DMA Door Drop Review – Part 1

by Graham Dodd on 28/06/2019

Last week, the DMA released the 2019 Door Drop Industry Report, which reflects on the 2018 market volumes, spend and weight.

If you would welcome sight of the report, please contact Graham, Neal or Cigdem for a copy.

In this review, we take a look at GDPR and its impact on the industry since its inception. In a couple of weeks we will review volume, once our 6 month internal analysis of activity in 2019 is available.

The facts, according to the report, are that annual volume has again fallen, albeit a minimal decrease, with the report once again citing improved targeting as a primary reason for volume decline.

But within the report’s introduction there is an interesting paragraph :

“The latest figures for 2018 were expected, by some commentators, to be the first signs of growth for the door drop industry after the implementation of the GDPR. The results did not quite live up to this promise, but the positive signs are clearly there as long-term trends indicate door drops are close to a turning point and the new laws offering an opportunity for the media to become a key part of any multichannel marketing strategy.”

The results did not quite live up to this promise, is true to a degree in my opinion, but, in our extensive experience, that is undoubtedly variable by client.

At TLC we are lucky enough to work with any number of savvy clients, many of whom have increased annual volumes, but have also helped anyone when approached, to understand GDPR and door drop – which through postcode unit targeting is exempt from GDPR.

Scarily however, we have also come across scores of clients whose lack of understanding has stopped them using door drops either as an existing medium or possibly as a new option to replace personally addressed direct mail, email and SMS, which were all “threatened” by the introduction of GDPR.

Within those clients was one well known charity, who announced they were ceasing all acquisition activity because of GDPR, including door drops!

At the heart of the problem was the humble postcode unit.

Many people simply did not understand that a postcode unit is NOT a single address. It’s a cluster on average of 15 households sharing that postcode unit.

So profiling your existing database to determine MOSAIC primary, secondary and even tertiary target markets, by using customer/donor/member/subscriber postcode units is legal and achievable, because it’s not personal data.

But, has the door drop industry accepted the targeting challenge (and opportunity) and upped its game to offer clients new targeting opportunities – generally no, apart from TLC of course!

The door drop industry and the DMA were, more than a decade ago, heralding targeting as the future and its true to say that postal sector planning has become the norm for most clients in one form or another.

But 10 years later, dependent upon where you shop for door drop services, not much has changed, because postal sector is still the norm.

Postal sector should and will continue as a key element of targeting, but the industry should have moved on, upping its game and improving its offerings.

We launched SMART-Drop in 2010 as a sub sector targeting opportunity, with final mile distribution completed on a solus basis through teams, or alongside a then burgeoning free newspaper industry, although some publishers could not see the wood for the trees, partly based upon advice given to them by third parties.

As free newspaper coverage across the UK declined, we introduced Yellshare as an alternative, leaflets distributed alongside Yellow Pages directories, sadly no longer with us.

But it is true to say that whether solus or free newspapers (still used on a week to week basis by our clients), or Yellshare, the concept worked and delivered measurable returns.

Yet other door drop suppliers claim sub sector targeting does not work and dismiss the concept in an era where clients rank targeting as one of the highest must have’s in media selection.

If first stage targeting has been completed effectively, how can eliminating households deemed as wastage not work?

Yet again, the annual industry report suggests targeting contributes to declining volumes, yet most door drop suppliers are unable or unwilling to further improve the service offered by the medium on a nationwide basis, at a time when fighting all things digital for client spend has never been more important.

There is a general clamour within the “print industry” to fight digital. LinkedIn is full of it from a wide range of sources.

The annual report was sent out with the somewhat negative comment “Contrary to what most people think, specifically digital natives, door drops are versatile, effective, and are really doing well”, yet the majority of the industry cannot supply the level of targeting its client base may welcome to test opportunities.

If you are one of those clients and your current supplier claims sub sector does not work, please make contact with us – we can help!

This article was written by...

– who has written 67 posts on Letterbox Consultancy for Door Drop Marketing.

Graham Dodd is the founder of The Letterbox Consultancy - he has over 40 years of experience in the door drop industry and remains at the forefront of innovation in the business.

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