Open Enrollment | Subscribe to Target Marketing HERE
Follow us on
Chet Dalzell

Marketing Sustainably

By Chet Dalzell

About Chet

Marketing Sustainably: What's Going on Beyond and Beneath the Green? A blog posting questions, opportunities, concerns and observations on sustainability in marketing.

Chet Dalzell has 25 years of public relations management and expertise in service to leading brands in consumer, donor, patient and business-to-business markets, and in the field of direct marketing. He serves on the Direct Marketing Association Committee on the Environment and Social Responsibility, where he is currently chairman of the Committee's Marketing & Communications Public Outreach Strategy Working Group (2005-present).

Chet co-developed the first professional certificate program in environmentally responsible marketing within the United States. He also served on the United States Postal Service Greening the Mail Task Force (2007-2010), and led its Life Cycle of Mail Subcommittee.

Email Chet below, or reach him at Twitter or LinkedIn.


Making Social Sell

Jeff Molander
Making LinkedIn Sales Navigator Work for You
Jan 23, 2015

LinkedIn Sales Navigator can be great investment. But recovering the money you invest means having an effective, repeatable way to...

Direct Mail for the Modern Marketer

Summer Gould
5 Tips for Effective Multichannel Campaigns
Jan 22, 2015

Your audience is in more than one place—you need to be too. Multichannel marketing means reaching your audience across more...

Reinventing Direct

Gary Hennerberg
5 Positioning Ideas When Leading With Price
Jan 21, 2015

What works best? Selling product benefits, then revealing the price? Or revealing the price, followed by selling benefits? There are...

Brand Matters

Andrea Syverson
Redefining the Art of Minding Your Ps and Qs
Jan 20, 2015

You know hospitality when you feel it, or as officially defined by it's "the quality or disposition of receiving...

Big Data, Small Data, Clean Data, Messy Data

Stephen  H. Yu
How to Be a Good Data Scientist
Jan 15, 2015

I guess no one wants to be a plain "Analyst" anymore; now "Data Scientist" is the title of the day....

The Power Punch

Carolyn Goodman
How to Treat a Client
Jan 16, 2015

Over the holidays, I relocated my office a few doors down the hallway in order to accommodate some staff changes....

Mobile-First Marketing

Greg Hoy
5 Mobile Marketing Trends You Can't Ignore in 2015
Jan 14, 2015

I don't have to tell you that we are living in a mobile-first world that continues to drive brands to...

IMM-Possible ROI

Stephanie Miller
3 IMM Trends to Watch in 2015
Jan 13, 2015

Happy New Year! As we look ahead this year with confidence in our ability to reach those aggressive goals and...

Ruthless B-to-B Marketing

Ruth P.  Stevens
Exciting New Tools for B-to-B Prospecting
Jan 12, 2015

Finding new customers is a lot easier these days, what with innovative, digitally based ways to capture and collect data....

Keeping Search Profitable

Amanda G. Watlington, Ph.D.
Setting SEO Strategies and Priorities for 2015
Jan 6, 2015

As you turn the calendar to 2015, it is time once again to revisit the SEO successes or unmet challenges...

The Integrated Email

Cyndie Shaffstall
5 Shades of Pop-Up Email Acquisition
Dec 15, 2014

As marketers, one of the biggest challenges we face is growing our marketing list at a rate higher than our...

The Data Athlete

Mike Ferranti
Data Athletes in Modern Organizations
Dec 16, 2014

Let's look at the ideas, insights and strategies for becoming what I have termed a "Data Athlete." This term has...

Muscle Marketing

Wendy Montes de Oca
Converting Your Social Media Triple-Fs: Friends, Followers and Fans
Dec 16, 2014

I've heard many gurus, marketers and publishers brag about their social media followers. They'll say things like, "Isn't it great...

Here's What Counts

Chuck McLeester
How Do You Spell ROI?
Nov 20, 2014

Return on Investment: Everybody's talking about ROI, but not everyone agrees on what it is. Given the various ways that...

