Direct Mail Systems

Direct Mail Systems provides tailored, flexible and effective mailing house solutions to meet clients needs, and exceed their expectations.

Founded in 1974, Direct Mail Systems is a Bristol based fulfilment and mailing house, providing organisations access to a complete range of mailing and data processing services.

Direct Mail Systems expertise is in rapid response mail production. Our 12,000 sq ft mailing house facility has a huge range of printing, enclosing & wrapping equipment to accommodate all your mailing needs.

Direct Mail is a longstanding, effective marketing strategy used by businesses around the world. It offers an opportunity to directly connect to the customer, delivering a business right into their hands. Whilst direct mail is a great tool for companies to implement, there are a few things to take into consideration first - one of these being The General Data Protection Regulation or GPRR. In this blog post, we will explain everything you need to know about direct mail and GDPR and how Direct Mail Systems can support you in ensuring your direct mail is GDPR compliant.


The Power of Direct Mail 

Direct mail is a traditional advertising and marketing strategy used by businesses that involves sending mail in the form of catalogues, mail shots, letters and more, directly to a targeted consumer. Direct mail relies on a range of demographic data such as location, income and age, to deliver mail to a market segment likely to engage with and receive the business’ promotional or advertising tool, well. 

Despite the marketing environment seeming to transition to and favour a much more digital environment, with the likes of email marketing and social media growing in popularity as a marketing channel, direct mail continues to prove successful. Direct mail has shown a 19% improvement in email marketing return on investment (ROI), generating 112% ROI with direct mail using letter-sized envelopes. In the last 10 years, direct mail volumes have grown by 87% despite this shifting landscape. In fact, when compared to email marketing, both open and read rates of direct mail outperform those of email marketing, by 3-4 times more. For this reason, it is more important than ever that businesses are utilising direct mail as an effective marketing channel. 

Privacy Issues with Direct Mail 

As we have discovered, direct mail is an extremely effective and successful tool, however, there are a few things to take into consideration when opting for direct mail, and a key one of these is privacy issues. 

If not executed properly, direct mail can seem intrusive to the customer. A heightened focus and concern for data protection means customers are more vigilant than ever about how their personal information is being used. The outlook could impact the customer’s perception of your brand image and reputation. In light of serious data breaches and personal information being mishandled, there is a growing privacy concern, meaning customers can feel apprehensive about sharing information for direct mail services. 

Ensuring compliance with all data protection laws and regulations is the best way to put your customers’ minds at ease and successfully use direct mail within your business. 

What is GDPR? 

The 2018 Data Protection Act, is the UK’s implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). GDPR, controls how businesses and organisations use personal data and information. This act ensures that data follows the ‘data protection principles’, some of which are:

  • Use fairly, lawfully and transparently 
  • Use for specified, explicit purposes 
  • Handle in a way that ensures appropriate security 

GDPR also provides you with rights such as knowledge of how your data is being used, being able to stop or restrict the processing of your data and have data erased. 

What Does GDPR Mean for Direct Mail? 

As previously mentioned, ensuring compliance with GDPR is key for direct mail, given the nature of this tool. In this next section, we aim to answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding GDPR and what it means for direct mail. 

1. Do You Need Explicit Consent to Send Direct Mail?

Article 6 of GDPR sets out six lawful bases for processing data, and whilst explicit consent is one option for businesses’ compliance with GDPR, the other is a legitimate interest. The ICO states that postal marketing does not require consent, however, if the customers’ name is being used on a flyer or letter you must have a lawful basis for using this personal data. 

2. What is Legitimate Interest? 

GDPR sets out legitimate interests as the following: 

“The processing is necessary for your legitimate interests or the legitimate interests of a third party unless there is a good reason to protect the individual's personal data which overrides those legitimate interests.”

In terms of direct mail, it is believed to carry legitimate interest, as outlined by Recital 47 of the GDPR and the ICO. 

3. Can You Still Send Unaddressed Mail?

Unaddressed mail, with the address as ‘The Homeowner’ or ‘The Occupier’ can still be sent as a form of direct mail. It is only personally addressed mail that can be prevented by the MPS if sent by member companies of the Data & Marketing Association (DMA) or reputable companies. 

4. How to Ensure GDPR-Compliant Direct Mail?

Ensuring your direct mail is compliant with GDPR is critical, and can be achieved through the following steps. 

  • Understanding the lawful bases your company is working under
  • Keep a record of your legitimate interests assessment to show your compliance if and when this is needed 
  • Obtain consent where necessary 
  • Provide transparency of data usage with customers 
  • Regularly review and update practices 

5. What are the Benefits of Complying with GDPR? 

By complying with GDPR in direct mail, your business is showing its commitment to protecting your customers’ privacy rights, providing those individuals with a greater level of trust. It is further beneficial to avoid any financial or legal consequences that could come from non-compliance with GDPR. 

GDPR compliance is the best way to engage in direct mail with confidence, knowing your business is acting in a responsible manner. 

6. What Happens If You Don't Comply with GDPR?

When a business does not comply with GDPR protection principles, the ICO has the power to take action for any breaches. Depending on the level of these breaches it can result in assessment notices, warnings, reprimands, enforcement notices and penalty notices. When there is a case of a serious breach, significant fines can be issued. 

7. What Other Regulations are there for Direct Mail?

Other regulations that direct mail should follow in order to comply with postal regulations include: 

  • Allowing opt-outs for recipients: this option should be clearly included in every mail sent out. 
  • Verify addresses: before direct mail is sent out, in particular those that include personal information, the addresses must be verified. 
  • Obtain consent: Whilst obtaining consent is not a requirement for direct mail, it is a recommended step, as it can help avoid customer complaints or legal issues. 

Sending GDPR Compliant Direct Mail with DMS

At DMS, we take GDPR-compliant mail seriously. DMS has a commitment to complying with GDPR, operating in the best practice possible, and only keeping and processing data for specific and lawful purposes. 

We can help your business with GDPR compliance. Thanks to our data processing department we can help you with the following: 

  • Identifying and removing duplicate records
  • Updating your address data to match Royal Mail's PAF (Postal Address File)
  • Comparing your data to industry suppression lists
  • Gone Aways
  • Deceased
  • NCOA (National Change of Address)
  • MPS (Mailing Preference Service)

Get in touch and get a free quote today to begin your business’ journey to GDPR compliance.

Enquire with Direct Mail Systems today

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