What Can Variable Data Do for Your Direct Mail?

A direct mail piece is an effective way to reach out to your customers, putting your brand directly in their hands and engaging them with content that speaks directly to them. Variable Data Printing (VDP) allows you to increase the effectiveness of your direct mail marketing by making your printed pieces even more personal, and targeting specific segments of your customer base.

A direct mail piece is an effective way to reach out to your customers, putting your brand directly in their hands and engaging them with content that speaks directly to them. Variable Data Printing (VDP) allows you to increase the effectiveness of your direct mail marketing by making your printed pieces even more personal, and targeting specific segments of your customer base.

VDP gives your direct mail marketing new life, allowing you to carefully craft your printed pieces to speak directly to your customers. Your choice of fonts, colors, images, layout and text all affect how well your direct mail is received. A tailored piece that includes some personal details or information of specific interest will make your customers feel valued and is more likely to grab their attention.

Whether by segmenting your customers into groups and optimizing your printed pieces to appeal to each group, or by adding personalized data for each individual customer, VDP is a valuable business tool you can use to increase the return on investment from your printed campaigns.

Examples of How to Use Variable Data Printing
There are many ways you can use VDP. You could:

  • Vary your color choices, fonts and images to appeal to different demographics—for example, a college brochure might use different images for younger students and for mature students with a family.
  • Reflect demographic details such as age, profession and marital status—for example, a holiday cottage business might include information on family activities for some customers, and information on night life for others.
  • Include details such as special offers or contact details that are specific to a geographic location—for example a car dealership might include each customer’s local branch or the name of the salesman they usually deal with.
  • Use personalized QR codes or URLs for offers—for example, a grocery store chain might have their QR codes link to different offers for young single shoppers than for large families.

Planning a Variable Data Campaign
To make VDP work for you it’s important to invest time and effort in planning your campaign long before the first piece rolls off the press. To plan out your VDP, ask yourself:

  1. What Do I Want to Achieve?
    Is the point to sell a specific item or promotion, build customer loyalty, or learn new information about my customers? Have a clear idea of what you want.
  2. Who Am I Targeting?
    Think carefully about how you are going to segment your customer base. Do you want to use person-specific data such as their name and how long they’ve been doing business with your company, or are you going to group them by age, particular interests, or the amount they typically spend with you?
  3. What Do They Want?
    A good variable data campaign is one that speaks directly to the wants, needs and concerns of each customer.
  4. How Will I Measure Success?
    To know how well your variable data is working, you’ll need to track the response to your campaign. Think about whether your customers will scan a QR code, visit a link, like you on Facebook, or send you an order or feedback form—you can use all of these to measure how well your campaign is doing.
  5. Where Will I Get the Data?
    VDP is only as good as the data you put into it. Before starting your print run, check your data very carefully—a small mistake can make a bad first impression.

VDP means you can offer each of your customers a personalized and meaningful piece of direct mail that will appeal to them and make you stand out. Instead of just another letter, your business will become a valued correspondent, someone that your customers want to read and respond to, which means stronger customer relationships and better profits for you.

Direct Mail Design: Copy

At this point, after you have looked at the layout and color/images in the last two blog posts, you should have a general idea of what you want your direct mail to look like. There is another important factor that goes with your design, and that is the copy. Words have the power to inspire, empower and create desire

At this point, after you have looked at the layout and color/images in the last two blog posts, you should have a general idea of what you want your direct mail to look like. There is another important factor that goes with your design, and that is the copy.

Words have the power to inspire, empower and create desire. Direct mail marketing is especially vulnerable to a bad choice of words. The visual design catches their eye, but if the words do not convince them to take action, you will not get the desired response.

With that in mind, let’s look at the top five list of the best words to use in direct mail:

  1. Free: Who doesn’t love free stuff? This is very eye catching and sucks people in. We all want a good deal and nothing is a better deal than free.
  2. Amazing: We all want the best things, and if it’s amazing we have to have it!
  3. Discover: This is a challenge to find out new information. It makes us curious and we want to know more.
  4. Easy: These days we all need easy. There is just not enough time in the day to get things done. Whenever it can be easier it’s a good idea.
  5. You: It’s all about the recipient! What is in it for them? There should be lots of “You”s in the copy to show them all the great things that will happen to them when they buy from you.

