Most small and medium businesses understand how important corporate responsibility (CR) is to employees and customers. It’s a due diligence task that big businesses have been working on for years and that SMBs are now making more of an effort to break into. But even today, corporate responsibility is still often siloed into that “due diligence” category. It’s important – essential, even – but how much does it actually contribute to your business success?
The answer isn’t immediately clear. As recently as 2010, a Fast Company journalist posited that it’s impossible to prove whether CSR helps or not1. Many SMB owners and managers still feel the same way and minimize their giving efforts to avoid overspending resources.
Fortunately, technology and ROI models have come a long way in the last five to ten years. Unlike ten years ago, we now know that strategic corporate philanthropy and CR efforts can map directly back to business goals. One of the most important of those business goals? Increasing sales.
Small and medium businesses can leverage CR initiatives and corporate responsibility software to deliver concrete sales improvements.
3 Ways Corporate Responsibility Software Leverages CR Efforts to Improve Sales
1. Create Employee Advocates that Influence Purchases
If you’re a smaller brand, finding ways to reach customers can be difficult amid the noise of big brands with big budgets. This is doubly true now, when digital platforms like Facebook are nixing organic reach2: a previously important marketing tool that was effective for SMBs with small budgets.
Without organic reach, large enterprises are turning to paid ad spend, but small and medium businesses may want to diversify and maximize their exposure using other, more cost-effective and scalable tactics.
One way to keep reaching new customers is through employee advocacy. Seventy-nine percent of brands that implemented employee advocacy programs reported improved online visibility. Sixty-five percent reported improved brand recognition and one in three cited improved brand loyalty3.
CR software can help you create employee ambassadors that increase your reach and sales. Quality corporate responsibility software engages employees and gets them excited about your brand and the causes it supports. It does this by creating a structured advocacy program that let employees promote the charities they identify with most. As they advocate for their charity and your company’s support for that charity, they’ll also spread the word about your brand and its products.
Not only will this improve visibility – it will contribute to sales. Employee advocacy programs drive 16 percent better conversion rates and 48 percent bigger deals4; the kind of boost that can make a major difference for SMBs who need to be competitive.
2. Increase Brand Awareness and Referrals
Corporate responsibility software contributes to word of mouth by making CR efforts more effective by boosting brand awareness and making customers more likely to talk about your business5.
This is important because word of mouth is the primary factor in as many as half of purchasing decisions6. The effect is even bigger for smaller businesses, 85 percent of whom report relying on word of mouth referrals7.
While CR software won’t turn every customer into an advocate, it can make a measurable impact. On average, 20 percent of customers become advocates. If your brand can increase that percentage by connecting with customers who prioritize responsible brands (the majority of consumers today8), you can make a big impact on sales. The effect will be especially strong for SMBs in communities where customers are engaged with local businesses.
Related Reading: 5 Corporate Philanthropy Examples to Inspire Your CSR Strategy
3. Improve Sales by Positioning Your Brand as Socially and Environmentally Responsible
Two in three consumers are ready to spend more on a product sold by a business committed to positive social and environmental impact. For millennials, the figure is 73 percent9.
To consumers like these, brands aren’t just faceless entities. They’re a part of the cultural fabric we live in – and like entities, they have a responsibility to society and the individuals in it.
Corporate responsibility software can help small and medium businesses appeal to these consumers by:
- Letting employees get their acquaintances involved in corporate giving campaigns through crowdfunding.
- Helping find local causes where contributions are more noticeable to your target audience.
- Improving efficiency and freeing up the hours to market ongoing CR efforts and build your reputation as a valued corporate citizen.
All of these things can help small and medium brands improve their reputation as responsible, valuable corporate citizens increasing their positions in the market and boosting sales.
Corporate Responsibility Can Have a Measurable Impact on Sales for SMBs
Many small- and mid-sized businesses that want to engage in corporate responsibility have delayed starting a program due to costs and a lack of measurable results. It’s difficult to give back with limited resources – unless you know you’re going to get something in return.
To that end, the best corporate social responsibility software can help turn CR into tangible bottom-line results. When searching for a platform for your business, look for one that creates a fully-integrated CR strategy including elements like volunteering and corporate philanthropy for small and medium businesses. Platforms that cater directly to SMBs are more likely to prioritize your goals, whether that’s increasing sales, improving brand reputation, or engaging employees.