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Ways to Segment Your Direct Mail Lists

Direct mail targeting is a hugely invaluable technique to all types of businesses for a host of different reasons. For starters, it’s incredibly efficient – rather than hoping to design that perfect message that appeals to as many people as possible (which, spoiler alert, doesn’t exist), you can design multiple messages laser-focused on core groups of people. Research has suggested that this technique has become incredibly popular, as evidenced by the 4.3% increased spend in targeted segmentation in 2015 alone.

More than that, direct mail targeting can be a great way to anchor your entire campaign together. It’s the entry point into the world of your business for a lot of people and, when executed properly, can be the single silver bullet you need to boost the overall effectiveness of ALL your omnichannel efforts.

As always, effective targeting with direct mail will require you to keep a few core things in mind.

The Geography Factor

The most essential way to divvy up your direct mailing is also one of the most important – use geography to your advantage. Don’t be afraid to go as “local” as possible, particularly if your business only operates in a few core geographic areas. As an exercise, think about things on a country-wide scale. If you were marketing your product or service to someone in New York City, what changes would you make versus the way you might market to someone in the middle of Kansas? In truth you would make A LOT of changes, because where people are from goes a long way towards shaping the type of people they will become.

Separating your list based on geography also gives you the ability to develop a much more personal, intimate connection with people. You can start to speak to people on a one-to-one level, letting them know that you’re a local business and taking action is as simple as hopping in the car and taking a short drive. All of this won’t just help you reach the people who are the most likely to shop at your business, but it’ll go a long way towards establishing yourself as the LOCAL source for their needs that you truly are. You’ll instantly have an advantage over your larger, national competitors.

Going local also lets you embrace things like coupons and other timed promotions and you can even tie in with local events or holidays. Anything that you can use to give yourself a leg up on the competition will be much needed moving forward.

Demographics Are Critical

The only more important way to divvy up your direct mailing than geography has to do with the demographics of the people you’re trying to reach. Based on things like age, gender, income and even ethnicity, you can start to zero in on certain choices that will allow you to appeal to one group in particular.

Take age, for example. You would never try to market to a 60-year-old and a 20-year-old in the same way. They lead very different lives and have very different experiences – they’re just coming at life from two completely different angles. Likewise, it’s hard to get a millennial and a baby boomer to agree on just about anything (as the demographic breakdowns of just about any Presidential election go a long way towards proving), so trying to kill “two birds with one stone” would just be a waste of time and money.

Think about your target audience in terms like these. What do you have to do to effectively reach a 35-year-old single mother that makes $30,000 a year versus a successful businessman with a large family in his late 50s? You’re essentially still marketing the same thing to both groups of people, you’re just doing it in two completely different ways.

Firmographic Marketing in the B2B Space

Firmographic marketing is the same basic concept, although it moves things from the B2C (business to customer) into the B2B (business to business) space.

Break down your mailing list based on the TYPE of company that you’re trying to reach. Start by asking yourself the following questions about the people you’re going to be contacting:

  • What type of industry are they operating in?
  • What are their pain points in today’s economic environment?
  • What type of revenue are they bringing in each year?
  • How long has the current leader been in his or her position?
  • Where do they see their own company going in five years?
  • How can you help?

The answer to these simple questions will dictate every choice you make moving forward, from the design you use down to the font. As an exercise, pretend that you’re marketing to your own company – how would you answer these questions if they were focused internally? What would YOU need to see in a direct mailer to get you to take the desired action?

Psychographic Segmentation, or “Who Are These People, Anyway?”

Psychographic segmentation takes things to another level and actually takes into consideration a combination of some of the things that have already been talked about. Based on what you know about a person’s lifestyle, the values that they hold and the demographic area they fall into, you begin to get a pretty clear picture of just who they are as a human being.

In many ways, this is like the traditional technique of buyer personas, only instead of writing for fictionalized representations of your customers, you’re writing for real people. You can have different messaging for different TYPES of people, thus increasing your ability to connect with each one in a truly emotional way.

Mind the Sales Funnel

Finally, one of the smartest (and most important) ways to divvy up your direct mail marketing to be more effective has to do with taking into consideration what stage of the sales funnel your customer happens to be in. One of the most obvious ways to do this is also one of the most simplistic – group people together by “active customers” versus “inactive” ones.

This allows you to dramatically shift everything from your language to your tone based on who you’re trying to reach. Active customers have already proven themselves willing to spend money, so you can focus more of your time building anticipation for new and exciting product developments. Inactive customers need a little more tender love and care – you might need to “woo” them all over again based on just how inactive they really are.

You can also switch up your messaging based on whether you’re contacting someone for the first time, whether you’re responding to someone’s request for more information, whether they’re at the stage where they’re interested in heavy research, etc. All of this lets you cut away the “fluff,” so to speak, giving you the ability to focus as much of your attention as possible on what this particular person needs to hear at this moment in your relationship.

Effective Targeting With Direct Mail is Easier Than You Think

Even though some consider direct mail as a concept to be a decidedly “old school” tactic, it’s still possible to use the techniques of the “new school” and apply it to this powerful channel to your advantage. We live in a data driven age where people can’t wait to share as much information as possible with one another on social media. Your own contact list probably has huge volumes of information on each person. Direct mail targeting simply relies on your ability to put that information that you already have to good use.

Direct mail targeting can certainly be time consuming and challenging, but it can pay dividends for a lifetime if you do it properly. It’s also not a road that you have to travel down alone. The dedicated, passionate account specialists at Mail Shark can work with you to customize your list, not only to take into consideration the direction you want your business to head in, but for the individual groups of people you’re trying to target at the moment. To find out more information, please feel free to contact Mail Shark today.