GDPR and its impact on print and direct mailing

At risk of sounding like a scratched record…General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on May 25th, 2018. At time of writing, that’s a mere 14 weeks away. It sets out to harmonise data protection laws across Europe and give citizens better control of their personal data, as well as imposing stringent rules on those who host and process this data anywhere in the world. The key principles are the rights of data subjects, security of personal data, lawfulness and consent, and accountability of compliance

There’s no shortage of information about how GDPR will affect companies with online databases, and the need for consent for telephone calls, emails and texts, for example, but what about postal marketing? How is that affected? Or is it affected at all?

Unravelling legitimate interest

In the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) explanatory material it states, ‘processing of personal data for direct marketing purposes may be regarded as carried out for a legitimate interest,’ which could be read as, ‘carry on as before.’ Please note, in the first instance, that’s it’s talking about the processing of personal data, not the physical act of sending out a mailing through the post.  So where does this ‘legitimate interest’ apply?

In a nutshell, legitimate interest is defined as the use of people’s data in ways they might reasonably expect, which will have minimal impact on their privacy.  It involves a balancing act between the business interests of the organisation and the rights and freedoms of the individual. It’s important for you as a company to identify and document why you are processing personal data based on your legitimate interests, so you can show that it’s been carried out fairly and lawfully.

Compliance with the legislation for processing data for direct marketing still doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re free to send out material by post with no restrictions.

Sending direct mailing

In most cases, this requires you to:

  • Collect, store, process and share the personal data required for the mailing (names, addresses etc.) within GPPR legislation
  • Seek consent

But what if obtaining consent isn’t possible or practical? Where do you stand then? This is where legitimate interest could come in and it’s particularly relevant to charities (but not exclusively.) What if a charity wants to send out a mailshot to existing supporters informing them of upcoming events or updating them about successful projects? Here, it can reasonably be claimed that it’s in the interest of the recipients to receive the information and it doesn’t compromise their data privacy either.

As the ICO states, in answer to a recent question about mailing on behalf of charities without explicit consent (and, again, note that it will apply more generally too): ‘You can rely on legitimate interests for marketing activities if you can show how you use people’s data is proportionate, has a minimal privacy impact, and people would not be surprised or likely to object.’

SO, good news for the print and direct marketing sectors!

We all know how effective direct mail can be. You can make plans for your direct mailing initiatives without panicking about explicit consent, as long as your data processing meets the GDPR regulations and you can demonstrate the potential benefits to the end consumer. We’re ready and waiting for your call. We’re here to help, contact us on 01825 983033 or email us on info@mailingexpert.co.uk

 

Mailing Expert

 

How to Minimise Environmental Impact of Direct Mail Plastic

My goodness, it’s all over the news at the moment, isn’t it? And rightly so—how humans use so much plastic that our beloved planet is being trashed. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking, ‘What’s the point of trying to limit use of plastics? Little old me can’t make a difference to such an immense global problem.’ Here at Mailing Expert, we’re firm believers in doing what we can to protect the environment. There’s that famous quote, sometimes attributed to the Dalai Lama, but most likely an African proverb: ‘If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito!’

So, here are our mosquito bites into the flesh of unnecessary plastic use:

Direct mailing and Plastic Wrapping

Polythene wrapping mailed items is popular, especially for brochures and magazines, helping to protect products from water damage and wear and tear.  However, smaller items can be mailed plastic free, so think about using postcards, paper envelopes and one-piece mailers for your marketing; be creative and standout from the crowd.

Using “good” Alternatives

  • There are recyclable, bio, oxo-degradable, compostable and photodegradable plastics available for mailing envelopes and bags.
  • Shrink plastic film which breaks down is available, but it’s NOT truly biodegradable (yet), even if advertised as such. It is ‘degradable’—because the molecular structure doesn’t change, or, if it does, it will take decades. The best thing to do here is minimise the thickness of the film you use. (It’s worth noting here, that weight-for-weight, paper uses 100% more power in its production than plastic, so it too has an environmental impact)
  • For packaging, there’s shredded cardboard and paper, and material made from corn or potato starch. There is also biodegradable bubble wrap, with a special additive that means it only lasts for 1-2 years in landfill before being absorbed into the ground as a harmless residue.

