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Understanding What's Behind Variable Data Printing


Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today's post, "Understanding What's Behind Variable Data Printing," outlines the various methods used by commercial printers to achieve what is known as Variable Data Printing or Variable Digital Printing, aka VDP.  Among newly minted print buyers, it has come to our attention that both prospects and a new generation of print buyers representing firms that buy printing services need to understand some, if not all, of the complexities of the print world.  Following is our definitive take on Variable Data Printing (VDP) and various relevant questions surrounding the VDP quest to deliver personalization.

Digital media, including social media channels, also claim a stake in delivering personalized communications.  However, the extent and level of personalized communications that variable data printing offers outpace that of the digital construct.  For starters, big data is the engine behind print's ability to provide personalized content, and that includes far more than just a name and address.  Marketers that want to generate more response and engagement rates must know that consumers are looking for deeper connections with the brand.  That typically means a brand must demonstrate from the outset that they know and understand the consumer.  The brand must relay that they know who their customers are at a fundamental level.  That would include knowing the person's purchase history and a few demographics, including income levels, education, ethnicity, and other relevant factors.

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 

The Functionality of Variable Data Printing

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

Variable Imaging Explained

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 input from a database or external files.

What is Versioned Digital Printing? 

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 affords various benefits including:

  • 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 for the addressee only.  
  • VDP is a cost-effective solution when compared to traditional offset printing.
  • Version quantities can vary
  • Versions can be unlimited

What is a Variable?

A variable can contain any number of characteristics, including a number or quantity counted or measured.  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.  A variable can also be a programming value that a marketer can alter based on information passed to a program or even a conditional aspect.  Typically, variables and constants fall into 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.  In addition, 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 advertising 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 opportunity door 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. Thanks for reading "Understanding What's Behind Variable Data Printing!"

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 has 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/Data Printing
  • Digital Mail Scanning
  • 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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