Tame Your Mailing List: How to Choose Categories that Matter

Personalized print (also known as variable data printing) is big—and getting bigger. Across industries, research shows that sending personalized, rather than static, messages increases customer spending

Variable data printing is about more than just adding a recipient’s name to a message. It really makes a difference when you use it to craft a message that makes readers feel like it was written just for them.

You can’t actually write a unique message for every person on your mailing list, of course. Instead, you’ll segment your mailing list into groups that might respond similarly to your message. How do you decide what these groups should be?

The options are endless. For example, you can use typical demographic features, like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income level
  • Education level
  • Industry
  • Geographic area
  • Marital status

This is information you may already have on hand. If you buy a list from a list-building service, you’ll often receive this information as part of your purchase.

But you can go even deeper and target your list based on more personal variables, like recipients’ stated preferences or past engagement with your organization. This will require you to collect and keep track of information like user survey responses and sales or giving data. (A CRM can often help with this.)

The right way to slice your list it will be different for every business. Here are a few examples:

  • If you’re a nonprofit, you likely depend on repeat donors for funds. Be sure to keep track of list members’ giving history, so that you can customize a note based on whether they’ve given before.
  • Are you a college alumni association? You’ll want to track giving history, too—but also keep in mind groups your recipients were members of in college, like sports teams and clubs.
  • If you’re an arts organization, like a radio station or art museum, conduct surveys to learn what types of content your readers prefer. Classical or hard rock? New exhibits or events for children?
  • Physician’s offices (including dentists, veterinarians, and specialists) should keep track of patients’ check-up histories and send personalized reminder notes. Vets can take this a step further and even include photos of owners’ pets.
  • Businesses offering home care services, like weatherproofing, energy-efficiency upgrades, or landscaping, could share return on investment for their services by neighborhood—or compare their offerings to those of other sellers nearby.

The exciting thing about personalized print is that the sky really is the limit. If there’s a data point you can gather feedback on, you can use it to tailor your mailing list to your subscribers. And the more detailed the information you collect, the more precise your messages will be.

By sending relevant messages rather than generic ones, you increase the chances that your communication will get noticed—and remembered. And when you do that, you deepen your relationships with your customers that much more.

Still unsure how to divide your mailing list? Get in touch with Oregon—we’re here to help. 

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