We can offer all of these alternatives to our clients. These are great products although they do have a shorter shelf life, since they start to degrade as soon as they’re in contact with light and/or oxygen, and come at a higher cost.

We always use suppliers with excellent environmental standards

Here’s a quote from one of them: We implement a strict environmental policy which ensures that we exercise proper control over our activities, to discourage environmentally damaging and wasteful practices. As a minimum, we comply with all requirements of legislation and are always striving to achieve ever improved standards.’

This is what we look for in any company whose products we use for direct mailing, as well as adhering to very high standards ourselves.

We recycle!

Even if some plastics aren’t waste-friendly, they can be reprocessed into a form which means they can be used again for other applications which require lower grade material, such as refuse bags, fertiliser sacks, chairs, benches, tables and pallets. For this reason, we sort and recycle our plastic waste.  It’s about giving things we do a little thought. So we only use soap bars in our loos and not those dispensers (the tops are very difficult to recycle).

Why not join us?

Richard Rogers, the British architect, once said, ‘The only way forward, if we are going to improve the quality of the environment, is to get everybody involved.’

How about it?

Mailing Expert

Being Ahead of the Direct Mailing Game in the New Year

After a few glasses of good cheer and a rowdy chorus of Auld Lang Syne, New Year’s resolutions made at midnight on December 31st are almost bound to fail. Statistic show that only 8% of these resolutions are kept for more than a few days, and, as we all know, statistics are always 100% right…

NOW is a better time to be planning for next year so that we can all start January 2018 with a bang and not a whimper—especially bearing in mind that it’s only going to be a few short months until May 25th, the day that GDPR swings into action.

Certainly, for us here at Mailing Expert, our resolutions list always has this at the top: helping even more customers get the best possible results from their direct marketing. We’re keen to talk to anyone who’s interested in planning ahead, both long-standing clients, and brand new ones for whom 2018 heralds a first venture into the delights of DM.

Here are some things which could go on your list:

GDPR prepared?

How is your GDPR strategy progressing, to make sure your company will be compliant by May 25th, meeting the new law’s strict data protection principles? A case of, ‘Don’t, for goodness’ sake, leave this until the last minute!’ While it’s a straightforward process, clearly denoted in the legislation, it takes time to organise more comprehensive privacy notices, to enact the rules on obtaining consent and so on.

Clear about ROI?

There are a number of forms of direct mailing and it’s important to know which method provides better monetary value when targeting a certain demographic. Implementing up-to-date analytics tools would be a great way to start this process, so that in 2018 you will know how and where to invest your marketing budget. Segmentation—discarding the one-size-fits-all approach and pinpointing the best way to reach individual customers—will help to optimise your returns in the coming year.

Consistency across platforms

In this cyber-enabled era, people may use many ways to access information about your products and services. It’s crucial to ensure that the brand experience is consistent on a mobile phone, a tablet or PC, in emails and in flyers, letters and brochures for direct mailing. Is your messaging and imagery cohesive?

What about those competitors?

While your main focus should be on creating a unique, personalised appeal in your direct mailing campaigns, it’s still useful to analyse what your competitors are doing. This could determine if there’s a new opportunity for you to seize which will help you to achieve your marketing and sales objectives for 2018.

And finally, …rest and be thankful.

If you are taking a few days off over Christmas and the New Year, make the most of it. Reflect on your achievements in the past year and gear yourself up for new challenges in 2018. If you’ve taken time to plan ahead, you’ll be able to enjoy yourselves, secure in the knowledge that when you’re back at work, everything’s set up for a smooth transition into another busy and, we hope, successful year.

 

Mailing Expert

Christmas Last Posting Dates 2017

We are ready for Christmas 2017, are you??

Christmas will soon be here; and we at Mailing Expert understand that
sending out your mail on schedule can be crucial to your business.
To help in this see below for this year’s last posting dates
(P.S. If you need any help with your Cards, Brochures or Calendars just give us a call!!)

