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How Variable Digital Printing Works


Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today's post, "How Variable Digital Printing Works," speaks to the various methods used by digital presses to achieve what is known as Variable Data Printing or Variable Digital Printing (aka VDP).  In a nutshell, VDP is the technology behind digital printing personalization that provides a mechanism to print various outputs based on collected data.  This data can include several variables such as household income, age, purchasing habits, location, ethnicity, education levels, etcetera.  In a sense, the more actionable data collected, the more likely a direct mail marketing campaign will invoke higher response and engagement rates. As we have learned in recent years, the "like" feature that permeates social media response choices are only that, simply, "a like," versus a response that results in leads to capture new business or up-sell to current customers.  In addition, VDP also serves as the technology that makes personalized direct mail campaigns so much easier for the brand manager.

Our Quote of the Day: 
 "Personalization – it is not about first/last name. It's about relevant content." 
   – Dan Jak, Head of Email and SMS, British Gas

Before we start, we would like to congratulate the contenders for Super Bowl LV. The 2020 NFL season contenders for the 55th Super Bowl include The American Football Conference champion, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the National Football Conference champion, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Thanks for a 2021 memorable experience!

While eCommerce and internet usage has skyrocketed due to the pandemic, the compelling reasons to use direct mail marketing also increased this past year exponentially. Beyond the obvious issues like bandwidth, screen freeze, and zoom-fatigue, there is an overwhelming concern that the market is missing out.

Not because they can't find the product or service that you sell, but because many, by and large, are not paying attention.  Consumers are highly distracted, and a slow web load only contributes to the problem.   No doubt you may have taken notice that online speeds are somewhat slower across the entire board.  That's because millions are accessing the internet throughout all hours of the day and night.  In addition, internet users are drowning in a sea of email marketing offers that have become, in general, mail spam making it more difficult to reach users.

As we will be in this position for the foreseeable future, one might now fully appreciate the value of personalized direct mail marketing.  It's the intersection where the marketplace meets the targets where they are. It is where the importance of personalized direct mail marketing begins to demonstrate its worth exponentially.  That's because direct mail marketing collateral shares a mailbox with fewer than 20 pieces of mail on average, but more importantly, people read direct mail.  Some might even say that the recipients love it. What's not to love?  

Generally speaking, direct mail marketing is aesthetically pleasing, personalized in every sense of the word, including tactilely, and it is conveniently delivered directly to the target's mailbox.  That said, we know that means that there is a whole new generation of print buyers representing a host of industries that need to buy print and understand the complexities of print.  To that end, we are pleased to provide a definitive view on Variable Data Printing (VDP) in the quest to deliver personalization. 


The Functionality of Variable Data Printing (VDP)

VDP is a technique whereby digital printing software can modify a digital printing press's output to achieve personalization by passing on unique information (data) for each printed piece generated by a database or spreadsheet.  The VDP process generates digitally printed output for every data point fed into the print software. Therefore, depending on the data's complexity, each piece can be customized to include messaging, graphics, and color treatments, thus providing the intended recipients with personalized marketing communications.

Variable Imaging

Variable data printing (VDP), variable information printing (VIP), and variable imaging (VI) are a type of digital printing that offers on-demand printing, in which components such as text, graphics, and images can be modified for each printed piece in succession.  This process does not stop or slow the printing process, as the information is inputting from a database or external files.

Versioned Digital Printing Explained 

Variable data printing technology provides another benefit for print collateral to be output as an original version.  We define versioning as having multiple versions of the same piece.  Adding this versioning information is cost-effective and requires minimal additional expenditures.  However, the piece's appearance is significantly enhanced; by keeping it uniform, there are no random labels, handwritten info, or smeared rubber stamping. 

Versioning brings many benefits:

  • It eliminates the shipping label requirement and the need to customize a mass-produced piece.  Each piece will contain custom information and provide an appearance that gives the impression that it is original and meant to be there. 
  • VDP is a cost-effective solution when compared to traditional offset printing.
  • Version quantities can vary.
  • Versions can be unlimited.

Definition of a Variable

A variable can contain any number of characteristics, including a number or quantity.  A variable is also known as a data object or point.  Examples of variable data include age, sex, household income, business income, expenses, country of origin, investment expenditure, purchase history, educational grade results, eye and hair color, types of owned vehicle(s), and more.  Variables are also programming values that programmers can alter given the information or a conditional aspect.   Typically, we refer to variables and constants as particular data types. 

How is Variable Data Printing Used?

On-demand Digital Printing offers organizations a high degree of flexibility and affordable printing solutions.  VDP options encompass a wide range of applications starting with simple mail merges to various versioning options for customized printing strategies for different markets associated with overall marketing initiatives. 

Thanks to VDP technology, organizations can use this variable data printing technology to create a plethora of personalized, custom materials and data points that best speak to the intended recipients in a direct mail marketing program.  Besides, variable data printing also provides marketers with the ability to quickly and easily edit future marketing campaigns to increase ROI. 

Businesses and marketers that incorporate variable data printing solutions can print a myriad of custom, personalized print collateral such as:

  • Direct marketing materials, customized flyers, mailers, brochures, booklets, and more
  • Unique labeling and tailored packaging collateral
  • Personalized documents, letters, and correspondence which are perfect for CRM strategies or invoicing
  • Postcard campaigns that are personalized and unique for each recipient

Variable Data Printing Increases Response Rates

In an overabundant media universe, where television, radio, email, social media, banner ads, blog posts, and billboards are all screaming for attention, consumers and prospects find it challenging to respond to those intrusive communications.  That said, marketing professionals are certainly in the hunt for a better solution that can cut through the campaign clutter.  Therefore, it should be a no-brainer for brands and marketers to consider direct mail marketing, backed by VDP technology, to deliver personalized marketing communications to people's uncluttered physical mailboxes.  Studies have shown that direct mail marketing increases response rates and ROI across all channels.

The Net-Net

Variable Data Printing, aka VDP, is steeped in print technology that opens the door for opportunities to deliver customized, personalized communications in an efficient, affordable manner.  Now that you have a basic understanding of VDP, what's behind VDP technology, and how it works, we contend that your marketing efforts will go further by including variable data printing with your direct mail marketing.  We hope this article sheds light on the subject, and thanks for reading "How Variable Digital Printing Works!"

Let's have a conversation about integrated business solutions and how they can help grow your business, change behavior, and improve the customer experience.  Let us show you how to improve your document processes to optimize your workflow, reduce your costs, and maximize your organization's printing, letter shop, and mailing capabilities. Dove Direct does have an official USPS certified bureau located within our offices that will save you time and money. We can even create a demo file for you. 

For more information, call Carla Eubanks at 404-629-0122 or email Carla at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Dove Direct, your Atlanta based print and mail solutions provider, offers organizations end-to-end data, printing, and mailing solutions:

  • Data Management

  • Variable Digital Printing
  • LetterShop and Fulfillment
  • Fully Automated MLOCR Presort Bureau

  • Marketing and Production Management Support

  • Secure Data Life Cycle Management

If you don't want to wait, you can reach Dove Direct today by calling 404-629-0122 or use the Contact Form for Dove Direct.

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