For the first time in a decade, the proportion of adults registering to vote who opt-out from having data used for marketing purposes has fallen.

This is the first reversal of a trend which has seen increases since 2003 when consumers were first allowed to exercise their right.

  • The overall average opt-out rate on the current Edited Electoral Role (EER) stands at 45% – compared to 46% last year.
  • The EER is used by marketers for targeting, profiling and validation … so the softening of opt-out rates is likely to be welcomed.

The finding is based on an analysis of 98% of rolls completed by Callcredit Information Group.

Chris Savage, Managing Director at Callcredit’s marketing solutions division stated “The Edited Electoral Roll continues to play a vital part in the direct marketing world of today.  The good news is that the opt-out rate is plateauing.  But it is still at a significantly high level, which continues to concern us both as a business and as an industry”.

So what does ‘opt-out’ mean?

In many places it means that the council has pre-ticked the form based on preivous years, or in the case of phone registration, encouraged the voter to opt-out.  In both cases it is unlikely that the voter has given any real consideration as to whether or not they want to receive direct mail.

As a result there are large regional variations which does make it difficult for marketers to target direct mail campaigns.

But maybe the real issue for marketers is how to get customers (and prospects) to share enough about themselves and thereby ensure that the offer is what they want … and that comes down to a question of trust and responsibility.  Once that is achieved then we could well see a further decline in the opt-out rate.