Personalized Marketing Using Variable Data Printing
What Is Variable Data Printing?
Also known as variable imaging and variable-information printing, VDP is a high-tech method for generating customized marketing materials. A designer creates a single document that is then personalized for the recipient by changing certain items in the layout.
The variable items come from spreadsheets or databases that have personal customer information such as names, addresses, ages, and so on. A basic example of VDP is advertising postcards that have messages with the recipient’s name on them.
Variable data printing offers a wide variety of customization options. You not only can change text and images, but also other items such as background images. VDP allows small businesses to conduct cost-effective personalized marketing campaigns, since digital printing is ideal for in-demand or small-run printing of marketing materials.
How Is Variable Data Printing Done?
The VDP process starts with creating a basic design for the advertising media to be printed. The design has static elements that remain the same for all the printed pieces, and variable fields that will be customized using information from a database. The database is usually an Excel spreadsheet with the fields separated by a comma.
With the use of digital printing software linked to a digital printer, you can easily change text and images of individual pieces without having to slow or stop the run. The software will map the database and include the personalized text and images in your artwork, resulting in a personalized message for every recipient.
Digital printing now also produces printed materials of high quality. Printers are now advanced enough that they’re capable of generating output comparable to that from a traditional offset printing press.
Levels of Variable Data Printing
There are three levels of VDP available, allowing you to choose the one that best fits your budget.
Basic – This level provides the lowest amount of customization. Only the name of the recipient and the salutation is changed while the graphical elements remain the same. This means the content and layout of the advertising messages remain the same during the print run.
Versioning – This level uses several pre-designed layouts. The appropriate layout is selected based on defined criteria. For instance, there can be particular layouts for each state, with the appropriate layout printed for particular recipients based on their address and zip code information.
Full variability printing – This level provides the most comprehensive customization. Individual components such as images, text, and layout can be changed for each recipient on the client’s mailing list.
There are three operational methodologies that providers of variable data printing services use.
The most basic one uses a static document that is loaded into the printer’s memory. The printer always prints this document when a page is sent to the raster image processor (RIP) or printer driver. The variable data is then printed over the document.
A second methodology uses print files that combine the static and variable data into a single file that is then sent to the printer. But this may result in files with large sizes that can overwhelm the processing capability of the RIP, slowing printing speeds.
Finally, providers can use specialized VDP software to create print files with both the static and variable elements combined. This is the most efficient methodology, since the software creates an optimized print file such as PPML or PDF/VT. Printing speeds are maximized since the printer only has to process the static elements one time.
Software for Variable Data Printing
Using software solutions specially designed for variable data printing is the easiest way to create personalized documents. The basic way they work is that a static document is created, and then the software and the database merge. The software then creates print files in which the static document is combined with variable elements.
VDP software can include features such as conditional logic support, which allows you to dictate which variable elements will be used in particular documents based on rules you set, and automatic copy fitting of text that is overset. Consecutive numbering allows you to generate individual numbers for each document that you print out. Built-in templates allow you to create a variety of documents including newsletters, postcards, coupons, business cards, labels and even signage and posters.
Types of Software
There are three main types of VDP software.
Word processing or page layout software that has built-in VDP functions – For example, the desktop publishing software Adobe InDesign includes data merge function that allows you to vary text and images among individual documents based on business rules.
Third-party plug-ins – These are designed to add specific VDP capability to existing software. For instance, DesignMerge and XMPie are plug-ins for InDesign.
Dedicated VDP applications that combine VDP functionality with page layout capability – Examples include DesignMerge Pro and PrintShopMail.
You may also need extra software tools to handle related functions. For instance, mailing software enable you to take advantage of cheaper bulk mail rates by presorting mail and generating bar codes. Data quality software enables you to manage your database by performing functions such as removing duplicate data and validating and merging data.
Why Use Variable Data Printing?
VDP allows you to customize the content in your advertising material. This means that the message is personalized to a particular recipient and relevant to their specific needs.
Digital printing allows for shorter print runs, compared to traditional offset printing. This means there is less waste, since you’re not likely to be stuck with printed materials that you can’t use.
If you have targeted marketing campaigns, you can order variable print runs in real time. Not only will your campaign enjoy a stronger impact and produce the desired results, there will be no excess materials that will only be wasted.
