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What is the role of a CRM team in the ecological transition?

Many of you are wondering about l'impact of your work on the situation of our planet. But for all that, not easy to know how to get involved. Not easy to know where to start. It's not easy to take the first step either.

If in many companies the subject of ecology is already present (it is even sometimes a company objective), in others, the subject is little discussed. It can even be taboo.

I'll give you an example (without naming the company). Within the framework of the misnamed project " ZeroCarbonEmail " which aims to implement expiration dates on commercial emails, I met a great CRM team. Great but frustrated. Frustrated, because in this large company, green commitments can't be exposed. This is for a simple reason: the company, its business model and its production methods are anything but virtuous. As a result, this team gives time to external projects. It takes time to change certain practices internally. Without advertising it, to prevent any criticism of greenwashing.

Whether you are in this situation or in a more enviable position, this guide is here to give you some food for thoughtfrom the most simple and obvious to the most complex (and possibly dangerous for your career, it's up to you).

Marketing is about having a big impact on society. It is to decide what is desirable and what is not! In the context of the ecological transition, it is allow citizens to want to consume less and better. We all have a responsibility to design marketing that has a positive impact on the world.

Come on, we can get down to business now!

The eco-design of the HTML code of your emails

This is the zero level of your environmental responsibility.

L'eco-design of your email code must above all respond to three main challenges:

  • Reduce the weight of your messages To limit the carbon emissions linked to the transport of the email, the networks and the emissions linked to the storage. This implies lightening the HTML code of your emailings, compressing images correctly, reducing the use of videos and animations, ...
  • Reduce the energy spent to create it industrialization of production methods, reflection on design tools, etc.
  • Remain compatible with older terminals to reduce obsolescence and therefore the need to renew users' terminals.

Yes, you should do eco-design. No, it won't have a significant impact on your company's carbon footprint. But just because it's not the most important action doesn't mean you shouldn't think about it, and it's probably the most accessible step to start with your transition process.


  • Your action:
  • Train you in eco-design and accessibility
  • Submit an eco-design and accessibility checklist to your agencies/designers.

The eco-conception of the writing and design of your emailings

To make the current look cheesy, to sublimate the sobriety.

Copywriters and email designers also have a big responsibility. They must mobilize their creative talents. Through texts and visuals, they will have to represent and highlight new ways of moving, entertaining, eating, dressing, etc. Changing creativity to change beliefs.

The challenge is to create a counter-narrative where we project the client into a world where sobriety is desirable and trendy. Projecting social representations that are coherent with planetary limits. It's a matter of making current happiness seem old-fashioned and deconstructing thought patterns.

  • Taking advantage of a promotion to buy 2 T-shirts instead of 1 is not "making a deal", it's being tricked.
  • If you have to highlight a dish, it doesn't have to be meaty.
  • Are the modes of transport represented particularly polluting?
  • Are the vehicles represented in an idealized context?
  • Does the vehicle contain only one person?
  • Are the living spaces represented individual houses?
  • Winter in a t-shirt, it doesn't make sense. Do the clothes worn correspond to the season represented?
  • The beach at the end of the world. Are the destinations and types of recreation represented far away and resource intensive?
  • I consume therefore I am. Does advertising propagate the idea of happiness through (over)consumption and possession?
  • The fantasized nature. Does nature appear as domesticated or as an object of conquest? Is access to preserved spaces encouraged?


  • Your action:
  • Include rules on sober creativity in your design system.
  • Submit an eco-design and accessibility checklist to your agencies/designers.

Reduce volumes, target better

The best waste is the one we don't produce. The the best energy is the one we don't consume. The same goes for your emails.

An overwhelming majority of your messages are not read, so why send them? Today, many companies send emails to their customers even if they have not collected the opt-in (legally, they have the right to do so under certain conditions...). And in BtoB, it's the farwest.

  • Respect inactivity Leave contacts that no longer show interest in you alone.
  • Leave your ex-clients alone (if they broke up, there was a reason), you can target them from time to time on new offers but not on every campaign.
  • Prevent your customers from buying too much by excluding recent buyers from your product emails.

