Using Variable Data Printing to Improve Your Customer’s Experience

All the way back in 1440, Johannes Gutenberg created the printing press and effectively changed the world forever. Information was now capable of being repurposed in mass quantities and shared all over the world. And it all began with the 180 printed copies of what came to be known as the “Gutenberg bible.”

Luckily printing in mass quantities is a lot easier these days.

Today, for example, the average US office worker prints 10,000 pages per year all by themselves. And since 1440, we’ve seen consistent innovations in printing, from the development of modern printing presses to the proliferation of at-home printers.

One such groundbreaking development is variable data printing (VDP). Simply put, VDP has revolutionized the way we share information. To understand this, however, you first have to understand the problem VDP was created to solve.


Let’s say you work for a business that needs to send 20,000 personalized contracts out to 20,000 different members every month. Each letter would have a different degree of personalization.

In the past, you would depend on a system like mail merge to make sure that a minimal amount of customization at least made your message stand out to some degree. This could be something as simple as beginning a message with your contact’s first name, for example.

VDP has taken this customization to the next level. Personalization can come in many forms now, from swapping out whole paragraphs of messaging to using different images based off of who is receiving the printed piece.

Have you ever received a generic, “Dear Customer,” form letter? It’s doesn’t exactly make you feel like the creators spent that much time considering you, the audience. This was the world of pre-VDP. Even if personalization was put into place, it was a costly, time consuming process. Separate printing runs would need to be done to print what were completely different messages. VDP changed that.

…and After

What VDP does is allow for the mass personalization of documents using data to prefill document templates. So, an example might appear as:

Dear (First name)

We know at (business name) you are committed to your customers…

Already this is a much more engaging message. Keep in mind, however, that this is a very simple example of the depth of personalization possible with VPD. Text can be changed more radically along with images swapped out completely. This would come into play if you were testing a direct mail campaign and could segment your audience based off of their location or buying habits. So a portion of your audience who neatly fits into one of your services would receive one offer or version of a campaign while someone else with a different need would receive a different offering.

Acknowledging Your Audience

The benefits of VDP are wide ranging. You customers feel like you are speaking directly to them, rather than as a general faceless block. Sure you’ll be able to use their name and the name of their company in messaging, but you’ll also be able to focus in on interests of your customers, showing that you really do understand and care about them. Imagery can be swapped out and dedicated to a sport the customer likes, for example, if you possess that information.

VDP is also more successful than regular printing. Engagement results from a VDP printing job can range anywhere from two to 15 times that of static printing, for example. Personalization is the hallmark of the customer experience in the 21st century. A subpar customer experience is no longer viable; people expect to feel like their needs and wants have been considered.

If you haven’t looked into variable data printing before or didn’t think it was a real option for your business, we encourage you to give it another look. With sophisticated and cost-effective software solutions and expertise in the marketplace, there’s no reason to settle for inefficient workflows or impersonal communications.

Want to learn more about how you can use VDP to personalize print projects? Click the button below to contact us for our free guide!

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