As we all know, last year GDPR made it illegal for marketers to contact cold prospects where legitimate consent could not be proven. Brands who previously relied upon sending mail to bought-in lists in order to acquire customers were forced to dramatically rethink their marketing strategy. Some reverted to untargeted, less responsive door drops, others redirected their marketing spend to other communication channels entirely for fear of prosecution by the ICO.

However on October 5th 2018 Royal Mail sent a letter to customers titled Trial of a new advertising mail service: Royal Mail Partially Addressed Mail™. The letter introduces Partially Addressed Mail as a new way to identify and communicate with prospects. The product promises 165x greater targeting than door drops while keeping marketers on the compliant side of GDPR. Royal Mail is offering steep discounts of 2p – 4p per item to incentivise the adoption of the product which has been well received by mail producers. The Software Bureau are excited to announce support for Partially Addressed Mail as part of the Cygnus data processing suite, with the addition of an acquisition data generation module (Conjure) and the associated postal sortation itself.

“It’s our belief that post-GDPR, Partially Addressed Mail (PAM) will be a valuable acquisition tool for many marketers.  The ability to identify ‘lookalike’ prospects using postcode level geodemographic analysis or simply gathering neighbour data to target; will allow marketers to gain easy access to the PAM service and maintain acquisition targets”

Martin Rides, Managing Director, The Software Bureau

What is Partially Addressed Mail?

The idea behind Partially Addressed Mail is to use existing contact data to identify a geo-demographic profile of existing customer households, then use this profile to send a non-personalised mailing to the remaining households within the same postcode (c. 15 households). The rationale of this approach being recipients closely matching a customer are more likely to be receptive to a marketing offer compared with a general blanket approach. Royal Mail provides compelling data to demonstrate the effectiveness of Partially Addressed Mail. When compared to door drops, the engagement rate climbs from 72% to 86% and 50% fewer items are immediately recycled too.

Partially Addressed Mail vs Door Drops

Source: Royal Mail Partially Addressed Mail, Sales Presenter

The Opportunity

Partially Addressed Mail provides a welcomed option for marketers who have previously benefited from the high engagement and response rates of quality direct mail. The product is set to fill the GDPR-induced chasm which currently exists between targeted, personalised direct mail sent to individuals and generic, door-drops blanketing entire towns. Mail producers & media agencies should be educating marketers about the benefits and proven results associated with Partially Addressed Mail and promoting what is an all too rare gem of positive news and innovation from the industry.

“Mailing Houses and Media agencies should include PAM as part of their value proposition, to ensure marketers understand the opportunities from Mail, both personalised and unpersonalised.  Marketing agencies will no doubt bring their creative flare to executions that result in ‘standout’ doormat packs and have the results to back up their investment too”

Martin Rides, Managing Director, The Software Bureau

Comparative Illustration

Royal Mail offer the below comparative illustration which suggests 38% more households could be reached with the same budget using Partially Addressed Mail than with compliant cold acquisition data. Moreover, for many mail users actually finding sufficient quantities of compliant cold acquisition data post GDPR is no easy feat. Partially Addressed Mail removes all data acquisition costs and with the postage discount of 4p per piece mailings could credibly offer discounts exceeding 30% of the costs of traditional cold acquisition campaigns.

PAM Comparison

Source: Royal Mail Partially Addressed Mail, Sales Presenter

Implementing Partially Addressed Mail: Topping Up and Look-a-likes

There are two methods of creating a file for a Partially Addressed Mail campaign, the top-up method and the look-a-like method.

Topping up involves targeting postcodes for which the mail sender already has known customers. The look-a-like method can increase the coverage of a partially addressed mail campaign using data profiling geodem products such as Mosaic or Cameo to identify postcodes which have a similar profile to those from which the mail sender already has known customers. Royal Mail encourage mail users to combine both methods for maximum coverage and targeting.


Royal Mail has published the criteria for Partially Addressed Mail and how to qualify for the 2p – 4p discounts which can be found at the Royal Mail website and as part of a sales presentation. To comply there is a minimum volume of 10k pieces and there must be no personalisation featured with mailings. Mailing pieces should use a stand-in addressee such as The Occupier, The Holidaymaker or similar and must also feature a compliance statement confirming no personal data is used in the mailing.

Compliance with PAM

Source: Royal Mail Partially Addressed Mail, Sales Presenter


Partially Addressed Mail in Cygnus

Cygnus makes it simple to capitalise on the opportunity presented by Partially Addressed Mail. The new Conjure module allows users to upload a list of named customers and quickly choose to target individual postcodes or postal sectors. Conjure automatically suppresses the named contacts and derives the Partially Addressed Mail compliant households associated with those existing customers.

Find Out More about Cygnus

Are you a mail producer, data bureau or data controller interested in Partially Addressed Mail? Register for a demonstration of Cygnus and the Conjure module. You can also download a fully functional evaluation copy of Cygnus here.