UK Services (Including Advertising, Business and Publishing Mail)

Thursday 17th December Economy Mail
Tuesday 19th December 2nd Class Mail
Wednesday 20th December 1st Class Mail

Also not forgetting your international family, friends and clients….

International Standard (formally Airmail)

Wednesday 6th December
Asia, Cyprus, Far East and Eastern Europe
(Excluding; Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia)

Thursday 7th December
Caribbean, Central and South America

Saturday 9th December
Greece, Australia and New Zealand

Wednesday 13th December
Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and Poland

Thursday 14th December
Canada, Finland, Sweden and USA

Friday 15th December
Austria, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway,
Slovakia, Switzerland, Portugal and Spain

Saturday 16th December
Belgium, France, Luxembourg, and Ireland

Still looking for the perfect Christmas Cards to send to you family, friends or clients?
Give us a call on 01825 983 033 or have a look at our website to
see how we can add value to your seasonal marketing.

Christmas Post

Communication Developments in the Last 20 Years

Twenty years ago, what was happening in the world? In no particular order:

  • Tony Blair won a landslide victory in the UK general election
  • Céline Dion was topping the charts with, ‘My Heart Will Go On.’
  • Hong Kong was handed over to China
  • Dolly the sheep was cloned
  • The first Harry Potter book was published

Quite a year, one way and another, and lots to be communicated. How DID we communicate news in those far off days—and how did we make contact with our clients and potential customers on a business level?

Not like that…

Well, for a start, there was no Facebook, which didn’t emerge until February 2004. Today, it’s almost mind-boggling to realise that there are 65 million business pages on Facebook, and a quarter of the world’s population engage with it. It’s a wonderful informal way of interacting with, and building, an audience, and great for encouraging people to visit your website.

We didn’t use Twitter, because it wasn’t created until March 2006. Unbelievably, just 11 years on, Twitter has more than 319 million monthly active users. For your business, it’s an instant way to build connections with a relevant audience, to strengthen your brand, promote new products and services, or simply develop relationships.

We didn’t use image-based Instagram either, to drive customer engagement and sales or impart information in a snappy way to a possible 600 million users. That’s because it wasn’t launched until October 2010. Pinterest was launched at the same time, which enables businesses to create a virtual shop front to promote their products online.

There wasn’t even LinkedIn until 2003, which, although its focus is on job opportunities, serves a valuable function for branding, marketing and sales too, with business pages. Neither were there smart phones—we had to wait for 2007 for those—so our electronic communications were very much desk-based.

…like this

Direct mail, using the postal service! There wasn’t much choice but to use this method in 1997, but it worked—and it still works today. Everyone loves to receive mail, especially if it’s personalised and looks good. You might think it’s an older generation preference, but Royal Mail has carried out a survey which shows that 15-34-year-olds are:

  • 42% more likely to find mail memorable than the UK population as a whole
  • 27% more likely to welcome it
  • 71% more likely to trust it
  • 21% more likely to switch suppliers because of mail

Not for nothing does the Royal Mail’s brochure The Private Life of Mail carry the strapline, Mail in the Home, Heart and Head. The power of Direct Mail must never be underestimated, despite the advancement of all the digital platforms of communication.

Then there was the telephone and face-to-face interaction, which of course will never go out of fashion.

Emails started life in 1965, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). They were a way of sharing files and messages for academics. In 1971, American computer programmer Ray Tomlinson, introduced the @ and in 1976, HM the Queen sent her first email. The process was still largely in the domain of academic institutes until 1988, which heralded the arrival of Microsoft Mail. The first commercial Internet Service Providers hit the scene in the early 1990s. Hotmail launched in 1996 and Yahoo Mail in 1997—twenty years ago. Smart marketers realized that email communications were the future and began to make the shift into using email to communicate with customers.

 And our conclusion is:

How lucky we are, in 2017, to have such an abundance of ways to communicate! Each method has its place: each will appeal more to a different demographic, or be more suitable for certain products and services. Things move on with exciting digital developments—but mail through the letterbox will never lose its appeal.

Mailing Expert

Does Holiday Time Mean Suspension of Marketing Initiatives?

