Image of light bulb and cogs inside head to illustrate the brain working.

From childhood, there is joy in personalised experiences. This is clear from storybooks and toys with children’s names. This level of personalisation creates a truly immersive experience that makes us feel unique and special. Furthermore, these feelings continue into adulthood which is why personalisation in marketing such as tailored direct mail is so effective.

So, what is personalised direct mail, and why is it so crucial for your marketing strategy?

What Is Personalised Direct Mail?

Personalised mail uses consumer data to segment your customers and to create communication that feels tailored to the customer. This could be as simple as addressing the customer by their name. Alternatively, it could be sending content that’s relevant to their interests, behaviours, or recent purchases.

Personal direct mail turns mass communication into a one-to-one conversation. Instead of shouting out your message, you’re encouraging dialogue and engagement.

With personalisation, even though it is simply applying data to your messaging, it shows your customer that you know them and value them. Customers love this. In fact, studies suggest that 84% of individuals are more likely to open a letter if it is personalised.

Furthermore, data suggests that personalised direct mail has a 6.5% response rate. In comparison, non-personal communication has a response rate of just 2%. Consequently, this personal response rate can lead to a staggering ROI. The Data and Marketing Association believes this ROI could stretch from 300% to 1000%.

So, why does personalisation work so well? Let’s look at the psychology behind its effectiveness.

Why Is Personalised Direct Mail So Effective?

Cognitive Effort

Our brains are naturally hardwired to take the easiest or laziest option. This is why personalisation works so well; because it requires the least cognitive effort. When you receive information that speaks directly to you, your brain doesn’t have to sort through information that isn’t necessary or relevant. This makes it much easier to engage with. The result is your brand represented in a positive light in the mind of the customer.

In fact, direct mail as a whole actually requires 21% less cognitive effort than digital campaigns. This is because the messaging is focused, whereas online can feel like information overload.

A Sense Of Control

Despite the recipient having little control in receiving direct mail, when you receive something tailored to your needs, it makes you feel more in control. Knowing that you are getting something you may actually be interested in, taps into your sense of empowerment and can have a positive effect on your mindset. Feeling in control of the situation is more likely to increase engagement because it feels like you are doing so on your terms.

Reward Psychology

It is in our inherent nature to look for rewards, whether intrinsic or extrinsic. Our brains focus on reward-driven behaviour, and this is mostly what motivates us. Receiving tangible post feels like a reward, especially when it is personalised. In fact, 57% of individuals claim that direct mail actually makes them feel valued, which is a reward in itself.

It can be easy to tap into this consumer behaviour with personalisation such as ‘rewarding’ birthday discounts, gifts or perhaps offers for regular, valued customers.

Selective Attention

It may sound egotistical, but we have greater brain activation when we hear our own first names. It is this brain reaction which means you often pick out or sense when someone mentions your name, even if it much quieter than the louder conversations going on around you.

Since our brains increase engagement when we see or hear our own names; a personalised direct mail will instantly have the reader’s attention.

So much so that Dale Carnegie, author of How To Win Friends And Influence People, mentions that using a person’s name is critical to winning that person over to your way of thinking.


As soon as you create personalised communication, you are instantly drawing your reader into the story. You are talking directly to that person and that person alone. This makes it is much easier for them to be drawn into the story and feel like they are unique. Furthermore, they may also feel like it is upon them to take action, based on the messaging you give them. This all because you’ve tailored the message to tap into that person’s behaviour.

The Growth Of Personalisation

Personalisation is becoming the norm for the average consumer. From smart TVs recommending shows it thinks we like, to e-commerce suggesting add-ons, consumers now expect brands to give a personal touch. This means that marketers that do not focus on personalisation are falling behind the competitors that are.

Personalisation is no longer a novelty. It is now an essential requirement to cut through the noise and ensure consumers pay attention to your messaging.

When Not To Use Personalisation

Personal direct mail is an important tool to have at your marketing disposal. However, there are times when personalisation does not work. Such as;

  • When you have the wrong customer details – Your readers will instantly switch off if you have the wrong name or misspellings. Make sure data is cleansed and accurate before a personalised direct mail campaign.
  • If they are cold prospects – If you have acquired data and your readers are not familiar with your business, then readers may be disconcerted with such familiarity from a stranger. It is crucial to build trust and focus on creating relationships with prospects.
  • When the message is depersonalised – Customers know when personalisation is robotic. When it is obvious, this can cause disengagement. Typically, this is when you do not capitalise the name correctly or when you use a full name rather than first name only. Having correctly formatted data can be so important in making your message seem personal rather than robotic.

Ready To Personalise Your Direct Mail Campaign?

At CMS Direct Mail, we can help you to craft the perfect personal direct mail campaign. From ensuring all of your data is accurate and formatted correctly, to segmenting your audience to target the right people at the right time; we’re here to help. Get in touch with our team today to find out how we can support your next personalised mail campaign.


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