Survey: Inaccurate Data Lead to Mail Waste

The average business could be wasting more than $180,000 a year by sending out direct mail that is not relevant or does not reach the intended recipient due to inaccurate data, according to research commissioned by QAS, a Boston-based address management solutions provider.

The survey found that the average annual cost of returned mail alone was more than $9,000 per company. The research also found that recipients return mail they consider irrelevant approximately 5% of the time. According to the study, business professionals receive more than 2,400 pieces of mail a year that are correctly addressed to them but that they consider irrelevant to their jobs.

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

Only 44% of the global businesses surveyed could cite a figure for the amount of mail they send each year, and a mere 12% 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 brands. It also means they are not getting a true view of the success of their communications.

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