‘Every Door Direct’ Not for Every Mailbox

For approximately the past year, the U.S. Postal Service has offered an innovative program called “Every Door Direct” that is designed to convince more small businesses to use direct mail for household geo-targeting. I love it. While social and mobile are all the rage—so, too, is “local”—and direct mail marketing, among other channels, is a powerhouse for local advertising. Mail pieces may be addressed to “Our Neighbors at Fill-in-the-Address”—as are some of the offers I receive from larger mailers—but “Every Door Direct” mail is relevant to me since, for the most part, they represent businesses close to home, in the neighborhood where I do 90 percent of my shopping.

For approximately the past year, the U.S. Postal Service has offered an innovative program called “Every Door Direct” that is designed to convince more small businesses to use direct mail for household geo-targeting.

I love it. While social and mobile are all the rage—so, too, is “local”—and direct mail marketing, among other channels, is a powerhouse for local advertising. Mail pieces may be addressed to “Our Neighbors at Fill-in-the-Address”—as are some of the offers I receive from larger mailers—but “Every Door Direct” mail is relevant to me since, for the most part, they represent businesses close to home, in the neighborhood where I do 90 percent of my shopping. Thus, I receive it, I read it, and I make an informed decision what to do with the information. (And my take-out menu drawer is filling up.)

Now, that’s my opinion.

Some people don’t want to receive direct mail at home. These individuals may turn to the Direct Marketing Association’s long-standing and free consumer service DMAchoice (formerly the Mail Preference Service) to indicate a preference not to receive direct mail offers from companies and organizations. Consumers, by using DMAchoice, can choose to turn off most all their direct mail at once (some of us call this the “nuclear” option), or by mail category (credit card offers, catalogs, magazine offers, for example), or by single companies and organizations by name. It really works well.

From the marketers’ perspective, DMAchoice saves money—mail is not sent to those persons who have chosen not to receive it. DMAchoice also provides mailers with a “resident/occupant” suppression option when using the all-categories opt-out portion of the file. By subscribing to DMAchoice (which is available to both DMA members and non-members) and its resident/occupant suppress option, mailers can prevent in advance resident/occupant mail from being sent to any consumer who has signed up for the off-all-lists option. To implement the resident/occupant mail suppression, DMAchoice relies on letter carriers, according to their route, to actually handle the non-delivery so each consumer’s choice can be honored. (Typically, the letter carrier has a printed list of suppressed addresses along the daily route which tells the carrier which addresses to skip delivery of the resident/occupant mail piece.)

National mailers who use resident/occupant mail (also known as Saturation Mail) have been using this suppression capability for years. Now the Postal Service is using Every Door Direct to make it easy for local businesses to “one-stop” shop and distribute direct mail pieces by local geography. Except there’s one important component now missing from this “one stop”—honoring previously expressed consumer choices to not receive mail.

A solution is on its way for local mailers who use this USPS program.

Discussions are underway that would enable DMAchoice to be accessed and used by local printers who support Every Door Direct across the country. Thus, these printers, who apply an address on each Every Door Direct mail piece on behalf of the local advertiser, could use DMAchoice to honor consumer choice to opt out at an address-specific level before the printing even takes place, or to provide the “do not deliver” request to the local post office. It may take some time to work through all the details of how this will be executed, but the commitment is there, wisely, to honor consumer choice.

Certainly, the Postal Service is very much aware of how important it is to honor “do not mail” preferences of consumers. It’s good for advertisers, too. (By the way, 2012 marks the 41st anniversary of DMA’s consumer suppression file.) I only wish Every Door Direct had been designed to have available name suppression such as DMAchoice applied up front. Just because it’s easy to toss a direct mail piece in the trash or recycling bin, doesn’t mean “every door” of Every Door Direct should be delivered. That will be remedied shortly.