Marketing in August? When it seems that everyone in the entire world is making sandcastles on Bognor Regis beach or sipping cocktails at sunset in Bali (apart from you)? You’d think not, wouldn’t you – unless your business involves buckets and spades, sarongs or sun tan lotion. Actually, there’s no need to stop at all, as long as we all use a little bit of common sense.

For a start…

Not everyone’s on holiday

The streets of Paris empty out in July and August when locals take their annual vacation. Shops and businesses close down for an entire month, sometimes longer – but that’s not quite the same in the UK. Most of us, if we take holidays at all, may only be away for a week or a fortnight. Even then, with the blessing (or is it a curse?) of internet technology, many business people aren’t completely out of the loop, still checking emails and responding to requests – so a carefully thought out campaign may not be the waste of time and resources you anticipated.

Know your audience. Maybe it would be better to wait until September – but maybe not. If you trade internationally, check out their holiday periods and work around them, or with them.

Use the time wisely

It’s true that the pace of business can slacken off in the summer months, so make the most of the lull in activity by planning, researching, working on marketing strategy, enhancing your SEO.

Try something new

You know you’ve always been meaning to make the time for using Twitter more, or Facebook, or LinkedIn. The summer months give you that opportunity to experiment, while there’s less to do in other areas.

Be ready for action

Like a good boy scout or girl guide, you can Be Prepared! When September comes around, (all too quickly, you’re probably thinking), you can be ready to launch a stunning campaign when your clients are all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after a break and keen to get on with the next phase of the working year.

However…

Don’t you just dread coming back from a holiday and your in-box is overflowing with a huge volume of emails and your in-tray is stuffed full of post which needs your attention? Your clients won’t be any different, so best to judge your time carefully here and avoid the first few days of September – that’s unless your marketing is so brilliant that it will shine out like a star in the gloom of too much correspondence.

Be entertaining

Yes, that must always be your aim, but never more so than when you send out material in the summer months, when people’s thoughts may already be up in the air en route to Malaga or the Maldives, rather than focusing 100% on what’s on the desk in front of them. We’ve all been there!

We’re always here to help

We’re not saying that we never take holidays, just that we plan them so you’ll always have a Mailing Expert on hand to answer queries, offer guidance and fulfill your Direct Mailing requirements.

Why not contact us on 01825 983033 or send us an email on info@mailingexpert.co.uk

Mailing Expert

Time to Spring Clean your Data?

For any direct marketing campaign you need data – people’s names and contact details – and for an effective, cost-effective initiative, the data you use must be accurate.

Out-of-date data – does it matter that much?

A great big YES in answer to that question, for a number of (quite obvious) reasons:

Using inaccurate contact details, you may:

·        Waste your time and money

·        Miss important potential clients

·        Damage your company’s reputation

·        Breach compliance with the Data Protection Act (soon to be GDPR)

·        Annoy people for whom the mailing is irrelevant

·        Distress relatives of the bereaved

Some facts about data decay

Just because you’ve lived in the same house for the last 15 years and your place of work has been at the same address since the beginning of time, it doesn’t mean that everyone else is in the same position.

According to research,[1] each year around 13% of people in the UK will move home; 300,000 will marry or have a civil ceremony, meaning they may change their surname; 600,000 will die; 200,000 will emigrate and hundreds of thousands may move to the UK.

Every year, the Royal Mail has to make about 1.25 million address changes to its Postcode Address File (PAF) – that’s more than 3000 a week. The PAF gives us access to over 29 million residential and business addresses (at the last count.)

It’s said that if you communicate with someone, there’s an alarming 20% chance that their contact information will change in some way within 30 days, and, in 5 years, if you do nothing to clean your data, you may have nothing relevant left at all in your database.

When was the last time you cleaned your data, or had it cleaned?

How we can help at Mailing Expert

We can offer you a full range of data cleaning services – which doesn’t ever involve the use of spray polish or feather dusters, by the way!

