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In Today's Direct Mail Campaigns, Customers Want to Take it Personally

How to personalize direct mail campaigns in order to increase response rates by up to 100 percent or more.

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It may seem like, in today’s digital world, direct mail is no longer worth the time and investment. But in reality, direct mail is still one of the most effective tools a marketer can use to build brand awareness, attract new clients and maintain existing relationships. In fact, the Data & Marketing Association (DMA) reports that direct mail has become more effective, with average response rates exceeding all the digital channels combined.

But as with any marketing campaign direct mail has to be done right in order to be effective. And the key to effective direct mail is personalization. McKinsey supports the importance of personalization as well, reporting that it can reduce acquisition costs by as much as half, lift revenues by up to 15 percent and increase marketing spend efficiency by up to 30 percent.

So, if personalization is so critical to direct mail success, let’s take a look at what that personalization should look like.


At the broadest level, direct mailers need to be personalized by geography. If you’re a national brand sending postcards to customers across the country or the globe, they must be tailored to geographic preferences, including language and time zone at a minimum and ideally regional lingo and terminology as well.

If you’re a local business sending mailers just to people in town, you won’t need to worry about time zones or lingo, but that doesn’t mean you can’t personalize by location. You might include directions to your shop or offices that are tailored to different parts of the city, for example. Personalizing direct mail by location is the first step in showing customers that you’re reaching out to them intentionally.


It may seem like a no-brainer, but adding recipients’ names to mailers can be an incredibly powerful personalization tool. Research from Canon Solutions America shows that adding a person’s name to a mailer can increase the response rate to 44 percent. (Add full color, too, and that increase skyrockets up to 135 percent!)

In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie famously reminds readers that “a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” And though he didn’t say it, I bet he’d agree our names are our favorite words to see in print, too. Adding a name to will catch your recipients’ eyes and make your postcard stand out in the pile of other advertisements and bills in the mailbox.

Customer History

We’ve all experienced retargeting online — when a website we’ve browsed recently shows us recommendations based on what we were looking at. And as much as we complain that it’s creepy, the reality is that it works. How many of you have considered buying something but held off, only to whip out your credit card when you saw an ad for the item on Facebook? Or made a second purchase from a company who popped into your Instagram feed to show you other items you might like?

The same principle applies to direct mailers. The more customer information you can use to tailor those mailers, the better. Go deeper than the recipient’s name and dig into their history with your brand. If they’ve recently purchased products similar to the ones you’re promoting, the postcard should reflect that. If they haven’t purchased anything in a while, make it a reengagement mailer that tells them “we miss you.”

This kind of in-depth personalization isn’t just a “nice to have.” It’s a “must have.” Recent research from Marketo found that 79 percent of consumers say they are only likely to engage with an offer if it has been personalized to reflect previous interactions they’ve had with the brand.

Customers, both new and existing, want to feel as though brands value them and want their business, specifically, and personalizing direct mail campaigns is a powerful way to ensure they do. Yet, while the impact of personalization on the success of direct mail is clear, only 30 percent of businesses are “very” or “extremely” satisfied with the level of personalization in their own marketing efforts. OneTouchPoint prides itself on delivering beautifully executed, high quality, perfectly personalized print marketing campaigns. So when your business is ready to enhance its direct mail strategies, we invite you to contact us to learn more, or request a quote on your next project. Our experts will provide insight and ideas to deliver phenomenal results at a great price.

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