Friday, November 18, 2011

Variable Data Printing Basics

Variable Data Printing Basics

In simplest terms, Variable Data Printing (VDP) involves varying or changing the information that is put on a printed piece.   But that description greatly minimizes the full scope and sophistication of this method of personalized printing.  A print shop equipped with VDP technology can customize every piece of a single print run with a targeted message that resonates with each direct mail recipient.   This capability is light-years beyond laser-personalized letters and a simple change of name in an address box. Variable Data Printing combines design and text elements with data analytics to ensure that a promotional mailer speaks directly to a customer.  Once a customer’s personal profile (age, gender, location, purchasing habits) is determined then graphics, color, logos, and pictures can be adjusted to create compelling and unique content for a specific audience.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Planning a VDP Campaign

WHO  should use it?
Anyone who is currently marketing with direct mail should seriously consider Variable Data Printing customization rather than continuing to deliver non-personalized, static messages.

WHY use VDP?
Statistics confirm that messages targeted to an individual’s profile and preferences result in higher direct mail response rates and increased ROI.  In addition, short run printing with digital technology has made VDP possible and very affordable. 

WHERE do I begin?
Partner with a company that has the proper tools and equipment, which includes digital printing technologies, in-house design with specialized VDP software, expertise in direct mail, and expertise in data analytics.

WHAT is the best usage?
Any direct mail campaign designed to: attract new clients, raise funds, purchase a product, or sell a service. VDP can be implemented for catalogs, postcards, letters, envelopes, packages, self-mailers, booklets, business correspondence, event tickets, custom publications, and cross-media marketing campaigns.

WHEN do I start?
Start now.  Don’t wait.  The University of Nebraska Medical Center describes their ROI in this way, “The returns for variable printing vary from double the normal return at the basic level to 10-15 times the return for fully variable jobs.”

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tips on How to Save With Direct Mail

The Direct Mail Association (DMA) reports that 79% of households read or skim through their direct mail. In addition, response rates for direct mail have held steady over the past four years.  This information secures direct mail’s status as a highly effective mode of marketing communication for generating a very positive ROI.  This is good news for marketers.  But if you are just slapping a stamp on a mail piece, you could be missing out on substantial postal discounts that can often cover the entire costs of printing and mailing.  

Whether you prefer first class or bulk mail, USPS offers discounts on postage if you follow certain guidelines.  Essentially, the less the USPS has to physically interact with your mail, the more savings that is passed on to you.  A few simple modifications can make your direct mail piece “machinable”, which is post office terminology for being fully automated. By tweaking a few basic design characteristics, you can ensure that your direct mail campaign has benefited from optimum discounts. 

1.  Dimension and weight of the piece (postcard, self-mailer, letter, flats)
2.  Design features
o   Fold style/orientation (horizontal, vertical, bi-fold, quarter fold)
o   Location of address block and address placement
3.  Closure methods
o   Tabs (wafer seals)
·         Sizes (1, 1 ½, 2”)
·         Perforated/non-perforated
·         Quantity and placement (top, trail edge, lead edge)
o   Glued (continuous glue lines or glue spots)
4.  Quantities
o   Minimum of 500 pieces for first class (estimated 2 to 3 days for delivery)
o   Minimum of 200 pieces for bulk (standard) mail (estimated 2 to 9 days for delivery)

Mail regulations can be complicated and often seem open for interpretation. For this reason, we recommend building a relationship with your bulk mail center.  It is best to call ahead to find out the most convenient time to pay them a visit.  Bring a sample of your mail piece and solicit their advice on the best way to achieve postal discounts. They will usually provide you with a “take home” package containing templates and other pertinent information.

To achieve even further discounts, it is best to partner with a direct mail house that has capabilities in both Intelligent Barcode, and postal/courier route presorts.