We’ve written about variable data publishing (VDP) in the past. We’ve talked about how using variable data makes each piece better and different by the inclusion of data from a customer’s client list, spreadsheet or database. We’ve talked about how VDP is a great way to improve open rates, response rates and, ultimately, return on investment. The problem is, once again we were talking a different language than most of our readers. Sorry about that!
So today we’re revisiting the subject of variable data publishing (also known as variable data printing) with a view towards trying to help you understand what it is, why it is so powerful, and why we absolutely recommend that you consider incorporating it into your marketing.
The best word we could think of to accurately describe VDP is “personalization.” Personalized pieces are the complete opposite of generic, boring form letters. Every VDP piece includes a different message to each recipient. These personalized pieces get significantly higher response rates than generic, making direct mail (already a proven method of obtaining new business) even better from an ROI perspective.
And personalization is more than just having each document start with a different “Dear [insert name]”. Although this is a common method of personalization using VDP, it’s really just the beginning of what you can do. There is no limit to the number of different data points you can include to customize your message. If your client database includes a lot of information, you can incorporate as much or as little of it into your piece as you’d like. Whatever business you are in, and whether you do it for marketing purposes or not, you gather information about your clients. From the date of their last purchase, where they are, what they do, what they buy, the amount of money they spend per purchase, or something else, you have access to that information. When you use it to customize your correspondence and your offers, what you send speaks to them much differently than a generic letter.
And here’s the coolest part. When we use VDP, rather than printing 1,000 (or 100,000) copies of the same letter, we print 1,000 (or 100,000) different letters. Or postcards. Or invoices. Or whatever you’re printing. And it doesn’t take us any longer to do it.
So how does it work? Think of VDP as having 2 distinctly different elements. The first element is the basic template. This is the letterhead or postcard layout which contains things that every recipient will get such as logos, headers and footers, contact information, and possibly even large portions of body text. The second element of VDP is the personalization. Here is where we merge in different data points that relate directly to the reader, so your letter, postcard, or other correspondence attracts and keeps the attention of your target. It speaks directly to him or her (regardless of the size of your list) on a one-to-one basis! Every reader gets a different message, and that is what makes them read it.
Is VDP expensive? Absolutely not. Powerful computers and software do most of the heavy lifting, and that makes pricing for variable data services (through us anyway) very reasonable.
So VDP is both highly effective and cheap. And this is why most smart marketers are foregoing generic when for pennies more they can have custom, targeted, individualized pieces.
Digital presses running VDP can create attractive, personalized pieces at price points which provide extremely high ROIs compared to generic. And for this reason we believe that VDP is one of the biggest reasons for the decline of the offset printing market in the United States. What do you think? Give us your feedback below!