Marketing & Communications Centre > Marketing Essentials > Help Sheets > How to Target

How to Target

The help sheet Relating to Contacts – Targeting provided a brief description of what targeting was, and what it could do to improve or better focus your group's direct mail-outs.

Targeting is a way your group can aim its direct mail-out campaign to those people it specifically wants to receive it. In other words, rather than send out to all 2000 names on your database it may be that you only want to send to those 400 who didn't respond to your last mail-out.

This means your group saves money because of smaller but better directed mail-outs, and is likely to attract a higher level of response to them because they are more relevant to your targeted recipients.

Solid preparation is the key to effectively targeting your group's driect mail-out. This help sheet looks at some examples of targeting, as well as working through the preparation your group needs to successfully do so.

Some Examples of Targeting


Following some profiling and segmentation work, your local environment group finds that there is a section of your database that contains people who have volunteered for none or only one of your group's six working bees in the past year.

It decides to launch a direct mail-out campaign to target these people, using:
  • A personalised letter headed "We've been missing you", which explains what the group has been doing over the past 6 working bees, and what it hopes to do in the coming few months.
    • The letter also invites these people to take part in the next working bee planned in the coming weeks.
    • A post script at the end of the letter asks letter recipients to RSVP, and reminds them there is a free sausage sizzle afterwards.
  • A flyer with information and pictures of the group's recent work.
  • A short note reminding them of your group's next monthly or bi-monthly meeting, and welcoming their attendance.


In looking at some in-house analysis of its database, your not-for-profit has found and defined a small segment of people on your list that have donated larger amounts of money more often than the rest of your contacts and donors.

Because of this, you decide to do a direct mail-out that not only thanks them, but aims to attract people with similar profiles to donate in your upcoming major appeal. As part of your mail-out pack, you send:
  • A personalised letter thanking each person for their donations, and listing what those donations have been used for during the year.
    • The letter also asks them to see if there are any friends, colleagues, workmates or family members who are interested in donating to your major appeal or providing their details so your group can send a letter to them.
  • A copy of your group's recent newsletter.
  • A small form that can be filled out with the details of any "friends, colleagues, workmates or family members" that might be interested in donating.


After looking through your database, your community group has noted that a higher-than-normal percentage of its members are parents – and, following some segmentation work, found a small chunk of people who belong to your group, but whose children do not.

Because your group is keen on attracting more junior members and staging more family activities aimed at the entire family, it decides to do a targeted mail-out to those parents aimed at signing up their children as junior members as well.

To do this, your group sends a mail-out with:
  • A personalised introductory letter to each of the parents who belong to the group, thanking them for their membership and support.
    • The letter then goes on to explain that your group is looking for more juniors to join up and explains why, and then asks each of the letter recipients to pass on a second, accompanying piece aimed at their children.
    • This second flyer appeals directly to the children, promoting the activities your group conducts that would interest kids.
  • Some background information on your group, or a copy of a recent newsletter, so the parents can see why their children might be interested in joining as well.
  • A reply paid envelope and form for them to fill in so they can join up. Or email or website address or phone number to respond.

Things to Remember Before Targeting

Before you embark on your targeting work, there are a few tips to remember to ensure your targeting work has the best chance of success.
  • Make sure your raw data is good. The better your raw data, the more information you will have to accurately profile, segment and then target your messages.
  • Ensure you have prepared properly. Have a clear idea of the segment or segments you wish to target and the reason why you are to target them in the way you are. Also, have a clear picture of those segments built up through profiling.
  • Consider using your targeted mail-out as an opportunity to also test a new or revamped message your group is thinking about using.
  • Remember – the more you target, the better at it your group will get.

Targeting and Testing

If your group is going to target a segment of its database, it could also be a chance for it to test a certain message or different approach on this segment.

The testing could be anything from a change of style, font, wording or lay-out on your group's letters to the inclusion of different material in your mail-out pack.

Your group would then test this new-look mail-out on this segment of its database and see if it improves response levels, donations or the impact of the message that is sent out.

Alternatively, you could test your "new-look" on half of the segment you are targeting, with the other half receiving your group's "more normal" mail-out, so you can examine what – if any – difference the changes make.

Any positive changes noticed during testing could then be incorporated into your group's wider mail-out messages.

For more information on testing - or on segmentation and profiling - refer to the help sheets:

•    Segmentation
•    How do you Segment Your Database or Contact List?
•    Testing
•    How to Test
•    Profiling
•    How to Profile

All of which are available at the Media & Marketing Centre on the Our Community website.

The information contained on this site is subject to change. Our Community will not be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever coming from reliance placed on all or part of its contents.