GERMANY – On September 1st 2009 the new direct mail opt-in law goes into effect in Germany.  This new law has caused the entire European marketing and data industries to become concerned – similar laws could soon come to the UK. Although the new changes don’t prevent direct mail marketing literature from being sent to potential customers, it will nevertheless restrict businesses from sending it out to the same mass audiences as they have been used to.


The Debate Has Begun

This new law has no effect on direct marketing in the UK currently. Still, debates have begun on websites which discuss whether or not it is a foregone conclusion that all email and direct mail will soon be required to conform to a stricter opt-in policy than is currently enforced. We’d like to contribute to the debate by offering a few points on this issue.

According to, one person in the marketing and data field, Peter McCormick, co founder and general manager of ExactTarget, feels that the new law is of no concern to organizations whose communications philosophy has the customer at heart. He feels that by having stricter opt-in laws marketers would be guaranteed to only contact warm prospects who were interested in their products and therefore would be more likely to respond.

Cost is a Built-In Incentive For Mailing List Accuracy

While it is generally true that most people don’t want to be flooded with unwanted ‘junk mail’ there is the general idea that out of quantity comes quality. Let’s face it, businesses do have an incentive to use quality mailing lists when sending out direct mail. Each piece costs money and too many dups and too many duds can hammer your ROI. By using an accurate mailing list marketers already have a built-in incentive to make sure their marketing dollar is not wasted.

Direct Mail to Cold Prospects Reaches New Customers

Another point in favor of mass mailing is that without reaching brand new cold contacts, there is no expansion or reach into new territory. Direct mail to cold prospects is an effective way to reach brand new customers who would otherwise not be mailed to if businesses were to only send mailings to ‘warm’ prospects.

Businesses Are Already Required To Remove Names From Mailing Lists

Still, if some prospects absolutely object to receiving unsolicited direct mail, then it would most likely be a waste of money to send a mass mailing to them anyway because they would find it so objectionable that it is unlikely that they would respond to an offer. Most businesses who have any direct mail experience at all have received requests to be removed from future mailings and Postal regulations are already in effect that require this. So it works both ways – the customer is happy and the marketer is happy.

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