Marketing & Communications Centre > Marketing Essentials > Help Sheets > The Power of Personalisation

The Power of Personalisation

The ability to personalise your direct mail-out and target a personally addressed letter to an individual recipient is a very strong tool in communicating your message.

It allows community groups to mass produce a direct mail campaign while not losing the ability to personalise and tailor each letter to a particular recipient.  This applies to all mail you send out, whether to existing or prospective members, volunteers, donors, supporters, fundraisers or stakeholders.  

The reaction many people have to a letter addressed to "the Householder" is to make a decision that they don't need to read it. Personalising your group's mail reduces the chances of it being thrown out un-read.  

This help sheet will look at some of the reasons why you should personalise your direct mail-outs, as well as some of the more common ways for you to do so.

Why personalising counts

0 Research in Australia and overseas has shown that personalising a letter increases response rates.

People are more receptive to mail that is relevant to them.  Addressing a letter to an individual automatically increases its relevance and draws attention to the subject.

Computer software has improved to the extent that direct mail is now so easy and inexpensive that there is no argument not to do it, particularly given the impact it can have on the response rate.

Examples of personalising your direct mail

There are many levels of personalisation you can achieve with your direct mail-out, from the relatively simple to the more complex.

Below are some common methods of personalisation that most groups can successfully achieve.

Personalise by using names

Everyone identifies with their own name, so it makes sense that letters that start by addressing the person by their name will grab attention and invite them to read on.

At the simplest level, make sure your letters have the 'recipients' name on them.
  • Using the Mail Merge function in word processing programs like MS Word allows you to insert names from a list or database into predefined spaces in your mail-out text.
  • The name of the recipient should be inserted into the introduction, but can also be sprinkled in relevant spots throughout the letter.

Personalise the letter or mail contents

A more significant way of personalising direct mail is to subtly alter its contents to make it more relevant to those reading it, hopefully eliciting a higher response rate.
  • Again, using the Mail Merge function, you can create alternative paragraphs that can be inserted into your direct mail letters (if certain criteria in the database from which you're drawing recipients' details from are met).
    • For example, you could create a different opening paragraph for letters sent to people who have recently donated, thanking them for their donation, and retain a "normal" first paragraph for the rest of your mail-out.
      • Incorporated into, or following, this opening paragraph could be another statement indicating how their support has helped.  For example: "John, your recent donation has helped provide schoolbooks for 15 children".

    • Similarly, a different closing paragraph can be inserted if your group is staging a function and want people in the area to attend. Those living in certain suburbs or close by can receive a closing paragraph reminding them to go to the function, while letters to remaining recipients feature a "normal" last paragraph.

  • It doesn't have to be just letter content that contains these differing details, certain sections of a newsletter or brochure can be included or substituted using the same method.

Personalise the envelope

Personalising the envelopes for your direct mail campaign is also easy.
  • Apart from using the correct name and address, personalising the envelope can include:
    • Using different coloured envelopes depending on the age or gender of the recipient for instance.
    • Using different sized or shaped envelopes.
But the most important thing to remember about addressing the envelope is to get the details right – the recipient's name has to be spelt correctly and the address has to be correct.

If either one of these elements is not right, your letter will be less likely to be read - or worse it won't even arrive.

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.