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.

Author: Summer Gould

A blog about Direct Mail Marketing, tips, tricks and what not to do.Summer Gould is President of Eye/Comm Inc. Summer has spent her 27 year career helping clients achieve better marketing results. She has served as a panel speaker for the Association of Marketing Service Providers conferences. She is active in several industry organizations and she is a board member for Printing Industries Association San Diego, as well as a board member for Mailing Systems Management Association of San Diego. You can find her at Eye/Comm Inc’s website: eyecomm.org, email: summer.gould@eyecomm.org, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @sumgould.

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