Partially Addressed and Fully Compliant

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November 2018 saw the launch of a new trial by Royal Mail for partially addressed direct mail. Currently the trial is set to end 31 March 2020 and if you haven’t already, we’d urge you to take a closer look. To help you understand the benefits we have put together the following article.

What is Partially Addressed Mail?

Partially Addressed Mail is direct mail for advertisers who are prospecting for new business. It identifies potential customers but does not contain any personal data of the recipient, yet remains targeted using geo-demographics.

Similar to advertising mail, but with lower costs, it bridges the gap between addressed mail and door drops. It is GDPR compliant and offers a great solution for those with concerns in this area.

Partially addressed identifies households rather than individuals. Under GDPR you are allowed to target individual postcodes using household profiles whereas door drop targeting identifies groups of households only using the postcode district.

This mailing method uses existing client data to profile potential new customers, so there’s no need to buy in personal data. Royal Mail are offering significant cost savings on the postage too, at 4p per item less for letters and 2p per item less for large letters which works out to around a 20% saving against addressed mail. Combine these cost savings with an estimated 30% more reach for the same budget spend and that makes partially addressed an option that simply cannot be ignored.

How is it Targeted?

Targeting starts with your existing customer postcodes rather than using third party information. These postcodes are analysed and the data used for the following processes.

Topping up

Where there are multiple existing customers in the same postcode area (there’s an average of 15 households per postcode) it can be assumed that the demographics are good for further customers. The areas containing the highest number of existing postcodes are then ‘topped up’ – meaning the remaining households in the postcode are collected as key prospects.


Using geo demographic profiling software, postcodes with similar characteristics to your existing postcodes are identified and collected as warm prospects to add to your mailing list.

Combining both the methods above creates a highly targeted way to find new customers. Existing customers are removed from the databases along with those who have opted out of advertising mailings and any postcodes that contain only a single household. Lists are further screened to remove personal data from any other parts of the address, such as the house name for example.

Addressing your mailing

Once you have your targets, you need to consider the collective name you will use instead of the personalisation. A collective name can add personality to a campaign, inform the recipient and affirm your brand identity. You can still make your mailer personal without using personal data.

Avoid the temptation to use ‘The Occupier’, it might be easy but its not going to add any benefit at all and might in fact make it appear less personal. Think about the contents of your mailer, you can hint at this in your name, for example ‘Pet Lover’, ‘Classic Car Enthusiast’ Or ‘Furniture Fan’. For a lighter hearted approach you might want to try names such as ‘The One in Charge’, ‘Gaming Superstar’ or ‘Fashion Guru’. By adding a well thought out name you are adding warmth and relevance that will help to build interest and ensure the mailer is opened and read.

You might also want to consider trying different collective names and tracking the response rates of the variants of each mailing.

GDPR Compliant

Under GDPR “explicit consent” or “opt ins” aren’t compulsory for direct mail but “legitimate interest” is. Legitimate interest is a legal standard used by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) and is somewhat flexible and it’s this flexibility that can lead to confusion.

Whilst in theory many direct mailings might often be allowed under “legitimate interest’ what about the moral implications? There’s something to be said for a softer approach that doesn’t overstep any unwelcome boundaries with people who you hope will become your customers. Partially addressed mail is that softer approach.

Royal Mail Compliance

To ensure compliance all partially addressed mail has to carry a declaration message such as “No personal data about recipients has been used in the creation of this mailing”. The correct postage format must also used; Mailmark or 1400/High Sort, according to the Royal Mail guidelines.

Privacy and suppressions must be in place and it is recommended that they be managed under a documented internal procedure. The mailing Preference Service should be used at household level and PAF must be used to remove single house postcodes or addresses that contain personal data. A sample of the mailing must also be submitted to Royal Mail ensure all of the requirements are met.

Arcane can take you and your data through the key stages to ensure you are provided with a final mailing that is targeted to your campaign and fully compliant not only with GDPR but also with the criteria specified by Royal Mail.


Partially Addressed Mail offers an excellent opportunity to expand on your marketing activity, with the following key benefits:

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