Don't just measure your campaigns piecemeal. "The number of conversions from the last campaign is low, so we'll relaunch in 2 days." The dissatisfaction rate should be the focus of the analysis.


  • Your action:
  • Calculate the carbon footprint of your email campaigns to become aware of the impact of your emailing strategy.
  • Write a CO2 emissions reduction trajectory.
  • Lobby within your company to convince that volume is not an end in itself (and prove it in a dashboard).
  • Target only your opt-ins.
  • Segment according to the status of your contacts (prospects, active customers, ex-customers) and email activity (active emails, inactive emails) and the date of entry into the database.
  • Adapt your sales pressure according to the status, email activity and date of entry into the base.
  • Put your "recent customers" off your product emails to avoid over-consumption.
  • Monitor the dissatisfaction rate segment by segment. If it exceeds 10-20%, stop the shipments.
  • Respect the legislation and in particular the RGPD (data minimization, archiving, ...)

Fighting promo addiction: educate

Communicate yes, but with more meaning. What does that mean? Less (see step) of promotional emails (or promos that make sense) and a lot of more information newsletters see education.

Today, many mailing schedules revolve around promotional campaigns. We even start counting the number of weeks when there are no that, the base will be able to rest 2 weeks before the black friday". Companies have their share of responsibility and have the means to act.

It is about rethinking promotion. The promo all the time? No. Promotion at the beginning of a relationship to trigger the first purchase, the first experience, why not. You also need to educate your contacts and explain why you can't promote all the time. Opt for an information strategy rather than a promotion strategy.

The brand must find its place and be useful in the changes.

  • Make available theproduct information : place of manufacture, choice of components, who manufactures, routing, transparency on prices etc.
  • Be advice provider. Be sincere, authentic, transparent
  • Talk about successes and obstacles and difficulties. Talk about your progress.
  • Educate and make people understand the problems related to health, pollution and biodiversity. Promote the benefits of cleaner air, healthier food and a less stressful lifestyle.
  • Talking about carbon neutrality is misleading. The compensation in tree planting is misleading, it does not allow to consume less.
  • To enlighten without being judgmental. To make people understand. Bringing it together. It's a whole exercise that will surely lead to training.
  • Making an impact on the remuneration of farmers, craftsmen... on the capacity to maintain production in France.
  • Abandon the register of fear which is weakly mobilizing. The theme may draw attention to an issue but it is essentially a chilling factor for action.
  • To act, you have to feel concerned. The fact of communicating on distant deadlines (end of the century) or via visuals connoting a geographical distance like the polar bear, can only reduce the feeling of involvement.


  • Your action:
  • Lobby within your company to convince that promoting is not sustainable (leads to inactivity and annoyance of your readers).
  • Establish an editorial charter with a fair and inclusive tone.
  • Training in design and writing.
  • Hire an engaged copywriter or highlight these skills when recruiting your marketing/CRM teams.
  • Reorient your mailing schedule with educational content.

Review your marketing automation scenarios

The emails confirming registration, purchase... are the most expected emails (and therefore the most read). They allow you to reassure your contacts that their action is valid. The content of these emails must be carefully prepared!

When you have a virtuous business model, sponsorship seems to be more than ever one of the scenarios to be implemented as a priority. Nothing better than a buddy who has already done the experiment to trigger a new consumption mode. And everything that is welcome scenario (sincerity, education and transparency oriented), post-purchase scenario (service oriented: maintenance, repair, feedback request on the product/service sold...).

On the other hand:

  • Retargeting email will not be a priority.
  • (except maybe only for new customers who hesitate and need this initial push to move on to another mode of consumption. So it all depends on what you are selling.
  • Anniversary emails (birthdays or purchases) are often poorly perceived because they are poorly managed by brands. The content lacks creativity and is sent to the entire base (without filtering on contact status and email activity).


  • Your action:
  • Check your current scenarios and deactivate those that push too much consumption
  • Adapt your targets!
  • Adapt your content for more education and information.
  • Before putting another scenario in place: ask yourself if it is going in the right direction, if it is respectful and if it does not push to over-consumption.

