Green Printing

Green Printing Practices: Direct Mailing List Management

Be green! Scrub that list!

For a long time, list management has been an important part of the direct mailing process. List management means to carefully oversee and thoughtfully edit the list of recipients for a piece of direct mail. The process was created to make sure that mailings were targeted, relevant, and easy for USPS to deliver.

Now list management has a new responsibility: environmental stewardship. For too long, direct mail has been listed as 'junk' because poor list management leads to the wrong people receiving mailers, mailers being delivered to out-of-date addresses, and too many mailers being thrown out, unread. And that's a recipe for waste paper disaster.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, these practices are no longer acceptable, particularly from an environmental perspective. However, the alternative is not necessarily to stop printing direct mail, but to maintain rigorous list management practices. Keeping clean mailing lists is an eco-must, because it ensures that campaigns do not get overprinted, and hit the right people.

Some tips on green-minded list management include:

  • Maintain up-to-date do-not-market lists keeping track of consumers who have asked not to receive further communication.
  • Always include information in your mailer for recipients who would like to contact you and opt out of future opportunities to receive communication.
  • Keep your lists clean! Make sure mailers aren't sent to incorrect addresses by always using the most up-to-date information from USPS regarding changes of address or address elements.
  • Use mailer response tracking tools whenever possible to monitor response rates and eliminate campaign strategies that are resulting in excess waste paper.
  • Employ design strategies that make efficient use of space and don't contribute to print process-related waste.
  • Make recyclable, or reusable materials integral to your mailer design!

Okay, so maybe we're getting a bit off the list management track with those last few points, but nonetheless, every direct mail campaign can benefit from the employment of some combination of the above eco-conscious methods. Not only can they increase ROI, good design and thoughtful list management will keep direct mail relevant and viable in the future. As the age-old saying goes, prioritize environmental stewardship, and the rest will follow.


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