You know that direct mail marketing is one of the best ways to get your name out in front of potential customers. Even as technology becomes more and more important to the general public, direct mail remains an important part of any marketing campaign. In fact, response rates have remained relatively consistent over the past few years—even as mobile, and inbound marketing has grown in popularity.
However, one concern that many businesses have regarding direct mail campaigns has to do with the environmental impact. After all, when you are sending hundreds or even thousands of letters, postcards or catalogs to potential customers, there is bound to be a concern for the environment. Whether your company is striving to reduce waste as part of a bigger “go green” campaign, or you merely want to assure your customers you are doing what you can to be environmentally conscious, having information is important. We’ve put together some material about direct mail and the environment that should put you (and your customers) at ease.
Is There Really that Big of an Impact?
First and foremost, realize how much of an impact direct mail campaigns have on the environment in the first place. A 2004 study showed that household advertising mail accounted for only 1.8 percent of waste in the United States. There have been no more recent studies conducted, but chances are this rate has gone down, rather than up—since more companies are conducting communication via electronic means than ever before.
This same study showed that even as the rates of direct mail increased, the amount that went into landfills decreased. The reason for this decline is that more and more businesses and private consumers have embraced recycling as a way of life. In fact, it is easier to recycle than ever before, with many waste removal companies allowing you to recycle at the same time you dispose of trash. While you certainly have to consider the impact that direct mail has on the environment, and realize that adopting green mail strategies is a good thing—perhaps the problem is NOT as bad as you may have thought it would be.
Concerned? Conduct an Assessment
It makes sense that you would be concerned about the impact that your direct mail campaigns will have on the earth. Having this level of concern shows that you are thinking beyond your business and looking at the world as a whole.
If you want a better look at how your company’s direct marketing practices are impacting the environment, conduct an assessment of your current practices. Here are a few things you should consider:
- The Material Used in Production
- How Mailers are Produced
- Who Receives Your Mailers
- What Happens to the Mailers After they are Sent
- Your Internal Recycling Practices
When you gather and analyze this information, you will have a better idea where you are succeeding and where you need to make changes. Doing this assures that you are doing everything you can to “go green” with your direct mailings.
The Materials Make the Difference
If you have decided that sending a postcard, flyer or another type of direct mailer is an excellent marketing strategy, how can you make certain you are as environmentally conscious as possible? The most important strategy is to utilize the right materials.
First, make sure you are using paper (or plastic) that is recyclable. The last thing you want is to wind up producing a product that will clog the landfill for hundreds of years. Second, look at the source of the material. Is the paper sourced from renewable means? Ideally, the material will be at least partially made of a recycled material itself—cutting down on the amount of new material you are utilizing. Finally, consider the ink itself. In some cases, the ink used in printing can turn paper that would be recyclable into something that is now toxic.
This information may not always be readily available. However, most companies in the printing and direct marketing business will have access to it—and should be willing to work with you to obtain the answers. After all, creating environmentally friendly mailings is something that is beneficial to everyone.
Even if you utilize environmentally friendly mailings, it is impossible for you to know what happens to your direct mailers once they leave your possession. However, there are a few ways that you can encourage your customers to be responsible.
Here are a few of the better tips we’ve discovered:
- Make sure your mailer is labeled as “recyclable” and direct the customer toward nearby recycling centers.
- Create a reason for the customer to bring the mailer back to you. By offering 10% off when the customer brings in the mailer, for instance, you not only encourage more sales, you keep the paper out of the landfill—since you can recycle it yourself.
- Hold a recycling day at your physical location. Partner up with a local recycling firm to host a “green day” or recycling day. Hosting an event like this builds goodwill in the community and allows you to do something amazing for the environment too.
- Include a bit of information about YOUR stance on “going green.” When your customers see that it matters to you, it may matter to them too.
By utilizing these tips, you may keep your mailers out of the landfill and may even encourage additional positive actions too.
One Final Way to Reduce Environmental Impact
You may think that the best way to get the word out about a sale, or your company, in general, is to send your direct mailings to as many people as possible. While “bigger is better” is sometimes the case, it is not necessarily so with direct mail. Instead, using a better-targeted list can offer excellent results and serves as one of the best green mail strategies too.
Spend time researching and learning more about your potential customers. Consider creating a marketing persona. Then, you will have a much better idea which businesses or consumers are most likely to respond positively to your direct marketing outreach campaigns. Finally, provide an easy way for anyone who is NOT interested to remove themselves from future mailings. Allowing customers to do this saves you money as you will send out fewer unwanted mail pieces in the future and protects the environment by reducing waste.
There certainly is a lot to think about when it comes to direct mail and the environment. You do not need to give up on the many excellent benefits that direct mail can provide for your company. There is plenty you can do to reduce the negative impact you have on the earth. If you are smart with your mailing decisions, direct mail can be an important cornerstone of any marketing campaign. In doing so, you will not only be doing something wonderful for the earth, but you will improve how your customers see you too.
The first step you should take is to reach out to us at Mail Shark. We take “going green” just as seriously as you do. We would be happy to discuss the different mailing services we offer and help you decide on the best green mail strategies and other solutions for your business.