Why Do I Get Junk Mail?

Everything from your Twitter feed to news channels is full of clutter. Your mailbox is no different these days. Most of the time, you may wonder why am I even getting this mail? You might also feel anguished at the amount of paper wasted on such needless mail. The mailbox may have letters addressed to you, but it is hardly relevant to your needs. Let’s take a look at why do you get junk mail and from where does your junk mail come

Image of a mailbox filled with junk mail
American households receive an average of 1184 pieces of junk mail every year.

Most of your junk mail comes from big corporations such as banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, charity organizations, real estate companies, retailers, and grocery stores. Physical mail is expensive. It can cost a business around 40 cents/mail for a simple letter and envelope. If the mail has sophisticated designs or thicker paper quality, the cost of sending a mail can be as high as $10. In 2017, the USPS reported a mail volume of 150 billion. You can do the math (40 cents x 150 billion) yourself to see how much marketing dollars are spent by big corporations to spam your mailbox.

The first reason you get junk mail is that information about you is sold to businesses

Although your mail may seem spam to you, businesses do try to send targeted mail. As soon as your new baby comes home, your mailbox may start overflowing with discount offers from baby stores and brands. Similarly, a retirement may bring you many offers from financial planning agents, cruise lines, and even mortuaries! So, how businesses know about your life events? 

Before the junk mail arrives at your mailbox, businesses go through numerous processes and decisions before choosing the mail recipients’ final list. They create elaborate data models to predict whether or not you will respond to their mail. These models use data from third-party data providers such as credit bureaus. 

Let’s take a look at an example to understand how junk mail works. When someone has just bought a new home, they start getting advertisement mail from furniture retailers or internet service providers. Businesses first get the move-in and move-out data from USPS or other data providers. Then, they use that data point to target prospects in their next direct mail campaign. That’s how people suddenly start receiving an avalanche of discount coupons for home appliances, furniture, or decor as soon as they move into a new apartment. Some excellent discount offers in the mail might even get us thrilled, but a few very of us ever end up purchasing the product or service.

What these businesses don’t know before sending the advertising mail is whether you are planning to buy new furniture or whether you plan to use the furniture from your previous apartment. A lot of us even decide to purchase furniture locally using websites such as a Facebook marketplace. All these behavioral factors are unknown to businesses. Therefore, typically less than 1% of users respond to marketing mails. In other words, 99% of the mail is trashed without the receiver taking any action.

The second reason you get junk mail is geo-targeted mail

Sometimes businesses don’t rely on data specific to an individual house to send the mailpiece. They target the entire zip code. For example, real estate companies tend to send mailers based on geographical zip codes. You will notice these mailpieces are generally addressed as “To our neighbors at.” Unfortunately, there is not a great way to stop geo-targeted mail. Our postal system doesn’t allow us to opt-out of such communications. However, you can most definitely recycle such mail.

Why do businesses send junk mail even when it’s expensive?

The math works out for them. The profit margin for most businesses is such that even if 1% of the mail recipients take the desired action, the companies make a profit. Some companies realize that profit immediately with a single purchase, and some companies realize that profit over multiple years. For example, if you get a mail from a retailer selling apparel and make a purchase due to that mail piece, the retailer may not realize their profit immediately. They will encourage you to come back for multiple apparel purchases and make money as you begin purchasing more apparel. 

You can opt-out of junk mail

There are ways to stop junk mail. Refer to our guide on how to opt-out of junk mail.
6-step Guide: How To Opt Out Of Junk Mail .

What if you don’t want junk mail and still not miss out on great offers?

We created the Mailrt app precisely for that. Opting out of junk mail can bar you from receiving discounts you may need in the future. Wouldn’t it be great to choose which mail offers you want and redeem these offers digitally? Moreover, you could earn cash rewards for proactively saving trees. 

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