Why does my door drop volume keep changing?

by Graham Dodd on 04/03/2019

A commonly asked question by clients, particularly those who repeat the same door drop coverage within weeks/months of their last drop.

There are a number of reasons, which can vary by final mile supplier.

From both a Royal Mail door to door and team distribution perspective, new builds are an obvious change.

Once new housing developments are fully land registered and the roads within the development providing access are completely adopted, coverage can commence.

Our solus figures are based upon quarterly updates from the Postal Address File (PAF), so there can sometimes be a slight disconnect between planning volumes and actual property counts come the time of distribution.

Royal Mail door to door provide us with a monthly update on postal sector allocations, which tends to be a more accurate reflection of their coverage levels.

But, postal sector geography is also subject to change, whether that be whole sector identities, boundary changes or postal walk re-allocations.

Another not so obvious reason for minor Royal Mail D2D changes, is households opting out of receiving unaddressed promotional material, or perhaps more pertinently, not renewing their opt out!

The system allows any UK household to opt out, but registration only lasts for 2 years after which any household has to re-register.

So if from drop to drop a sector count increases in single digits, there’s every chance householders simply have not re-registered.

Or the original registrant has moved house and the new occupants, unaware of the registration, only begin to receive door drop activity when the registration expires.

When tendering for public sector work, where 100% coverage is the holy grail, explaining opt out is not impossible, but its not possible to quantify the scale in any area, because the detail is data protected.

My best guestimate is c. 500,000 households nationally, if you subtract the number of Royal Mail D2D coverage households from the number of households on the current PAF file.

Royal Mail currently service 9,358 postal sectors across the UK, so an average of c. 53 households per sector, though I strongly suspect that will be variable across the UK for any number of reasons, with demography certainly one.

Simply based upon historical interrogation of postal sector coverage households versus actual households when working on client schedules, I’d suggest sectors in leafy suburbs will have a higher opt out rate than inner city sectors.

But as a consumer if you are thinking about opting out, be aware its an all or nothing scheme, you cannot be selective in receipt.

That’s led to some interesting debates over the years about what constitutes “junk”!

Fast food leaflets have been door dropped in tens of millions over the years and whilst not to everyone’s taste, you cannot eliminate them and still receive your local council magazine.

We know of angry councillors complaining that they did not receive a council communication and whilst delighted at being able to advise it was because they are registered as an opt out, in some cases it also appears to have encouraged them to opt back in!

Royal Mail D2D activity can be booked up to 13 months in advance, so planned versus actual households will always change, albeit slightly, during the lifetime of a long term contract.

Accordingly, we always encourage clients to deliver a small amount of surplus stock to final mile suppliers to enable them to pick up additional properties and avoid unnecessary gaps where possible.

So alleged non coverage of any households on door drop campaigns is not necessarily a quality problem, there may be a very logical reason.

This article was written by...

– who has written 77 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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