How deep is your coverage?


Leaflet distribution.

When discussions with a prospective new client feature postal sector coverage levels early on, experience leads me to suspect the client has suffered issues in the past.

So yet again, our independence and impartiality allows us to advise clients of just what to expect, rather than what the client thinks will happen or have been advised will take place.

Let’s make it abundantly clear from the outset, that Royal Mail door to door provides the greatest depth of coverage across the UK by far.

This quarter’s Postal Address File shows 29,762,803 households in the UK and RM D2D’s August door drop volume is 29,329,688.

Detailed information regarding the number of those homes opted out of receiving unaddressed material is not available at postal sector level and we are talking about a varying level across the UK.

Anecdotally, it’s believed the more affluent sectors have the greatest level of opt out, but in reality we are still talking tiny numbers at sector level.

And Royal Mail D2D update their sector coverage database monthly, so you can always be sure of working with the most current data.

Crucially, the remaining, individual households making up the declared coverage volumes have no reason to be omitted from a door drop, because Royal Mail has a legal responsibility to deliver addressed mail to those properties and unaddressed should be delivered as well, urban or rural.

Now, no distribution service is perfect and before team/walker distribution suppliers start pointing the finger about the reliability and accuracy of Royal Mail’s service, TLC clients will know our mantra is there is no perfect science to door drop through any final mile supplier, but Royal Mail is by far the best in our opinion.

But, given Royal Mail set the household coverage bar so high, can team/walker companies get anywhere close in terms of both planned and achieved coverage levels?

Urban possibly, rural unlikely is my best take on that.

That answer will also vary by supplier, but too commonly the client is almost expected to ask those questions at the outset, given in our experience that the answers are not always offered in advance by the final mile supplier.

As an example, I know of one team company who have a clause in their T & C’s which states they will provide a minimum of 85% coverage of every sector. So given 3,000 households as the average household content for postal sectors, up to 450 may simply not be covered? And if the client selected the sector for coverage based upon a target market density of 50%, its not beyond the bounds of possibility that only 1,050 target market households would be covered – and the drop might not produce the response expected?

And what about inner city postal sectors, heavily populated with tower blocks of flats, most commonly accessed by security controls? Can team/walker companies guarantee coverage of all these blocks?

Now to be absolutely fair, I do know of team suppliers who make very early morning starts to gain access to blocks via tradesmen’s bells. But I also know we won a local authority client a couple of years back because local councillors were complaining constantly about non receipt in wards with high density of flats. We moved the work into Royal Mail, the problem disappeared.

And what about handwritten “no junk mail” stickers? Royal Mail will ignore them, but teams in the main will adhere to them. And just how many are there on a nationwide basis?

Now let me honest, whilst as a specialist door drop agency Royal Mail D2D are far and away our largest supplier, the team network is also vitally important to us and is used on a weekly basis, most commonly for activity Royal Mail cannot accommodate.

That might be the “how soon can you/next week?” enquiries, or the drops to council ward boundaries, or maps created to meet the nearest 5/10/20K to a postcode location, possibly heavy items, or because Royal Mail bulk supply deadlines are too long for the client’s key dates and simply because Royal Mail are fully booked in the sectors required.

And of course to use our exclusive SMART-Drop service!

The point of this blog is to encourage clients to ask more questions of their team suppliers before committing their activity to them. If they only offer 85% coverage, but they actually drop 84/85% possibly not a problem to some clients – unless the residue of properties have a high density of your target market! So perhaps ask where the 85% is dropped in advance? Also ask about other coverage limitations flats, junk mail stickers etc., as further down the line when questioning coverage because of queries and issues, these may be the reasons not all households received your door drop item.

Alternatively seek guidance and ask as many questions as you like of an independent and impartial source of door drop planning and implementation!

Graham Dodd, Managing Director