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Looking at the Carbon Footprint of Digital Marketing Tactics
Direct Mail
April 13, 2023

Looking at the Carbon Footprint of Digital Marketing Tactics

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The need for a more sustainable future is growing as brands prioritize human, environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Based on the importance of such practices, 93% of the world's 250 largest companies actively report on sustainability.

Consumers are becoming more aware of sustainability issues, seeking brands that invest in some of the most crucial practices, including waste reduction, sustainable packaging, ethical working conditions, and carbon footprint reduction. Brands that aren't taking these initiatives risk being left behind.

You might think digital marketing is the solution if you want to reduce your footprint based on your marketing tactics — but data shows otherwise. The answer lies less in the channel and more in how you target your audience. Here is why you may need to reconsider your current strategy and invest in sustainable direct mail.

The carbon impact of online campaigns

When aiming to become a more eco-conscious brand, you might think digital marketing is the obvious choice. Sending an email or creating a social post doesn't impact the environment, right?

A recent study focused on the carbon impact of advertising campaigns, and the results were surprising. The digital ecosystem plays a significant role, contributing more than 3.5% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions are growing at a rate of 6% per year — a rate more significant than global civil aviation.

Based on a hypothetical example, a typical digital campaign can yield around 323 tons of carbon dioxide — the equivalent of 160 round-trip flights between New York and Paris. Researchers conclude that as an industry, everyone must collaborate to establish best practices and guidelines. The issue becomes glaringly problematic when you add up the trillions of carbon-intensive global digital impressions the industry creates each year.

The goal is to reduce emissions and be more purposeful with campaigns. Targeted, strategic marketing material can help increase conversions while reducing your carbon footprint. This tactic will resonate well with consumers and allow your brand to better prepare for the future. To achieve this, invest in an omnichannel strategy that leverages the power of online and offline channels. Use each channel strategically to maximize your budget, boost your ROI, and minimize your brand's environmental impact.

Combine digital and direct mail tactics

Based on the impact of digital campaigns, it's crucial to expand your strategy, implementing the most effective offline and online channels. This tip relies on the importance of maximizing and personalizing your messaging. When you prioritize targeting the most appropriate audience for your campaign, this will drastically reduce pointless impressions that generate carbon emissions needlessly.

Blend digital and direct mail marketing to be more purposeful and successful while reducing your environmental impact. In cases where a social post or email isn't the best fit, you can send a piece of carbon-neutral direct mail. The key is to use these channels cohesively, focusing on the role each plays in your omnichannel marketing mix. For example, direct mail tactics may work best when sending a targeted discount to unresponsive email recipients or those associated with abandoned shopping carts.

This channel isn't as saturated as online channels, adding another layer to your omnichannel strategy. Direct mail marketing also has the highest ROI of all marketing channels. When investing in automated, sustainable direct mail, the impact on your brand's bottom line and carbon footprint can be huge.

Segmentation can help reduce your footprint

Like any other channel, you need to figure out when sending a personalized, targeted direct mail piece makes sense. Mass mailings are often a waste of money that creates unnecessary emissions. Focus on a specific segment, designing material likely to resonate with that audience. For this step, you'll need to know who you're speaking to and why — are you concerned with retention, acquisition, or reactivation?

For example, iExit was struggling to engage and connect with prospects. The company was already using traditional digital marketing tactics yet was seeing little success. To acquire new customers, iExit launched a postcard campaign with Lob, focusing on hyper-local and personalized mail. Direct mail marketing resulted in a 155% ROI and a 60% increase in conversions. This example shows how a more strategic approach can drive success while reducing a brand's footprint. If current tactics aren't working, you're creating emissions, wasting time, and throwing away money.

Whether you're creating a campaign for an email subscriber list or your direct mail list, segmentation should remain a top priority. Know when to cut back on digital channels, implementing carbon-neutral direct mail into your strategy.

Recommended reading: How Lob's Carbon Neutral Campaign Reenergized Its Marketing Strategy

Lob can help offset your marketing carbon footprint

There are many reasons to invest in direct mail tactics, including a more effective and eco-conscious approach to marketing. Lob is the first and only platform of its kind, helping businesses send automated, intelligent mail at scale. The company has also set a new sustainability standard, assisting brands to offset emissions across the entire lifecycle.

This direct mail marketing platform ticks all the boxes among those transitioning toward more sustainable practices — from reforestation projects to Lob's carbon offsetting efforts. Interested in learning more about sustainable direct mail?

Contact our team or request a demo today!

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