Being green can be a plus for marketers. For instance, converting mail to email helps the environment, but also has a number of practical marketing benefits. Customers can take immediate action or forward email offers to friends; you, meanwhile, reduce costs, see quicker results, and gather the information you need to improve subsequent campaigns. "There will always be a place for direct mail," says Chris Lovejoy in an article at MarketingProfs. "However, if you look closely at the type and frequency of [the] printed pieces…you…[send], [your company] can easily identify…items that would be a good fit [for] the email realm."

According to Lovejoy, the switchover takes some time, and entails converting your direct mail list to permission-based subscriptions. He offers a couple of tips to ease the process:

Start by including a URL address in direct mail campaigns that outline your reasons for going online, why it's better for the customer, and the date by which a recipient must act to stay in the loop.

Encourage enrollment with incentives. "This could be a discount on a future purchase," he says, "points or miles in a loyalty program, VIP access within your website, early announcement of discounts or special … offers tailored exclusively for [subscribers]."

The Po!nt: Being green can pay off. "[A] greener marketing program can result in … significant cost savings in the direct mail channel," notes Lovejoy, "[and] will show your customers that you are a responsible advertiser … trying to make the world just a little better."

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