How to segment your direct mail lists for the best results

Wondering how you can get more engagement, better responses, and ultimately more sales out of your bulk mail and direct mail campaigns? Learn how to segment your direct mail lists for the best results.

People are all different. There’s a whole lot that goes into making them unique, too—upbringing, location, career, hobbies, beliefs… The list is almost endless!

Based on this fact, it makes perfect sense that you can send out the same piece of mail to 100 people with a letterbox distribution strategy, for example, and you might only get 3 or 4 that are actually interested in what you offer.

So how do you ensure that you’re actually reaching the people who have an interest in your offer? Audience segmentation. Here’s how it works and how to segment your direct mail lists to really target the right people!


What is segmenting your lists?

Marketers – direct mail and email – have a list of prospects or subscribers that they send mail out to. Segmenting your list means creating categories under which to place the people within that list.

For example, if you put 100 people in a room, your list could be called: People In The Room. But as mentioned above, that’s going to be a whole lot of different people.

How do we narrow it down further?

Try splitting it into “Men in the Room” and “Women in the Room”. That’s two segments already! Men and women may view your offering differently, so separating them into segments is a good idea.

Now let’s try “Over 30s in the Room” and “Under 30s in the Room”. Or “Brunettes in the Room”, “Blondes in the Room”, “Redheads in the Room”, and “No Hair in the Room”.

Maybe “People in the Room Who Like Sports”, “People in the Room Who Like Music”, “Vegans in the Room”, or “Animal Lovers in the Room”.

Why is segmentation important?

If you sell sports supplements, which of the above segments is more likely to be a great target audience for your printed mail campaign?

You’ll obviously want to aim for people who enjoy sports and play often. Perhaps your supplements are best for the gym, or best for runners. In that case, “People Who Love Sports” won’t be enough. For every runner/gym buff you get, you’ll be getting 10 people who aren’t actually interested or suitable for your product.

Segmentation helps you to nail down your ideal buyer and send your direct mail just to them. No wasted paper, no wasted money, and no hope that will never turn into sales!

direct mail campaign graph

How to segment your direct mail lists

Obviously, not all of those groups of people are going to be relevant for what you’re offering. You need to tailor your offer to a particular group of people if you want the highest chance of making sales.

Here are some tried-and-true segments that marketers often use to target certain groups more specifically. These are good ones to start with, but make sure they serve their purpose for your product, service, or business!

By Demographic 

Segmenting your list by demographic helps you to nail down the specific needs of certain people and highlight those in your mail.

In this category, you can split people by:

  1. Age
  2. Gender
  3. Marital status
  4. Occupation
  5. Income
  6. Parenthood
  7. Homeownership
  8. Etc

Trying to sell children’s toys to a 20-something, single, unemployed person isn’t going to end well for you. But target parents with a good income and you’re far more likely to see success.

By Location 

Learning how to segment your direst mail lists by location is great for local businesses, brick-and-mortar stores, and so on. Location-based segments are the obvious choice for things like restaurants, beauty salons, and stores that have a physical location.

But it can be used by others too, if you’re targeting people in a particular zip code, city, or state. Even if you’re blanket-targeting people across a country, you may want to personalise each campaign according to where they are.

For example, if you’re offering air conditioner repair services, you might want to reference the warm weather in certain areas. But in areas that aren’t as summery at the time, talk about preparing for the upcoming warm weather instead.

By Interests 

If you’re selling knitting patterns, chances are you don’t want to target teenage boys. In the same vein, if you’re selling video games, you won’t have much success sending mail to 70+ year-olds.

Splitting your audience by interest is an excellent way of ensuring that they’re already likely to be interested in what you’re offering.

By Occasion 

If you collect customer birthday info, nothing gives your company a boost by sending out a “Happy Birthday” piece of mail with a small gift!

Holidays are also a great time to send out particular mail campaigns, but you’ll need to be a  bit thoughtful here. Wishing everyone a Happy Ramadan is great, but you’ll save yourself money if you segment your list further into religious beliefs.

Quick tip: If you’re keeping track of purchases, send out a piece of mail on the first anniversary of a person’s first purchase from your brand. It’s unique, memorable, gets people talking (and sharing), and makes them feel special.

By Buying Behaviour 

These segments may be a little more advanced, but they can work well. If someone acted on your CTA—for example, made a phone call—but never went further, you can create a segment specifically for those who “abandoned cart”.

This can win back people who were interested but unsure of taking the next step. Knowing that they’re in this category also means you can tailor your new mail to address their potential concerns.

By Purchase History 

Follow-up mails with ideas like “Based on your last purchase, we thought you might like X”, or “There’s a new version of X out and we wanted you to be the first to know.”

Using their past buying experience to influence their current potential buys is an advanced way of segmenting your list, but can be highly effective!


Learning how to segment your direct mail lists isn’t just for convenience. Ultimately, it saves you from sending mail that will never be read by uninterested people and ensures that you’re only spending money on sending mail to people who already have a high likelihood of becoming a customer or client.

Unsure of how to do it? Give us a call and ask!

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