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Ed Kohler 10/6/20 4:42 PM

Do’s and Don’ts of Variable Data Printing (VDP)


Variable data printing (VDP) uses variables from your customer data to customize printed materials. Names, colors, images, and messages can be changed from one printed piece to the next, without interrupting the printing process.

Advanced data processing software is combined with a digital printing press to personalize postcards, coupons, posters, note cards, envelopes, brochures, flyers, catalogs, and invitations. 

Variables that can be customized include:

  • Name and address.

  • Tailored messages for different demographics.

  • Favorite colors, images, and buying trends.

  • Geographical location.

  • Brand preferences.

  • Purchasing history for unique special offers.

  • Anything else you know about them can be used right in the text of a printed piece. 

With variable data printing, businesses can cut through the clutter and get their brand noticed by speaking directly to the recipient. For example, mailers addressed to “Current Resident” or letters addressed to “Dear Homeowner” will go straight in the trash. By customizing and personalizing printed materials, you’ll capture the attention of your target audience and increase response rates. 

Response rates for personalized pieces are 300% higher than non-personalized. 

Ready to add variable data printing to your next direct mail campaign and see response rates soar? Read on to learn the dos and don’ts of VDP to make sure your next campaign is a success.

Do Recognize That Direct Mail is a Dominant Marketing Channel


Direct mail continues to outpace digital marketing channels and in 2018 direct mail recorded the highest response rates ever reported by the Data and Marketing Association:

  • Direct mail trounced other channels’ response rates at 5.1% (compared to email at 0.6%, pay-per-click (PPC)  at 0.6%, online display at 0.2%, and social media at 0.4%). 

Variable data printing amplifies an already powerful marketing channel by adding the power of personalization. 

Up to 90% of personalized direct mailings are opened.

Learn more about how to use direct mail as part of your integrated marketing strategy here

Don’t Ignore the Importance of Clean Data 

Successful campaigns using variable data printing require trustworthy and up-to-date data. Bad data can not only kill a campaign, it can come with high costs. 

Informatica data expert Peter Ku shared his own experience with the high costs of bad data:

“Marketing got hit pretty hard. Each quarter we mailed evaluation copies of new products to our customer database of 200K, each costing the company $12 per to produce and mail. Total cost = $2.4M annually.  Because we had such bad data, we would get 60% of our mailings returned because of invalid addresses or wrong contact information. The cost of bad data to marketing = $1.44M annually.” 

Mailing to the wrong address or sending duplicates can be costly, that’s why Jet Mail’s team of data scrubbing experts ensure mailing lists are squeaky-clean before your campaign deploys.

Most mail houses and print shops use separate, independent vendors for creation, list acquisition, and data processing. Jet Mail consolidates all of these marketing supply chain links with end-to-end service all under one roof with in-house data processing solutions for improved mail deliverability, increased response rates, and personalization.

Do Go Beyond the “First Name” Variable

The result of personalized direct mail with VDP is supercharged response and conversion rates. Take advantage of your valuable customer data and personalize mailings beyond just the “First Name” variable. Leverage data on individual buying preferences for up-selling, cross-selling, and encouraging repeat visits. 

Casinos are experts at applying customer data to customized offers that appeal to individual gaming preferences. For example, they will send out mailers that include not just the customer’s first name, but have images of their favorite slot machine, credits for the games they play most, and coupons for their favorite restaurants. 

Car dealerships create individualized offers to customers with older vehicles based on their past make, model, and color preferences and bring more vehicle maintenance business to the shop with timely reminders. 

VDP is also a powerful tool for online stores. Think of a furniture store customer who just purchased a set of unfinished cabinets online. This customer is primed and ready to respond to a personalized mail offer for the finishing coatings and hardware they’ll need to complete their project. 

Don’t Neglect Customer Follow-Ups

60% of customers say “no” four times before making a high-value purchase, but surprisingly, 48% of salespeople never attempt even one follow-up. 

VDP as part of an integrated marketing campaign can put those essential follow-ups on autopilot to ensure that every customer has another chance to say yes. 

  • Automate the sending of a personalized promotional kit when a demo is scheduled to supplement a virtual experience with a tangible piece of your brand. 

  • Send educational materials relevant to a customer’s needs and demographics after they download an eBook.

  • Re-engage customers who have abandoned the online shopping cart with a mailer that provides a custom discount for the item they left in their cart.

Do Partner With Jet Mail for VDP and Marketing Fulfillment

Since our founding in 1992, Jet Mail has led the way in commercial printing and advanced marketing solutions. Today, we offer state-of-the-art data management and end-to-end marketing fulfillment solutions that maximize the power of variable data printing and personalize every touchpoint of the sales journey.

Ready to supercharge your direct mail campaigns with variable data printing?Contact our team of experts for a free consultation and demo.



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Jet Mail has continuously innovated since our beginnings as a direct mail and lettershop service provider back in 1992. Nearly three decades later, businesses across North America rely on Jet Mail as their single point of contact for end-to-end integrated marketing solutions and marketing fulfillment.

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