OPINION: Thinkpiece - Think email to combat direct mail wastage

Robert Gray highlighted the environmental consequences of direct mail campaigns (Third Sector, 8 October), but the obvious solution was overlooked. Email generates zero post-consumer waste. Moreover, it's fast proving to be a more effective method of communication. According to CAF: "Where comparisons can be made, e-marketing is three to four times more successful in conversion rates than other traditional forms of marketing." Email enables you to communicate with your supporters in real time, personalise content and monitor results immediately - all at a fraction of the cost of DM. The rapidity of delivery and response means an appeal can be launched in the morning, reach your supporters by lunchtime and generate funds by the afternoon.

MSF UK's first email marketing campaign, using Justgiving Mail, attracted a 39 per cent response rate. Compare this with the average response rate to DM, which, according to The Direct Mail Information Service, is 7.7 per cent.

Services like Justgiving Mail are easy to use and keep costs to a minimum.

Subscription and unsubscription requests are managed automatically and a database segmentation facility enables you to target specific demographics extremely accurately, with no technological expertise.

Nobody suggests email can replace DM immediately, or entirely. It takes time to build a database of email addresses. But it is time well spent, illustrating a commitment to environmental responsibility, progressive marketing techniques and fulfilment of the duty to use donors' money wisely.

Twenty years from now, post will be an archaic communication tool. Email is already the medium of choice for younger people. Charities must embrace the revolution. James Grieve is media officer at Justgiving.com

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