When it comes to your next direct mail marketing campaign, you will likely face many challenges. Design and copywriting. Postal regulations. List selection. And that’s just the start. One particularly perplexing problem involves personalizing your direct mail, especially when you have a large number of printed materials to churn out as quickly as possible.


When you want to change text, graphics, or images from one printed piece to the next, you don’t want to slow down the printing process. After all, you’ve got deadlines to meet. That’s where variable data printing comes in.


What Is Variable Data Printing?

Variable data printing, also known as VDP, is a form of digital print production that allows for mass customization.what is variable data printing


For example, instead of sending 5,000 identical sales brochures to customers (with a single message), marketers use variable data printing to create 5,000 customized brochures in the same amount of time. You can use variable data to personalize direct mail by printing location-specific information on each brochure. It could be a website URL that references a local store or group of stores in a nearby city, or a coupon code that’s only valid at a particular location.


Let’s take a look at some ways you can personalize your next direct mail marketing campaign.


Personalize Your Marketing Campaigns

variable data print marketingYour customers don’t want to be a number. Just the opposite, in fact. They want to be an individual with a name and a place of importance in the eyes of your business.


Whether you call them by name or use some sort of collected data to better serve their needs, personalization works. Highly personalized communications produced with intelligent business rules, automated templates, and variable data personalization generally receive higher response rates than generic marketing campaigns.


In a Forbes article on direct mail marketing, over 84% of consumers said they’d be more likely to open a piece of personalized mail. And according to an Evergage study, almost 90% of US marketers saw measurable improvements because of variable data personalization. More than half of them reported at least a 10% lift in business results.


In other words, it’s worth the effort to find ways to personalize your direct mail marketing campaigns.


1. Add a Name to the Headline

“Remember that a person’s name is, to that person,
the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

—Dale Carnegie


It may seem like the most basic form of personalization, but by adding the recipient’s name to the headline of a direct mail piece, you’ll grab their attention and keep them reading. Research shows that by adding a person’s name (and some color) in the direct mail piece, it can increase the response rate by as much as 135%. By adding even more variable data information, you could increase the response rate by up to 500% vs. not including any personalization at all.


The headline isn’t the only place you can get personal, however. Sure, the headline grabs their attention right away, but try including their name in a few places within the body of the direct mail letter. By using their name, you provide some assurance that they’re not receiving another piece of junk mail.


2. Add a Name to the Envelope

variable data personalizationAnother possibility is to include some personalization on the outside of the envelope. And you can use more than just a name and address.


Consider variable data printing to customize the envelope’s copy and images. This could include special offers, urgent deadlines, irresistible teasers—even images of products that are uniquely relevant to the recipient.


If you’re using a window envelope, reply device personalization allows you to address the reply card inside. Then you can strategically position it in the window so you’re using one address for both the delivery and the response.


3. Use Personalized Images

The visual aspect of your direct mail campaign sets the mood and draws the recipient into your message. Research shows an image is the best way to create that level of engagement. That’s because your brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. Half the human brain is dedicated to visual functions.


Be sure to match the images in your direct mail message with the audience you’re sending it to. For example, a veterinary clinic can send out personalized appointment reminders based on the kind of pet their client has. If you have a dog, you receive a reminder with a picture of a dog. If you have a cat, you receive a reminder with a picture of a cat. It may seem like a minor detail, but it makes a difference.


Also, there are a variety of possibilities for localization. If you have a local retail store, you can include a map that highlights where it’s located. A personalized map is a great way to show the recipient how convenient it is to do business with you. If you have an insurance agency, for example, you might include an agent’s photo and their contact information.


You can also get creative with how you present images. If you have a customer’s name, write it into the sand on a beach or use it to form clouds in the sky. It’s a fun way of communicating with them and more importantly, it captures their attention.


4. Use Previous Interactions to Personalize

You can use information about the customer’s previous interactions with your company to personalize the offer you send them. For example, if your product or service needs to renew after a certain period of time, you can create a personalized campaign based on when the customer made the purchase. To add a sense of urgency, offer a coupon with an expiration date.


Another option is to recommend products or services that are compatible with products or services they already purchased. If someone owns an iPhone X, it would stand to reason they may have an interest in accessories for that phone. The same can be said for any product or service that is compatible or enhanced by another.


Take what you know about your customer, then enhance the communication based on their buying behavior. Direct mail personalization that’s based on buying behavior is one of the most powerful forms of customization—and it typically produces a positive response.


