Study: Irrelevant mail wastes more than $180,000 annually

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As a result of inaccurate data, the average business could be wasting more than $180,000 per year by sending out direct mail that is not relevant or does not reach the intended recipient, according to findings from global data quality research commissioned by QAS, an Experian company.

The survey, conducted by Britain-based independent research organization Dynamic Markets found that the average annual cost of returned mail was more than $9,000 per company.

QAS, Cambridge, MA, commissioned Dynamic Markets to conduct the research in June 2006.

The research found that recipients return mail they consider irrelevant approximately five percent of the time. For every piece of mail returned, 20 pieces are thrown away, which means businesses could be wasting as much as $180,000 per year on unwanted mail.

The research also identified that business professionals receive a high volume of this unwanted mail. Globally, the average business professional receives over 2,400 pieces of mail per year that are correctly addressed to them but considered irrelevant to their jobs.

In the United States, the figure is below the global average, but U.S. business professionals still receive approximately 1,500 pieces of unwanted mail per person annually. Additionally, U.S. professionals each year receive more than 280 pieces of mail per person that are intended for previous employees.

Only 44 percent of the global businesses surveyed could cite a figure for the amount of mail sent per year, and 12 percent could estimate the cost of their returned business-to-business mail. Because so few businesses monitor the volume of mail sent or returned, they have no real insight into how much money is wasted or the potential damage done to their brand reputations. It also means they are not getting an accurate view of their communications' success.

Global respondents were asked to rank the industry sectors that send the highest volumes of unwanted mail. Promotional gifts (37 percent), retail (35 percent) and publications (34 percent) were listed as the worst offenders. Alternatively, mail from business service organizations (25 percent), financial services companies (21 percent) and corporate event organizers (15 percent) was regarded as more relevant to the recipient businesses.

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