Is personalization in direct mail really necessary?

The advice goes something like this:

If the salutation on your direct mail letter is Dear Friend — rather than the donor’s actual name — fire and brimstone will fall on your head, your donors will utterly reject your message and everything else you do, and you’ll wake up one day in a frozen ditch in Manitoba and ask yourself why you did such a foolish thing.

You’d have to be a complete idiot to use non-personalized salutations, eh?

Not really.

I’ve tested it many times, and I can tell you: The choice of a personalized message or a non-personalized one is not that big a deal. Results can go either way. A Dear Friend letter can do just fine. In fact, I’ve several times seen Dear Friend meaningfully out-perform personalized letters (mostly in donor acquisition campaigns).

Don’t get me wrong: I think personalization is excellent, and that we should use it more often than not.

It’s just not the must-have that many make it out to be. The added cost (which is getting smaller all the time) may or may not be worthwhile.

And the type of personalization that matters far more than a donor’s name is relevance — a message and offer that fits in her life. Get that right, and the decision about personalization is a secondary concern.


Comments

2 responses to “Is personalization in direct mail really necessary?”

  1. I think it’s not necessary.

  2. I think it’s not necessary.

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Recent Comments

About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

Blog Roll

someone’s blog