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Variable Data Printing: The Data You Use Can Make or Break Your Campaigns

By Wendy Batara, Sr. Marketing Program Manager, Modern Postcard

Using Variable Data Printing (VDP) for your direct mail campaigns allows you to customize each piece during a single print run. Unique text and images can be displayed on each card, creating pieces that are specifically relevant to the end recipient. To do this effectively, you need to start with accurate data to use for personalization, such as first name, company name, location and more. Without clean, usable data, your VDP mailing will not be set up for success.

Studies estimate that the average consumer is exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 advertisements a day! In today’s ever-growing, crowded marketspace, businesses have to fight more than ever to get noticed, and consumers have come to expect relevant, personalized offerings. Having clean data to use for your VDP marketing campaigns will help you to achieve this.

3 Tips for Better, Usable Data

1. Data Hygiene
If you are addressing a person or organization by name in your VDP piece, the last thing you want to do is get it wrong. Sweep through your mailing list and clean up misspelled contact information – because messages sent to wrong names may technically reach your target audience, but it’s highly off-putting and your marketing pieces will likely go right into the recycling bin.

2. Add Default Data
In-house marketing lists are typically compiled from various sources such as online forms, customer purchases and internal data entry, leaving room for incomplete contact information or questionable data. Don’t let this keep you from doing a VDP mailing. Instead, replace questionable or missing data with default data that will work flawlessly with your VDP message.

If you’re using a client’s first name as a VDP element but are finding missing names or potential misspellings, don’t remove the entire record from your list – use a default instead. For example: “An exclusive offer for Patricia” can be “An exclusive offer for our top customer” when a first name is unavailable. While some pieces in your mass mailing will not necessarily be completely personalized, having a variable default option will allow your campaign to reach your entire database, intelligently.

To visualize how this works, we’re including two layouts below from a recent Modern Postcard VDP mailing. The first layout shows an entry where the first name was present in the list. The second layout shows an entry where the first name was not present, so we used a default option as the substitute. In developing variable defaults, you can really get creative with the messaging, which will help grab the recipient’s attention even though it’s not specifically addressing them.

3. Append Your Data
According to a study by Cannon Solutions America, adding a person’s name in full color can increase response by 135%. Including a person’s name in full color along with sophisticated database information (such as applying gender-tailored graphics for male or female clients) can increase the response rate by up to 500% compared to a static campaign that doesn’t utilize these advanced tactics.

To develop robust VDP campaigns that go beyond first name use, your lists need to include specific data such as product or service purchase history, age or gender. If your current lists do not include that level of detail, Modern Postcard can help you append demographic information. Here’s a sampling of data that could be appended simply by providing the name/company name, address, city, state and zip code of every customer and prospect in your list.

Consumer Lists:
Gender and age
Income and occupation
Homeowner or renter
Length of residency
Marital status
Business Lists:
Top contact name and title
SIC code/industry
Employee size
Annual sales
Years in business

To recap: when your lists contain clean, usable data, you can create exclusive offers and graphics that are more relevant and engaging to that individual, leading to increased response and sales.

Interested in increasing your response rates with a VDP campaign or need help developing more complex and creative campaigns? We can help! Contact the experts at Modern for a free consultation: 800.959.8365

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Thank you Modern Postcard for a great job on producing a perfect color match on my art card. I am hugely pleased.
Nancy Sanders
NS Frames