Is Variable Data Printing Right for You?
An up-and-coming technology called variable data printing (VDP) offers catalogers a relatively easy and effective way to create highly personalized direct marketing pieces.
VDP offers the ability to change text, graphics and even photographs from one printed piece to the next without stopping or slowing down the web press. As a result, these digital presses not only can personalize but also can customize information for each recipient, making one-to-one marketing easy.
While VDP is not quite ready to create full-sized custom catalogs, it can deliver personalized mini-catalogs that offer superior response rates and increase loyalty, say experts. Presently, VDP is used mainly in the b-to-b catalog industry, because businesses tend to have more depth to their customer files and offer higher-end products or sell merchandise that’s frequently reordered.
VDP has several uses in the catalog industry, including the following:
• personalized fulfillment—a mini-catalog of products requested via the Web, phone or a survey;
• relationship marketing pieces—created from simple or complex personal information, usually purchase history; and
• transactional—using billing statements to make offers based on a recent purchase. The offers are typically printed and attached to the bottom of a bill. Credit cards do this often.
VDP requires a cataloger to tap its database for customers’ personal information (similar to that used by Web sites employing personalization) or to build a database. While the latter may seem complicated, it’s not. VDP works hand-in-hand with the Internet, which allows catalogers to capture a lot of personal data.
“The Web has created a vehicle for delivering personalized content that is impacting print,” says Doug Johnston of the Print On Demand Initiative (PODi). “It’s raising the bar of expectation in print.”
For example, a retailer can track what a customer is looking at and combine that knowledge with address information to make a targeted mailing, such as a brochure with the exact model, color and accessorized car a customer was ogling online.