GDPR may secure direct mail’s position in advertising mix

Direct mail is enjoying a renaissance according to recent figures and the arrival of GDPR will only reinforce its place within advertising budgets… as long as companies comply with the new regulations. A period of grace is expected whilst companies adjust, but how long or lenient this will be is not known. After that, hefty fines are expected along with damaged reputations.

The third largest media channel in the UK after online and TV, direct mail advertising spend increased almost 6% year on year during the third quarter of 2017, reports the Advertising Association and WARC. Nearly 40% of adults buy or order something after reading direct mail and 87% of people keep some mail for longer than one month (IPA TouchPoints).

GDPR will have ramifications for all sectors, from public health and councils to manufacturing and financial services. Close tabs will be kept on the advertising industry, along with everyone else, but where direct mail is concerned, the outlook is bright as long as companies:

  • Are completely open about how data is acquired, stored, used and disposed of;
  • Ensure there is a legal and legitimate basis to process personal data;
  • Have tools in place to securely process data and keep it safe against unauthorised use or accidental loss;
  • Provide an audit trail to ensure disputes can be dealt with effectively;
  • Make it easy for consumers to update their data or remove it entirely. It must be as easy for people to withdraw their consent as it was for them to give it.

Although some areas of advertising – email and telemarketing – will inevitably be detrimentally impacted by the fact that specific and unambiguous consent is needed, the rules are different for direct mail. Direct mail remains an opt-out media where consent is not required but legitimate interest may be argued. So brands do not need consent for postal marketing if they can use legitimate interest, but businesses will have to make a considered case.

When it comes to your current database, collection and use of data for marketing purposes such as names and addresses falls under consent already obtained from previous marketing. So if data has already been legitimately collected from direct response, the compliance has been met.

Sensible steps should of course be taken to ensure GDPR compliance is met. Auditing mailing lists and revisiting existing consents is a good example, and this will create opportunity for targeted marketing campaigns that better engage audiences with brand. If there are any ambiguities, companies should establish a new lawful basis for processing the data, get new consent, or stop processing the personal data in question. Consider screening your data against the Mailing Preference Service

Moving forward, companies do need to give clear information on what will be done with personal information. Consumers can opt out of being profiled according to their interests, and of course, if they opt out at any stage, make sure they are excluded from future marketing campaigns.

Larger companies and those whose processing is not occasional need to actually prove that they are complying, which means records need to be maintained that detail processing activities, breaches, obtainment of contents and more.

“GDPR is all about transparency for the end consumer and this sits well with our own ethos at Griffin Media Solutions,” explains Gildas Walton, chief executive. “As an agency we are always transparent with our clients, highlighting exactly how we can help them grow their businesses and visibly dealing with any negative issues that crop up. GDPR offers our clients the chance to increase consumer trust and we are working with them to make sure that this translates into revenue.”

Please get in touch to hear what Griffin Media Solutions could do for your business (tel 0845 643 8470).

Written by Natasha Wills