Awhile back I wrote about an online resource called Catalog Choice, which helps each of us manage the catalogs we receive in the mail. Time Magazine just wrote an article about a couple other options.
Greendimes.com promises to rid your mailbox of 90% of junk mail in 90 days, all for a $20 annual fee.
And proquo.com not only let’s you opt out of catalogs, but junk mail as well, all for free. Their opt-outs include coupons and weekly circulars, marketing lists and data brokers and directories. You can also opt-in to catalogs you’d like to receive.
All of these companies have an uphill battle as direct mail still works for retailers, and is a huge source of revenue for the postal service. But the fact is that more companies are popping up to help consumers manage their mail. And that means that retailers should take note for two reasons:
1. Consumer backlash continues to grow as direct marketers ignore their wishes. I, for one, continue to work to reduce junk mail whenever possible and continue to grow increasingly frustrated with retailers that ignore my wishes. I don’t own a pet and I don’t want to get your pet catalog no matter what my demographic profile is. And your catalog geared toward women’s clothes isn’t relevant to me either.
2. Consumers are greener than ever. Retailers that ignore consumers’ wishes to be removed from their lists are viewed as non-green in their efforts, choosing capitalism over the environment. Citibank take note: I do not want to earn up to 25,000 miles with a Citibank/American Airlines credit card, so stop sending me your weekly direct mail!
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
Ultimately it’s about responding to your customers wants, needs and wishes.
The catalog and junk mail business might not be relevant to you since chances are you don’t produce catalogs. But you may produce direct mail once in a while.
So here are a couple ideas to maximize your efforts:
1. If you’re going to advertise in val-pack, or any number of similar coupon packs, ask them for data about how many consumers are opting out of receiving their mailers in the zip codes you’re targeting on websites like the ones listed above. You may find that more and more of your target demographic doesn’t want to receive those mailers, thereby wasting your marketing dollars.
2. Most retailers sign people up for email at their stores, which has an easy opt-out function in every email. Try to do the same for direct mail. Create a sign up list or form that asks them to check a box for each type of communication they’d like to receive (or not). These days, most people just opt for email because it’s quick and easy (to write when they’re signing up and to unsubscribe when they dont’ want to receive it anymore). But doing a check against your database when they’re checking out just to confirm they still want to receive mail will help cull your list down and save your money in the long-run. You can even explain that this is another effort to make your company more green.