Variable Data Printing

You go to your mailbox and see a letter addressed to you. You open the envelope and it’s from your car manufacturer.
Hi Heather,
You’re 2012 Mustang MCA is due for its 35,000-mile service. Bring it down to Brandon Ford! While you’re there, check out our special on Roush Exhaust installations.”

Wow! How did they know you drove a 2012 Mustang MCA that was around 35,000 miles? And how did they know you brought it to Brandon Ford for all its service? And how did they know you were interested in purchasing a Roush Exhaust for them to install? It’s like they sat down and typed a letter ONLY for you. They must REALLY care.

Welcome to Variable Data Printing (VDP). VDP can be traced back as early as 1969. It was used by Frank Romano. Mr. Romano didn’t coin the phrase “Variable Data Printing,” he only used the technology. The phrase appeared in a 1999 book that he authored with David Broudy.

What is VDP?
CCL DesignsVDP is a way to print custom marketing material. Text and images are interchangeable from individual piece to individual piece. This creates customized marketing material. There are different ways to develop VDP: from simple to difficult. A simple example (that really isn’t used as much as it was) is creating a pre-print. A design is printed with the static images. This pre-printed piece is then run back through the press and the variable data is printed over it. A more commonly used method utilizes printing software to create a variable file. This file is usually large and slows down the printing process by overwhelming the data processors in the computers that are used. Modernized VDP software is the normal way to create high volume, high quality VDP marketing pieces. This software creates smaller files sizes that are more efficient. They maximize printing speed and prevent any delays.

There are different types of VDP: Basic, versioning, and full customization. Basic customization changes the name and salutation of the recipient. Versioning includes several pre-designed layouts are used based on the database criteria. Full customization changes the entire piece based on multiple criteria. Images, text, and layout structure can be customized for each recipient in the entire mailing.

How Does it Work?
VDP is database-driven. The database used has fields called variable points. Images can be created that are customized for each demographic and tracked in the database. One document is designed and is created with fields where the variable information will appear. These fields are then mapped to the database fields. Voilá – your personalized marketing piece is ready for printing. This is a simplified explanation – for a more in-depth explanation, read this Wikipedia page about VDP.

Who Should Use VDP?
Anyone who wants to attract more customers should use VDP: car sales, financial organizations, real estate companies. Anyone! VDP can be used for any printing, even labels. There isn’t a company that couldn’t benefit from VDP.

Is VDP Effective?
Yes! Research shows that customers are more likely to purchase a second time if they receive an offer that is specially targeted to their interests. Highly customized direct mail will get potential customers’ attention. Consider this: If you are a Florida Gators fan, you’re more apt to look closer at a mailer that is orange and blue. If you are a new mother, you’re more likely to look at a mailer that has a baby on it. Targeted advertising consistently has shown to be far more effective than traditional methods. Infosys conducted a study and found that 86% of consumers’ purchasing decisions were impacted by personalization, and 25% reported that personalization influenced what they purchased. Read the complete study.

Regardless of the way you utilize VDP, you’ll notice an increase in your ROI. We’d love to see samples of previous VDP campaigns you’ve used. CCL Designs has designed for many VPD marketing pieces – so if you have about VDP, feel free to contact us and we’ll help.