We've heard a lot of questions surrounding the new marketing approach. Here's a summary of the most frequently asked questions.

1. Can I send direct mail and marketing emails to everyone I know?

No. To clarify: direct mail is non-electronic mail you send to a customer's physical address. Marketing emails are any emails sent as a means to promote Extension or an event, product, or service. Both direct and electronic marketing mailings are subject to regulations. The customer's contact preferences must be respected for both types of marketing.

Direct mail is regulated heavily by several state and federal agencies in the US and internationally. Direct mail should only be sent to individuals who have asked for it and have agreed to receive it. For additional best practices around sending direct mail, consult The Direct Marketing Association.

In the US, email marketing messages must adhere to CAN-SPAM, a Federal law, and can only be sent to folks who have opted-in to your email communications. You must also have proof of the opt-in (for example, subscribing via an online form does count as an opt-in because there is a record of it and it can be tracked, but dropping a business card in an unlabeled fishbowl on your table at an event is not). The rules for email marketing vary depending on whether your customer is in the US, Canada, or international. The Penn State College of Ag Sciences provides a list of email marketing guidelines for your reference.

2. What is a campaign?

In marketing, a campaign refers to all the marketing efforts around one product/service/event (emails, direct mail, print media, promotions, social media posts, etc.). So for marketing purposes, we use the term campaign when referring to the actual marketing of a product/service/event.

3. What is a segment?

A segment refers to a list of contacts that meet one specific criterion (e.g., job title, industry, location). A segment can also meet negative criterion (e.g., job title does NOT equal manager).

4. What should I consider when building my segments?

Think about your customer and your marketing message. What do you want people to do and who is the most likely to do it?


  • Demographics
  • Industry
  • Job title
  • Areas of interest outside of your own knowledge base
  • Past engagement

5. What is a campaign audience?

A campaign audience is the total combination of segments you send your direct and electronic marketing collateral to. In other words, multiple segments added together make up your audience. The campaign audience should include multiple inclusion (send-to) segments combined with exclusion (do not send-to) segments. For example, an audience could be built like this -- Include anyone living in Centre County, who also registered AND attended this event last year. Exclude anyone who did NOT opt-in to receive event emails, and anyone whose job title = manager.

6. What's the difference between a targeted campaign audience vs a non-targeted campaign audience?

Targeted audiences are selected based on customer personas, preferences, and behaviors. These audiences are carefully built with the goal of increasing engagement and conversion, while decreasing opt-outs and abuse complaints. Non-targeted audiences are built from bulk lists, with little-to-no strategy behind them (more of a "spray and pray" type of marketing).

7. My contact list is much smaller! How can a smaller list increase engagement?

The key is building a targeted audience, which can actually increase traffic to your product or service since those individuals are more likely to be interested. You know your customers best. By choosing a combination of audience criteria that targets exactly who you want your marketing piece to reach, the audience is more likely to respond favorably. Additionally, the customer gets a sense that the piece was personalized just for them. The more times a customer gets what they want, when they want it, the more favorably they will view Extension as a whole. Audience segmentation and targeting can increase email click-through rates by as much as 20%.

Remember: It is NOT the size of the audience that matters, but the QUALITY of the audience. For example, if you email 1000 people on a non-segmented/targeted list, but only 3% click through to your product or service, while 1% unsubscribe, that sends 30 people to your product or service, and opt-outs 10. But if you target your list to 500 people, and 20% of those recipients click through while only 0.2% unsubscribe, that would send 100 people to your product or service, with only 1 person opting-out.

8. Who do I contact if I have questions about building my audience?

The Ag Communications and Marketing team is here to help. Contact with any audience-related questions.