On the other end of the spectrum, do not use these top five words to avoid in direct mail:

  1. Expensive: Duh! Who buys expensive stuff? We all want a deal!
  2. Charge: This word just makes me cringe! I don’t want to be charged! I want a positive, charge is negative.
  3. Price: It is never about the price! Do not even speak of it! It is about what you are doing for the recipient, like saving them time, money, headaches and so on.
  4. Cost: Just like price and charge, this is a turn off because you are focused on a negative.
  5. Sign: This is a real commitment it we have to sign for it. What if we are not ready? Think of ways to attract people, not scare them off.

These are by far not the only best and worst words to use, but they’ll give you a good start. When creating the copy for your campaign, be sure to consider how each word builds toward your message and call to action. Your call to action is the most important part. You need to give the recipient a reason to respond and how to respond.

Wonderful words mean nothing if they don’t drive the correct response. Tell your recipients exactly what you want them to do. Then provide them with multiple ways to do it. Keep in mind that we all have mobile devices with us 24/7, so you should allow for responses from tablets and cell phones. You will need your landing pages and website to have responsive design to accommodate this, but it will pay off for you big time. You can contact your mail service provider for help with the design, copy and pitfalls to avoid.

Empower Your Direct Mail With Mobile

Direct mail marketing has been around for a long time; it’s sometimes thought of as the “old goat” of marketing. Over the years there have been many changes in the way we use direct mail for marketing. Slapping a resident label on a card and mailing to everyone in your city does not cut it anymore

Direct mail marketing has been around for a long time; it’s sometimes thought of as the “old goat” of marketing. Over the years there have been many changes in the way we use direct mail for marketing. Slapping a resident label on a card and mailing to everyone in your city does not cut it anymore.

Some of the best practices that have been in use for a while now are listed below. By using some or all of these, you can help keep your direct mail more cost effective and easily increase your ROI.

  • Targeted mail lists: There are so many ways you can really define your best prospects.
  • Mail tracking: Know when your mail delivered so that you can follow up.
  • Creative designs: Stand out in the mail box.
  • A/B testing: Really track results on what messaging and formats get the best response.

Since many people now spend more time on their mobile devices, you can use your direct mail to catch people on the go. In this day and age, we can empower our direct mail with technology to drive an even greater response.

When your direct mail has the latest technology, you let the recipient into the driver’s seat of your marketing. You allow them to pick and choose the information they are interested in at that moment. You can incorporate mobile marketing into your direct mail by using some or all of the following, as easy gateways to online information via recipient’s cell phones.

  • QR Codes: Directs them to a landing page with an offer, a way to buy or more information.
  • Augmented Reality: Use your imagination to create a powerful experience.
  • NFC: Near Field Communication can be used to drive mobile devices where ever you want to with a tap or touch between the phone and an embedded chip.
  • PURL: Unique and personalized landing page created especially for each recipient.

By adding these instant response methods, you increase the opportunity to catch someone in the moment as a hot lead, if not a sale. After all direct mail influences 76 percent of internet users to buy a product or service online (Exact Target), so you need to make sure that you are driving that online engagement. Creating the mobile optimized landing pages for recipients to gather more information, make a purchase or share ideas with others is a must with each direct mail campaign you do.

Thirty-four percent of consumers search online for more information about a product or service when receiving direct mail from a brand they are interested in (Direct Marketing Association). Don’t you want to be the one controlling the information they see, rather than Google? When you create the landing pages and supply all the information, your competitors are not there to distract from your message, you are in control. Some helpful tips to keep in mind when creating the landing pages are below.

  • Use the same design theme as the direct mail piece for a consistent look.
  • Ask for minimal information in order for them to download or signup for something, basically name and email address.
  • Allow them to make a purchase from the mobile landing page.
  • Make the call to action simple.
  • All the messaging on the landing pages need to follow the lead of the direct mail piece. If you switch gears on the landing page, it will be confusing to the customer/prospect.

By empowering your direct mail with choices and ways to gather information, you are empowering your customer/prospect to make a quick and easy decision on your call to action. This means your direct mail will need to have a clear call to action with more than one way to respond. It is vital that you incorporate mobile response devises now, because mobile users are growing rapidly and along with them mobile purchases. Your direct marketing company can help you to create the landing pages and the QR Codes, Augmented Reality, PURL’s or NFC. Incorporating the mobile response devices does not have to be labor intensive for you.