What is Variable Data Printing?
If a piece of mail has ever shown up in your mailbox that seemed like it was custom made just for you, you probably wondered how the company could afford to print such a personalized ad. Not only is it affordable, but Variable Data Printing (VDP) is an extremely useful tool for any business looking to reach customers through individually tailored direct mail.
Variable Data Printing is a direct mail option for businesses that want to reach customers through the use of printed materials and also want their ads to be personalized to a specific household.
By taking advantage of the flexibility of design that digital printing offers, VDP allows for text and graphics within individual pieces to become interchangeable as needed.
How does Variable Data Printing work?
VDP utilizes information from computer databases to create personalized materials that are high quality and full color, similar to those created by using the offset printing process. With digital printing and VDP, the images and text of an individual piece can be changed without ever having to stop or slow the printing process.
With VDP you can produce marketing materials that are targeted towards individual consumers, increasing response rate and overall return on investment. Not all customers are the same, and with VDP advertising you can target the individual needs of a unique set of consumers.
Through the use of mailing lists generated using current customer data or purchased lists, businesses can target their recipients by a number of factors including geographic location, sales history, age, income and household size. This makes it easy for a company to send out materials to customers that promote the business location closest to them or that specializes in their known needs.
VDP will generally include unique barcodes, QR codes or promotional codes when they are printed in addition to the personalized content. This is done to help track not only the usage rate, but the overall success of the campaign, helping to identify what strategies will be the most successful in the future.
Types of Variable Data Printing
Some methods that are used to produce VDP use less efficient techniques. While an obvious premium is placed on efficiency, simpler methods are still used by smaller print shops.
One method is an early example of how VDP was produced and is rarely used today due to its slow and inefficient nature. This technique involves images and text to be printed and then sent back to press for a second run where VDP is printed on top of existing materials.
The second method utilizes standard printing software to create a variable print file. Unfortunately, the file can end up being extremely large and overwhelms data processors, slowing the process down.
The final example uses modernized VDP software and is the norm for high volume, high quality printers like Conquest Graphics. This software is highly specialized and created smaller, more efficient print files that maximize printing speed, preventing any-slowdowns due to processing issues.
How does VDP increase engagement?
Targeted advertising is consistently shown to be far more effective than traditional methods. With the increasing amount of data points available, it is easier than ever for marketers to reach their ideal customers. VDP is a powerful tool that, combined with targeted mailing lists, can make your marketing dollars go further.
VDP is a more effective direct mailing tool than the general postal mailers that we all receive. When consumers see their name and images that they can relate to on a direct mail piece, they are more engaged, and much more likely to act.
Tracking sales and delivering variable content is undeniably one of the strengths of online marketing, but in reality the materials created using VDP have the potential to be even more effective because they can be kept in hand. Used in combination with online tools such as email subscriptions and customer surveys, VDP becomes an even more powerful asset to your business because of the valuable information you are learning about your customers.
How to use VDP effectively
Personalization of marketing materials gives a company the chance to connect to their customers in a way that can create a lasting relationship. A good example is including images relevant to the customer's past purchases and location, like an image of their favorite local sports team.
A business could send out personalized cards that include a coupon for a customer’s birthday. These efforts help to relate to and bolster a customer’s loyalty to your company as well as entice a potential customer to choose your business over the competition.
VDP is not just for direct mail, and a common use of the technology is printing company-wide business cards. VDP enables the printing of multiple personal business cards at the same time, decreasing the time and cost to the business. Incorporating the use of a print portal even further reduces time spent on this project by providing a template for employees to dynamically plug in their information and submit their orders for approval.
The use of Variable Data Printing in your business has far-reaching possibilities and has been shown to have a great return on investment compared to many other direct mail and marketing options. By appealing to customers through the use of personalized content, you are laying the foundation for a loyal customer base that feels your desire to connect with them on a much more personal level.
By maintaining some idea of what your customers are purchasing and offering unique promotions to them based on this history, you can continue to foster their positive experience and show them they are important to you. With the right strategy, VDP will increase sales by driving loyal, engaged customers to your business and do so easily and affordably.
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