Or we can offer an audit, which determines what you need. We can hone and refine the data you wish to use for a marketing campaign to get it in the best possible shape to maximise its value. Here’s what we’d recommend:

1.     Screen against the PAF database

2.     De-duplicate – removing any records which are essentially the same

3.     ‘Goneaway’ (people who’ve moved) and bereavement screening

4.     Check against the Mailing Preference Services register – people who’ve said they don’t want to receive mailings.

Doing this will make sure you make the most of savings available of postage as well as reducing the impact of negative publicity arising from incorrectly sent mail.

Contact us for a chat on 01825 983033 or info@mailingexpert.co.uk about your data needs.

 

Mailing Expert

[1] Mycustomer.com

Millennials – Forget the Hype, Learn the Truth

What is a millennial, anyway? It seems to be one of the most common media buzzwords of the moment, particularly around General Election time, because this section of society is one which all political parties are keen to capture. In fact, there are a number of definitions of a millennial, but in general it refers to someone who was born between 1980 and 2000, which is to say, the twenty and thirty-somethings of today.

Introducing a (stereotypical) millennial

Let’s call her Tiffany (the 11th most popular name of the 1980s.) She’s a digital native – and that description means she grew up around technology – the smartphones, the iPads, the tablets, emails, texts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp… They’re second nature to her and she’s rarely to be seen without her face looking down at a small screen and her fingers moving at twice the speed of sound as she texts her Best Friend Forever.

As for marketing to engage people like Tiffany, well, it must be some form of digital communication because that’s what millennial’s prefer. Tiffany doesn’t go in for reading unless it’s Kindle, and most of her interactions with other human beings are digital.

So that’s how we must organise a market campaign targeting millennials

Forget Direct Mailing…waste of time and money. We must approach them through social media, send an email or a Tweet or link to an all-singing-all-dancing website. That’ll hook them.

WRONG!

A number of surveys have gathered evidence which shows almost the exact opposite. Here’s one from the US Postal Service[1] and we’re sure the same applies to millennia’ls in the UK.

What do millennial’s really like in a marketing campaign?

·         87% of millennial’s enjoy  receiving Direct Mail

·         Nearly 50% say they ignore digital ads but only 15% say they ignore Direct Mail

·         57% tell us they’ve made purchase based on DM offers

Yes, just like Baby Boomers – the post-war generation – they like to have something tactile and tangible which they can read at leisure and keep if they choose to. Just like Baby Boomers, their recall is 70% higher from DM to a digital ad.

So what next? Digital or Direct?

Do both! For marketing we have more platforms to choose from than ever before – and don’t we know it, constantly bombarded with digital noise which often causes us to tune out and switch off.

Direct Mailing will help your voice to be heard above that onslaught of electronic communications. It’s something we’re good at here at Mailing Expert (our name wasn’t picked out of a hat!) so please contact us 01825 983033.

 

Mailing Expert

[1] STILL RELEVANT: A look at how millennials respond to Direct Mail – USPS, 2016

When is an Envelope More than an Envelope?

No, that’s not a riddle – it’s a serious question we’re going to answer in this blog. First, be thankful we’re not living in 3500 BC (although it may feel like it sometimes!) In that era, in the Middle East, envelopes were hollow clay spheres!

It wasn’t until the 2nd century BC that paper envelopes were introduced in China. In the UK, envelopes were always handmade but in 1850, Edwin Hill and Warren De La Rue were granted a patent for an envelope-making machine. You still had to use your own glue until the 1900s, when pre-gummed envelopes were produced. You learn something new every day with Mailing Expert!

Envelopes for direct mailing today

Around 50% of people surveyed prefer to receive sales material through the post, according to ‘Reasons to love mail’ PRINT.IT, Spring 2015 – and unless you’re using postcards, that entails envelopes. Regular envelopes of all sizes, windowed envelopes, envelopes of every colour, padded envelopes…there’s a vast range of options at your disposal when you’re thinking about a direct mailing initiative. Which to choose? Does it matter? Our contention is – yes, it DOES matter, if you want to maximise the effectiveness of your campaign. Everyone spends a lot of time designing the letter, brochure or flyer that goes inside the envelope, but what’s the point of that if the envelope itself is so dull that people don’t bother to open it?

