Why Direct Mail Might Be the Solution to Privacy Concerns

In the past few years, consumers have grown increasingly concerned about privacy. Research shows 92% of consumers are worried about their personal information being misused online. 

The mounting concern has sparked new legislation. GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, for instance, is a massive piece of legislation in Europe aimed at protecting consumer privacy. While the law originated across the pond, experts believe it’s only a matter of time before similar legislation is passed in the U.S.  

Under the legislation, marketers can no longer collect, store, and utilize customer data to send targeted campaigns—unless they have a “lawful reason” to do so. For many brands, that translates into getting a customer’s consent before sending marketing materials.

But, here’s a little known fact. Direct mail marketing is a GDPR anomaly. Direct mail doesn’t require the same consent. In other words, you can send direct mail without having customers opt-in.

No consent needed? Really?

Really. The law doesn’t require marketers to get consent before sending direct mail campaigns. Instead, direct mail marketers can lawfully engage with customers and their personal information based on what that law calls “legitimate interest.”

If, for example, a customer pays an accountant to handle their taxes every year, it stands to reason that the customer would have a legitimate interest in a discount for tax services or information about new tax software.

Since direct mail has fewer regulations, more marketers use it. 

Direct mail might be a more GDPR-friendly marketing tool, but brands realize that it’s not the only answer. GDPR is really about focusing on best practices regarding consumer privacy, which explains why companies are getting consent from customers even if they don’t need it. 

Why some brands are getting consent anyway

Even though companies can lawfully send direct mail to customers with legitimate interest, some brands still get consent from their customers with varying tactics like online forms and QR-coded business cards that deliver customers to a mobile consent page. Why?

In a digital age where transparency seems lacking, many companies see the pursuit of consent as a trust-building crusade.

GDPR and other privacy legislation force marketers to follow guidelines that should be followed anyway. 

Privacy concerns present an opportunity to communicate openly with your customers, gain their trust, and deepen relationships. 

GDPR and direct mail: Tips you can use

GDPR might be a little less stringent in the direct marketing world, but there are still a few things you should know before sending your next brochure or postcard. Here are some tips:

Get legal involved early

Marketers tend to create a campaign and run it by legal before sending it out, but GDPR forces marketing and legal departments to collaborate. Get legal involved in the planning stages. Whether you want to send an email, direct mail, or text, make sure you can create the campaign you want without failing GDPR compliance by working with your legal team.

Personalize your campaigns

Contacting legitimately interested customers comes with a certain level of expectation. If customers know about your business and have formed opinions about it, you have to respond with tailored messages that encourage interested customers to act. Personalization is the key. Gather data, segment lists, and create targeted messages for each group.

Use direct mail to get consent for email marketing

You can use direct mail as a tool to collect consent for other digital forms of marketing like email. Send customers a postcard with a special promotion for an eBook or webinar, for example. When customers go to the landing page, include a request for consent for direct marketing.

It’s time to reevaluate your practices to ensure consumer privacy is a priority.

Picture of Lisa McEwen

Lisa McEwen

As Shawmut's Marketing Coordinator, Lisa McEwen helps educate clients about the possibilities of print.

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