A Guide to Variable Data Printing: How to Use it to Increase Marketing Response Rates

What is Variable Data Printing?

In the simplest terms, variable data printing adds unique elements to each individual piece in a print run. This can be as simple as adding different names and addresses to a batch of postcards, to including variable images or recommended products based on your customer data.

Variable data printing is also sometimes used interchangeably with “1-to-1 marketing,” because it allows you to create marketing pieces individualized for the person receiving it.

How variable data printing works

Variable data printing uses data in a spreadsheet to fill in each variable in your print piece. When you submit your print order, you must include the design file for your print piece with marked variable fields, as well as a spreadsheet that includes all the data you want to be filled into each variable field.

For instance, using variable data printing, you could decide all postcards addressed to male recipients should have a blue banner image, while all the postcards addressed to female recipients use a red banner. Variable data printing automatically determines which colour banner to include based on the data in your spreadsheet, without the need to print each postcard individually.

When should you use 1-to-1 marketing?

Variable data printing is suited to a variety of different print and electronic media such as:

  • Direct mailers
  • Postcards
  • Invitations
  • Letters
  • Microsites
  • Website landing pages

What can you individualize?

  • Names
  • Addresses
  • Genders
  • Hobbies
  • Images
  • Purchase history
  • Recommended products

4 benefits of using variable data printing

  1. It adds a human touch to your business.
    Speaking directly to your customer makes your business seem more approachable, and less like a cold, corporate entity. Adding your customers’ name or personalizing content for them makes them feel personally connected to your business, rather than like one among millions whom your advertising is directed at.
  2. It makes your brand stand out from competitors.
    In a world where we are bombarded with advertising at every turn, marketing that is different is more likely to capture attention. If all your competitors are sending out generic flyers, trying something different may be just what it takes to capture attention. Sending a personalized postcard with your customers’ names, might be all it takes to capture their attention and set your brand apart.
  3. It encourages your customers to engage with your brand.
    Variable data printing makes your direct mail and other marketing pieces seem more friendly and less like a sales pitch. By including names, or personalizing your marketing pieces, it encourages your customers to take action and engage with your brand.
  4. It improves response rates significantly.
    1-to-1 marketing has been shown to boost response rates. An average direct mail piece has a response rate of around 1-2%. 1-to-1 marketing can boost response rates to between 5-10%! Why is that? It’s simple. Customers are more likely to respond when they are addressed by name. Think of it as calling out to someone on the street. A greeting of “hey you,” is less likely to get their attention than calling out their name.

Do you think variable data is right for your business? Find a Print Three Smart Business Centre near you, to connect with a 1-to-1 marketing expert and get started designing a customizable marketing piece to send to your customers.