segmenting direct mail lists

What’s the point of sending out 10,000 direct mail pieces if 7,000 of the recipients aren’t interested in the content of your letters and postcards? This is the most important question to ask yourself as you gather and rent mailing lists for your direct mail marketing campaigns—especially as postal rates climb higher.

The next question to ask yourself is how you could possibly know which of the recipients on your mailing list will be interested in the direct mail you send. This is where segmenting comes into play. Determining which pieces to send to which customers might sound like a big, unsolvable puzzle, but it’s actually easier than you might think.

The key is data. Every piece of information you gather on each and every one of the people on your mailing list will help you determine the segmentation of that list. For instance, if a recipient visits your website after receiving your postcards, you know they’re interested in gathering more information. Which pages did they visit on your website? What items have they purchased n the past? Who in that household makes the final purchasing decisions? Every bit of data is important and relevant, so keep track of all of it.

Then, you’re ready to segment. And how many possible ways could you cut up that mailing list? Let’s take a look.


How can you make sure you’re reaching those who will make use of in-store offers? Segment by geography. Those who fall outside the “local” designation might receive offers specifically for online purchases.


Adjusting your messaging according to gender is a great way to catch a buyer’s attention. No matter what you’re selling, make sure you’re speaking to the right person through your direct mail.


The type of information you send and the delivery of that information should take the ages of the recipients into account. For instance, younger buyers may react better to photographs and graphics. Older buyers often prefer text with plenty of facts and statistics.


Some goods and services transcend all income brackets. For the rest, segmenting is important. Don’t send out thousands of catalogs to buyers who live, work, play, and buy in the wrong income bracket.

Education Level

As with age, the education level of your customers can determine the type of mail you send. Will you send pieces filled with graphics or stock your letters and postcards with facts and features?

Past Purchases

When you get to this point, you’re using real data. What did your customers buy before? What do those purchases tell you about their needs? A carefully segmented list could reach buyers at the exact time they’re ready to make another purchase.

Buying Frequency

Regular customers should hear from you more often. Chances are, they’re just waiting for a reason to buy something else from you. By using information about their past purchases, items they’ve searched for, and frequency of purchases, you can strike while the iron is hot.

Length of Buying Cycle

Some people need longer to make major buying decisions. This often coincides with smaller incomes, but not always. For larger purchases, you may need to consider the length of time a consumer needs to make a decision so you can perfectly time your information to persuade them.

Position in Buying Cycle

If you know how long the buying cycle takes for your consumers, then you know when to send the next piece of information. Are those consumers still discovering your products and services, or are they ready to compare you to competitors? Have they received all the necessary information and just need a nudge in the form of a free trial or coupon?

Buyer Persona

One segmentation option that takes all previous segmentation suggestions into account is the buyer persona. Your business probably has several different types of buyers, all split into smaller groups. For instance, if you run an HVAC service, you probably have residential and commercial customers. If you’re a travel agent, you may work with corporate travelers and luxury vacationers. Not only must you keep your buyer personas in mind when crafting your mail pieces, you must consider all other segmentation options.

It’s not easy, but you’ll definitely find the extra work is worth your trouble. When an hour of your time ensures that all people receiving your direct mail are interested in the contents, then you’ll see your conversion rates soar. Want to learn more? Give us a call.