The speed of technology adoption is incredible, correct? Well, not always.  

Approximately 20 years ago, digital print technology was introduced with much fanfare. With digital printing, mailers would suddenly be able to migrate to true one-to-one communications and drive far better returns. But something happened….

Most nonprofits resisted. And even to this day, many NPOs have not taken full advantage of digital print technology. Some wonder if it still costs too much… others say it’s too complicated… and some creative people still find the endless creative possibilities too daunting. Of course this is not the case for all nonprofits.

From our perspective, we have seen a huge percentage of our nonprofit partners fully embrace digital printing — and I’m happy to say, they have derived significant benefits from it. Yet even with all of Innovairre’s digital printing experience and capabilities, we have had to create a hybrid solution for those nonprofits that were still apprehensive.

Digital Segmentation Makes Sense

Our hybrid solution is “digital segmentation.” Digital segmentation enables nonprofits to leverage many more creative variations without overwhelming their teams. Rather than levering limitless variations, using a dozen or so smart, performance-lifting variables is more common with digital segmentation. This process also ensures that your postal savings can be secured or enhanced while improving each package’s relevance. Further, digital segmentation enables you to test your creative variations in a structured fashion that is easier for some statisticians to understand.  

To explain the difference between traditional and digital segmentation a little further, let’s say you’re mailing one million pieces. If you do a gender split, you now have two cells of 500k. If you add four age splits, you might have eight buckets of 125k. While this implementation remains doable, it’s not very sophisticated, and your postal discounts may already be impacted. Instead, with digital segmentation, you could easily add cuts for donor value and geography, for example — potentially lifting your response, while maintaining your postal discounts, and not over-complicating your implementation. This digital segmentation approach also allows you to slowly migrate to true one-to-one over time as you and your team become more comfortable with the process.

So, in conclusion, if you are looking to drive improved direct mail performance but are still resistant to fully embracing full one-to-one marketing today, digital segmentation might be the right solution for you.  

Don McKenzie is President & Chief Growth Officer of Innovairre Communications, which supports more than 500 nonprofit organizations around the world. Contact us at, and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.