Data, AI and content marketing
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The global digital ecosystem emits 4% of carbon dioxide. To create a greener ecosystem, we must reduce our environmental impact with sustainable marketing.
Digital marketing has become popular in recent years. Compared to traditional marketing and advertising, some of the advantages it offers are accuracy and a greater reach of the marketing efforts, at a lower cost.
Digital marketing, aside from reporting good profitability, is also presented as a sustainable alternative for companies, and, to some extent, it is. For example, due to digital marketing, the amount of paper previously used to print newsletters or advertising pieces has decreased drastically.
But how sustainable is digital marketing? And, most importantly: what strategies can a company adopt to make its marketing efforts more environmentally friendly?
Digital pollution is the term given to greenhouse gases emitted by digital actions. Consumers often ignore this negative aspect of new technologies, but the digital world does have an ecological footprint. Digital activities emit 4% of greenhouse gases, according to Mike Hazas, a researcher at Lancaster University, in an interview with the BBC.
Indeed, data centers (which store and host web pages) are the largest electricity consumers in the information technology world. The energy demand of data centers is enormous, as they must cover all servers on the planet 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Hazas says the energy they consume "is similar to the amount produced by the airline industry in the world, and these emissions are projected to double by 20255."
Faced with this panorama, it is worth asking what actions we can take to help reduce our digital carbon footprint:
In the web 2.0 generation, consumers are constantly exposed to an overabundance of digital content that is only sometimes of interest to them and, therefore, is ineffective. Creating irrelevant content produces enormous visual pollution in the digital ecosystem and, in addition, generates a significant carbon footprint due to the energy consumption of all the machines involved in its production, storage, and dissemination.
Therefore, to produce successful content, it is necessary to direct the right message to the right audience. And to know the target audience in greater depth, data is needed.
In this sense, an important concept is data intent, which refers to a complex set of data that, when properly processed, can be used to predict the buying interests of potential customers. The key is to use this data to discover topics of interest or information requirements, among other inputs, that will allow the creation of valuable content that will be useful for customers to find the solution they are looking for more quickly. Their conversion process into active customers will also be more agile, and rework will be avoided.
Ultimately, this efficiency translates into fewer ads, less server usage, fewer emails, and even less cloud space, eventually decreasing carbon dioxide emissions and achieving more effective marketing with fewer resources.
There are several tools (Bombora, Zoom Info, or True Content, among others) that use data technology. True Content, for example, is a technology that uses data and artificial intelligence to identify an audience's behavior, trends, and interests and, based on them, design effective content marketing campaigns.
If you want to minimize the impact of your emails, it is important to create accurate email marketing campaigns and thus avoid unnecessary data storage.
One of the best options to reduce your digital footprint is to avoid sending large attachments to many recipients simultaneously. If you need to send large files, you can use a download link on platforms like WeTransfer, which deletes the data a week after sending it. In this way, the weight of the emails and the number of recipients is reduced.
The faster you convert your users into customers, the less energy you'll use. All content should have a purpose: to drive readers to take a specific action. To do this, include compelling calls to action ("Buy Now," "Request More Information," "Get Advice").
Occasionally, audit your digital platforms to remove duplicated, old, or no longer fulfilling its purpose content. Every action can help to avoid cluttering the cloud when it comes to digital sustainability.
Images are one of the elements that emit the most polluting gases in a digital ecosystem. Avoid using heavy images or images that do not add value to your content.
Free tools (such as TinyPNG) reduce photos' size without affecting their quality. This good digital practice means that users must download fewer bytes, which equals fewer carbon emissions. In the case of videos, gifts, or any other audiovisual content, it is recommended to include them sparingly.
Duplicate contacts, inactive customers, outdated records, or unnecessary customer information require considerable storage space, leading to higher energy consumption and more carbon dioxide emissions.
Therefore, cleaning up your database and eliminating waste will help to have a more energy-efficient digital ecosystem.
Also, use environmentally friendly green technologies. It's more than just your content that needs to be digitally sustainable. Use tools or programs demonstrating your responsibility to the planet, such as "green" servers for website and data management.
It's not just digital initiatives that have an impact. It's also important to monitor and offset your carbon footprint.
There are two main ways to measure your company's carbon footprint: calculate it yourself or pay an organization to do it. The best option will depend on the size of your company and the time and money available.
Once the assessment is done, set a maximum carbon dioxide indicator that your marketing campaigns should not exceed. From there, solutions will appear, such as reducing high-energy costs, investing in a local supplier, transitioning to renewable energy, or actively participating in a carbon offset program through sustainable reforestation projects. Some companies even go a step further and include these energy targets in their management indicators.
One example is Castleberry Media's environmental initiative in partnership with Fenalco, a Colombian trade promotion organization. With the help of environmental engineering professionals, Castleberry Media calculates the carbon footprint of its processes (average laptop performance, light consumption, average internet energy consumption, and others). Once the carbon footprint is established, Castleberry purchases carbon certificates (which translate into tree planting) to counteract its environmental impact.
Today's consumers are increasingly concerned about the environment. So, once the internal processes are optimized, the audience will also need to know what makes your brand environmentally friendly.
A 2020 study by the IBM Institute for Business Value on consumer behavior found that "most consumers are changing their buying habits to become more environmentally conscious." The B2B industry is no exception.
Keep in mind that your ecological, social, and economic commitment to the planet must be real. This will prevent you from falling into greenwashing, a form of deceptive marketing promoting certain company practices as "environmentally friendly" when they are not.
Here are some content ideas that show your sense of sustainability:
It is important to explain clearly to your employees how they can be more sustainable at work by following the sustainable marketing strategies outlined above. After all, your employees are a critical part of your company's sustainability strategy.
On your company's website or intranet, you can create content that explains to your employees the benefits of being sustainable and how it will improve their lives and the environment. You can also ask your employees to periodically take time to empty their mailboxes for twenty minutes, especially those messages that contain images or videos, which are the ones that occupy the most space. The main objective is to make them feel responsible for their actions and to make them want to change their habits for the better.
Reducing our carbon footprint in the digital ecosystem is no longer just a "can be"; more than a possibility, it should be an obligation.
Every decision you make when creating or promoting your marketing and content management campaigns should be made with the utmost care; avoid creating waste elements that produce unnecessary carbon dioxide. Having sustainable and efficient marketing strategies from the start will not only benefit the planet, but It will also improve the profitability and reach of your brand.
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