Marketing ideas for variable data printing

Feb 26, 2019 | Blog

3 off-the-wall marketing ideas for variable data printing

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:

● Adding customer names and addresses to flyers, invitationspostcards and other direct mail (aka mail merging)

● 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.

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