Email is the New “Green” Advertising Method

Rebecca Felker

Should your company use it?


The mailman walks up to the house, sees a “No Junk mail” sign on the mailbox, drops off a handful of letters and bank statements, then walks away. The end result? Your direct marketing dollars go nowhere. Even worse, you’re hurting the environment. For each piece of direct marketing you create, paper must be used, the advertising must be transported, and workers paid at each step of the way.

Green mail – email marketing – doesn’t have those problems. While people may unsubscribe or mark your email as junk, it’s a simple click, rather than numerous phone calls, or simply tossing the mail in the garbage, week after week.

It’s not completely without a carbon footprint – in the average year, all of the email in your inbox is equal to around 300 pounds of CO2 emissions. To put that in perspective, that’s the same as driving 200 miles in an average vehicle. However, when compared with direct mail:

– More than 100 million trees are destroyed each year to produce direct mail.

– The world’s temperate forests absorb 2 billion tons of carbon annually. Creating and shipping direct mail produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 9 million cars.

– About 28 billion gallons of water are wasted to produce and recycle direct mail each year.

– The average adult receives 41 pounds of direct mail per year. 44% goes to the landfill unopened.

– Transporting direct mail costs $550 million a year.

– By reducing your direct mail for 5 years, each person can conserve 1.7 trees and 700 gallons of water, and prevent global warming emissions

While being green is a concern for modern businesses, obviously that isn’t the only concern – you still need to make a profit. The big question: what’s the return on investment for direct paper mail versus the return on investment for email marketing? For every dollar spent email marketing you could expect a return of $42, while for every dollar spent on direct mail the return was only $4.

Email marketing’s primary advantage, besides being green and cost effective, is that the audience is self-selecting. People are literally asking you to advertise to them. It’s also substantially faster. To create a quality piece of direct marketing, you need to hire copywriters, graphic designers, and find a way to mass produce your material. To create a quality piece of email marketing, all you need is a template and a copywriter. In addition, people are more likely to respond to a piece of email marketing than they are to direct mail.

The main disadvantage? People have less patience for email marketing. Your messages need to be concise.

The next wave of prosperous start-ups are utilizing green marketing to reach new heights of marketing success.

Links with stats.

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