Earth Day Email Strategy

Earth Day celebrates global efforts to support the environment and promote sustainability, two issues that give environmentally conscious brands a way to connect with concerned consumers of all ages.

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April 22 is Earth Day — what its organizing group, EarthDay.org, calls “the largest secular observance in the world,” with more than 1 billion people involved in projects
With that many people involved, and with climate change, sustainability, Earth Day is likely to be an event that your customers are thinking about.

Consumers, especially younger shoppers, say they want to buy products from sustainable brands and are willing to pay more. A First Insight study from 2020 found these consumer trends:

  • 62% of Generation Z consumers are most likely to prefer “sustainable brands,” compared to 54% of Generation X, 44% of the Silent Generation and 39% of baby Boomers.
  • Generation Z is also the most willing to pay more for sustainable products (73%) compared to millennials (68%), Generation X (55%) and Boomers (42%).

Earth Day email trends in the MailCharts Index

In line with consumers’ growing interest in environmental and sustainable issues, Earth Day mentions by brands in the MailCharts Index increased 23% from 2019 to 2020.

Emails also tend to be more about engagement than selling, too:

  • 55.3% of Earth Day emails had no promotions
  • 68.7% of Earth Day emails with promotions used percentage-off discounts

Although more brands are mentioning Earth Day in their emails, the numbers show they might be switching out a regular promotional campaign for an Earth Day message rather than adding an additional campaign.

Earth Day email campaigns

Show 'em the numbers!

We like Leesa’s email because it shares the numbers that vouch for its sustainability pledge, such as its B Corp environment score and how many recycled plastic bottles go into a mattress (73!). Although Earth Day is the focus, it also includes a subtle promotion: a 15% discount badge on one of its images farther down in the email.

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Start an earth-friendly habit

This tip-based email focuses on a single to-do that’s relevant to the company’s products. Care|of gives its customers an easy-to-follow composting guide and a reminder that its plant-based supplement pack films can be composted. The company also invites clicks back to its website to check its larger sustainability plan and to persuade visitors to take the supplement quiz that is the first step to signing up for a plan.

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Behind-the-scenes efforts

If your efforts to be more sustainable and environmentally aware happen away from the customer, you can still brag about them on Earth Day, as Buffy, which makes and sells pillows and comforters, does here. Customers might not know what a “closed loop supply chain” is, but Buffy makes it real so people can understand it.

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Do as we do …

Authenticity is everything with cause-related emails. If you rally the troops for a meaningful project, as UNTUCKit did when it picked up trash in a local park, by all means put it in an email. This email skillfully combines advocacy with social proof and a product promotion – a collaboration with a swimsuit line made from post-consumer plastic.

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Buy sustainably

Some brands devote their Earth Day emails to education, but there’s no shame in running an Earth Day campaign with a relevant promotion or incentive. Cotopaxi’s campaign is a sustainable BOGO: buy one sustainable product, get another for free.

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What should you say on Earth Day?

Inspire customers to act

Give customers ideas on how they can participate. A few general ideas that don’t take much time or effort is a good start. (Check EarthDay.org’s list of 51 ways to stand up for the environment.) To be most effective, focus on efforts that could use your products, such as how to recycle your containers or shipping material. See Care|of’s email example above to find out how to create this kind of valuable email.

Give to get

Offer an incentive or a special item, and then donate proceeds to a local environmental group. Want to find a recipient with a little star power but also would stand up to scrutiny? Check Charity Navigator’s Protecting the Environment list of charities.

Strive for authenticity

Authenticity is everything in cause-related marketing. Consumers are quick to jump on brands that claim to support a cause but don’t live up to their claims or to run campaigns that use the cause as window dressing.

If your company doesn’t have a track record for supporting environmental activities, you can still participate by reviewing the strategies listed here and checking out the email examples.

But if you do have something to talk about, show what you’re doing to help out, even if it’s a behind-the scenes effort – trying to go carbon-neutral, reducing shipping or packaging waste, recycling or reclaiming waste material, or supporting local or regional organizations. Customers want to know you’re an ally.