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7 reasons postal marketing can help small businesses thrive in the GDPR age

6 min read

28 November 2018

Deputy Editor, Business Advice

Since the GDPR began to be enforced in May 2018, consumers have been given more control than ever before over the communications they receive and which brands can market to them. For many small businesses, the online marketing space is now wrapped in uncertainty. Is it time to rethink mail?

The data discussion has already had a clear impact on consumers – only 3% of the British population have “no concerns” about sharing their personal information. Despite the challenges this poses to UK business owners and marketers, the GDPR provides a watershed moment for brands to put data control and transparency at the core of their values. Nonetheless, many entrepreneurs are unclear how to approach marketing in this new world.

Mail marketing has created opportunities for businesses to reach consumers safely, with effective results that can’t be won digitally.

7 benefits of postal marketing in a GDPR world

1) You may not need consent for postal marketing

The data protection conversation has centered around one key concept – consent. The ICO – UK’s GDPR watchdog – explicitly states that “you won’t need consent for postal marketing”, as long as legitimate interest can be demonstrated.

It gives mail marketing, and the businesses which use it, a potential advantage over electronic communications. The ICO’s guidance on the GDPR states that consent depends on a positive opt-in by a consumer. Many business owners are unsure of what they can do with customer data they have already collected.

Postal marketing is giving small companies a more flexible way to reach existing and potential customers without pressing the reset button on their existing data lists.

2) Operate in a settled legal framework

With mail, you have the confidence of knowing you are operating within a secure and settled legal framework, with the GDPR now in place. Whereas in 2019, possibly 2020, the new ePrivacy Regulation may demand a further rethink of digital strategies.

3) Post is more effective than email

Postal marketing already boasts benefits over digital communications, such as email. Not only does postal marketing earn better response rates than digital (US Data & Marketing Association Response Rate Report 2017), consumers understand that mail takes more effort than an email, and it sends a message that a business values them.

DMA research has also found that physical mail stays in the home for an average of seven days in the UK, while 27% stays for over four weeks. At a time when small businesses are struggling to appear on social media news feeds, this is valuable visibility for your promotional material.

4) The trust benefit

Physical mail can make stronger personal connections than online communications. According to research conducted by Royal Mail MarketReach and Kantar TNS 2017, 87% of people find addressed mail believable and trustworthy, compared to 48% for email. Seven in ten people also think better of the company sending it.

Meanwhile, recent YouGov research revealed that badly targeted online adverts lead to distrust in brands. Half of consumers claim to have received marketing not relevant to their interests, while over a third have been targeted with offers in areas they don’t reside in.

Using the largest volume of UK addresses and postcodes available alongside up-to-date contact and change of address data, Royal Mail can help you to maintain clean customer contact and address data for better marketing, sales and service.

5) Cost-effective

With Royal Mail, a postal marketing budget from as little as £500 (+VAT) can reach around 8,000 households, which makes it one of the quickest and most affordable ways to reach a high number of potential customers.

In comparison, social media channels are becoming a more expensive place for small companies to advertise.

6) Direct access to your customers

After decades of digital footprints, it’s hard to track down a consumer to one email address. However, your customers are likely to have just one postal address, meaning you know your campaigns are reaching the desired target.

If your business is geographical, door drops can be delivered without personal identifiable data as an effective way to drive sales – 90% of Royal Mail door drop campaigns generate an increase in new customers (Source: Royal Mail, Door drop entries, DMA Awards Meta Analysis, 2012-2016). You can target nationally, or by distance to your business.

7) The capabilities of postal marketing have changed

Royal Mail has created the Mail Made Easy service to enable entrepreneurs to partner with an approved mail marketing partner. They can help to develop a strategy that meets your unique business needs, whether it’s addressed mail, targeted door drops or catalogues to loyal customers. An expert partner will advise on design, print and delivery to help your campaign succeed.

Mail has kept up with technological change and is better equipped than ever to help small business owners achieve their marketing goals.

For all you need to know about mail marketing and how it can generate sales for your business, see how the Royal Mail Mail Made Easy service can help.