Marketing Nuggets

Michael Lowenstein
Marketing Success Is (Almost) All About the Data: Optimizing Customer Loyalty Behavior Initiatives
Oct 7, 2014

Much of what I've learned over the years about sales, marketing and customer service has to do with the critical...

Triple Venti Dolce Data...

Vince Pickett
Clue Me In, Please
Aug 21, 2013

So here we are, halfway through 2013. You, along with everyone, are still trying to find that magic formula to...

Who's Your Data?

Rio Longacre
Instagram: Does It Matter That It Will Make Money on Your Pics?
Dec 19, 2012

Instagram announced the company will soon begin using your content to sell targeted advertising products to the highest bidder. Does...

SEO & Content Marketing Revue

Heather Lloyd-Martin
5 Tips for Top Positioning (And Converting) Page Titles
Aug 11, 2010

Wondering about a SEO content strategy that offers the biggest impact in the shortest time? Try tweaking your page titles....


Yory Wurmser
Privacy in the Age of Big Data
Jul 10, 2013

Consumers reveal more than ever before consciously through social media and, just as importantly, unconsciously through their behaviors. This data...

The Whole Magilla

Ken Magill
What Marketers Can Learn From Maine's Political Email Idiocy
Feb 24, 2012

It finally happened. Politicians' idiotic email practices had a measurable negative effect. "Maine Republican Party chairman Charlie Webster has admitted...

Online Video Marketing Deep Dive

Eve Grey
Are Your Videos Champions of Your Brand?
Feb 3, 2014

If you advertise in an ordinary way, it's safe to expect ordinary results. However, when you take the extreme and...

Think Mobility

Greg Hickman
‘I Can't Because, I Need ... ’
Oct 7, 2013

Does this sound like you? Have you ever set up a goal, but then realized (either quickly or too late)...

Denny Hatch's Blog

Denny Hatch
The Internet Can Make You a Chump—Forever!
Sep 25, 2010

Trouble is, the Internet is rife with misinformation and if you get caught advertently or inadvertently propagating this nonsense in...

How to Make a Billion: The Costs of 'Undeliverable as Addressed'

Get the Flash Player to see this rotator.

The USPS recently shared some interesting data on the volume and cost of undeliverable as addressed (UAA) mail.

According to the USPS, "Total UAA volume dropped from 9.3 billion pieces (4.71 percent of total mail volume) in FY 1998 to 6.9 billion pieces (4.11 percent of total mail volume) in FY 2010. (This reduction, while significant, falls far short of previous Postmaster General Jack Potter's goal of reducing UAA mail by 50 percent by 2010.) Historically, UAA mail runs in the range of 4 percent to 5 percent of total mail volume, and the percentages of total volume vary by class of mail. Periodicals mail, for example, has a UAA percentage of about 1.5 percent, while Standard Mail usually runs about 6.75 percent. Interestingly, the volumes of UAA mail that the USPS forwards or treats as waste both experienced declines, but the volume of UAA mail that the USPS returns to sender actually increased."

All this UAA is money down the drain to the mailers—who designed, produced and labeled it and applied its postage—and to the Postal Service that has to deal with its final disposition.

That tab was $1.3 billion in 2010, and that was just the cost to the Postal Service, which has to incorporate these costs into its rate-setting. Add to this bill the cost of 7 billion pieces that went nowhere near the intended recipient—and that's a fortune off the bottom line. Some of this is inefficiency. Marketers in particular—primarily who use the Standard Mail category—must do a better job in data hygiene and the use of postal addressing and preparation tools. 

It may be helpful, and profitable, for mailers to make sure they are undertaking every feasible effort to keep their mailing lists clean—and to avoid this hefty bill. The Direct Marketing Association has an online tool to help marketers make sure their list hygiene and data management efforts are up to par.

