The news that the Electoral Commission is trying to prevent full access to the electoral roll is clearly bad for direct marketing, but it is hardly surprising. The industry has abused the electoral roll for years, bombarding hapless consumers with untargeted offers and causing such resentment that many have chosen to opt out already.
In this industry you reap what you sow, so perhaps it is time to name and shame those companies that churn out millions of pieces of direct mail, knowing that a response rate of below one per cent will be enough to keep their business going.
These companies (and they know who they are) are ruining it for everyone else, as has been proved by the potential withdrawal of available personal data by the Electoral Commission, and by the increasing number of people choosing to take advantage of opt-out preferences for post or telephone (PPS and TPS).
This is a crying shame, as it is no longer cost-prohibitive to mail to a large database; there are plenty of recent case studies showing an excellent return on investment from a targeted mailing campaign. If consumers receive an offer they are actually interested in, they are far more likely to respond.
Senior vice-president of marketing
Birmingham, West Midlands