According to Our Records, You Should Be Ready to Buy Just About… Now!

With all the talk about “Big Data” you’d think that directing personalized and targeted mail to the right people at the right time requires a room full of analysts and engineers to accomplish. It’s not true.

While some organizations use mountains of data to promote products before customers even know they want them, most direct mail marketers can realize huge improvements in response and conversions by making simple adjustments that make their messaging more intelligent.

To make direct mail more effective, marketers must understand their audiences and have a clear vision of their desired outcomes. General messaging with non-specific calls to action don’t work nearly as well as personalized, targeted and well-timed messages.


Marketers can usually group prospective customers in the target audience into segments. Each segment may receive a different offer or be presented with relevant messages and graphical elements. The segmentation criteria will depend on the marketer’s business and what they are selling. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

A retailer with brick-and-mortar stores may promote in-store specials or events to customers within a reasonable driving distance of a store. Distant customers unlikely to visit a store in person might receive a mail piece emphasizing online shopping and include a discount code to encourage them to try ordering via the e-commerce web site.

In another case, the featured items in catalogs sent to customers with pre-school age children would be different than products directed at families with elementary school students. Middle school and high school households would see product information appropriate for older students. Grandparents might see products popular as gifts.

Marketers have been segmenting lists for decades, but digital printing technology and the availability of data today make it cost-effective to define more segments. Within a list segment, marketers can further improve direct mail performance by personalizing the content. Today’s personalization strategies far exceed the old practice of plugging the customer’s name into the message body.  Assuming the data is available, text and images might reference past purchases, customer loyalty or other details unique to individual customers.


Direct mail that arrives at the right time can enjoy fantastic responses, but the power of implementing even the simplest time-based segmentation is often overlooked.

A house painting company could easily calculate when houses in a new development would be ready for re-painting and send their marketing material to those neighborhoods where homeowners are most likely thinking about painting their homes.

A roofing company, knowing hailstorms occur every spring, could spend the winter getting their creative material ready. At springtime, television and newspaper reports will pinpoint the areas suffering the worst hail damage. When the roofer provides their print services vendor with the target locations, discount coupons can arrive at the affected homes a few days after the storm.

To generate repeat business for any company, customer buying history will tell a business when customers that purchased in the past will be ready for replacements or maintenance services. If blenders usually last three years, then sending information on the new product line to owners of three-year-old blenders is likely to have a better response than promoting a sale on blenders to the entire list.

Marketers have more opportunities to fine-tune their campaigns today than in the past, with little increase in cost. Try adding some intelligence to direct mail and enjoy better returns.

To speak to EarthColor’s in-house experts on this topic and more, contact us today.


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