How do you get people to take action for sustainability? The secret is revealed (and you’ve probably known it all along).

by Mar 8, 2023

Shelton Stat of the Week

70% of Americans feel moderately to very strongly responsible to change their daily choices to positively impact the environment.
Eco Pulse®, 2022

Quick: name the three easiest things anybody could do to live more sustainably.

I’ll wait.

By chance, was “air seal their homes” anywhere on your list? Probably not. If you’re reading this, you’re in the sustainability field, and I’ll bet the last thing YOU are thinking of doing this Saturday afternoon is getting out a tube of caulk and a roll of weather stripping and going to town.

But we’re running a campaign that might actually be motivating people in America to do exactly that.

Let me back up: our client, American Efficient, tasked us with motivating consumers to air seal their homes. So, we did what we do as the country’s leading marketing communications agency entirely focused in sustainability: we started with insights, identified the kinds of people most likely to air seal (but hadn’t yet), developed creative concepts that would appeal to those folks, honed in on one concept, built out the campaign and launched it. Specifically, our approach has been to:

  • Increase awareness and educate consumers on how to See it. Feel it. Seal it. by creating a variety of content types that appeal to our target audiences.
  • Publish the content on the channels where our target audiences get information and drive them back to a central hub (microsite) to dig deeper.
  • Amp up during winter and summer, while maintaining a modest always-on organic program.

One of those bullets gave away the campaign theme: See it. Feel it. Seal it. It comes complete with a talking seal, and you can see it here.

The campaign is focused on the mid-Atlantic territory (Tennessee and North Carolina up to Michigan and Pennsylvania and over to Illinois). Our aim was to first drive awareness of the benefits of air sealing, then engage our target audience and ultimately drive them to our campaign website to learn more and take action. We did this with a mix of media:

  • Articles/Listicles
  • FAQ
  • ‘What to Look For’ blueprint
  • Influencer content
  • Social & display ads
  • Video (organic & paid)

The media is highly targeted – surgical, really – to ensure we reach the audience our research revealed to be the best prospects. And that audience loves this campaign! That love shows up in the engagement AND the budget. We clocked a 9.77% click through rate on Instagram and Facebook – meaning, 9.77% of the people who saw the ads clicked on them. THIS IS RARE! Typical click through rates on ads are well below 1%.

And the way digital media works is that you set expected cost per click and cost per thousand eyeballs on the front end and the algorithms work to achieve those. If you have higher audience engagement than expected, you drive the cost per thousand down. And drive it down we did! Depending on the channel, our costs for this campaign were between 51-96% lower than expected.

But, the point of this post isn’t to brag about this campaign’s performance. It’s to help everyone learn from what drives the success. Are you ready for the primary secret to be revealed?

It’s humor.

We tend to take ourselves pretty seriously in the sustainability space. And I get it: the apocalyptic future we’re all facing is no joke. But jumping up and down and shouting that the end is near – like so much sustainability content and most of the speakers at every conference I attend – doesn’t work.

Think of your favorite ad… my guess is it’s funny and made you smile. Or maybe it’s heartfelt and made you get misty-eyed. The point is that the most effective campaigns MOVE people. They reach out and touch people’s hearts; they make people FEEL something. Nobody can take action when they’re frozen by fear.

So, let’s stop trying to scare people into sustainability. It’s like my Mom always said, ‘you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.’

News of the Week
Save some seals
From sealing your home to sealing the deal to save some seals!
The Guardian

Wrapping up almost two decades of negotiations, some 200 UN member countries on Sunday reached a historic agreement to protect the world’s oceans and the species that dwell in them from exploitation. It is the first international agreement to protect the high seas, which cover 60% of the earth’s surface, regulate the climate and generate half of the oxygen we breathe. There’s still a lot of work to do but this is a fantastic start.

Read more…

Energy efficient appliances
Done air sealing your home? The U.S. government is setting new standards to help drive the energy efficiency of appliances

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has proposed new energy-efficiency standards for refrigerators and clothes washers that will lower household energy costs and significantly reduce pollution. The new standards, which have not been updated in over a decade, look to save American consumers approximately $3.5 billion per year on their energy and water bills.

Read more…

Buzz On Buzzwords

Our latest research shows that Americans are becoming more engaged when it comes to sustainability; at the same time, their skepticism around certain words and phrases is growing. This means that for brands to connect with their ideal audience, build trust and remain competitive, attention to language is critical.

Find out what Americans think about sustainability, what different “green” words mean to them and how they interpret and respond to the jargon you may be using.

Previous Posts

About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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