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How to Segment Your Direct Mail Audience in 5 Steps

Posted: 4/8/2021

Click here to read on Charity Village.

Grant Cobb

During times like these, audience engagement is immensely important. In this article, we'll discuss a key method of maintaining a strong relationship with your members: segmentation.

By segmenting your audience, you are dividing your contacts up into specific segments to allow for a more personalized appeal. In doing this, not only do you boost your user experience, but you also increase your chances of engagement and conversion overall. Segmenting your audience is an effective way to maintain engagement with your audience and keep communication up during a crisis and afterward.

Though segmenting your audience for your direct mail campaign may seem like a simple thing to accomplish, doing it correctly can actually be a daunting task. That's why we've laid out five simple steps that will help you maximize your ROI and increase engagement through audience segmentation.

1. Leverage a nonprofit CRM

The first thing you can do to segment your direct mail audience is by utilizing a nonprofit CRM. A nonprofit CRM, or constituent relationship management system, allows you to increase the personalized aspects of your letters. For example, when using a CRM, you can optimize things like donor profiles, effective communication skills, and fundraising data. In doing this, you can effectively leverage the data your CRM produces in order to maximize your campaign's productivity and conversion rates.

Remember, your CRM will become your central resource for donor management, so you have to make sure that it is the perfect fit for your nonprofit. In order to pick the right CRM, ask yourself what you want to get out of your software. Set priorities for important features and determine how much data and the types you want it to produce. Selecting an effective CRM will lead to better overall performance of your campaigns and allow you to leverage your donor data to its maximum capacity.

2. Organize donors by like characteristics

The next step to segmenting your audience is organizing supporters by like categories. After you have selected a CRM, you want to begin finding commonalities between your audience members.

For example, if you decide to segment mature donors, you could group older generations in order to push a more targeted message to your audience. Then, you would send a different appeal to your younger supporters of Gen Z and Millennials. In doing this, you can send the right types of appeals to the right types of audience members, which will generally lead to a higher conversion rate and better engagement from your recipients.

By organizing your donors into like characteristics, you will begin to notice that each segmented group becomes its own community. This means that your donors are responding to your segmentation well and are conglomerating with their like-minded individuals. These members begin to feel a sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves.

That said, this strategy improves your donor's experience and can likely lead to more generous donations overall. Making your donors feel as if they are part of a collective with a common goal gives them a sense of belonging within your organization.

3. Make your asks

The third step to segmenting your audience is making the correct ask. Now that you have divided up your audience into similarly interested communities, you have to make sure that each ask is catered towards the group's interests and abilities.

Before we do that, it's important to understand how to make a great fundraising ask in the first place. After all, the best asks lead to a higher ROI and conversion rate.

The most important component of a great question is the wording. Within your appeal, make sure to focus on the donor instead of the organization. While this may seem counterintuitive, this makes the donor feel as if they are the hero in your organization's story. This also demonstrates that their donation, however big or small, is truly transforming the overall mission of the organization.

Though nailing a great ask may seem easy enough, you have to make sure that your specific ask aligns with your donor's ideals and abilities to give. In order to do so, you must complete the next step: collecting donor data.

4. Collect donor data

Once you've segmented your donors and drafted your direct mail appeal, you have to make sure that your script aligns with the specific donor's interests. In order to do this, make sure to adjust your appeal according to things like demographics, geolocation, and demonstrated interests.

For example, a person living in a rural area may not want to donate electronically. Instead, they may want to send in a check—so be sure to include a pre-paid and pre-addressed reply envelope for easy giving. Understanding and adapting to things like this truly transform your asks and make a big difference in your direct mail campaign overall.

This is where collecting donor data comes in. After sending out your first couple of asks, take a look and determine how your donors are responding to their specialized letters. Did you make your letter easy to read? Are your appeals to a certain demographic doing particularly well, while others are falling flat? All of these things play a crucial role in landing a great letter and a higher conversion rate.

5. Repeat

After you have completed steps 1-4, you should be on your way to successful audience segmentation and a great conversion rate with your letters. Now you may be wondering how you can keep this up for your next campaign. This is where donor retention comes in! After repeating steps one through four, follow these best practices to improve donor retention:

  1. Communicate with your donors on a regular basis. Keeping up communication with your donors after the giving season is a key part of maintaining engagement and conversion. Ways to do this include thanking your donors, reaching out to them through phone calls, or inviting them to stewardship events.
  2. Establish personal relationships with new donors. Once new donors have made their first gift, establishing a personal relationship with them will encourage more donations in the future. That being said, reaching out to new donors through other channels after their first donation is a great way to improve retention.
  3. Incorporate additional face-to-face interactions. Finding other ways to come face to face with your donors is also a great way to improve retention. Inviting them to events or hosting live-streams improves their overall experience and increases their likelihood to remember your organization during your next campaign.

Effective fundraising is a constant cycle. Though it will get easier over time, your job as a fundraiser is never truly over. By incorporating these best practices in your fundraising strategy, you're sure to build strengthened relationships with supporters who keep coming back time and time again.

All in all, segmenting your audience is an immensely important tool when utilizing fundraising letters in your marketing and fundraising campaigns.

When you segment your audience effectively, you get to reap benefits such as getting your letter read, improving the donor experience, increasing conversion rates, and building long-term relationships with supporters. You also may build a stronger retention rate because of how personalized your interactions with your donors have become.

In doing this, you will be able to maximize the success of your direct mail campaign. Good luck!

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