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Direct mail can be cheap and impersonal, or it can be cheap and personal. Generic campaigns put you in front of your customers, but do you capture their attention? With variable data printing, small businesses and marketers in niches can vary their marketing campaigns to target the specific needs of a diverse audience without having to create multiple pieces that may only be useful for one campaign.

What is variable data printing?

Variable data printing is a printing method that allows for some parameters to be changed, such as text and images, within an entire output as many times as desired. This is most often used in direct mail to change names and addresses. The software uses a spreadsheet created by the user or the mail house to determine what input goes where on the material. While it certainly makes creating large scale direct mail campaigns much easier and cost-effective to print, it can be used to further customize direct mail to a customer’s preferences and buying history, personalizing direct mail so that it appears that the it was made just for that customer.

How can variable printing help your direct mail marketing campaigns?

1. One print run. One direct mail campaign can be changed to target specific demographic groups with just a few tweaks. One campaign, one print run, one template. This makes small print runs affordable, and all print runs with a faster turnaround time.

2. Make it personal. If there’s one thing anyone is going to read on your direct mail (besides the word “free”) is their own name. This much variable printing can do, but to further capture a customer’s interest, a mailing, flyer, or catalog can be printed with targeted advertisement so that this customer is receiving what appears to be custom-made letter.

A campaign can target demographic groups or individuals by changing any content to appeal to that group. This would not only increase your return on investment, but allow you to experiment and create test campaigns smaller and more targeted than A/B tests.

3. Eye-catching images, fonts and colors. Customizing fonts, images, and colors allows you to completely transform your direct mail so that one campaign actually functions like many smaller, exclusive, niche campaigns. You could even use the same template over again and simply change the parameters to suit your needs.

4. Make it local. Do you have a storefront, or two? Do you sell your products in brick and mortar stores, at the farmer’s market, a festival? Let your customers know where to find your wares with maps and custom-printed lists of stores, hours, and directions to the places where they can buy your products.

5. Urgent message? A holiday-only sale? Moving locations? Opening a new store in a certain area? Announcing a new product line that a certain section of your customers would be interested in? Variable data printing can help you launch that direct mail with a few changes to an existing template so you can put the news out there immediately.

Creating custom information doesn’t have to be time-consuming and is not only available to those with huge print orders. With variable data printing, you can create multiple, personal, and tailored direct marketing pieces to appeal to each of your customers as individuals.