”Green” technology is surging in popularity. The clean tech news site Greentech Media launched at the beginning of this month, while the top two semiconductor makers last week unveiled processors that use less electricity. Digital marketers, too, utilize green campaigns, and touting this fact could enhance their brands. And ads placed on digital media, of course, use no paper. By conserving energy and trees, email and SMS campaigns are just as ”green” as they are ”digital.”
The data centers that generate digital marketing campaigns are getting ever greener. Intel and AMD both unveiled multi-core processors that have the power of four chips on a single processor, so servers will require less power to do the same, or more, work. Computer servers, such as the kind that are used to store database marketing information like email addresses, phone numbers and demographics, as a whole are becoming energy-efficient: Sun proclaimed its new data center will cut the company’s yearly electric bill by $1.1 million, while Hewlett-Packard said its Dynamic Smart Cooling system could reduce server energy and maintenance costs by up to 45 percent. Once such energy-saving technologies are in place, less power will be needed to launch and sustain digital campaigns.
More obviously, digital campaigns save paper. Banks and billing companies are getting their customers to go paperless (paving the way for targeted marketing messages), while businesses can now send sales promotions directly to cell phones. Saving paper that otherwise would have gone into billing statements and coupons could result in monetary savings as well: Print media ads costs advertisers $65 billion annually, according to the Sustainable Advertising Partnership.
Alone, mobile phone coupons – sales promotions that are sent to consumers’ phones via SMS or mobile internet campaigns – have ”the potential to save billions of dollars in paper and printing costs,” the San Francisco Chronicle recently reported. Thus, such coupons will be easier on the environment as well as a company’s marketing budget, especially over the next few years. According to the newspaper, JupiterResearch says 2 percent of cell phone customers have tried such coupons in the past year, and that figure will rise to 8 percent in the next year.
Billing statements have already largely been transitioned online, giving consumers the ability to view their current status as well as pay any outstanding invoices. Increasingly, such statements are being sent via email and, in some instances, SMS to remind consumers of payments as well as notify them to an overdue balance. Javelin Strategy & Research predicts a major environmental savings if all paper statements in the United States were eliminated: Some 2.3 million tons of wood, or 16.5 billion trees, would be spared, and fuel consumption would be reduced by 26 million BTUs – the same amount of energy it takes to provide a year of electricity to the city of San Francisco. Soon U.S. consumers will have the option to pay bills via SMS, while such mobile payments are already common in Africa and Asia.
An added benefit of SMS bill-paying is that companies could then use consumers’ cell phone and demographic information to send out targeted ads, if consumers opt-in to receive such messages. Same goes for online bill-paying, since customers could opt-in to get targeted emails. Thus, companies can leverage green tech payment options to both decrease their environmental footprint as well as increase potential marketing data.
Consumers and governments alike are concerned about conservation issues. Even the least environmentally-conscious company should keep these concerns in mind, especially when it comes to its own reputation. Digital marketing technology helps save energy and resources. Marketers who engage in digital ”green” campaigns can easily appeal to conservationist sensibilities – an added branding benefit of online, email, and SMS promotions.
Eydie Cubarrubia, Marketing Communications Manager