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4 reasons why your green startup needs a great website

Article excerpt or TLDR:

First of all, it connects with your specific green consumer audience. It enables you to create a unique brand revolving around your environmental action and niche. In turn, setting up your green brand with a concrete online place will provide your audience a place to connect and perform specific actions related to your goals. Set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, Time-bound) which will allow you to focus your website on a particular goal and track it across a certain time period.

The blog title "4 reasons why your green startup needs a great website" in front of a picture of kiwi fruit.

Only a few years ago, the convergence of environment and business was considered the domain of “nut jobs.” Tree-hugging people walking around in their hemp khakis and open sandals preaching about “loving the planet” and whatnot. I’m playing with a worn-out trope, but you get the idea.

Nobody was interested in environmental or green startups. At the time, the world was focused on more lucrative ways to start a business.

And, as with many other "better late than never" societal catch-ups, the landscape has changed dramatically in recent years. Even more so after the Covid-19 strike. Governments and businesses are beginning to adjust, realizing that our actions can have serious consequences.

This newfound “spotlight” on crucial social and environmental issues provides a much-needed boost for people like you who, like the nut jobs of old, genuinely care about the earth and want to make a difference. But this time, you need to be taken more seriously.

Green startups accounted for 21% of all German startups in 2020., with their service or product making a genuine investment in concrete environmental problems.

Green entrepreneurs, like their colleagues, are for-profit and growth-oriented, but they also consider their social and environmental impact.

When compared to its non-environmental competitors, they have a higher proportion of female founders (22% vs 13%).

They also have similar business plans, with 79% citing quick growth as a critical strategy and 75% emphasizing gaining a larger market share.

As a result, these development goals are similar to those of any other environmental business, like yours.

That’s why sometimes founders miss their mark by not focusing on the important business aspects first, expecting their sustainable goals to speak for themselves. They are not conducting research or making investments to reach their target audience.

Which sadly doesn’t always work.

There will be no “green” connection to create with your audience unless you have a clear marketing strategy and a solid web presence.

Table of contents

A person touching a tree with has hand.
Photo by Ralph (Ravi) Kayden on Unsplash

Connecting with your green consumer audience

Let’s look at the numbers before we get inside the mindset of our environmentally conscious consumer. Starting something with a limited market share in mind will become a challenging endeavor to pursue. Green or not.

Cone Communications, a public relations agency that focuses on CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) issues, analyzed a representative sample of a thousand people in the United States in 2017.

They were looking for information on companies that promote social or environmental causes.

Their findings are as follows:

  • Despite the lack of government help, 63% of respondents believe small businesses will drive environmental and social progress.
  • 87% of people will buy a product because it supports a cause they care about.
  • When they find out a firm has backed an issue that goes against their principles, 76% of people will reject their product or service.
  • A remarkable 92% of people are more likely to trust a corporation that supports environmental or social causes.

If you want to learn more, check their infographic below.

Cone Communications Brand and Social Activism infographic
Taken from a 2017 Cone Communications CSR Study here

Not from the United States? I hear you.

In 2015, Nielsen Group (one of the world’s largest market research firms) released a research report. 30,000 people from 60 countries were polled. They wanted to know what key metrics have the greatest influence on consumer purchasing decisions.

What came out on top? Sustainable causes.

66% of respondents said they would pay extra for a sustainable alternative, with 73% of Millennials agreeing (25 - 40 years old).

This green consumer audience is asking everyone to be more environmentally conscious. And assume that enterprises must follow suit, critical for your green startup.

But that doesn’t mean they will buy anything with a recycling logo on it. Greenwashing is a severe and all-too-common problem in this industry. When selecting their future buy, they will check labels, conduct online research, read other people’s experiences, and rely on public opinion.

They are a close-knit group brought together by a higher goal. If you don’t provide consistent information about your environmental policies, or, God forbid, omit critical information, it will loudly reverberate over the internet, hurting your brand.

Please, don’t be discouraged. The same is true in reverse. They will become your most loyal consumer if your environmental startup aims coincide with theirs. But don’t take advantage of the situation.

Many, if not all, have been burnt before (see my article on the issue for more information).

The vital component in creating this connection is transparency.

Nobody expects environmental startups to save the planet. Concentrate on your strengths and be open about your weaknesses.

Do you try to reduce waste in your workplace? Is there a special recycling program in place at your company? How are you tackling transportation co2 emissions? And your carbon footprint? What kind of packaging do you use for your products?

Nobody is perfect, your customer knows that. Just be honest about it. Provide information about your product or service and how it pertains to your cause that is straightforward and easy to grasp.

By being grounded, you can even push for more changes in the future. For example, your next goal is to lower your energy consumption and eliminate product waste by collaborating with a sustainable packaging firm!

Or simply ban single use plastics in your offices! And your environmentally conscious audience will appreciate the effort.

Your green startup and your audience will form a strong bond if you set small, basic, actionable goals for your environmental cause. They recognize we are all in this together. And they’ll back you up in it.

Moving on, your brand should be a reflection of your personality.

Your startup will become a green persona in the eyes of your audience, just like our “nutjob.” It’s critical to understand green branding and how it relates to your target market.

