Using What You’ve Got to Make Your Mail Better

Digital printing and variable data substitution have come a long way from the computer letters of old. Smart marketers are finding new ways to leverage data already present in their databases, which can make a huge difference in responses and conversions.

Before digital printing technology evolved, marketers used variable data substitution to personalize communications. Programs populated a placeholder in the master document, like LASTNAME, with the actual data from customer records. To create variable offers, marketers connected an indicator in each customer’s data record to appropriate offer text. Documents for gold-level customers included one offer, while silver-level customers saw something different, for example. These techniques limited the range of variability.

Today, these restrictions are no longer in place. Now documents can include highly personalized and targeted content based on an unlimited number of factors such as location, longevity as a customer, demographics, and buying history. Far beyond “plugging in” variable data, marketers now use information about mail recipients to make sophisticated decisions about message content and presentation. Most organizations have plenty of customer data that could improve marketing campaign performance by directing relevant offers and communicating in a way that doesn’t scream “mass mailing”.

One data point often overlooked is date of last purchase. Some businesses can predict when an individual is likely to replace a previously purchased item based on how long they’ve owned it. An auto repair service’s mailing could describe signs of a failing car battery, for instance. When the mail arrives near the end of the battery’s expected life, the chances of selling a replacement battery increase. Even more powerful is including photos showing how to inspect other auto parts for wear while customers are under the hood looking at their battery.  These added tips can vary, based on factors such as the season, climate, vehicle type, or car manufacturer.

Addresses can be used to personalize direct mail in many ways, and they are available even if working with a purchased list. Promoters of an event might use a prospect’s location to advise them about public transportation available in their neighborhood that will bring them to the event site, easing concerns about traffic and parking. Directing potential event attendees to park and ride lots or rail stations can boost attendance. Variable maps or driving directions are equally impactful.

Postal addresses can also be used to compute driving time for retail stores seeking to expand their customer base. Offering high value discount coupons to desirable customers living further away encourages more of them to make the trip, perhaps passing closer competitors along the way.

Plenty of marketers still depend on the bulk mailing approach or rudimentary personalization techniques. Those that spend the time to take better advantage of data they have on hand however, will improve the effectiveness of their campaigns and rise above the rest.

Wondering how to get started?  EarthColor has launched a simple variable data print system that easily transforms traditional print into dynamic measurable communications. EarthColor Alchemy™ is a pre-planned VDP workflow created to give you the tools you need to create dynamic print messaging. It is a template-based system that saves you time and money and delivers personalized print communication.

Contact us­ today to learn more about how EarthColor Alchemy™ can make your mail even better.



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