Can direct marketers continue to send direct mail in bulk and still be considered environmentally friendly?
In short, the answer is an emphatic yes.
Going green and direct mail are not mutually exclusive. In fact, direct marketers are increasingly partnering with innovative, eco-friendly companies and yielding excellent response rates and increased ROI.
ecoEnvelopes LLC is one of the many companies out there that are making direct marketers greener and more profitable than ever before.
The Eden Prairie, Minn.–based company creates a recyclable envelope that Wae Nelson, publisher of Florida Gardening Magazine, finds perfect for his direct marketing needs.
The envelope has two-way indicia, which eliminate the need for a separate return envelope. Watch a video showing how ecoEnvelopes work. Nelson says he uses ecoEnvelopes® to send out subscription renewal notices as well as mailings to find new readers. In the latter case, he is receiving a very satisfying 5% return rate for new subscribers.
Nelson says ecoEnvelopes not only save money by eliminating one envelope, but they cut down on needed storage space and insertion costs and, as a plus, “It’s a good public relations tool because gardeners generally favor efforts to save the environment.”
“Direct mail is convenient and we’ve got total control of the mailings,” Nelson says. “Because of the high cost of television and radio advertising, direct mail is the most cost-effective marketing tool that we have.”
Gale Ward of ecoEnvelopes says the simple switch from using two envelopes in a mailing to one can have huge cost savings for a business. Savings typically range from 15–50% over the cost of two envelopes.
For example, for one company, a basic order of outgoing and reply envelopes would have cost about $57.11 per thousand. But using the two-way ecoEnvelopes, the cost was $43.60 per thousand, for a savings of $13.51 or about 24 percent. Depending upon the volume sent, the savings add up quickly. For example, another company sending approximately 45 million units per year would have paid $28.75 per thousand. Using ecoEnvelopes, the cost was $24, saving 17 percent, or about $214,000.
Walter Abramson, director of communications at the Minnesota Land Trust, is realizing equally pleasing results from the combination of renewal mail and recyclable envelopes.
The trust, which works to preserve natural and scenic land, has a membership base of about 1,500.
Abramson says the trust uses ecoEnvelopes to renew memberships in its organization. He reports a 65% return rate coupled with significant savings from reduced paper costs.
He says the trust uses direct mail for almost everything because the cost is low, it’s very convenient and it’s flexible.
One of the biggest misconceptions about direct mail is how it wastes paper. If that were the case, would a California-based tree foundation use direct mail as an integral part of its marketing campaign?
The foundation, an ecoEnvelopes customer, celebrated its 30th anniversary this year and, thanks to help from direct mail, the shade tree–planting organization is finding success.
The mission of the group is to grow a healthy, livable community in the Sacramento region by building the best urban forest in the nation.
The foundation, which has planted 1.5 million trees during its existence, sends out 8,000 to 10,000 letters a year to its donor base and gets an impressive 20% response rate.
Washable envelopes and the future of direct mail
Of course, eco-friendly programs are not limited to just the United States. For instance, in Australia, a family operated company, Lopees, has added a new twist to recyclables.
Based in South Morang, Victoria, the company produces organic cotton reusable envelopes that eliminate the need for disposable envelopes. Although not used for direct mailing purposes, the idea alone provides a glimpse at the possible future of direct marketing.
Imagine living in a world where envelopes are washable and can be used over and over.
Nicole Golland, director of Lopees, notes that Lopees envelopes can be reused hundreds and hundreds of times and there is no waste to dispose of as in a paper envelope, thus helping the environment. They withstand the heavy use and handling and do not get tattered and torn as paper envelopes do, thus making them far more economical for businesses to use.
At the moment, most of Lopees’ customers are schools and companies that use Lopees’ 10 different sizes and styles of recyclable bags and envelopes internally. But Golland would love to see Lopees products go global.
It’s all a matter of time before the next green innovation takes the direct marketing world by storm, as marketers and consumers are taking notice of the environment in both big and small ways.Creativity, Green Marketing