The wonderful world of variable data
“Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour.”
There’s that quote that we know so well, in its entirety – and a congratulatory pat on the back for anyone who knows who it’s by (without looking it up on Google!) With any direct mailing you undertake, variable data can really increase the effectiveness of your campaign – add flavour to it, you could say. Let Mailing Expert tell you how.
So what is variable data?
No, variable data is NOT the same as alternative facts, a phrase which is all too current at the moment. In this context, we are talking about variable data printing, commonly abbreviated to VDP. VDP makes use of digital technology to link print engines to databases which contain content for printed documents. It makes changes to pieces of print automatically – with no manual steps – as they are being printed, allowing you to personalise your communication with ease by varying text details, images, colour schemes, charts…you name it, if it can be printed, you can change it. It’s a technique that is closely related to mail merge, but VDP allows changes to text, graphics and layout.
Why use VDP?
Well, do you want more sales, higher returns and an exponential rise in customer loyalty? Would you like better targeted communications filled with relevant information? There are many marketing studies which show categorically that personalising communications really can boost their effectiveness.
By ‘personalising communications’ we don’t just mean putting ‘Dear Katie’ at the top instead of ‘Dear Valued Customer’. In a 2014 survey, it was revealed that 63% of people receive so many name-personalised messages that it has ceased to have any impact. Your intended audience needs something more and better now – like VDP.
How can VDP help?
Imagine you were launching a new range of clothing for children. With VDP, each DM flyer you send out can be customised to appeal directly to the intended recipient. It goes without saying that names and addresses will be different for each one (as in mail merge). The brilliant thing about VDP is that with a diligently-populated database which has captured the ages, sex and ethnicity of children, in just one print run, you could produce flyers that target parents of 10 year-old girls…or baby boys…or families with Chinese heritage…or any other attribute you have researched and stored. Of course, this all relies on the content of the database… In the example we’re using, you’ll need a whole portfolio of images showing all sorts of children wearing your clothes range.
What about populating databases?
That’s the tedious bit, isn’t it? If you’re using variable data, then it must be stored in the database in the first place. In most cases, this has to be inserted manually, though some computer programs can gather bulk information from different sources and transfer it directly. Your data can come from many areas of customer contact – from call centre enquiries, your website and from sales activity. Nevertheless, at each point, someone has to put in the information and all the colour choices, fonts and images to appeal to different demographics. And once done, of course, it has to be kept up to date. There’s nothing worse for your company image than sending a DM with incorrect or irrelevant information.
So is it all worth it in the end?
Here at Mailing Expert, we would say a resounding YES! More statistics, if you’re not convinced:
- 74% of marketers report that personalisation increases customer engagement leading to improving conversions
- 84% report better customer loyalty and retention
SO…start filling in that database – or better still, give us a call and we’ll tell you how we can help you.
 William Cowper. From his 1785 poem, ‘The Task’
 Conducted by digital messaging platform, Lyris
 Econsultancy research