It allows you to improve your relationship with your customers. Using personalized and customized advertising materials lets you have a better rapport with them.
Advantages of Variable Data Printing
Personalization appeals to the prospect – When a lead receives a standard advertising brochure or pamphlet, they’re likely to ignore it. But if it’s customized to specifically interest them, with a personalized message and images, it will appeal to them more. This may result in the lead becoming a customer.
Produces loyal customers – Since you’re producing advertising material that’s tailored to a particular recipient, your customer may feel more loyalty to your brand.
Improves response rate – With personalized advertising messages, you’ll enjoy a higher number of responses from your leads.
Improves response time – Since the message is more relevant to the recipient, they’re more likely to respond quickly.
It’s easier for them to respond – You can customize the message with more pertinent information, such as the contact information of the store or customer representative closest to them.
Uses of VDP
Personalized letters – Variable data printing allows you to change specific text in form letters to make them more personalized for each recipient.
Direct marketing – By producing personalized marketing letters, you’re more likely to reach your customer, compared to using traditional form letters.
Customer relationship marketing – VDP allows you to better manage your relationship with your customers through more personalized messages. You’re not just sending them advertising material, but marketing messages that are specifically tailored to their interests.
Advertising – VDP is the ideal medium for advertising, since it allows you to send material that your leads are more likely to be interested in.
Invoicing – Variable data printing makes sending out transactional mail such as invoices easier, since you can send out standard letters with the relevant information such as the amounts due changed.
Elements That Can Be Changed
There’s a wide range of variable elements that can be changed in marketing materials using VDP. These include:
Text – Aside from the salutation and name of the recipient, you can also change the marketing message.
Graphics – You can change graphic images such as logos and icons, and even emojis.
Images – You can change the photos and other images to better suit the marketing message you’re sending.
Background Images – For recipients in different states, for instance, you can change the background to reflect the particular state they’re in.
Colors – You can change the color scheme to make it more appealing to the recipient, based on the preferences in their database.
Artwork – You can use different types of artwork as the foreground or background image of the marketing material.
Types of Media That Can Be Used
Self-mailers – VDP allows you to print the specific addresses of recipients on pieces of direct mail advertising that are targeted to them.
Brochures – You can add the name of the recipient onto the cover of the brochure, and tailor images and graphics to appeal specially to them.
Postcards – You can personalize postcards by changing the name of the recipient and the message, and even add customized coupon codes.
Posters – You can change images, text, and other information on the poster.
Notecards – You can create personalized notecards by changing the name and title of the recipient.
Envelopes – You can change addresses and other mailing information on envelopes so they’ll be easier to mail.
Buck slips – You can customize these mailers to offer particular deals based on geographical location and other data.
Flyers – You can personalize your marketing materials using customized data based on the demographics of your target audience.
Catalogues – You can include customized customer name and other personal details, and targeted coupons and special offers.
Variable Data Marketing
VDP has become an increasingly popular tool for marketers, due to the many benefits it can deliver, including…
Lets you create tailored marketing campaigns – You can leverage customer data to create campaigns that have greater impact.
Lets you automate your marketing campaigns – VDP allows you to quickly execute campaigns triggered by specified events and customer actions.
Wide variety of customization options – VDP allows you to create as many unique pieces as you want for your campaign, so you can more effectively target particular audiences.
Fast turnaround – VDP allows you to print thousands of customized marketing pieces at mass production rates.
High return on investment – VDP campaigns have a higher response rate than traditional ones using regular marketing materials. This means higher profits and a better return on your investment.
Variable Data Printing and Direct Mail
VDP makes your direct mail campaigns more effective by allowing you to customize the marketing content you send out. Personalized marketing is more likely to generate a response from the recipients.
Aside from customizing the piece by including the name and other personal information of the recipient, it can have a different QR code that targets a specific segment of your audience. You can also change the contact information on the flyer to that of a particular branch that’s near the recipient’s location.
VDP also makes it easy to test the effectiveness of a marketing campaign. You can send out a small sample of marketing materials, and then revise them based on the response. VDP lets you print short runs that can easily be customized without having to spend a lot of money.
Variable Data Printing Postcards
Postcards continue to be a popular marketing medium, since they’re easy to mail, insert into a package, and give away at promotional events. You can increase their effectiveness by personalizing them.
