By Jill McCubbin

Yesterday I attended the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) Ottawa chapter’s September networking and educational luncheon, “The ROI of Green” presented by guest speaker, Canada Post’s General Manager of Marketing and Business Development, Direct Marketing, Rosalie McGovern. McGovern also introduced Canada Post’s “green” online pages that include direct mail tips for consumers and businesses.

48% of (U.S.) consumers think direct mail is an environmental issue, meanwhile according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, advertising mail is responsible for just 2% of all municipal waste in the U.S. At the CMA event, McGovern cited a statistic from a Canada Post press release: 75% of Canadians consider environmental conservation and preservation as a matter of personal importance – above economic trends and healthcare! Because of such statements, McGovern’s description of a “green” approach to direct marketing and communication makes lots of dollars and sense.

McGovern described important factors when greening direct mail campaigns that can be easily applied to improving online marketing as well.

  • Target your most likely leads using targeting software and predictive modelling to locate potential customers
  • Practice data “hygiene” - maintain and use current databases of customer contact information, purge erroneous addresses and information
  • Use Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper and products for direct mailings


market2world launched a predictive modeling technology company called CopperKey, in 2006. Click here to read a case study we wrote and placed in the direct marketing trade press. The story was based on a marketing campaign, initiated by Tucson, Arizona-based financial planning firm, Senior Advisors Wealth Management that involved sending out 45,000 mailers each month at an annual cost of $160,000. By using predictive modeling software and switching to a less-expensive mailer product, Senior Advisors saved $30,000 annually, and the average return rate for its campaign increased by 30 to 40% - keeping up to 7,182 more direct mail packages out of the landfill each year.

By applying further “green” measures, such as the data hygiene efforts advocated by Canada Post's McGovern, to Senior Advisors Wealth Management's direct mail campaign, still greater increases in ROI might have been realized.

  • In this campaign a total of 540,000 households are targeted at an annual cost of $160,000, but we can assume a standard 1% waste (from poor data hygiene practices and insufficient targeting) off the top
  • This wastage rate causes the firm to lose the investment on 5,400 mailers = $18,225 before any return at all
  • Yet this investment, after-loss, of $141,775 ($160,000 - $18,225) produced a savings of $30,000 annually
  • If the 1% had not been wasted, the total savings might have reached $33,856


Other direct mail industry people, like the U.K.’s Steve Sellwood, write about how to reduce the environmental impact of direct mail as well. Selecting and targeting your customers for any marketing campaign saves natural and human resources - and money. Ensuring database contact information is accurate also saves wasted time and effort (and money). And something else to keep in mind: shopping at home, via mail-order or online, has a “green” component – less cars on the road, less emissions.

market2world both promotes direct marketing technologies/cleantech and has a keen eye for green marketing techniques. Contact us and let’s get your campaign launched with some great green thinking!

(Jill McCubbin is a conversation architect with market2world communications inc., Ottawa, Canada's tech PR and product marketing agency.)

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