It's called the Environmental Planner & Optional Policy Generator, and it's based in part on the DMA's "Green 15" Environmental Principles. But the green focus is dual in nature. Avoiding mail waste through proper data management also applies green—as in money—back to the bottom line! Consider these suggested activities from this planner to get back some of this billion-plus that are lost to UAA:



Our company continually endeavors to manage data and lists in an environmentally responsible manner with a focus on reducing the amount of duplicate, unwanted and undeliverable mail [to both consumers and businesses]. To achieve our goals in this area [If applicable to the goals and/or nature of your organization, please select one or more of the following options.]:

A. We Maintain Suppression Lists

  • We maintain in-house do-not-market lists for prospects and customers who do not wish to receive future solicitations from us (as required by DMA's Commitment to Consumer Choice).
  • We maintain a more detailed suppression file that enables customers and prospects to opt off our organization's marketing lists on a selective basis, such as by frequency or by category.

B. We Offer Notice & Choice

  • We provide existing and prospective customers with notice of an opportunity to modify or eliminate future marketing contacts from our organization in every commercial solicitation (as required by DMA's Commitment to Consumer Choice).
  • We provide periodic notices and opportunities for prospects to opt in or opt out of receiving future marketing contacts from our organization.
  • We provide customers incentives (such as the offer of a discount on their next purchase) for notifying us of duplicate mailings and incorrect addresses.
  • We offer customers a choice to receive communications from our organization electronically.

C. We Clean Our Lists Prior to Mailing

  • We use the Direct Marketing Association (U.S.) Mail Preference Service (MPS) monthly on all applicable consumer prospecting lists. In addition to use of MPS, we maintain clean, deliverable files by using (Please check all that apply):
    • ZIP Code correction
    • Address standardization
    • USPS National Change of Address (NCOA)
    • Other USPS products such as
      • Address Element Correction (AEC)
      • Delivery Sequence File (DSF)
      • Address Correction Requested (ACR)
    • Predictive models and RFM segmentation
    • Other: (Please specify.)
  • We use the DMA "Deceased Do Not Contact" list to eliminate names of deceased persons from mailings.
  • We use the Foreign Mail Preference Service on applicable mailings to the United Kingdom, Belgium or Germany.
  • We use the mail preference services of other foreign national direct marketing associations, where applicable.
  • We [ encourage/ require] our client mailers to use MPS.
  • We [ encourage/ require] companies and organizations that rent our list of customers to screen consumer names through MPS, and to maintain their own do-not-rent and do-not-mail in-house name suppression lists.

D. We Merge/Purge Our Data

  • We match outside lists against each other to prevent duplicates.
  • We use match definitions in merge/purge that minimize duplicates.
  • We match outside lists against other commercially available suppression files where appropriate.

E. We Test Market Offers

  • We test a sample of a list before mailing or marketing to the entire list.
  • We test different versions of advertising and marketing offers, in mail and other media, to select those offers and media combinations that receive the best response.

For more information, see DMA Environmental Resource Guide, "Mailing List Management: A Key to Waste Reduction," pages 63-70.


Now the entirety of the UAA issue is not attributable solely to less than adequate data management, but it is likely a good portion of it is. We know the DMA Board of Directors—in adopting its first environmental public goal which in part commits to reduce UAA by 25 percent from 2009 to 2013—very much intends for marketers to avoid losing these billions down the line.

The Postal Service is working closely with mailers and, vice versa, to tackle other ways to manage UAA and to reduce its volume. Certainly, Intelligent Mail barcodes will help, with the ability to track mail whereabouts in real time as it moves through the USPS's processing and handling. "Return to Sender" UAA is the most costly for the Postal Service to handle, because of the return handling costs—that, too, needs attention.

In the very least, marketers also should work with their mail service providers most closely to design mail pieces for postal automation compatibility, to apply proper data management practices (as indicated by DMA, for example), and—as the USPS embarks on its network consolidation effort—to track their mail most precisely through the mail stream. A billion dollars and more are in the balance.

Helpful Links:
DMA First Public Green Goal, concerning List Hygiene

DMA Environmental Planner & Optional Policy Generator


Click here to leave a comment...
Comment *
Most Recent Comments: