Database: Green Your Data Management
All of these business benefits aside, the most compelling reason to embrace direct mail waste reduction is because that's exactly what a growing number of customers want.
"Customers really want to believe that you're targeting and not wasting," says Steve Fuller, senior vice president of corporate marketing at L.L.Bean, the $1.5 billion catalog mail-order and retail store merchant of outdoor clothing. "They trust that you're doing the right thing. And companies have that responsibility to their customers."
For its part, according to Fuller, L.L.Bean has a whole department dedicated to data hygiene. "We actively look for ways to combine households to reduce duplicates and avoid mailing to nonresponders."
So, too, does the largest retailer of them all. "We actively update customer profile information to ensure that folks that don't want to receive print communications don't receive print communications," says Wal-Mart's Halligan. "Data hygiene is a core part of our marketing activities, such that we try not to send any customer anything that he or she doesn't want. We place a high degree of importance on the integrity of customer information. We want to communicate with customers in a relevant and compelling way."
Best Buy, one of the world's largest consumer electronics retailers, is also working to make its direct mail communications increasingly relevant. This means moving away from broad-based promotion tactics - for example, sending all customers a coupon for 10 percent off their next purchase - and toward event-triggered incentive programs and precision marketing, based on customers' past purchase behaviors, geo-demographic and psychographic characteristics, and value to the brand.
"The intention is to be able to offer up only content that we know is going to resonate with the consumer," says Matt Smith, VP of customer insight at Best Buy. "We're undergoing a transformation - from mass print to targeted print, from targeted print to targeted push electronic, and from targeted push electronic to opt-in pull electronic." According to Smith, marketing waste reduction is a by-product of that transformation.