Aside from changing the message so that it includes the name of the recipient, there’s a variety of other customization options available. You can change the background and the images based on the audience you’re targeting.
You can include discount codes that are triggered by a specific event, such as a recipient’s birthday, or the anniversary of their becoming a member.
If you’re company has multiple locations, you can make it easier for the recipient to find your business by changing the contact information to the one that’s closest to where they live.
Variable Printing Brochures
Brochures are among the most underrated of marketing materials. Aside from being easy to mail, they can also be handed out at your location, or left for customers to pick up at the point of sale. But most brochures will likely be thrown away.
Customizing your advertising brochures through VDP makes it more likely that they’ll get a positive response from recipients. Apart from avoiding waste, you’ll also enjoy a better return on your investment.
You can use customer information to add a personalized message addressed to the recipient. You can add QR codes and other promotional codes that are targeted to them, based on their buying activity or interests. You can also change the text to reflect recommendations that are specific to the recipient.
Integration with Other Platforms
The key to the effectiveness of your variable data marketing campaign lies with the amount of information you can get on your leads. The more information you have, the more you can customize your marketing materials, so that you can better reach your prospects.
For instance, you can use email blasts to gain customer information for your database. The email usually contains a link to a personalized uniform resource locator (PURL) or landing page, that has been tailored to the recipient and asks them to answer questions to avail of deals or view flash promotions.
VDP can be integrated into personalized campaigns by printing unique QR codes on every piece of marketing material sent out. The user scans the QR code, and it opens a PURL on their phone’s browser.
Does Personalized Marketing Work?
Personalized marketing has been shown to be very effective in generating better results from your marketing, particularly when used as part of a multi-channel campaign. Although it requires a lot of time and effort to gather the necessary data, if you have amassed a substantial database of information on your leads and customers, you can leverage it to improve your marketing and increase your conversion and response rates.
The main benefit of personalized marketing is that it allows you to build a relationship with your customers. By customizing your mailings, you’re subtly sending a message that you care enough to use your recipient’s name in marketing materials that you send them, and tailoring your offers and recommendations to reflect what products and services they’re actually interested in buying.
Variable Data Printing Results Rates
Variable data printing has given print marketing the “shot in the arm” it has long needed, by allowing individual pieces to be personalized to the recipient. This has been shown by a 2012 survey conducted by the industry group InfoTrends, covering over a thousand businesses in 10 industries.
The results showed that businesses using higher levels of personalization in their marketing materials experienced higher conversion and response rates. One respondent that used only print marketing, enjoyed a 6% response rate and a 16% conversion rate, higher than the industry average 2% response rate.
When respondents combined print with digital marketing, they saw even better results. Those who used both channels in their marketing campaign, along with high personalization levels, said they saw a 7.6% response rate and a conversion rate of more than 18%.
Variable Data Printing Services
Borns Group offers a complete range of online and offline marketing solutions for national and regional clients. Our services include:
- Strategic marketing – We work closely with our clients to develop offline marketing strategies for businesses with a wide range of profiles.
- Graphic design – We develop unique designs to help our clients create a brand identity that helps them stand out among their competitors.
- Commercial printing – We provide custom-designed advertising materials and variable data printing services for marketing campaigns.
- Digital printing – We offer cost-efficient digital printing solutions for all kinds of marketing materials, while ensuring their high quality.
- Non-Profit VDM – We help non-profit groups run successful fundraisers, by using variable data marketing to build relationships with donors.
- Statement processing – We generate and process transactional mail with 100% accuracy, and options for printed or email distribution.
- Mailing – We help you create a direct mail campaign that enhances your online marketing, and lets you target a particular audience.
If you’re interested in running a direct mail campaign – and you should be, as direct mail has always been one of the most effective marketing techniques, and still is! – then utilizing personalization via variable date printing is going to produce superior response and conversion rates, often by a factor of 3X or more over the average.
Let us help you plan and execute your next direct mail campaign. We offer the All-in-One solution for your direct mail needs – from initial planning, design, and printing, to final mailing. And along the way we’ll incorporate Variable Data Printing, to make sure you get the best possible results from your direct mail campaign.
Call us TODAY!
… for a Free, No-obligation, No-pressure consultation.
You’ll be glad you did!
1 888 228-0034