What is variable data printing?

What is variable data printing?

Traditional printing methods, such as offset and screen printing, are limited to the mass production of a single document or image in one print run. This means that if you want to print different versions of a document, you need to make changes manually and print each one individually — a very time-consuming and costly process. With variable data printing (VDP), however, this is no longer the case.

What is VDP?

VDP is a digital printing technique in which elements such as text and images may be changed from one document to another without slowing down or stopping the printing process, facilitating the mass customization of documents. For example, instead of printing 5,000 identical copies of a promotional postcard, a printer with VDP capabilities can, in one print run, print 5,000 postcards that are personalized for each customer.

Variable data can include customer names, addresses, gender, marital status, location, purchase history, brand preferences, and interests, among others.

There are various levels of VDP. The most basic level changes the salutation or name on each document. Another uses versioning, which involves varying amounts of customization for different markets. Finally, full variability printing alters text and images for each individual address.

Instead of printing 5,000 identical copies of a promotional postcard, a printer with VDP capabilities can, in one print run, print 5,000 postcards that are personalized for each customer.

Related article: What is digital printing, and what are its advantages for your business?

How does VDP work?

There are three main VDP methods. One involves manually printing variable data on top of printouts that already contain the document's static elements. Another method combines the static and variable data of a document into a print file. One shortcoming of this is that it can result in large print files, slowing down the printing process. This can make it difficult to produce large quantities of variegated documents in a short amount of time.

Finally, a third method merges the unchanged and variable data into a print file through dedicated VDP software. Unlike standard printing apps, this produces optimized print files that allow the user to quickly print large quantities of a document.

What are the benefits of VDP?

VDP enables businesses to print various unique documents in one print run, resulting in faster turnaround times and reduced carbon footprint.

The technology is also integral to direct mail marketing, as it allows businesses to connect with current and prospective customers through personalized physical mail. According to a study, 72% of consumers only interact with personalized marketing materials and those that are tailored to their interests.

For example, if you send a loyal client a postcard containing a personalized URL that enables them to redeem an exclusive deal, they will feel more compelled to claim the offer. Or if you send a prospective customer a personalized invite to the opening of one of your stores in their neighborhood, they will likely read the invitation’s contents and consider visiting.

VDP can also be used for transactional mail, or messages sent out to complete a transaction with a customer, which may include:

  • Invoices, collection letters, or statements of account
  • Confirmation of a recent transaction with a client
  • Letters thanking a customer for their continued support
  • Letters informing a customer of any changes to their transaction

Ultimately, VDP not only helps your marketing materials stand out from the competition, but it also helps your business be noticed more by consumers.

We at Complete Document Solutions have the tools to make VDP possible for your business. With our Managed Print Services, you can significantly reduce printing costs while still remaining productive and being able to print personalized materials for your customers. Drop us a line today to learn more about our printing services.

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