UK mailing list abuse has quadrupled since 2001
The misuse and abuse of marketing lists in the United Kingdom has quadrupled since 2001, presenting a serious warning signal for list owners that they need to more effectively police the use of their data, according to an annual study from data value management firm DQM Group.
In particular, the 'Associations & Societies' sector has climbed up from second place to be the new worst offender of all the sectors analysed, while 2006's top offender (Utilities) has cleaned up its act and no longer features in the worst offenders' category at all.
Best and worst The other main offenders are Advertising, Conference & Exhibitions, Public Relations, and Charities (which have been one of the most compliant sectors the year before). Sectors that have improved their standards of adherence to licence terms are Security, Sales Promotion, Retail, Telecoms, Travel, and Recruitment.
Data abuse is a rapidly growing problem in the UK, the company warns. In both the private and public sectors, there have been many major security breaches involving consumers' personal data, and this kind of data abuse is having a disproportionate affect on consumers' perceptions.
Searching for quality But the availability of high quality lists for marketing campaigns is an increasing challenge for marketers, particularly in Europe and the US where anti-junkmail legislation is being taken to extremes. Opt-out lists have increased dramatically while available names from the electoral register have declined, and mandatory restrictions - for telephone marketing at least - have now crept into the B2B marketing sphere too.
DQM warns that the misuse of lists reduces response rates and increases consumer dissatisfaction with direct mail, with the key problems coming from "over-marketing" and the use of out-of-date information. Perhaps not surprisingly, response rates to direct mail campaigns have fallen in the past two reported years, putting further pressure on marketers to find high-performing lists to achieve their goals.
Good lists kept secret? According to Adrian Gregory, managing director for DQM Group, "Effective DM relies on the availability of high quality lists. But if list owners continue to experience a rise in abuse as charted by the DQM Group's List Abuse Index, some will decide not to market their data assets, they will encounter rising levels of opt-out, and marketers will find it increasingly difficult to obtain good quality data."
The aim of the annual survey, which tracks thousands of list purchases and usages each year, is to highlight the scale of the problem of list abuse, and its implications for effective direct mail campaigns. As Gregory concluded: "Abuse of marketing lists is no longer a simple issue for data owners around lost revenues. They need to be much more concerned about potential brand damage and the broader negative impact this is having on consumers' perceptions of direct mail."