Complaints increase against charity direct mail

Complaints increase against charity direct mail

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Charities have traditionally been big spenders on Direct Mail but complaints are on the rise so it now represents a challenge for all not-for-profits.

Marketing Week has reported this month (June) on the rise of complaints, stating that complaints against charities using addressed Direct Mail are on the increase. Charities are experiencing an increase in the number of complaints being made against them as a result of using direct mail strategies. The average complaint rate (a figure reached by dividing the amount of complaints by the fundraising volume) inched up to 0.0005 during the past year, climbing from 0.0002 during 2012. The total number of complaints against charities who use addressed Direct Mail rose to 16,966, an increase of 36% year on year.

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While the rise in complaints must be of concern, it is also a challenge to charities to make their direct mail and marketing more effective. The report does not specify the reasons for the complaints.

One response would be to review the marketing mix. Charities value the fact that a well written direct mail can turn an emotional response into an action. Print has much greater longevity than digital marketing, so charities will want to retain this valuable aspect of their marketing activities. However, digital also opens up many other options in addition to their direct mail services.

Leading homeless charity Shelter is running a campaign on the stations in the London Underground, asking for donations via SMS, as part of its “More Homes Now” initiative. Opting for an integrated approach, the campaign uses escalators at the stations, with moving digital panels designed to elicit a response. The Shelter head of direct marketing, Matt Goody, said the material would show young children amid poor housing conditions, and make a plea for donations via text.

Matt Goody explained that an effective charitable campaign meant utilising all the possible resources, and integrating different approaches to maximise the results. The “More Homes Now” campaign on the London Underground combines digital panels designed to grab attention on the escalators with fund-raisers waiting at the top, ready to hand out leaflets. Fusing traditional methods with more innovative ideas is at the heart of their recent initiative.

Another route for charities is to explore even further the possibilities of increased personalisation. Technology and data are combining to create even more closely targeted direct mail.

Finally, data cleansing is essential and may be the real culprit when it comes to complaints. Using up-to-date data and ensuring it complies with the Mailing Preference Service are just two simple steps that will help ensure not only that there is no cause for complaint, but also that the mailshot is effective.

Image Credit: Judith E. Bell

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