How can you prove my door drop has taken place?

by Graham Dodd on 31/08/2017

A common and understandable question, to which there are numerous answers!

How can new users in particular, be assured their door drop items have arrived at their selected households, within the agreed distribution window?

The answers vary by final mile supplier and while some disciplines are clear cut, others are less clear; and sometimes confusing.

So let’s look at what the industry provides :

Royal Mail door to door

No verification at all.

There is a general level of trust that employed postal staff will deliver your promotional material within the agreed timescales, but you will receive no formal confirmation that has happened.

If you subsequently raise a distribution query, it will be fully investigated and a report sent back to you, but that may only consist of a declaration that distribution was completed as planned.


The service provides 1% telephone backchecking on the overall directory volume (3,580 checks on Bristol’s 358,000 distribution) with every individual route checked upon each distributor’s confirmation of completion.

To avoid administrative overload, checks are not automatically supplied, but can be made available upon request, particularly in relation to an address query.

Free newspapers 

A mixed situation.

Some years ago, ABC deemed checking for leaflets distributed alongside free titles no longer essential. Some publishers immediately ceased as a cost saving exercise, others continued.

Their telephone checking procedure is generally sequenced, so not every postal sector is checked each week and not every delivery round within any selected sector is covered. So whilst there may be a weekly cycle, it might not cover all or even any of your selected areas, so a full answer to any query may not be possible.

Teams (solus or shared)

This is where it becomes really confusing!

It’s our policy to use a final mile supplier we believe best suited to facilitate any individual brief, anywhere in the UK and that means using a wide range of companies.

With that comes a myriad of checking solutions.

Some only provide “observed checks” – which means an Area Manager or team leader will watch distributors delivering your leaflets and record some addresses as proof of distribution.

Others complete face to face interviews where residents are interviewed on their doorstep about receipt of an item, with addresses again recorded.

And then there are those companies who don’t provide any backchecks, but provide tracking.

Some only provide vehicle tracking, which in our view has limited value.

It’s highly unlikely that there is any need for a vehicle to physically drive up every close and cul de sac in the distribution area and if such tracks are designed to prove complete distribution, it’s questionable proof in our opinion.

Distributor tracking has more value, but in our experience is still not a perfect system and does not necessarily guarantee any client “full” distribution.

We have historically experienced signal problems both in inner cities where high rise flats have made signals bounce, or very rural areas where signals simply may not exist.

And tracking can only ever be overlaid onto the company’s distribution plan.

Some distribution companies’ contracts state their coverage of sectors may only perhaps be 85% as an example, so not every road is even planned for coverage – though clients do not always realise that.

As an example, teams may not cover roads/country lanes etc., which do not have pavements on Health & Safety grounds.

To be fair, they are most likely to be roads Royal Mail postal staff only ever cover by bike or van, so there is a logic to their omission.

Teams in inner cities do not always cover high rise flats where security doors may prevent access outside of tradesmen’s bells hours – but tracks might suggest they “were present” at the locations.

So at best, distributor tracking may be an accurate record of coverage, but only to the area the distribution company planned to cover, which may not be all roads in a postal sector.

And when you ask to see backchecking results if there is a query, they may need to be provided to you with residents’ names, house and/or telephone numbers blanked out to conform to the Data Protection Act – for any distribution option.

Some systems may provide additional checking to help answer queries, but, that may also be limited when considering the time gap between actual distribution and the query being raised.

Also note that the historical “industry standard” for checking was only .25% of the distribution volume – 2 or 3 checks for every 1,000 leaflets – so you are not necessarily not ever going to receive mountains of checks.

At TLC, we have a verification policy which offers clients solutions to what some might consider industry shortcomings.

It’s something that has become part of the norm for many of our existing clients and in some instances is even written into long term contracts.

As your door drop provider, TLC would present you with these options and explain how the solutions will be presented following distribution.

But always consider, even on control cells where perfect, 100% distribution is guaranteed, consumer recall will suggest distribution was anything but perfect!

That said, we operate a strict queries and complaints procedure and will fully investigate any queries or negative findings within the verification procedures that we offer.

If you would like more details, please don’t hesitate to contact Graham or Neal at any time.

This article was written by...

– who has written 82 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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