Like so many effective tactics that stand the test of time, variable data printing is still around because it works. It taps onto a time-tested persuasion tactic: a laser focus on the individual consumer’s pain point in any given selling situation.

Because digital marketing has become so ubiquitous. variable printing is now the golden goose and is experiencing a bit of a resurgence. The United States Postal Service says 67 percent of its patrons feel mail is more personal than the Internet-and that 48 percent of us read our mail to relax!
A well-done mailer tailored to speak directly to the receiver, looks exclusive and can feel like they just received a treasured object literally created just for them.

With today's modern technology. the cost of variable printing is very low. Done correctly. variable printing direct mail programs can be a very effective part of a marketing campaign. How then you might ask, is it done correctly? Consider the three T’s.


The content of a variable data printing program is-by definition-varied by the recipient, so, of course each one is targeted. But is the piece aimed at each individual correctly to garner a result? More specifically, does it have a message and call to action specific to that recipient?

A good variable data print campaign relies on precise data. A great variable data campaign gels a recipient to respond right now. Direct mail as a stand-alone channel has a response rate close to 3 percent, according to the most recent Direct Marketing Association survey, which found that in many cases direct mail is more effective than most digital channels.

Carlson and Company compared variable printing marketing methods to those studied in the DMA report. They found that when campaigns were personalized the results could improve by upwards of 16 percent. The more specific the information presented about the customer, the more dramatic the results.


Timing is just as important as targeting. In terms of defining context for the consumer, it is important to consider the call to action and provide enough time to actually complete it. If, for example, you are asking people to visit a mattress showroom on the weekend at the end of the month, you want to make sure they receive your mailing the week prior to the sale weekend so they can make advance plans as well as consider their budget for a large home goods purchase.
Having a mailer show up the day before the sale ends isn't going to do much good, even if it is personalized.

To the Point

Have you stopped reading yet? Great. Statistically speaking, more than half of readers dropped off after the first 300 words. Variable data printing captures the attention of the receiver by speaking to them as an individual.

Get to your "ask" as soon as possible. And if at all possible, integrate the internet or social channels into your next steps. The same USPS study that showed 67 percent of us liked getting maiI also showed 33 percent went online to purchase following the receipt of a compelling mail piece. Driving people online is also an effective way to find out more about them-information which can then be used to continue targeting them in the future.