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What is Variable Data and How Can it Improve Your Direct Mail?

With the exception of bills, everyone loves getting mail. There’s nothing better than opening your mailbox and seeing something addressed directly to you—whether it’s a package you ordered earlier in the week, a surprise wedding invitation from an old friend or a letter from a pen pal in reply to one you previously sent. On the flip side, however, there’s a certain amount of mail that we’re just sick and tired of seeing. Advertisements addressed to “current resident” or junk mail from a store you shopped at one time addressed to “valued customer” are the bane of every mail delivery and more often than not, it’s these pieces of mail that find themselves in the bottom of your garbage can without a second glance. The difference between these two types of mail is simple: the addressee. What this means is that marketers and advertisers who understand the importance of personalization and who can harness the power of variable data will have a better shot at getting customers to take a more vested approach in their direct mail campaigns. What is variable data? Variable data, in short, is the personalization and differentiation of data across a single print run. Here’s an example: The XYZ Company wants to send out special offer postcards to 100 lucky customers! Using customer data from past transactions, they pick 100 recurring customers and compile their mailing information. Next, a generic postcard is designed, showcasing the exclusivity of the offer. With the design and the information for the 100 customers in place, a single printing run is done to print each unique recipient on each of the 100 postcards. Variable data simply means being able to print unique information on materials without having to stop and start the printing process over and over again. Why is variable data important? Variable data is an essential tool for the modern direct mail campaign for a number of reasons and serves a variety of purposes that include:
  • Reaching out to a customer on a by-name basis, instead of in a generic fashion.
  • Creating tracking capabilities by printing of unique identifiers (codes, URLs, etc.).
  • Ensuring customers can be segmented and marketed to appropriately.
  • Allowing for the printing of custom images, text, fonts and even maps!
The list goes on and on when it comes to variable data printing’s benefits, but far and away the biggest driver of using variable data on your direct mail campaigns is the impact it can have on ROI. Consider this example situation as it relates to variable data printing and its possibilities: Sally receives a postcard in the mail from XYZ Company. The post card is addressed to her and the header of the postcard thanks her for her last purchase, referencing the date and location. When she opens it, she sees a unique coupon code printed specifically for her that’s good for 30% off her next purchase! And, there’s a unique URL printed that invites her to the company website to preview new products before anyone else gets to see them. The above example is enticing for anyone and can make a customer feel like they’re truly valued—you can bet Sally isn’t going to pass up the opportunity to save money and preview new products! What’s more, through the coupon code and the custom URL, XYZ Company is going to be able to see what Sally buys and when, giving them insight into her buying habits and power, allowing them to market even more effectively moving forward. All in all, it raises the bottom line and generates huge ROI. What capabilities does variable data have? The sky is really the limit when it comes to what variable data can and can’t be used for. Whether it’s something as simple as a name and address or as complex as a full-color graphic of a map, variable data can handle it and your customers will appreciate it. Variable data is used in new and creative ways every day and as a result, marketers are learning more and more about what works versus what doesn’t when it comes to taking a new spin on the traditional direct mail campaign. Whether you’re prospecting new customers, rewarding consistent buyers or trying to reignite a stagnant consumer base, variable data is going to be a direct line to whomever you’re trying to get the word out to. There’s no better way to get your message under the nose of the people who need to see it. To learn more about how variable data can jumpstart your direct mail campaign or for more information about pricing and timelines on variable data print jobs, contact your local AlphaGraphics of Lisle, IL at 630-964-9600 today!

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