Increase Direct Mail Success with Segmenting

by | Aug 17, 2021 | Development/Fundraising

Increase Direct Mail Success with Segmenting

What IS direct mail? 

Direct mail is a form of marketing that involves sending a physical piece of promotional material through the U.S. Postal Service or other courier service to a home or business.

Email marketing is the digital equivalent.

We covered direct mail basics in our blog Direct Mail Is Not Dead. Then we followed that up with our webinar Direct Mail Campaigns 101. Today, we are going to cover tips on increasing success with direct mail using segmenting techniques. Success with Segmenting is the focus.

For those of you feeling like direct mail is dead and should not longer be a focus in fundraising, take a look at the statistics in this article by Sara DeForest of Sendoso

I like data and statistics and all manner of quantitative data. If you are fundraising, hopefully, you too have an affinity for numbers and tracking important data that can increase your success. Have you ever wondered WHEN you should schedule your email direct mail? What days have the highest success for opens, clicks, etc.? As we begin discussing ways to increase your success in this arena, here is some current data that may help improve your existing efforts. ***

With a little knowledge comes the ability to make a greater impact with our efforts. Now we have some basic data that will help us manage scheduling our email direct mail. 

Looking for information on postal direct mail ideal send dates?

Check out the data below from

Conventional wisdom and research have shown the following summary for which days work best for direct mail to be received:

Monday– Monday is generally the day when the most household post is received. Avoid the risk of your direct mail campaign having to fight for attention by finding another day for your direct mail campaign to be received.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday– Delivery between Tuesday and Thursday is considered optimum. This is because recipients are well into the working week and likely to be going home that night. Nicely packaged attractive direct mail will be received well. These days are sufficiently far away from the weekend for households to be actively working and not in “weekend mode”.

Friday/Saturday– It’s best to avoid Fridays and Saturdays as households will be in “weekend mode”. Many households will be away for the weekend and often just throw direct mail received straight into the trash.

Now you have some good quantitative data to get your brain engaged in direct mail-mode. Let’s dive into some examples of how to use segmentation to increase your success. 

What IS segmentation?

  • Segmentation allows you to separate your contact list into several groups based on donor/subscriber differences. 
  • You can segment based on gender preference, location, donation amount, loyalty, and much more. Segments allow you to create personalized and compelling direct mail for your supporters. 

Potential direct mail segments may be but are not limited to:

  • Current Donors
  • Lapsed Donors 
  • Capital Donors
  • Pledge Donors
  • First Time Donors
  • Volunteers
  • Event Attendees
  • Lifetime Donors
  • Planned Givers
  • Major Donors
  • Monthly Donors
  • Members
  • Acquisitions (purchased/rented)
  • Organization Specific – (pet owner, foster families for pets, veterans, military personnel, etc.)


Does segmentation really matter? ^^^

We are going to focus our examples on segmentation in your written appeal.  

The nine sections of a well-crafted appeal are:

  • Header/Salutation
  • State the Purpose
  • Share the Story
  • Clarify the Need
  • Invitation to Engage
  • Power of the Contribution
  • Status Update
  • Final Call to Action
  • Closing


Here are a few examples of how you can have success with segmenting using five of the nine sections of your appeal. 

In the salutation/header you can create a greetings specific to each segment:

Specific: Dear Mr., Mrs., Pastor, Missions Chair, Outreach Director, First Name, Last Name, etc.

General: Manager, Friend, Brothers/Sisters in Christ, Member, Volunteer, Foster Family, Healthcare Provider, etc.

When you share the story in your appeal, you will craft a personalized message that encourage readers to identify with your mission and the people you serve. You may:

  1. Invite them to “Imagine” a particular situation and/or “Walk in the shoes of your clients”
  2. Share a specific success story that would resonate with each segment individually. If you have 3 segments you may have 3 different stories. 
  3. Tie the story into the greater need with phrases like “Every day “people like ___ come through the doors of [name of org.] seeking assistance, help, support, resources, hope, a new beginning, a brighter future, a warm bed, etc.

In your invitation to engage you will craft a specific call to action (CTA) for each segment. You may have a very different CTA for first time donors than you would for major donors or volunteers that you are hoping to transition to a first time financial gift. 

  1. We invite you to “become part of the solution, partner with us to do x, transform lives, save a life, etc. 
  2. We need your help to….
  3. It’s a big job to take care of our community’s neighbors and we need YOUR help.

In the power of contribution section of your appeal you will break down small to large donation amounts and focus on the specific impact the donor will have if they respond positively to your request. This section should be customized to the segment as well. If you are targeting first time donors, their initial gift range should be less than the appeal targeted at major donors. If you are looking to secure monthly donors, same concept, you would share how the monthly gift amounts would create impact and those giving levels will be specific to your monthly giving campaign goals. 

Your contribution of $25:

  1. has the power to
  2. allows our ministry to
  3. enables a child to
  4. empowers a woman to

In your closing you have a final opportunity to speak specifically to a segment. *If you add a P.S. or P.S.S. you may have another opportunity there. 

  1. Warm Regards, Kind Regards, etc.
  2. Sincerely, With Appreciation, 
  3. Peace and Grace
  4. Your partners in ministry
  5. Thanks for all you do as a [insert description such as volunteer, monthly donor, ambassador for a program/project, etc.]

Best of luck as you work to grow for good!

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