The average marketing department in any business has a number of tools designed to help the business identify and target its customer base. Not all marketing tools are equal however, and businesses are always on the lookout for marketing tactics that make the most of the customer data already in hand.
As an individual, have you ever wondered how businesses are able to send you personalized mailings at home or to your office? Everyone’s received one of these at some point in time. A flyer arrives in the mail from a company you’ve purchased a product or service from in the past, but this isn’t your average general mailer.
This mailer arrived with a personalized greeting for you, containing information about your past purchases and suggestions for deals on similar products and services you might like in the future. Variable data printing allows companies to send out mailers like this, and if your company isn’t using them, you could be missing out.
How Variable Data Printing Works
Variable data printing (VDP) works by combining a print project file with individual information 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 data pertinent to the marketing campaign and places them on materials 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 the software rules and automatically applied during printing.
Who Uses VDP and When?
The answer to the first part of this section is any business, large or small. The beauty of VDP is that it gives any business, regardless of its size, 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 in retaining current customers and driving repeat business. Using your customer database information (name, address, past purchase information and more), VDP software allows you to produce marketing materials that address individual customers in a personalized manner.
Your business can use that information to make a personal connection to your current and former customers and suggest new services or products for them based upon purchases they’ve made in the past. The best way to look at it is as a form of personal, one-on-one marketing communication.
There are a variety of applications that are compatible with variable data printing, but some of the more commonly used applications are PrintShop Mail, Planet Press and XMPie.
VDP in the Real World
If you’re still a little unclear on the real world application of VDP, consider the following example. 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 materials to mail that are personalized down to the year and type of car they are currently driving.
The end result is a customer receiving a mailer from their local dealer containing a personal greeting and inviting them 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 2014 model.
Variable data printing can be powerful, with customization options limited only by your own creativity. You can take your marketing efforts to a new level by learning about and implementing VDP software. But, you can also use this tool for invoicing, addressing letters and more. For more information on variable data printing, talk to our copier and print services specialist. To receive more tools and tips like this, sign up for our newsletter.