Is Direct Mail's Growth Due To Less Regulation After GDPR?

Although social mobile video was announced as the clear winner in yesterday's AA/WARC UK ad-spend figures, there was another story to pick out. No -- not the fact that print is still having an extremely difficult time, but rather, direct mail.

I have to admit the channel has dropped off my radar a little because digital marketing is obviously all the rage. When there are influencers, Facebook and Google to talk about -- not to mention programmatic and transparency battles -- old-fashioned stamps and envelopes can seem a little, well, old-fashioned.

However, the latest figures show that direct mail grew by nearly 6% in third-quarter 2017 compared to the same period the year before. So it's growing faster than radio -- which was just a fraction lower -- but nowhere near the growth in mobile marketing because, quite simply, nothing is. 

So in the growing nicely category, rather than continued meteoric rise, direct mail is doing pretty well.

I recently did some research around the channel, and there's quite a lot to be said for it. It is increasingly triggered by sophisticated CRM systems that know where we are in a sales or renewal process, and so is a lot more targeted than in the past -- and there is research out there that says consumers tend to remember what lands on their doormat more than their inbox. 

That aside, I think there's another reason to keep direct mail on everyone's proverbial radar -- regulation. 

As with any form of personal information, our names and addresses are to be protected by GDPR. However, there is an interesting point to remember about mail -- it isn't electronic. It isn't subject to the PECR rules on marketing and it won't be subject to the ePrivacy Regulation that will replace the existing law in a year or two. The latter was supposed to become law at the same time as GDPR, but it got held up.

I'm not sure whether direct mail's near 6% year-on-year lift is due to this consideration. Are marketers more likely to use direct mail because once they are compliant, there are no further hoops to jump through?

I'm honestly not sure, but I'd say it has to help. A list that is compliant by May 25th and that will remain compliant afterwards without being be subject to further privacy regulations has got to be appealing, hasn't it?

When you add the extra features direct mail services are now offering, such as being tied in to CRM platforms and being more data-driven and better targeted, you begin to see that direct mail may well have a renaissance over the next year or so.

It's not going to spring forward like mobile marketing, but I think there's going to be enough growth to suggest we all still keep half an eye on it. 

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