Understanding the Basics of Variable Data Printing

A man holding an open brown envelope with lots of similar-looking envelopes behind it

We’ve all received generic emails at some point in our lives. Once we see they’re not personalized for us, we often move them to the trash bin, not even bothering to read beyond the subject line.

If you’re a business whose lifeblood is direct marketing, being ignored is a disaster. 

But how can you send powerful, relevant, and personalized direct mail to all your clients—something that would make them feel you’re speaking to them on a one-on-one level—without spending too much time?

Fortunately, there is a solution: variable data printing.

What is Variable Data Printing? 

Variable data printing (VDP) is a type of digital printing solution that makes it possible for companies to prepare mailers that are specific to each recipient. 

It creates individualized direct mail pieces on a massive scale in a single run. How can VDP do this? By using data sets for each specific customer or prospect. It could be any of these things:

  • Customer’s name
  • Address
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Purchase history
  • Image personalization
  • Geographical location
  • And more

By synthesizing customer data, VDP can create targeted marketing campaigns that have a higher chance of conversion and engagement.

Simplifying How Variable Data Printing Works 

How variable data printing works is simple. 

Your printer will pull each customer’s information from the database—from their name and geographical location down to their shopping habits and images from a file. The VDP software will then insert the pulled data into a static mail design template to create completely customized content.

Still confused? Let’s put it this way:

If you’re mailing invitations to customers so they can visit your newly opened store, it’s ideal to include a map detailing the best driving route from their house to the store’s location. 

Based on each customer’s address, VDP can customize maps showing the best driving routes from individual locations to the address of the new store. The customized map is inserted into the mail piece, including other tailor-fit elements you might want to include.

VDP goes beyond customizing maps and changing names on envelopes. It can also personalize mail pieces using:

  • Behavioural data 

    Tailor what products to cross-sell and or upsell to the customer based on their previous purchases, buying patterns, and habits.

  • Psychographic data

    Adjust your messaging and reiterate the value of your business by basing the content on the recipient’s activities and interests. 

  • Demographic data 

    Customize offers, images, and messages based on the customer’s age, gender, ethnicity, education level, occupation, income, and home type.

Aside from custom-tailored content, VDP is fast too. If traditional printing can produce 100,000 identical copies of one document, VDP can produce 100,000 unique and personalized documents. 

That’s how powerful VDP is.

Two tickets slightly different from each other to fit the needs of certain customer demographics

The Benefits of Using VDP for Your Business 

Increased Response Rates

People are more likely to respond or engage when the message and product offering has been tailored to them. One-to-one marketing also projects a brand in a more positive way. 

Increased Return on Investment

VDP gives you the ability to target leads by location, age, and interests, among others. Because of this, you can be certain you are getting the right message across to the right people.

And because your marketing campaign is well-targeted, there’s a higher chance that:

  • Leads will be converted into customers.
  • Customers will follow your desired call-to-action.
  • You get a better return on your investment for your marketing efforts. 

Just remember to do your consumer research for clean, accurate, and updated data. Also, create buyer personas for a more optimal targeting and messaging strategy.

It Builds Relationships

Current marketing trends are centred around user experience. Thus, your marketing strategy must reflect what your customers value.

Since variable data printing is user-centric, it’s a great tool to start and build relationships with leads and customers. Thanks to VDP, you can make them feel more valued by creating warmer welcome letters, personalized recommendations, coupons, etc. Things like these do wonders in creating and maintaining a loyal customer base.

Where Else Can You Use VDP? 

Aside from direct mail marketing, variable data printing improves business marketing in many other ways. Here are some of them:


If you’re opening a new store, you can send personalized coupons to existing and prospective customers who live near the location. Their shopping habits might change because of improved proximity.

The coupons could also feature customized messaging and offers based on the purchase history of the customer or whether they shop online or at a physical store. All these could be integrated into the variable data printing process to make it more personalized.

A bunch of personalized coupons

Brochures and Pamphlets

Universities sending out pamphlets and brochures to interested students, for example, can benefit from variable data printing. It will allow them to create custom messaging that directly talks about the specific interests of the students. 

The imagery on the brochure can also be customized to speak to the academic interests of each individual student.

Personalized Packaging

By combining CRM (customer relationship management) database and variable digital printing, consumer brands can personalize print pieces and packaging to take the whole experience to a new level. 

Improve Your Business with Variable Data Printing

Clearly, working with variable data printing saves you time, gives mass distribution a one-on-one feel, and allows targeted marketing on a micro-level.

If you’re looking for the best software solution that can do all these, Busys is here to help. We are Canada’s leading provider of office software solutions that can provide the printing and software needs of a growing business like yours. 

Contact us or visit our website to know more.

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