How to Get Greener, Part 2
In the second portion of this two-part series on the environmental issues affecting the catalog business today, here are seven ways — aside from the use of recycled paper in the makeup of their books — that catalogers can make their businesses more environmentally conscious and sustainable.
(For part 1, click here.)
1. Make it easy for customers to opt out of receiving your catalog and for their names to be rented to other catalogers. Most catalogers do a good job publicizing their “do-not-rent” and “do-not-mail” services. Make it easier for customers to opt for “do not mail” and to be able to not receive subsequent catalog mailings. Make sure opt-out options are easy to find and use.
2. Clean your list rigorously. The savings from all of the list hygiene services offered by the U.S. Postal Service — including NCOA, LACS, AEC, etc. — and advanced list hygiene products, such as IntelliDRESS from CognitiveDATA, offer true savings. You save the waste of mailing to old addresses, where the post office is mandated to put catalogs with bad addresses directly into the dumpster.
3. Educate your customers about the merge/purge process, where duplicate names are eliminated. Remind them to tell you if they’re receiving duplicate catalogs. Consider tightening your own merge/purge criteria so you’re not sending more than one catalog to a single household.
4. Use the DMA Mail Preference Service list to suppress households that don’t want to receive junk mail.
5. Segment your list by channel of purchase so you can mail Web buyers fewer catalogs. Changing the frequency you mail your housefile based on the channel of purchase will cut some waste from your circulation.
6. Inform catalog customers of your efforts to be as green as possible. Provide information in your catalog, even if it’s just a Web site address. Make your Web site as robust as possible with all of the different ways you’re going green, including using recycled paper content, thereby lowering the carbon footprint.
7. Consider adding a section to your frequently asked questions list on your Web site to answer common environmental questions. This allows your stance on the environment to be public knowledge and easily accessible.
Communicate all the different ways you’re cutting down on waste so when questions are raised by your customers, you can easily answer them. If you have a dialog with your customers about the costs and benefits of recycled paper and the other ways your company reduces waste, they’ll see the efforts your business is making to “go green.”
Jim Coogan is president of Catalog Marketing Economics, a Santa Fe, N.M.-based consulting firm focused on catalog circulation planning. You can reach him at (505) 986-9902 or email@example.com.