Act now or pay later

Wastefulness and inefficiency are the bane of all direct marketers’ lives.

Poorly targeted and ill-thought campaigns lead to low response rates, irate consumers and the ire of our elected officials sensitive to public annoyance over environmentally unfriendly junk mail.

This is true of both e and physical mail. Email campaigns are cheap and reliable (in that is not at the mercy of postal workers unions), but can also prove to be as toothless as door drops.

Research from Return Path this week found that 15% of all European commercial email goes undelivered to consumers’ inboxes because of blocked messages, assiduous spam filters or recipients that simply do not exist.

On the physical side, unwanted and poorly targeted “junk” mail is on a par with traffic wardens as a public enemy.

It is not just Joe Public that gets riled. Three-quarters (73%) of MPs recently canvassed say the industry does not take appropriate measures to mitigate the environmental impact of DM, while demanding better targeting and data management.

Direct marketers should take note. Politicians love to target “easy win” issues that are sure-fire vote winners and putting pressure on the DM industry to clean up their act, especially in an election year, might be considered fine politics.

To be fair, it is not as if the direct marketing industry is blind to both its responsibility to the public and the environment.

The BSI and Direct Marketing Association developed PAS2020 certification, an environmental standard for the marketing industry that aims to target and reduce waste, is beginning to be handed out for those keen to leading the charge away from the wrong side of public opinion.

Direct marketers needn’t stop there and can go that extra mile through international standards such as ISO 14001, a framework for the development of an environmental management system.

It pays to show willing and thought leadership when politicians are sniffing around, otherwise direct marketers will be hit by costly and draconian legislation. And that will become increasingly true for email marketers testing consumers’ patience with inappropriate, untargeted mail.

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