I’ve written in the past about variable data publishing (VDP) and how using marketing materials that are uniquely tailored to the recipient improves response rates, leads and sales. The problem is, we continue to get calls from people who have no idea what any of this means!
So for this post we’re going back to basics and going over one of the simplest forms of VDP — the mail merge. With a mail merge, you are simply printing recipients’ information (such as salutation, name and address) on a piece that will be mailed. Most often these are newsletters, brochures, postcards or envelopes but a mail merge could be done on anything to be printed and mailed. If you have a large mailing list, mail merging will save you a lot of time and energy while at the same time making your materials more attractive and professional. So how is it done? Here’s an overview…
First, you provide a spreadsheet containing all of your members’ (or subscribers’ or targets’) information. Most often this is a Microsoft Excel file, although we can work with other file types. Here’s a post about how to properly set up your data file.
Next, we review what you’ve submitted to make sure that it is properly formatted. More often than not, the file needs work. This is where we earn the bulk of our mailing fee. It could be something as simple as taking out empty rows in your file or adding field names, but regardless of what needs to be done we make all necessary changes to ensure that your data can be properly merged into the printed piece.
The cost for mail merging — essentially working with your data and setting it up to print properly — depends upon how many addresses we are going to print; and it decreases as the number of addresses goes up. Mail merge pricing ranges from as much as $0.15 per address (for just a few addresses) to $0.03 each (for many). There is a $6 setup fee.
So let’s say you are going to send postcards to 3000 people on a mailing list. At this level, merging is $0.04 per address, so our mailing fee is $126. Here is what your $126 gets you:
1. we review and reformat (as necessary) your mailing list
2. we print individual addresses on each of your 3000 pieces
3. we take the postcards to the post office and mail them
4. we save you money on postage whenever possible
So, the next time you think about handwriting addresses, printing and sticking labels and affixing a first class stamp to every piece in your mailing, remember this post and consider letting us handle your mail merge or mailing project from the DC Metro area.