The complete guide to sustainable direct mail
26th Mar 2019
As concerns about climate change and our impact on the environment grow, customers expect the brands they interact with to be proactive and transparent when it comes to protecting the environment. We need to ensure that the channels we chose fall in line with the sustainability agenda or risk being out of step with our customers who could quickly turn elsewhere.
Direct mail has been under the microscope in recent years because of concerns around environmental issues including deforestation and waste. Here are our recommendations to ensure your mail communications conserve the natural resources needed for us all to be able to conduct business sustainably into the future and to show your customers that you have the corporate responsibility standards they demand.
Start with the data
All successful one-to-one customer engagement starts with the data and this is also central to its sustainability. Increasing the deliverability of data by fixing up any bad records, appending missing elements such as postcodes and identifying and removing records that can’t be repaired will eliminate one of the greatest causes of paper waste and reduce costs. With ongoing advancements in technology, data specialists can now carry out these processes better and faster than ever before.
Segment and personalise
The technology at our fingertips today also allows us to increase the relevance of direct mail, ensuring that only those likely to be interested receive an offer. As sophisticated content personalisation drives higher response rates, the percentage of mailings that ends up in landfill is naturally reduced. We work with our clients to review and optimise their mailing programs, providing recommendations on gaining efficiencies through amalgamation and segmentation to dramatically reduce marketing spend. Privacy compliance also provides benefits in this regard, ensuring that those who do not want to hear from a brand do not receive wasted mail.
Choose eco-friendly materials
We encourage our customers to buy paper products responsibly. Direct mail has come under fire in the past because of its strong link with the paper industry, with one of the primary concerns being the effects of deforestation.
However, research shows that deforestation occurs primarily when forest land is cleared and converted to another land use, such as agricultural development in tropical areas, rather than because trees are felled for paper manufacture. Planting the sustainable forests used for the paper industry has been found to increase the world’s net forest cover, and the younger, faster-growing trees used have a greater role in reducing CO2 emissions than older, established forests.
At mmw3degrees, in line with our Environmental Sustainability Policy, we are committed to actively market eco-friendly products to our customers. We recommend the use of eco-friendly bio-degradable plastic wrap and other alternatives to plastic and constantly research new products that can help reduce our environmental footprint and that of our clients.
As well as working with recyclable and biodegradable materials, responsible direct mail users need to ensure that the recycling credentials of their partners stack up. How rigorously do they recycle paper and other consumables? We are proud to work with the following organisations to minimise our impact on the environment. What are your suppliers doing?
- Toner Cartridge Recycling via Cartridge Rescue
- Cardboard Recycling via Loumbos Pty Limited
- Paper recycling from security Bins via Advance Security Destruction
- General Waste Recycling via Cleanaway Australia
- Pallet Recycling; pallets and printers skids are collected and returned to manufacturers or printers who observe the National Packaging Covenant.
Direct mail and digital channels are at their most powerful when they work together, with 40% higher brand recall when email followed by direct mail. An omnichannel approach will also allow you to engage each customer via the channel that works best for them, further reducing waste and the environmental impact of your communications. Working with an omnichannel supplier can help you to plan a program that has less impact on the environment and that still fulfils all your customer engagement goals. You can mail customers who are most likely to favour that channel and email those who prefer to keep everything online, using a preference centre to understand how each customer prefers to engage.
Look for an environmental sustainability policy
When planning your customer communications, we recommend selecting a provider with a strong environmental sustainability policy. For example, as a crucial component of its commitment to outstanding corporate citizenship, mmw3degrees is committed to the protection of the environment and embedding environmental sustainability in everything it does. Continuous improvement of its performance in the reduction of environmental impacts is of paramount importance and is embraced by all employees.
The future of direct mail
When it’s planned right, and especially as part of an omnichannel approach to customer engagement, direct mail can avoid many of the negative environmental impacts that have been assumed to be inevitable in the industry.
Australia Post is supporting sustainable direct mail in this country by working to reduce environmental impacts, facilitating a circular economy and ensuring a transparent and traceable supply chain. Its stated objectives are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% and to enable the reuse and recycling of 100,000 tonnes of material by 2020.
At mmw3degrees, a long-term approach to sustainability ensures we are committed to constant learning and improving and as we work with our clients to help them achieve the standards of sustainability and corporate responsibility that customers increasingly demand.