How Variable Data Printing Amplifies Targeted Marketing

By: Marco
February 4, 2022

Every day when you check your mailbox, chances are pretty good that you've received a flier or a postcard from a company that you’ve purchased something from. Marketers love direct mail because it drives ROI like almost nothing else, and the statistics are downright impressive. Direct mail open rates tower over email at up to 90%, and 42% of recipients actually take the time to read or scan what was sent to them. And of the recipients who respond, 62% will make a purchase within a few months.

This already impressive marketing channel has an even bigger superpower, but only if it's activated: simply adding a recipient's name to a flier can increase response rates up to 135%. Personalization is the new buzzword in marketing, and that was made official in 2019, when personalization was named the marketing word of the year by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).


Not only does personalization achieve incredible results for marketing, consumers actually like it, too. In a recent study, more than 60% of consumers indicated they would become repeat buyers after a more personalized shopping experience. 

But have you ever wondered just how businesses are able to send you personalized mailings? After all, some of these fliers may contain more than just your name; they might also feature information about your past purchases and suggestions for deals on similar products and services you might like in the future.

The answer is simple: these companies are using something called variable data printing. And if your company isn’t, you could be missing out, big time.

How Variable Data Printing Works

It might look like magic, but it's not. Variable data printing (VDP) works by combining a print project file with individual information (name, address, purchase history and more) from a customer database stored on your company’s network. Using variable data printing software, your marketing department can start a print job that pulls unique images or other relevant information into the marketing campaign and places them alongside personalized information.

The software program works by employing a sophisticated set of rules that allow your team to personalize print output for each customer. This goes far beyond the standard mail merge capabilities of simply changing a name. Everything from the text and graphics to the use of color or images in the document can be controlled by software rules and automatically applied during printing.

Who Uses VDP And When?

Any business, large or small, can, and should be using VDP. The beauty of VDP is that it gives businesses the power to send out highly effective, personalized marketing materials to current and former customers in an effort to gain (or retain) business.

One of the most likely applications of VDP for your business is retaining current customers and driving repeat business. Your business can make a personal connection to your current and former customers and suggest new services or products for them based on their history. Moreover, personalized direct mail is a far more natural fit for trust-building than email for another reason…consumers don't have to worry about phishing schemes when they look at a flier, and can trust what they're reading.

There are a variety of applications that are compatible with variable data printing, but some of the more common ones include PrintShop Mail, Planet Press and XMPie.

VDP In The Real World

When car dealerships conduct business with clients, they collect a wealth of information about the customer, including personal identifiers (name, address, phone number, and email), purchasing patterns (buy or lease, new or used) and preferred make and model.

Using that database of customer information, a car dealership can announce a current sale or encourage customers to consider upgrading their vehicle with the help of variable data printing. The VDP software can pull customer information and print out mailing materials that are personalized down to the year and type of car they are currently driving.

The end result is a customer receives a mailer from their local dealer, which begins with a personal greeting. This mailer goes on to invite the customer to consider visiting the dealer to take advantage of current specials by trading in their 2002 Ford F150, for example, and using that cash towards a new 2022 model. This mailer is far more attention-getting and relevant than its “junk mail” ancestors precisely because it’s highly personalized.

Variable data printing is a fairly simple, yet highly flexible tool that can take your marketing to an entirely new level. And as an added bonus, you can also use that same tool for invoicing, addressing letters and more. Used to its full potential, VDP can almost be a license to print money.

For more information on variable data printing, talk to our copier and print services specialist.

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Topics: Copiers & Printers