Disclaimer! We are not lawyers. This section is not professional legal advice. Do not take our word for it. Even if we sound certain. The legislation is in continuous flux and some areas are routinely misunderstood. Direct mail legals are simpler than those for electronic comms, but still need to be navigated.
Direct Mail & GDPR
The long and short of GDPR v Direct Mail: you don’t need consent, but you do need to be able to show that there is a legitimate interest.
Once upon a long time ago in a direct conversation with the ICO, we asked what legitimate interest meant. The very helpful lady on the other end of the phone said:
Look, basically they shouldn’t be surprised to get whatever it is you’re sending them.
Determine Legit’ Interest
This is a bit gnarly, but we start by:
- being clear on the benefits to the consumer and to the business of the communication;
- considering if there’s any harm or distress going to come to the consumer on receipt of your mail;
- targeting, profiling and segmenting for the most responsive audience;
- screening against the MPS, even when sending B2B (lots of businesses work from home);
- making it easy to opt-out. Block anyone who has opted out very carefully.
In short – be nice, and if in doubt, ask Compliance, the lawyers or call the ICO directly. Between the three you should be able to cover your back for most direct mail legals.
MPS – Mailing Preference Service
In the UK the direct mail industry has set up preference services to give consumers the option to have their names and home addresses removed from most mail marketing lists. You can buy access to this database and update your records daily, connect to third-party APIs to do it for you, or use a service like ours where it’s built-in.
A few things to keep in mind about MPS:
- MPS records include names and addresses – A.Person registers to not receive mail at 1 Address, SW1Y 5EA.
- It can take a long time for a name to appear on the list and to propagate around list providers, caution (4 months is quoted in MPS’ FAQ).
- MPS is only for B2C suppression, not B2B.
MPS is a voluntary thing as opposed to a legal one, so be extra nice with your direct mail and respect it. Our clients tend to take the highest ground possible and block any address on the MPS register, ignoring the name component and just using the postcode.
At the time of writing, an annual license to the MPS is under £1500+VAT per annum.