I’m sure you’re wondering…

A focus shot on several t-shirts hanging.
Photo by Keagan Henman on Unsplash

What is green branding, and how can it benefit my green startup?

Before we go into green branding, let’s start with a great quotation from Wally Olins, a famous British brand designer:

“Branding is a profound expression of the human predicament,” says the author.

To break it down further, a brand exists solely in our hearts and minds. A visceral connection with your customers that makes them feel like they’re part of your “tribe.”

At the basis of your small business, green branding provides that special connection revolving around sharing the same environmental values as your “tribe.”

According to a group of experts studying the effects of green branding on customer attitudes, there are two techniques for aligning your brand with your target audience: functional and emotional.

The first addresses the rational viewpoint of the ethical consumer by offering concrete and precise information on your brand’s environmental initiatives. The emotional, on the other hand, focuses on the benefits supplied to customers’ emotional demands.

Giving them a sense of accomplishment for donating to your environmental cause, or connecting with your unique perspective on future environmental issues.

Most crucially, the study found that relying solely on functional features isn’t enough to turn a potential consumer into a loyal one.

In terms of brand perception, the all-encompassing approach that combined both methodologies yielded the best results.

This is particularly vital for small environmental firms and startups, as having a complete green branding profile allows them to stand out. By exhibiting steadfast leadership in their field and fostering a sense of belonging among their peers.

While Unilever as a company is terrible, its sustainable brands are expanding 50% faster than the rest of its non-sustainable portfolio.

It’s a two-way street. When ethical consumers connect with your green brand, they are also telling the world about their attitude toward sustainability and environmentally friendly practices.

And as the world collectively turns its head toward tackling climate change, seeing and experiencing the damaging effects many companies are causing to the environment, a green brand image will glow as a beacon of hope to every caring person out there.

Would you rather buy a product that you know is bad for the environment or one that cares about your views and wants to preserve the world we live in?

People nowadays don’t merely desire an excellent product; that is self-evident. They want to see progress on the issues that matter to them, and they want to be a part of it.

So, with your eco-friendly idea, the next step would be to develop a platform where their voices may be heard and amplified.

Let’s have a look at how that works.

A funny cartoon-made pontoon in the water.
Photo by Josh Withers on Unsplash

Creating a platform for sharing your earth-conscious idea

I understand that the term “platform” can mean a lot of various things these days, whether social or not.

So, to keep the scope of the post as restricted as possible, I’ll be talking about your one-of-a-kind online presence.

Where every visitor can inform about and understand your sustainable story, appreciate your sustainable effort, check and shop your eco-friendly products/services, contact you directly, reach out and share your articles or story on social media, subscribe to your email, among other things.

Yup, your website. The reason we’re here.

The modern ethical shopper shops online, eliminating the need to drive a polluting automobile and go through aisles and aisles of different stores crammed into a massive shopping mall encompassing hundreds of acres of land.

Why would they when they can easily go to the website of their favorite eco-friendly brand and shop, compare, or review right there?

The commercial landscape has been shifting for some time, and after Covid-19 struck and forced us all to stay indoors, the entire digital market grew even further.

According to Unilever, the sustainable market contains over $1 trillion in prospects for new eco-friendly or sustainable firms.

This report was presented four years ago.

Think Covid-19 affected the environmental landscape negatively? No, not really.

According to WWF data, the number of individuals looking for sustainable products increased by 71% between 2016 and 2020. And it’s still growing post-Covid.

Okay, so you need an online platform aka website.

But what makes a great web design, well… great?

A website with outstanding design, ultra-slick buttons, and fascinating images is a straightforward answer for delivering that wow factor to anyone visiting it for the first time.

And… I’ll wholeheartedly disagree.

There’s nothing wrong with having a beautifully-designed website, but that alone isn’t enough to make it great.

A great web design makes it simple to use (or “user-friendly”), presents all relevant information about your business succinctly and simply, and provides a clear direction and purpose for each visitor.

75% of consumers will take your green web design as a signal to evaluate your business from what they are navigating.

Upon arriving on your home page, they need to understand who you are, what you do, and how it all relates to them all in under 50 milliseconds.

Impossible? It certainly appears to be so. The trick is in understanding what a customer expects and where.

When reading a text, searching for a link, or arriving at a new web page, everyone who uses the internet regularly has developed some distinct behavioral patterns.

There are three major things everyone looks for when landing on a website. The headline (who you are), the subtitle (what you do), and a call to action (what’s in it for me?).

Slack’s previous landing page

As you can see, the title eloquently answers the question of who Slack is (or in this case, what it is).

A headline should be a bold, unambiguous sentence that entices the reader to continue reading while yet capturing the essence of what you do.

Users will keep reading if you’ve got their attention, looking for a more comprehensive description of what you do.

This is where the subtitle comes in.

You’ll have enough room here to give a quick and to-the-point explanation of your sustainable business. Make an effort to link your “what you do” to how you help our visitors and the environment.

Finally, provide them with a simple action to take for them to continue using your website.

That’s what CTA stands for (call to action). It’s “getting started” in the example above, leaving your email address so you can finally see “where the work happens.”