5. Personalize Based on Gender

marketing verticals variable data printingMen are from Mars. Women are from Venus. You’ve probably heard that before and you know how it goes. Men and women have a tendency to view products differently. When you personalize your direct mail marketing campaign based on gender, you portray the offer in a way that’s most appealing to men or women.


Be careful not to assign a gender, however. If a customer hasn’t identified themselves as a man or a woman, don’t assume based on their name. Be sure your data on gender is correct. You don’t need to sync with Facebook’s 71 different gender options, but you also don’t want to accidentally send a female-targeted mailing to a man.



6. Stealth Variable Data Personalization: Mailing Lists by Zip Code and More

It’s possible to create a personalized mail piece without the recipient knowing about it. Mailing lists by zip code or a mail list that coincides with a particular target market is a form of personalization. For example, you could target parents of children within a specific zip code or from a certain age group with your pediatric health care practice. Here are a few other possibilities:


  • Match product photos or coupons to a household based on product needs. So a household with babies would get diaper coupons.
  • When writing to someone in a specific industry, talk about that industry. If you know their job title, talk about their work.
  • Do you know what kind of car they drive? Do you know what kind of pet they have? What clubs do they belong to? Use the information you have to make a personal connection.

In any of these situations, work the information you have into your messaging when appropriate. Be careful not reveal too much of what you know or you might make your prospect feel uncomfortable.


7. Offer Recommendations

A great way to use variable data personalization in your direct mail marketing campaign is to tell customers about other products or services they may have an interest in. Look at Amazon as an example. They’re well known for offering recommendations based on buying history. For instance, customers who bought the same product as you also purchased certain other related items. You can recommend that they might be interested in these same products, too.


8. Include QR Codes and Personalized Landing Pages (PURLs)

Modern-day consumers are more connected than ever before. They’re always checking emails, social media, even asking Siri and Alexa for advice or information. That’s why in today’s direct mail world, an omnichannel approach is no longer a luxury, it’s practically a necessity if you want to maximize your results.


According to Gartner Research, campaigns that integrate more than four digital channels find 300% greater success than single- or dual-channel campaigns.


You want to be able to seamlessly connect the printed direct mail piece with a web page that can help them get what you’re offering.


QR codes are optical labels you can add to your direct mail piece. Recipients can scan the code with their smartphone to get more information about the content. Another option is a personal URL (aka PURL). In either event, the user is directed to a unique, personalized landing page created especially for them. Thus, each recipient of your direct mail or email marketing campaign has their own PURL.


Plus, the uniqueness of the QR code or PURL (http:// yourname. domain. com) allows for precise, individual response tracking.


9. Use Personal Statistics

Rather than telling someone how much money they can save, show them how much they’ve already saved. As an added incentive, compare their savings to your customers’ average savings. If they’re behind in the game, so to speak, they might want to catch up.


10. Offer Special Incentives

Consider offering your customers special incentives or discounts to celebrate their birthday or the anniversary they signed up for a membership. Maybe there’s a reward for reaching a certain number of purchases. This strategy is a great way to stay connected to your customers (or prospects) without selling something to them.


11. Don’t Forget to Say Thanks

It’s not only important to personalize when you’re selling to someone. It’s also important to personalize when you’re thanking them for their business. It’s a great way to create a relationship. Remember, it costs at least 5x as much (and up to 25x as much) to attract a new customer as it does to keep a current one. So be sure to show appreciation.


A particularly effective way to express gratitude is with a handwritten note. Naturally, this becomes impractical when you’re thanking a lot of customers, so consider a digitally handwritten thank-you card as your solution. Handwritten notes seem more valuable because they’re so scarce. If you use handwritten notes, you’ll stand out.


The primary goal of a thank-you card is to say thank you, but it’s also a good idea to include a call-to-action with an incentive for future business. You want to build a relationship and a CTA provides your customers with a way to stay in touch.


You could offer a:


  • Free gift
  • Discount on a future purchase
  • Referral code invitation for friends and family
  • Request for an online product or service review


So, when customers take action (visiting a website URL or using a promo code, etc.), you’ll be able to track the success of your thank-you cards just as you would any other direct-mail piece.


Variable Data Direct Mail: Your Marketing Campaign Difference Maker

Personalizing your direct mail marketing efforts can make all the difference between a successful campaign and one that falls far short of expectations. By using variable data printing, you can change the text, graphics, and/or images from one printed piece to the next, personalizing to match the data you desire from each recipient.


MSP can help you make the most of your next direct mail program with competitive rates and enhanced variable data personalization techniques, like those mentioned above.


Contact MSP for a free consultation.

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