Don’t take away the electoral roll

David Arrowsmith’s bemoaning of direct marketing response rates of “below one per cent” left me astounded and more than a little confused (MW July 25). If we really are getting it so wrong, is the &£2.2bn direct mail industry a mere figment of my imagination?

While I agree that those who send out untargeted mailings are tarnishing the industry’s reputation, these businesses are in the minority. As with so many other industries, the many are now being penalised for the actions of the few. What is important to stress is that, by denying access to the electoral roll, the Electoral Commission is making it harder for those mailers who have a real interest in protecting their brand and maintaining an effective customer relationship to clean their mailing lists and databases.

The ruling will not dissuade companies from mailing consumers. It has simply removed the most cost-effective (if not the most accurate) means of validating a person’s correct address. The result will be a huge upsurge in even more poorly targeted direct mail. Correct me if I am wrong, but this is the very reason that the British public has such an irrational hatred of direct mail.

Are sub-one per cent response rates good enough? Based on the continued growth of the industry, and positive returns on investment, it would seem so. Would we like to do it better? Of course – and we continue to strive to do so.

It seems that Mr Arrowsmith’s previous experience in the financial services sector – the most prominent purveyor of direct mail – has left him embittered towards the direct mailing industry. I fear that the results of denying businesses full access to the electoral roll will serve only to infuriate him further.

Mark Roy

Group managing director

The REaD Group



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