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!)[1] 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,[2] 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[3]
  • 84% report better customer loyalty and retention[4]

SO…start filling in that database – or better still, give us a call and we’ll tell you how we can help you.

 

Mailing Expert

 

[1] William Cowper. From his 1785 poem, ‘The Task’

[2] Conducted by digital messaging platform, Lyris

[3] Econsultancy research

[4] ExactTarget

Wish you weren’t here? We’ll start 2017 off for you with our ideas for postcard campaigns. That’ll make you feel better!

Happy New Year to all of you from all of us and we hope you had a great time over the holidays – that’s if you were lucky enough to have a few days off. Well, here at Mailing Expert, we’re raring to go and the first thing on our minds is the humble postcard.

No, not holiday postcards. No, not saucy seaside postcards. What we’re talking about is the use of postcards in a direct mailing campaign and there are many reasons why this is an all-round Good Idea.

Here’s our top ten:

1. Postcards are the most cost-effective form of direct mail

Think about it – one piece of card, little copy to create, no envelope to stuff and seal, keeping costs down for high-yield campaigns. Small yet powerful!

2. People like getting postcards

Perhaps a postcard  reminds everyone of holidays, but whatever the case, the message is instant, without the need to spend precious minutes opening an envelope. Just a little tip – a postage stamp rather than a franking means your cards are less likely to be categorised as junk mail.

3. There’s a great opportunity for creativity in design

There’s nothing nicer than a colourful imaginative postcard dropping on your front doormat. Simplicity, clear imagery and a succinct message are crucial so your card has immediate impact.

4. Thinking outside the (post)box!

Super-creativity can add a touch of unforgettable genius to your campaign. We’ve heard of cards with messages that only show up when exposed to sunlight or are printed on indestructible material with a challenge to the reader to try to tear it in half. How to get your recipients engaged and likely to show your card to other people, which spreads your message even further.

5. A chance to clarify your objectives

When you’re describing your product, service or a special offer, it’s all too easy to burble on and confuse your audience. Not with a postcard! It’ll take a bit of time to hone your words into very few but then you’ll be clear in your own mind exactly what you’re offering – and so will your recipients.

6. Less to go wrong

In long correspondence, there’s a higher chance of making a mistake whether it’s a typo or an incorrect detail. It only takes a few seconds to proofread a postcard – but beware, a mistake on a postcard will show up big time!

7. The possibility of a noticeable increase in sales and revenue

A simple, effective carefully-considered direct marketing campaign with postcards can see a high return on investment for much less effort than other means – research says 20% more

8. People are more likely to keep postcards than other marketing material

Once read, there’s little aesthetic incentive to keep a letter, emails are often deleted  – but an attractive postcard might be pinned to a notice board, stuck into a diary or propped up on a  windowsill.

9. Multifarious uses…

Apart from information that needs to be confidential, postcards can be used to encourage new customers, promote your company, increase brand awareness, send greetings, direct people to your website, announce events and promotions…the list is endless

10. It’s fun to do!

Admin jobs and office work, let’s face it, can be tedious. Postcard campaigns allow you to give rein to your creative and jolly side – and all for the worthy aim of helping your company to grow.

At Mailing Expert we say HOORAH FOR POSTCARDS! Contact us at once on 01825 983033 or info@mailingexpert.co.uk to discuss your next campaign.

Mailing Expert