Data Explained – Part 1

2nd September 2016

Direct Mail is all about targeting the right people and contacting them using printed media sent through the post, and in order to identify these people you’ll need data; but what is data, and how do you use it to increase business?

What is data?

Put simply, data is information and if you want to make use of direct mail you will need information about individual people or groups of people.

To send somebody a letter, postcard, or other printed item through the post you must know the recipient’s name and address.

Along with this contact information you may also know other things about your recipients: their date of birth, their gender, marital status, their favourite products, or you might have information about purchases or appointments they have made.

All of this information is useful when contacting customers or potential customers.

A collection of names, addresses and personal information being used for direct mail may also be called an address list or mailing data.


Targeting sounds quite bombastic but all it means is: choosing the right people to send your mailing to.

There’s no point in paying print and postage costs to send a mailing to people who will not be interested in, or who cannot use, your business or service. It doesn’t matter how fantastic and attention grabbing your advertising is if the wrong people are seeing it.

In order for direct mail to work for your business you need to identify who your core customers are and what attributes they have that makes your business attractive to them; once you’ve done that you can make your data work for you.

If you have a business that only operates in a specific area then you need to work out what that area is and only mail to people who live within that area.

If you have a product that is aimed at the over 50s market then there’s no point sending mail to anybody under 50, in this case it’s essential to hold date of birth in your data.

The more information you have about your customers, the more targeted you can make your mailing: knowing which products a person has previously bought allows you to market newer products to them more effectively; there’s probably not much point in sending a customer information about televisions if they have purchased one recently, but you could send them information about sound systems or other products that would complement their new TV.


Data is information and information is power; when applied to direct mail you have access to a powerful advertising medium that will reach and speak to those customers who are much more likely to use your products or service, saving you money at the same time.

Next Time…

In part 2 of “Data Explained” I’ll explain what data actually looks like and how you can make further use of your data by using it to drive the mailing creative itself in an online direct mailing product such as Hello Market.