As you get to know your audience better, and we can help you do so by providing data appends or brand new lists, you can start to use other factors like; age, income, self reported interests, past donations or purchases, home values, assets, ethnic background, religious affiliations, life position like married, single, homeowners, renters, children, etc. You can vary your images and offer/call to action based on this information to further personalize your message. The key is relevance and it is created by knowing your audience and communicating with them in a personal manner. In many cases using versions of text and images to match preferences based on list segments along with some simple personalization is sufficient to boost results. The use of additional variable data based on factors listed above and below will only serve to reinforce your connection and further improve results.
Colleges might want to use data such as graduation year, course of study, extracurricular activities, clubs, past gift amount, past fund donated to or other relevant data points.
In terms of benefits, let me share some recent statistics:
- According to PIA, Printing Industries of America personalization or variable data printing can increase response rates upward of 30%.
- According to a Response Rate Report conducted by Caslon, a PODI affiliate (Print On Demand Institute) in 2008 fundraisers increased response rates by 55% when using personalization.
- A Vertis customer focus study asked adults, "Which of the following makes a difference to what direct mail you open?" Sixty-six percent responded with "customized name". Because using a name is only the beginning of VDP, consider how much better response can be when all the capabilities of text, imagery and offers are properly leveraged on a mail piece.
- In 2009, 28 percent of mail pieces were personalized. In 2010 that number jumped to 34 percent, a 21 percent increase. Meanwhile, 2011 surged even higher, as seven of the 10 months recorded demonstrated another 21% increase from 2010. A whopping 46 percent jump from 2009 levels.
* This data is derived from the Who's Mailing What! Archive and extends to October 2011.
Cost is always subjective, what is inexpensive to one might be very expensive to another. What I can tell you is many of our direct mail clients have used personalization successfully. One of our small college clients has recently chosen to incorporate personalization into their general fund appeal and they are very conservative and fiscally responsible.
I cannot encourage you enough to use personalization in your direct mail initiatives, no matter the application. Nothing helps you connect with your audience more than information that is personal and relevant. It is key to higher response rates. If you'd like to discuss methods to personalize your next campaign please contact us. We'll be happy to provide one hour of free consultation, just reference this newsletter and contact us by June 15th.