What is Variable Data Printing?

Direct Mail Services, Personalisation, Variable Printing Data | August 16, 2023


What’s all this talk about variable data printing I hear you ask? Well grab a coffee and a seat and I’ll tell you…

VDP or variable data printing is a process that allows you to output individual pieces of print that are specific to a database. In layman’s terms – the advent of larger industrial digital printers allows for each print to be different than the last and using a database to fuel this difference is key.

So to use a scenario, let’s say we’re a car repair garage and we want to remind customers that they are due a service on their car, well it’s simple – we have the names and addresses of our customers along with their vehicle details and service history, we know that they are due a service on their car – so what is a good way of communicating this to them? A mailed item!

What sort of mailed item? For this scenario let’s say it’s a single postcard, that will be posted to the vehicle owners with a simple message that they are due a service on their vehicle.

This is where VDP comes in, you can take that database supplied by the garage, design a branded postcard for their business and ‘plug’ their database into the design itself.

VDP allows you to change any element of the postcard and make it bespoke to that recipient (or customer) – in the case of the service reminder for their car, you can have their standard name and address information that allows you to mail the item – but you can be cleverer than that, you can add the details of the make and model of their car, change any bit of text or any image to be more ‘tuned’ to the customer, so if they have a particular model of ford (other brands are available) then you could have an image of that car on one side, VDP allows for this.

So VDP is a the best proposition for direct mail marketing – it makes it personal!

Not only can you change each image or bit of text depending on the data, but also things like QR and barcodes, making for some highly advanced tracking techniques – not to mention individual voucher codes on a letter or pre-populated details.

A second scenario is a charity who wants to mail their database of members to tell them about a new cause, let’s say a wildlife charity want to raise money to purchase a piece of land that is under treat of development or simply to preserve the wildlife that is there.

That wildlife charity can take their database and contact each member by mail, rather like the car repair garage in scenario 1. In this case, the charity will mail out a 4 page letter detailing the plight of this cause and how, with a simple donation from their member, they could purchase this land for future preservation.

VDP allows us to take the charities’ database of members, design an amazing looking 4 page letter, showing in great detail the charitable cause then populate key areas of the text with the members personal details (names, address, membership number etc) – this can take the form of a detachable slip with a request for a donation with sections already populated or simply inserting their name into the body copy of the letter.

The print element of both of these scenarios is the same, each individual sheet that comes of the digital printer can be different. Think of modern digital printers as a large version of an office printer, albeit, ‘slightly’ more complex – but the principle is the same, you throw a multipage document at it and it prints it for you, but these days – the print quality is comparable to more traditional methods, such as litho – but with the added bonus of variation!

There are infinite possibilities with VDP if you have the data!

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