etc.

Step 4: Get customers involved by leveraging the right marketing channels

Choosing to partner with a reputable nonprofit is an excellent way to reap all the benefits of cause marketing.

One of the reasons for this is that nonprofits have some of the highest email open rates across multiple industries.

Thus, if a business chooses to implement an email marketing campaign in conjunction with a nonprofit, their email open rates would be around 20.39%.

Therefore, if you want to leverage the nonprofit’s power of exposure, you should consider email campaigns, in addition to other marketing channels, to get your customers and the nonprofit’s audience involved as much as possible.

Make sure you have clear calls-to-action (CTAs) and make your content shareable so that it reaches the maximum number of people.

Step 5: Work with your chosen nonprofit to jointly promote the campaign

After you’ve launched your cause marketing campaign, it’s essential to work in partnership with your selected nonprofit or charity.

This means sharing each other’s content on social media, tagging one another, sending joint press releases, using one another’s logos in both organizations’ marketing materials, promoting the campaign through each other’s newsletter and email subscriber lists, etc.

Challenges in Implementing Empathetic Cause Marketing

While implementing an empathetic cause marketing campaign will show your audience that your organization deeply cares about social causes close to their hearts, it doesn’t come with its challenges.

Here’s what to consider as you embark on this journey:

  • Failure to select the right social cause can result in a lack of authenticity and credibility, and it can harm your business’s reputation. Selecting a cause with longevity and one that’s not just a passing trend can help circumvent this issue.
  • You need to be prepared to manage public perceptions and potential criticisms effectively, such as the motivation behind the campaign and efforts. It’s also about being transparent.
  • You may not have sufficient resources — time, money, or other resources — to research, plan, execute, and manage the campaign on an ongoing basis.
  • Not setting clear goals and objectives through metrics means you will not be able to measure the impact of your cause marketing campaign. This can affect your ability to refine future campaigns of a similar nature.
  • There are legal and ethical considerations and compliance that you should consider as you embark on your campaign. That is why aligning joint interests through an agreement is a wise idea.
  • If executed incorrectly, it’s possible that your brand reputation may suffer. That’s because your customers and/or audience may perceive your efforts as inauthentic and purely profit-seeking.

Tips for Creating an Effective Empathy-Driven Cause Marketing Strategy


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Some best practices for effective, empathy-driven cause marketing campaigns and strategies include:

  • Choose your cause wisely, making sure to align the cause with your business vision
  • Have legal agreements in place between your business and the nonprofit you’ve chosen
  • Choose which and what quantity of resources you can allocate to the campaign
  • Select the method in which you will execute your cause marketing campaign. Examples include:
    • Point of sale donations
    • Buy one, give one
    • Purchase-triggered donations
    • Digital programs
    • Licensing branded products
    • Message promotion
    • Employee engagement

The Future of Cause Marketing: Trends and Opportunities

When it comes to cause marketing, the sky is literally the limit because there are so many social causes a business can get involved in and support.

Bearing this in mind, consider some trends and opportunities when it comes to the future of cause marketing.

For example, you will want to consider technological innovations (such as the role of artificial intelligence in creating your campaign), institutional changes and developments, demographic changes, environmental changes, and others.

Each of these should be considered through the micro, meso, and macro lenses.


Cause marketing is here to stay. It is a socially conscious way for companies to conduct business.

It can align with their corporate social responsibility efforts and lead to widespread benefits that cannot be neglected.

If you are planning to launch your next cause marketing campaign, consider our steps for doing so, useful tips, as well as potential challenges for greater chances of success.

Author Bio


Nikola Baldikov is a skilled SEO expert who is dedicated to helping businesses thrive.

He is the esteemed founder of InBound Blogging, where his expertise lies in search engine optimization and crafting effective content strategies.

Throughout his career, he has had the pleasure of collaborating with a wide range of companies regardless of their scale and has consistently aided them in accomplishing their objectives online.

During his leisure time. He finds joy in engaging in football matches and dance routines.



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