Industry mounts fightback over GDPR direct mail jitters

mail 2Senior figures in the marketing industry are urging clients to wake up to the power of direct mail following Royal Mail’s admission that volumes have fallen by 6% in the past three months due to nervousness around GDPR.
In a trading update, the postal service said the fall was at the upper end of forecasts it issued in May when it said that volumes in addressed letters business would drop by 4% to 6% this year. However, the group insisted its overall business was trading in line with management’s expectations.
“Some customers remain uncertain about the application of GDPR,” Royal Mail said in a statement. “We are monitoring any potential impact closely. We continue to work with customers to find solutions for their marketing mail needs.”
In response, Judith Donovan, chair of the Strategic Mailing Partnership, told Decision Marketing that decline was in no way unexpected. She added: “But the view from the mail manufacturers is that that shock is over, normal service is bring resumed and there are many examples of exciting new ideas and users.”
Meanwhile REaD Group founder and chairman Mark Roy said that post-GDPR implementation, there has never been a better time for direct mail campaigns.
His company has been in the business for over 20 years and he insists the medium delivers “great results, grabs attention and creates closer relationships”.
Roy added: “Take it from the ICO – the highest authority – which provided guidance this year to confirm that direct mail can be used under the basis of legitimate interest under GDPR, unlike electronic communications. Brands have failed to look beyond email for too long, and now need to recalibrate their marketing channel mix. Using direct mail not only satisfies the requirements of GDPR, it also resonates with consumers who favour its unobtrusive, tactile nature.
Roy beleives that the industry is currently seeing a very confused marketplace, adding that “some brands are doing a great impersonation of the proverbial rabbit, yet we see the majority accelerating into the post-GDPR world”.
“Those that are currently sitting on their hands need to reassess their appetite for risk before their competitors start to steal their market share. GDPR being a principle-based regulation means that until legal precedents are established, companies must balance the wishes of consumers over their own before engaging – it is clear that direct mail provides very little risk when using properly permissioned data.”
Blueberry Wave director Nick Dixon added: “I don’t think that it is any great surprise that volumes have fallen given the build up to the new order in direct marketing communications. Email will see a similar decline post-GDPR and programmatic has also reportedly seen declines.
“However, in this new world it is an opportunity for marketers to break down the channel centric approach that many still adopt and to really join up the channels in a customer centric approach around preference and relevancy to deliver omnichannel communications. Direct mail will play a crucial role in this approach.”

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