July 16, 2008 — The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) continues to build its environmental action program. Today, the DMA Board of Directors announced its first public and measurable “green” goal toward achieving continuous environmental improvement in the US direct marketing community. This new, five-year goal seeks to improve the relevance, deliverability, and carbon footprint of direct mail through widespread marketer adoption of key list hygiene practices. Each practice is part of the DMA Board’s “Green 15” environmental performance resolution, which was passed in 2007.
If DMA members in the United States implement these list hygiene practices as expected, then DMA anticipates three tangible, positive outcomes.
· First, consumer names and addresses registered on DMAChoice.org, the DMA’s free Mail Preference Service (MPS), would be removed from national mailing lists more quickly and effectively.
· Second, the volume of undeliverable advertising mail (UAA Standard Mail) would fall by 25 percent, based on extrapolations from the US Postal Service’s (USPS) most recent UAA data.
· Third, the amount of carbon dioxide equivalents associated with the production and delivery of direct mail in the US would be reduced by nearly 1 million tons, from 2009 to 2013.
Building Upon DMA’s Record
“Shopping direct provides many benefits, such as saving shopping trips by car, gas costs, and CO2 emissions,” said Donn Rappaport, DMA chairman of the board and chairman/chief executive officer of American List Counsel, Inc. (ALC). “It is vitally important that the direct marketing community embrace these new DMA initiatives to build upon its record of environmental stewardship and to promote the value that direct marketing provides to consumers.”
Last year, DMA asked members to assess the actions they were taking to improve the environment. Those practices served as the basis for the Association’s “Green 15,” a set of baseline business activities to improve marketers’ performance in five key areas: (1) list and data management, (2) mail design and production, (3) paper procurement and use, (4) packaging, and (5) recycling and pollution reduction. This year, DMA is now setting measurable goals in key areas of the Green 15.
"EPA applauds the direct marketing industry's efforts to reduce waste and improve the quality of our environment," said Matt Hale, director of US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Solid Waste. "Their strategy for reducing the amount of unwanted and undeliverable mail will conserve natural resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save energy."
Based on a recent US Postal Service Office of Inspector General Report, it is estimated that there will be 6.8 billion pieces of UAA Standard Mail in 2008. Using EPA data and calculated 2007 UAA pieces and weights data, DMA estimates that eliminating half of this 2007 UAA Standard Mail would save 317,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), a gas associated with climate change. This is equivalent to saving the annual CO2 emissions of 60,000 cars or the emissions from 32.4 million gallons of gasoline.
DMA’s Green 15 List Hygiene Tenets
To meet the goal of reducing unwanted and undeliverable mail, DMA will work to ensure widespread marketer adoption of the following “Green 15” list hygiene tenets:
1. Comply with DMA’s strengthened list management guidelines and “Commitment to Consumer Choice” (CCC) program (www.DMACCC.org). The CCC guidelines require members to:
a) Provide consumers with notice in every commercial mail solicitation about how they can stop or modify future mailings. (This provision will be enforced by DMA beginning in 2009);
b) Maintain and effectively use in-house do-not-market lists, and promptly honor requests from consumers who choose not to receive mailings; and
c) Use the Mail Preference Service (MPS) monthly (previously it was a quarterly requirement) to remove consumer prospects from their mailing lists.
2. Make mailings more relevant by effectively applying data analysis tools, such as predictive models and/or recency-frequency-monetary segmentation, prior to mailing to identify and suppress likely non-responders.
3. Maintain accurate, “clean” mailing lists by using USPS or commercially equivalent files for ZIP Code correction, address standardization, change of address, address element correction, vacant address identification, delivery sequence file and/or address correction requested, etc.
Additionally, DMA will work with the Postal Service to ensure DMA member companies are in full compliance with new USPS files and products, such as the Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMB) and new list hygiene requirements, to eliminate undeliverable, duplicate, and misdirected mail. Through partnerships such as the USPS Greening of the Mail Taskforce (GMTF) and Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC), DMA hopes to assist the USPS in promoting new and innovative opportunities for advancing the development and use of address matching and verification software, thereby further reducing the volume of UAA.
DMA’s Committee on Ethical Business Practice, which investigates offerings (in all media) and enforces DMA Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice within the direct marketing community, will be responsible for aggressive compliance monitoring of DMA’s new list management guidelines. DMA’s guidelines and other corporate responsibility resources are available online at the DMA Corporate Responsibility Resource Center (www.dmaresponsibility.org).
This new environmental goal and its anticipated environmental benefits build on the success of DMA’s longstanding Mail Preference Service (MPS), which provides an opportunity for individuals to limit the mail they receive. In 2007, MPS prevented more than 930 million unwanted mailings. This saved more than 99,000 tons of CO2, which is equivalent to taking 18,776 cars off the road for a year and saving the emissions from 10.2 million gallons of gasoline. US consumer marketers who are DMA members have been required to use MPS as a condition of DMA membership since 1999.
Going forward, marketers will be required to use MPS data to update their suppression files more frequently, thereby increasing the percentage of advertising mail seen to be relevant and wanted, while decreasing the percentage of unwanted mail. DMA expects that stepped-up MPS usage will result in savings of approximately a half million tons of CO2 equivalents during the next five years.
Environmental Stewardship Benefits Consumers and Marketers
“Our members recognize the importance of environmental stewardship, and they want consumers to be happy with the mail they receive,” said Pat Kachura, DMA senior vice president of corporate responsibility. “Generating unwanted mail benefits no one — neither the marketer nor the consumer. This public goal is a significant step along the path toward sustainability, but we are not stopping here. In the spirit of continuous improvement, DMA is working to determine new goals in other areas related to direct marketing, among them paper procurement and the recycling of direct mail.”
DMA has also created an Environmental Planning Tool, which provides more than 100 practices for marketers to consider as they seek to improve their businesses’ and nonprofit organizations’ environmental performance in all five areas of the “Green 15.” This free tool (www.the-dma.org/envgen) allows members to customize an environmental vision statement and/or policy unique to their organizations.
“As evidenced by our Planning Tool, we are concerned about the entire life cycle of mail, from list hygiene to design to end use,” said Eugene Raitt, chair of the DMA Committee on Environmental and Social Responsibility (CESR), a member of the DMA Board of Directors, and executive vice president and chief direct marketing officer of AIG Companies Worldwide. “To close the loop, last year, we launched a nationwide ‘Recycle Please’ campaign to stimulate recycling and recovery of catalogs and direct mail.”
To date, more than 80 top marketers — from catalogers to publishers to financial service companies, among others — have joined DMA’s “Recycle Please” program. Today’s resolution to measure and achieve better list hygiene across the entire direct marketing field complements the Association’s ongoing effort to attain a “triple” bottom-line advantage for direct marketers — profit, environmental performance, and social responsibility.
For more information on DMA’s environmental initiatives, including a copy of DMA’s MailMatters Toolkit — an online initiative aimed at educating consumers about the benefits of direct mail as well as the challenges direct mail today faces — please visit DMA’s Environmental Resource Center at www.the-dma.org/environment.
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