Published: 02.26.2021





Direct Mail Marketing: Personalization vs. Individualization

What’s the difference between the two?

Direct mail is one of the most effective outreach methods when it comes to communicating with your customers. However, mass sending of direct mailiDirect mail is the act of using the postal service to deliver promotional marketing material direct to a customer based on demographic information such as age, location or income. Direct mail pieces can include postcards, catalogs and other promotional pieces enables one-on-one communication with your audience, so you can control who receives the message and when they rece... Read More pieces is not effective in itself either. You have to add a little customization and personalization to make it more appealing and effective. Adding personalization or individualization will make your pieces feel unique and your customers feel more valuable to your business.

For years, data-driven marketers have advocated that personalizationiPersonalization is when communication is tailored to an individual based on information a company has learned about that person through collected data and internet habits. Maybe a potential customer lives in the Arizona desert and loves long-distance running. A personalized marketing approach would be to use that data to send that consumer information about running in the ... Read More is the best way to reach consumers more effectively. But it’s not enough for today’s consumers. Direct mail marketers should use data to deliver individualized marketing mail pieces to reach consumers before deciding to make a purchase.

But what is the difference between the two?

Difference Between Personalization and Individualization

Personalization and individualization may sound similar but it’s not quite. These two involve different ways of customizing a mail piece.

When talking about personalization, the mail pieces generally involves customization based on what you already know about the recipient. Your messagingiA company's messaging strategy is simply how it positions itself in the market and establishes brand awareness. This message should always be consistently communicated across all channels including web copy, advertising messaging, and in-store signage. An effective messaging strategy communicates a brand's voice and purpose in a succinct and clear manner. For example, when... Read More will be based on the general information you already have about them. Therefore, the messaging and artwork is created before consumer interest.

There are four common ways to personalize a direct mail piece:


1. Name

Adding your recipient’s name is the most common way to personalize direct mail. It’s not just about adding your customer’s name in the address section. It’s adding them directly in the letter by writing “Dear [Name]”, instead of something generic. 

2. Past Donations/History

Another way to personalize your mail is to add information about your customer’s past donations when discussing future opportunities. Recollecting what your customer has donated to in your letter shows them how important their support is for your organization and can even encourage them to provide further support.

3. Gender

Inclusion of gender is another way to personalize your mail. If your business is supporting a cause that relates to a specific gender, you may include information in your mail. It makes your mail more relatable and customers will be more inclined to lend their support. 

4. Reminders

Including reminders to certain promos and deadlines can help your customers feel appreciated and remembered. However, this has to be done at a pace otherwise, it will make them feel pressured.


Individualization, on the other hand, delves deeper into your customers’ preferences and is crafted based on their current status and interests. It’s more than just a contact strategy, but rather it’s about understanding what leads a buyer to purchase. Therefore, the messaging and artwork is created in the moment of interest.

Individualization requires a single view of your customer across different channels. However, this will require their trust as reaching them on that level means collecting personal data. This may blur the lines between personalization and privacy.

On the bright side, consumers today are digital natives. They understand the trade-off, and many are willing to share their data if your business can provide a worthwhile experience in exchange. That means hyper-individualized marketing and communications and not creepily accurate ads on their social media feeds.

For the best return for your budget, work with professional direct mail marketing experts, such as Amsive. We use proprietary tools and highly target the right audience. We offer the best performance metrics possible to greatly improve the predictability of your marketing efforts.

Learn how Amsive leverages data and insights to drive meaningful, measurable connections across the entire consumer journey by contacting us today.