If you’re after a way to make your promotional materials feel more special, or you’re planning a more dynamic direct marketing campaign, variable data printing is your ideal solution. But what exactly is it? And how can you take advantage of VDP to create memorable, out-of-the-box advertising for your business?
What is Variable Data Printing?
Variable data printing or VDP is a process which enables you to add unique text, images and design elements to each individual item in your print run
With VDP, there’s no need to create hundreds or even thousands of design files for each intended item - you simply provide a single ‘base’ design and a list of the individual data entries you want to print on top, and digital printing takes care of the rest.
VDP is handy for a number of standard marketing purposes, including:
● Tailoring marketing messages to target different customer segments
● Optimising content for different branches and regions (while maintaining brand consistency)
● Reproducing your design in different languages for international markets
● Adding unique barcodes/QR codes/numbers to track customer behaviour and marketing success
But that’s not all it can do! With a bit of inspiration, variable printing can be a powerful tool for building creative, buzz-worthy marketing campaigns.
Extra special scratchcards
VDP is the bread and butter of scratchcard printing - it’s the very process that lets you print unique prizes and verification codes onto each card
But there’s plenty more you can do with scratch-off panels and VDP beyond the typical prize giveaway.
For example, you could enhance your discount vouchers by printing unique voucher codes onto scratchcards - that way, the customer will be enticed into scratching off the panel and will likely perceive the voucher as more valuable to them. You could even give some codes larger discounts than others, giving your vouchers the feel of a prize giveaway without the prizes.
Alternatively, you could hold a regular scratchcard giveaway, but only send them to customers in your mailing list and print their names on each one. This is a great way to recognise and reward customer loyalty; letting each customer know that they’re valued with an exclusive chance at winning prizes.
Gotta collect them all
Looking to encourage multiple purchases from the same customer? By printing unique variants of the same product (or printing a limited series of products each with their own unique ID number), you can often turn a regular product into a valued collectable item.
For example, magazine publishers often produce a limited edition issue of their publication with several different pieces of cover art. Not only does this make each variant feel special, but it also means fans and collectors of the magazine will need to buy them all in order to have the full set.
You can also use collect-them-all tactic as part of a promotional competition; distributing VDP-printed tickets or stickers at random, and giving prizes away to customers who manage to collect them all. McDonald’s follows this strategy every year with their successful Monopoly giveaway - which even includes stickers with unique codes for their accompanying online giveaway.
What about using a collectathon to create mystery, foster brand interaction and/or encourage collaboration? With variable printing, you can display part of a coded message or map on each item in your print run, so that consumers have to collect all of them together (or at least several of them) to reveal the secret.
You can even encourage those consumers to solve the mystery together via social media; earning you some positive online buzz in the process!
Personalised messages, PURLs and offers
As we hinted in our Valentine’s blog last week, variable printing is great for adding personalised messages for each individual recipient in your direct list. You can take this a step further with PURLs (aka personalised URLs).
Here’s how it works: you set up individual landing pages on your site, each with their own personalised website address (there’s various software solutions which let you generate unique URLS and landing pages quickly).
Each individual landing page should be populated with content relating to the intended recipient - again, you can use automated software systems to automatically populate each landing page with personalised content.
You can then use VDP to print each PURL to each item in your direct mail print run. By providing highly-targeted content to each user, you’ll have a much easier time convincing them to buy - and since each recipient will only be visiting their own PURL, you can track the behaviour of each individual user to understand your customer base better.
You can also use this technique offline too - utilising customer data to deliver exclusive, personally-targeted offers through their letterboxes. How about sending them discount vouchers for their favourite products, or notifying them if an event they’ve been to in the past is taking place again?
Over to you - have you ever used VDP in your own marketing campaigns? How have you used unique-printed elements in creative ways? Share your ideas in the comments below.
Love is in the air once again - and now’s the perfect time to show your regular customers how special they are to you.
All joking aside, it’s important to reward the loyalty of your customer base. After all, it’s more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing one.
And if you go out of your way to make customers feel valued and special, they’ll be more inclined to give you repeat business and recommend your company to their friends and family.
Here are three ideas for showing your affection for your customers on Valentine’s Day!
Send them a Valentine’s card
Let’s start with the classic way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Customers will appreciate the novelty of receiving their own personally addressed greetings card through the door - especially if you use variable data printing to add a custom message to each one in your print run.
There’s no need to go overboard with a sappy message - just tell your customers that you appreciate their business.
(And with Better Printing, you can even rely on us to send out each card to each of your individual customers via nationwide and international courier.
Give them an exclusive offer or discount
One way to make customers feel special is to give them access to an offer they can’t get anywhere else.
Why not place an exclusive voucher code inside your card so customers can get a discount in-store or online? You can also make each card’s code unique via variable printing and give every customer in your mailing list their own personalised offer.
Your offer could even be themed around Valentine’s Day itself. Perhaps your discount could be a two-for-one deal, or money off a product in your range that couples might enjoy together. (Hey, get your minds out of the gutter!)
Invite them out on a ‘date’
Okay, it won’t be an actual date - but sending your best customers an invitation. to an exclusive event or opportunity is a quirky reward that’ll definitely get people talking about your brand.
It’s also a great way to humanise an ecommerce or online-only business; bringing the experience of being a customer into the ‘real’ world.
What should your ‘date night’ entail? Well, you could invite your most loyal customers to try out your new products/services earlier than anyone else, or partner up with other local businesses and give your customers tickets to a special corporate hospitality event.
(For example, you could start a romance with a local independent cinema and whisk your customers away on an intimate couples’ movie night.)
Or what about an event your single customers can enjoy? Perhaps you can play Cupid and host a group social night for lonely hearts to meet one another.
Hosting events is an investment, of course - but it can be a powerful means of rewarding loyalty and earning some positive word-of-mouth advertising while you’re at it.
How will you be rewarding your customers for their loyalty this Valentine’s Day? Share your ideas in the comments below!