Green Direct Mail Is No Longer an Oxymoron
Assigning green attributes to what is popularly known as "junk mail" may arouse skepticism, but some processes and materials used in direct mail truly do promote greater environmental sustainability. And some of today's marketers pursue greener approaches for business reasons that include positioning as a concerned and responsible citizen, marketplace differentiation and lower costs.
The issue remains pertinent because, unlike many traditional media, direct mail continues to grow in the midst of ever-continuing digital transformation. U.S. annual direct mail spending is expected to grow by 2.4 percent in 2012, the third consecutive year of growth, according to the Winterberry Group. Direct Marketing Association figures available on the Print in the Mix website show that direct mail now accounts for more than 30 percent of the annual U.S. spend on advertising.
Still, electronic media are usually less expensive to deploy and more conducive to the consumer interactions that drive today's cutting-edge marketing. So the best returns on marketing investments consistently come from campaigns that blend print and electronic media. These campaigns also are usually more sustainable than traditional direct mail, making many performance-driven marketers accidental champions of the environment.
These marketers can bring even greater benefit to their organizations and the environment by actively pursuing additional sustainability initiatives.
Cross-Media = Green Media
Cross-media campaigns deliver sustainability advantages, in part, because print volumes don't need to be as large. Sharing the sales mission across multiple media can result in lower print volumes, lowering postage costs as well as environmental impact.
Other reasons have to do with the nature of digital printing. Variable data printing (VDP) enables each printed piece to be personalized for enhanced relevance to the recipient, boosting response rates and enabling smaller mailings to match the results of larger, less targeted campaigns. In addition, the short print runs and abbreviated set-up requirements mean offers can be tested endlessly to small groups, helping marketers hone messaging to optimize results and further control print volumes.