[Updated for 2022]

Customized marketing campaigns increase engagement by speaking to a customer's unique wants and needs. What's more engaging, a generic mailer sent out to everyone on a list or one that uses your customer database to tailor the messaging to each customer? Variable data printing allows you to create customized marketing campaigns using print products like direct mail and personalization labels to engage your customers more precisely. 

Why Customization?

How Does Variable Data Printing Work?

Using Variable Data Printing in Print Marketing

Types of Variable Data Printing

Types of Print Marketing VDP Campaigns

Why Customization?

Today, businesses can collect customer data and use it to create highly personalized marketing campaigns, on and offline. Instead of sending 5,000 copies of the same mailer to customers, you can send 5,000 customers personalized mailers with custom messaging. Variable data printing allows your business to give each customer a more personalized experience. Having at least three points of personalization improves response by over 1,000%. Instead of "junk mail," they can receive offers and messages that are relevant to them, increasing conversions and ROI. A Linksys study found that "59% of shoppers who have experienced personalization believe it has a noticeable influence on purchasing." 

Related: Using Personalization Without Being Creepy

How Does Variable Data Printing Work?

Before variable data printing, if you wanted to send out personalized print marketing campaigns, each piece of mail would have to be customized individually. This took lots of time, and the ROI was often not worth it. Today, it's fully automated. VDP software allows you to do this at scale with your customer data from a spreadsheet or database. You can choose your design and pre-set variables based on the type of campaign you're running, and then the VDP software will fill in the variables for each customer.

Related: Setting Up Variable Data Printing

Examples of variables to choose from:

  • Marital status
  • Purchase history
  • Location
  • Brand preferences
  • Demographics
  • Interests

Using Variable Data Printing for Print Marketing

When it comes to print marketing, there are a few different options for variable data printing. You get to choose what variables you want. Think of it as "filling in the blanks." You leave "blanks" for what you want to be customized, and the VDP software fills in those blanks based on the data.

Types of Variable Data Printing

At the most basic level, you can customize the name, whether it's for a coupon, mailer, thank-you note, or label. Customizing the name lets you create materials for a large customer set and add a touch of personalization, which increases how well it resonates with audience members. The next level is adding custom copy and imagery, tailoring the messaging to each customer based on the data you've collected. If you know more information about each customer, such as their purchase history, you can create a custom offer or block of copy to improve engagement. The most advanced form of variable data printing will produce fully customized pieces. You can change anything from the design (colors, layout) to the images and text.

Types of Print Marketing VDP Campaigns

  • Coupons and special offers
  • Thank-you notes
  • Envelopes
  • Labels
  • Postcards
  • QR codes
  • Personalized landing pages
  • Personalized visuals
  • Remarketing campaigns

Advances in variable data printing allow you to make the most out of your customer data and create print materials with a higher ROI. Instead of generic "junk mail," you can send out personalized offers and messages that are relevant to each customer. VDP can be used as an integral part of your marketing campaigns, creating anything from personalized product labels to tailored coupons based on past spending habits. VDP software automates the process for you. All you have to do is choose the design and what variables you want to customize from your collected customer data - the software handles the rest. What used to be a painstaking process now takes just a few minutes, so you can make the most out of each print material.

The team at Ironmark is highly experienced in direct mail campaigns and will be happy to help with your marketing efforts. If you’re interested in implementing VDP for your next direct mail campaign, contact our team today.


Written by Scott Kravitz

As a graduate of RIT University and with over 25 years of experience, Scott Kravitz has been bringing his wealth of print knowledge to Ironmark since 2019. Kravitz manages Ironmark's sales representatives and provides alignment and communication between sales, marketing, clients, and production. With his charismatic personality and effective management skills, Kravitz leads strategic partnerships and increasing sales with new, emerging, and enterprise clients for Ironmark.

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