All of this should be developed tastefully to incorporate your green identity, resulting in a distinct online experience.

It doesn’t have to be fancy; instead, it should be consistent with your brand and how you present yourself.

This is why we’re discussing building a “platform” for your environmentally aware proposal.

What will set you apart from the competition is the overall feel and story that your brand conveys to any visitor. It will forge a bond with every earth-conscious individual that will last long after they have put down their phone and returned to work.

It’s the pinnacle of your knowledge about your target audience, your brand, and how they all come together to form a single focus point.

And that single purpose should be communicated to your “tribe”.

Be it toward making a sale, contacting you, or signing up for your service, this purpose should be your guiding star when creating your website.

Your visitors have stayed for over 50 milliseconds and are pleased with what they have seen.

So, where do we go from here?

Looking at a cloud from a tube of some sort.
Photo by Sharosh Rajasekher on Unsplash

Green web design tailored to your startup’s lead generation needs

The reason a beautiful website isn’t always a good one lies right on top of the all-important question of why.

What is the purpose of having a green website? And why should your target audience come to your site?

You can have a gorgeous website, dripping with interesting visuals layered on top of carefully crafted animations that razzle and dazzle every visitor. But if this website doesn’t know its why people will leave. In awe, sure, but doing nothing of value. For them or your environmental startup.

Look at a website as a lead generation funnel, because that’s all it is.

As mentioned, you’re giving a concrete direction to any potential customer. Slowly leading them into a funnel, toward an already established goal.

While doing that, you have the opportunity to showcase your green startup, your projects or products, the particular story of how you came to be alongside your environmental aspirations.

There’s no need for pushy salespeople or sleazy marketing strategies; just what it is and how it is, presented in a clear and engaging manner.

So, before anything, understand your why. What do you want to achieve out of your lead generation funnel for green startups?

More sales, perhaps?

Would you like a larger email list for your newsletter? A higher percentage of people signing up for your service?

You could also want the rest of the world to know about your environmental goal and product, so they can see how unique and earth-friendly it is.

Sure, you can set extra objectives. However, you should constantly try to determine the one that is most important to you right now.

Be specific, set SMART goals:

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Achievable
  4. Results-focused
  5. Time-bound

Example: By June, you’ll have 20 monthly contact form submissions (assuming the same traffic).

After understanding your smart goal, we need to understand how it relates to your green website. Based on the goal, what action do we need to get people to do?

Will they be required to buy something (you’ll need an e-commerce platform), register for an expo, opt-in (leave an email address), download your course, follow your step-by-step instructions, or simply contact you?

This will help you figure out what specifications you’ll need for your website and keep you on track to meet your objectives. That’s a great baseline to start on.

I hope this makes it clearer why having a beautiful website isn’t crucial. Always prioritize functionality before beauty, and with the help of a skilled web designer, develop your desired look on top of that.

You’ll also need to address the second why: why should customers accept your offer?

Here, it’s your long-term tale that will set you apart from the pack and provide your “tribe” some much-needed direction. Making an emotional connection and showing why your goal is also theirs.

I’ll go through a few key elements that can help you add your personal touch while also building an emotional bond with your environmentally concerned audience.

1. Show yourself

I know it sounds foolish, but I’ve worked with a lot of clients who were camera shy or thought it was unnecessary to include images of themselves on their website.

But we’re not robots! Seeing a face behind the brand gives your audience a human to relate to, talk to, and interact with.

2. How's it made?

Make it possible for your audience to witness how your products are manufactured. As previously stated, it’s all about transparency.

Allowing them to observe how you approach production will offer your green startup a significant boost in their eyes. Service-based? No problem! From the initial hello to the last thank you, demonstrate your method.

3. So, what’s your backstory?

Help them understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. What compelled you to take action? Do you support green initiatives, if any? What were your biggest challenges starting out and how did you overcome them?

This can be a really useful method for establishing a relationship with your green audience. It also beautifully leads into the next topic.

4. When and where did you discover your calling?

All of us have experienced climate change in some shape or form. Let us know your background environmental story, giving your audience another point to connect on. We’re all in this together.

5. How is your startup making a difference?

In one way or another, we’ve all been affected by climate change.

Let us know about your background environmental narrative, which will provide another point of connection for your viewers.

Your focus is on renewable energy? Great! Let me know all about it! Green tech? Even better! We are all on the same team.

What’s the next step?

I hope you now have enough information to understand why you need a great website and what makes one.

Understanding and engaging with your target audience, creating a fantastic green brand, and putting together a suitable platform to exhibit your environmental startup to other like-minded people are all things that we can help you with.

More importantly, I hope you identify the critical actions you’ll need to take to get started on building the perfect website for your green startup. Starting with your goal-oriented approach to forming concrete steps your potential customers need to take, rounding off with a personal, well-thought-out story to make that everlasting connection with anyone landing on your website.

And if you want someone to take all of that and turn it into a one-of-a-kind (and beautiful!) web design, you can always contact me for a free consultation.

You can also reach out to me at hello@greentogether.design if you have any queries or require help in any way.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I wish you all the best in your entrepreneurial endeavors.

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