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Ethnic Direct Mail Marketing

Posted by Brian Berg Google+


According to the USPS, 72% of Hispanics receive almost all of their direct mail in English. But 36% would prefer to receive their direct mail in Spanish. These percentages are pretty telling when you think of how much direct mail campaign costs are wasted. The direct mail marketer can now expect to increase their response rates by utilizing mailing list data designed to separate ethnic surname from language spoken in the household.


Combining a better, more sophisticated, mailing list with proper direct mail piece copy will enhance the mail moment and attract more attention from its recipient, thus producing more and better sales leads.


The Mailing List


But not all mailing lists targeting ethnicity are the same. Some mailing list sources attempt to predict the ethnicity of a home or its primary language solely on the spelling of the last name. Today’s technology allows you to build a mailing list that’s multi-dimensional in creation. In addition to using the spelling the last name when compiling an ethnic mailing list, with over 75,000 first names common to more than one ethnicity and another 75,000 first names unique to a given ethnicity, both first and last names can be used in building an ethnic mailing list. Ethnic groups can then be created for proper ethnic identification. Creating these ethnic groups goes a long way to targeting and versioning your direct mail message for greater impact response.


Ethnic Group Creation


Some ethnic groups are more easily identifiable than others, but simple techniques help cure the ethnic group identification process. For instance, many approaches offer Asian categories such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese.  But how can these offerings assure you that names that properly belong in other ethnic groups are not mixed in with the major groups they do offer?  An example of this might well be Myanmar (Burmese) mixed in with Chinese.  Names such as Ma Ne Tun, Ba Thaung, or Maung Khaing are Burmese names, not Chinese.  They do not speak or think in Chinese, and are probably not receptive to offerings geared specifically to Chinese people. 


For names that are common to 2 or more ethnic groups the method we use is to look at the middle names to be used as a tie breaker.  An example of this would be Peter Yu, he could be either Korean or Chinese and there the middle name comes into play. 


Peter Mei Yu would be coded as Chinese and Peter Hak Yu as Korean.  John Smith could be English or African American depending on geographic location but John Big Eagle Smith, from his middle name would be coded as Native American regardless of his geographic location.  Middle names are also used to define different religions within a group, for example Sikh or Hindu.  Other examples include "Russian", where competitive approaches seem to have lumped all "Soviets" together under that term, "Yugoslavian", where one might well find Croats Serbs, Slovenes, and a number of other ethnicities, "Czechoslovakian" where Czechs, Slovaks, and a smattering of Magyar, Polish, Estonian, and other groups might be found, and most specifically, "African American", a specialty deserving its own explanation as an advantage.


By incorporating name research and geographic locators we can determine Hispanic Country of Origin from twenty-one countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, Uruguay and Venezuela. This incorporation of both name research and geographic locators go along way to helping create an accurate ethnic mailing list.


The Direct Mail Piece and Message


The direct mail marketer should consider a number of inclusions to their direct mail piece that will help in the development of your internal customer/prospect mailing list.


*  Bi-lingual language is very important for the first direct mail piece to your acquisition mailing list. Though you are using the best known ethnic mailing list available that’s targeting by ethnic back-ground, you’ll not want to assume that all direct mail recipients can speak and read their native tongue. By providing both English and their native language, say Spanish, the direct mail recipient will not only appreciate the effort made to respectfully communicate to them, but you’re also assured you’re not missing out of those who wouldn’t understand your offer.


* This first direct mail piece should of course have a response vehicle with in it. The response vehicle could be a phone number to return call to set an appointment, or maybe a Business Reply by Mail. If you’ve left a phone, be sure the direct mail responder has two options on the phone that are measurable. At the very least, two phone numbers; one for English, and one in their native tongue. This again respectfully accommodates their potential need and allows you to track the language preference.


* Going forward, you should have developed an internal prospect/customer mailing list with essentially to clusters within it. One of the clusters within your mailing list would be those who’s preference is, say, Spanish, and the other would be those preference is English. All future correspondence with this prospect/customer should be in the language of their choice.


As your internal customer mailing list becomes sizable enough, you should consider splintering your entire direct mail marketing efforts to version not only the language on your direct mail campaigns, but also any special interests of this audience. Your direct mail newsletter might not only be provided in two language versions, but the native language one should also include subject matter that’s conducive to the interest of that ethnicity. It’s important to ask what your various ethnic clusters might want to see from you as a business. At each direct mail communication thread, be sure to include questions that will heighten your awareness of the ethnic cluster and compare the responses with those of the English cluster. Look for responses that differ most between the two languages and work to develop changes within your organization that better address the needs of different people. You may not see much difference between these two cluster groupings but it’s important to continually ask questions of everyone on your internal customer mailing list to stay abreast of your customers ever changing needs.