Need help?

Reading content isn't everything. The best way is to talk to us.

Introduce ecological criteria in the choice of your partners

A company's carbon footprint trickles down ! Every time you buy a product or a service from a company, you inherit a part of its carbon footprint. This trickle down will eventually reach the citizen who should ideally consume less than 2 tons of CO2 equivalent per year.

Some agencies are beginning to refuse to work on certain projects that are considered opportunistic and insincere.

Introducing ecological criteria when purchasing products and services is to achieve two objectives in one:

  1. Reduce your company's carbon footprint and therefore that of your customers.
  2. Carry out an activist act to change the practices and mentalities of other companies (see below)


  • Your action:
  • Require the carbon footprint of all your suppliers (in fact, you will not often receive many of them, but at least they will ask the question).
  • Question them on the trajectory and methodologies for reducing carbon impact
  • If it is a digital service, ask in which country the servers are hosted (prefer France, Switzerland or Sweden rather than Ireland, Germany or the United States)
  • If you make a call for tenders, include impact criteria (ecological and societal) in the specifications and really take them into account in your final decision.
  • Do not cooperate with providers who do nothing.

Changing your business

It was simple until now, don't you think? Now it's starting to get more complicated. To go smoothly, we recommend that you discuss with your colleagues who already seem to be aware of the issue. Why not start with a working group that would list everything that has already been done (and not only on CRM, on everything!) to give more visibility to these actions? The ultimate goal being to question your big boss on the very nature of the mission of the company and its responsibility. With the aim of becoming an impact company ?


  • The collectives Les collectifs is a network of professionals and employees who want to change their companies from the inside.
  • Your action:
  • Advocate internally to achieve the above. Make the issue one of them.
  • Ask your N+1 what your goals are for the year on green transition issues.
  • Ask your colleagues about the evolution of the products you market.

Changing the CRM industry

We've already talked about partner selection as a first way to change the industry. But here, we can also talk about the piping, the systemic changes, the rules that govern our business.

The simplest example (for now, but I count on your creativity to generate others) is the implementation of expiration dates in commercial emails by the ZeroCarbonEmail project. The concept is simple, commercial emails usually become obsolete a few days after they are sent... and clutter up email boxes forever. So why not, at the time of sending, put an expiration date on these emails to help webmails and email clients delete these messages? That's what systemic change is all about. Think about the fundamental changes we could apply.

Obviously, these are ambitious, fundamental changes that take a lot of time. That's why it's essential not to work in your own corner. Create inter-company working groups, stick together, and move forward even if the battle seems difficult.


For the "bosses": dare to cut, dare to shake things up

When you are part of a team, not everyone has the same level of awareness of the issues. Choices lead to frustrations, that's normal. But there is often 1 leader who must be responsible. And it's up to him or her to decide. He or she must know how to manage everyone's frustrations and take responsibility. What should you stop in your current practices? What should you keep? And explain your choices.

The question here is rather: Can a leader (your boss) not have as competencies the knowledge of societal and environmental issues? Can he or she run a company or a department, make decisions without having this constantly in mind?

I would also like to talk about the role of influence. If in your words you advocate everything that has just been said but you come to the office in an electric SUV, you will not be credible. The impulse comes from the leaders (and of course from the politicians but that's another story ;-)). It is no longer possible not to act. You will certainly be reproached later for not having been radical.

  • Your action:
  • If you are a leader: continuous training, sharing your knowledge with your teams, federating and deciding.
  • If you are not a leader: dare to be an internal activist to get management to move. Engage in more responsible communication practices at your level, explain your choices, it will inevitably make the whole organization question itself.

Changing boxes?

And then, there is disillusionment. If sobriety is totally incompatible with the very concept of the company that employs you (you sell sweaters at 5 euros, with a ridiculous margin and made in Bangladesh...) or incompatible with the state of mind of your managers, maybe it's time to go and see if the grass is greener elsewhere. But in this case, make your departure an event.


  • Your action:
  • Find a new employer who will welcome your motivation to change the world (or create your own business)
  • Explain your approach to your employer and colleagues
  • REALLY do it!
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