Size and Colour

If you receive lots of mail, then another A4 brown envelope or standard white DL envelope (A4 letter folded into 3 equal parts) will probably get lost in the crowd. A brightly coloured envelope, one with an attractive customised design or one that’s a non-standard size will help your mailing to stand out. Be wary, though, of sending zany mail when your message is about professional services or is B2B marketing. That may not reflect your intended first impression and may be considered unprofessional by some.

Bulk

If you’re anything like us, then something tangible inside an envelope, whether it’s a pen, coaster, bookmark or key-ring, is almost certain to pique our interest enough that we’ll definitely open it to see what’s inside. That’s worth considering, weighing up the cost of stuffing the envelope and possible additional postal charges against a greater likelihood of your message being read.

The extra personal touch

Hand-written names and addresses are more likely to attract interest as are envelopes which are stamped rather than franked. It suggests that the letter comes from a human being rather than a corporate machine. Of course, for a large-scale campaign it’s almost certainly too time-consuming, and therefore not cost-effective. We have the facility to print multiple names and addresses automatically and there is font that looks very like handwriting as a compromise measure.

Ease of opening

You may laugh but it has been shown to be a factor in the success of direct mailing campaigns. You know how annoying it is when you buy something and have to battle with packaging – well, to a lesser extent, the same applies to envelopes. Busy people simply won’t bother if it’s too much of a chore.

Any questions?

We think we’ve covered everything, but if you don’t agree, just ask. Every mailing initiative, every group of intended recipients is different, and careful thought needs to go into the best approach – including the envelope. We can help you with those choices at Mailing Expert.

 

Mailing Expert

Up Close and Personal Mailshots

In an earlier blog, we delved into the world of mailshots and the value of creating unmissable mail moments for your clients and potential customers – which is exactly what we’re so good at, here at Mailing Expert, without wishing to blow our own trumpet too loudly. (But doing it anyway!)

For your mail shot to be noticed and read – well, that’s what you want, isn’t it? – there are certain measures you have to take. How else will your DM campaign be an effective means of promoting your product or services – and cost-effective too? We’re here to help you get your messages noticed and your deals considered.

Looking good?

When you’re designing your mailshot, whether it’s a letter, postcard or flyer, think about who it is that you want to engage and design it accordingly. It’s important to know your audience. Are they young mothers? Silver surfers? Professionals? City dwellers? Undertake some research into the sort of aesthetics that will appeal. That might sound like stereotyping but, in reality, it makes marketing sense. If it’s relevant to whoever you’re targeting then they’re more likely to read it.

If you don’t feel confident enough to create something in-house then you could make use of our professional design and printing services.

The personal touch

Are you more likely to read something that’s addressed to you by name or something generic? There’s really only one answer to that question and at Mailing Expert we have the means to personalise each item you send out with the customer’s name. Be careful, though, to make sure whatever you send is genuinely relevant to that person and sent at an appropriate time. It will backfire badly and make your company look sloppy if it’s a poorly targeted mailshot.

Words matter

Be brief. It’s strange to say, maybe, but thinking up a few choice words and a snappy headline actually takes a lot longer than writing great chunks of text. It’s worth the time taken – every minute of it. Directness, a dynamic central message and clear instructions about how to proceed if someone is interested are crucial. People are always busy these days. If a piece of writing takes too long to process, guess what?…it will be discarded.

Be warm and engaging. It’s a great way to start building a relationship with someone, or consolidate an existing relationship. Think about humour and edginess, if that fits in with the personality of your brand.

Tried and Tested

Don’t just get your mailshot printed and sent off without testing it out on colleagues or people you know from the relevant demographic. Far better to tinker a bit with design and wording before it’s too late. Above all, proofread and proofread again. There’s nothing more calculated to give the wrong impression about your company and the significance it places on attention to detail than a mailshot which has spelling mistakes, words missed out and apostrophes where apostrophes shouldn’t be.

Value for money

Follow all these suggestions and your mailshot will reap rewards for your company, tempting new customers and impressing others. Your name and brand will be out there and remembered for all the right reasons for a long time to come.

Contact us on 01825 983033 if you’d like our help.

Mailing Expert