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Everything You Need to Know About “Variable Data”

If you’re not utilizing variable data (VDP) with direct mail to reach your prospective customers, you’re not crossing your marketing’s T’s or dotting your I’s. Targeting and customizing your message to prospects are important to maintain a consistent marketing strategy. Variable data printing is a perfect solution. But what does it mean? How can variable data leverage your marketing?

What is Variable Data?

Variable data is a key player in the digital print world. Available from an external data file, chosen variables – such as text, graphics, or images – can be different on each marketing piece, while other items within the layout remain consistent. Even though each message or picture in your design might be distinct, this process does not slow down the print speed. It’s customized, automated marketing in action. Customize one or customize 10,000 – the choice is yours!

To give an example: Say you’re an alumna at VPDCS University. You start receiving personalized notifications from the university, asking you to donate $100 to their foundation. This is based on your history of donating of $100. Meanwhile, your old college roommate might be getting a completely different message – say, the initial ask of $500 because that’s how much they donated last time. Variable data printing gives you the flexibility to do this, and, in the case of a monetary ask, help you leverage that data to bring in more money by asking for the past amount (not a blanket ask). Many organizations use what they know about you to send you an offer that you can’t resist – direct mail marketing!

What Kind of Variable Data Projects Can I Do?

 If you put your mind to it, there’s a good chance our team can execute your VDP needs. Here are just a few examples:

  • Salutations at the start of a donation ask, i.e. “Hi Sam.”
  • Customized rebate based on past submissions. For example: An operator submitted a rebate for 100 cases of ketchup. Their next rebate might be for 150 cases of ketchup.
  • Addresses on a postcard reminding you to renew your subscription to Just Labs magazine.
  • Images and content in your magazine that is directed to a specific target audience, like custom covers. We work with the Michigan Chamber of Commerce on the Quarterly Report, which utilizes four different versions of the magazine for multiple regions of the state so that the content is more relevant for the recipient depending on where they live and work.

How Variable Data Happens Behind the Scenes at VPDCS

  1. Your design file is created – whether your team creates it or ours. If that piece has variable data, whether it’s mailing or has a salutation, the file needs to be approved by our data department, as they are the experts on mailing requirements and spacing.
  2. Assuming there has been a dialogue back and forth between you and the data department, the file is then sent to prepress and the data team works their “scrubbing” magic on your mailing list, or whatever excel document you’re using for variable data on your piece.
  3. Once complete, the data team takes the file to our prepress team to have them place the respective fields on your designed piece.
  4. Prepress then sends a PDF proof via ProofHQ for you to approve. One approved, prepress imposes the file and sends it out to the HP Indigo. Wha-la! A finished variable data product.

Are you ready to get started on your variable data project? Connect with our team today to get your message to your target audience.

Article written by:

McKenzie Decker

Marketing Manager

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