How to Supercharge Your Direct Mail Personalization Using Variable Data

By Bob Baldridge September 15, 2020

We know that print marketing is effective. After all, direct mail’s ability to stimulate a motivation response in the brain (that feeling of “wanting” that drives decision-making) is 20% higher than digital media’s. But the average American household receives around 454 pieces of marketing mail each year, and that’s a lot of mail to look through.  

But the average American household receives around 454 pieces of marketing mail each year, and that’s a lot of mail to look through.  

So how do marketers cut through the clutter? At Varispark, we give you the ability to stand out through highly personalized direct mail. We can help you increase your direct mail response rate by up to 500% by adding not only the recipient’s name and using full color, but by also integrating more sophisticated database information into your messaging.

And we do it all through variable data printing (VDP) technology. 

What Is Variable Data Printing?
VDP is a printing technology that allows marketers to create customized print pieces, individualized for each specific recipient, on a large scale. It’s powered by software that can pull images, copy, or other components from a database, and this information is then inserted into a direct mail design based on pre-set variables such as location, gender identity, household income, purchasing history, and more — essentially, if the data exists, we can use it to customize your mailing. 

For example, instead of sending 100,000 identical postcards, all with the same message, we help marketers use VDP to create customized pieces, each tailored with the message that will most likely resonate with the individual based on what we know about them, and a more targeted list (which also happens to save them money on mailing). If you’ve ever received a personalized card or coupon from a business on your birthday, this is the technology that powered it. These campaigns made possible by VDP not only increase customer loyalty to your company, but also encourage them to continue to do business with you over the competition. 

In fact, according to Forbes, more than 84% of consumers said they’re more likely to open a piece of mail that is personalized. And in an Evergage study, almost 90% of marketers in the U.S. saw measurable improvements because of VDP, with more than half of them showing at least a 10% increase in business results.

How Does VDP Work?
Before this technology was available, it was labor- and time-intensive — not to mention costly — to print several customized versions of a print piece, because it involved manual setup and changing plates between print runs. 

Advances in digital and inkjet printing technology have made customization faster, easier, and much less expensive. Today’s digital printers sync seamlessly with database software, and the quality and color is virtually indistinguishable from that of traditional offset printing devices. Still, only print service providers who have invested in this technology are able to provide this service. At Varispark, we invested early on in digital and pride ourselves on being VDP experts who can advise clients on how to use personalization effectively, which in turn leads to better marketing ROI.

True VDP is More Than Just Using Someone’s Name
Speaking of marketing ROI, the more relevant you can make your direct mail piece, the better returns you will see. Your audience wants to know that they’re more than just a number, so use the data you have to not only address them by name but genuinely tailor your message to show that you understand and can address their needs.

There are simple ways to implement this into your direct mail. Here are just a few ideas:

Call Them By Their Name Throughout: It’s basic, but it’s effective. When someone sees their name on a piece of mail, it can increase the response rate by as much as 135%. But don’t limit yourself to just the salutation. By including the recipient’s name throughout the text, you can reassure them that you took the time to customize your message — that it really is just for them.

Use Personalized Images: The visual aspect of your direct mail can have a huge effect on engagement. When people hear information, most only remember 10% of it three days later. But if you pair information with a relevant image, people retain more like 65% of the information three days later. You can leverage this even more by matching the image in a mail piece to the recipient. For example, a veterinary clinic could use images of cats for cat owners and images of dogs for dog owners. A hotel chain could swap in images of outdoor leisure activities for older couples, the indoor water park for young families, and the corporate suite for business travelers.

Capitalize on Geographic Location: Even if you don’t have much data about your recipients, you’ve got their zip code, and that’s all the information you need to personalize the message to their location. For instance, if you have a car dealership, a bank, or another type of franchise, include the address of the nearest location to the recipient, along with a map. Even better, use what you know about the recipient’s neighborhood, city, or state to personalize your messaging and give the person a reason to engage. 

Include a Unique Call to Action: Using VDP, we can add unique barcodes, QR codes, or personalized URLs to print pieces. If you’re a grocery store chain, for example, you can use this technology to send different offers for young college students versus large families — or even a personalized offer for every individual. Not only do these calls to action drive engagement through your digital channels, but they also allow you to measure the overall success of your marketing efforts. 

Moving Forward with VDP
By using VDP, you can offer your audience a more meaningful experience with your direct mail, and these personal connections can serve to set your business apart. If you have any questions or are ready to take your direct mail marketing to the next level with VDP, contact Varispark to learn how to leverage this game-changing technology — and increase your bottom line.

Have questions? Ready to get started? Contact us today!