I recently had the privilege of attending the PINE Digital Forum in Massachusetts. The all-day event was well attended by a variety of local printers, and included presentations from local vendors, consultants, and happy customers.
A popular topic of the day was variable data publishing (VDP). There were a lot of case studies and statistics presented. There were also a lot of questions from the audience on how to do it successfully.
One of the speakers said a phrase that has stuck with me ever since. They said, “Don’t use VDP because you can. Use it to move the needle.”
Why We Cannot Just Hit the PLAY Button
In the worlds of print and marketing (okay, maybe all “worlds”), we often get excited about trying something new. Our excitement may cause us to dive right in, and set aggressive deadlines for us to accomplish a project with our new shiny toy.
For many businesses, variable data publishing may have been that shiny new toy over the past few years. However, due to a perceived lack of success on those projects (perhaps the response rate was less than ideal, or the time invested while going through the learning-curve left a bad taste), variable data publishing has not really been used to the extent many once thought it would be.
Moving the Needle
If we think of VDP with the goal of “moving the needle”, we may indeed re-ignite passion and excitement among employees and customers. We also will be able to find ways to launch successful efforts.
For example, displaying a person’s first name and company name on a printed piece may no longer excite us. We must also realize that approach may not excite the recipient either. Thus, we must truly find ways to analyze the data we have in order to deliver eye (and wallet)-catching personalization on our materials.
Once we know what we have for data, we must commit to brainstorming creative ways to present it.
We must analyze our ideas to see if they truly will compel someone to take the next step — whether that is to visit a personalized URL, a landing page, to place a phone call, to send a text message, to scan a QR Code, or whatever other response mechanism we want to use.
Then, we need to test!
Don’t be afraid to take the time to split your list and test multiple offers.
Technology has made it easier than ever for us to create variable data printed pieces (and landing pages), and then to measure the success of each variation. Yes, technology helps to make effective VDP possible…. but it can’t do it alone.
To have success, we need to commit to truly putting VDP to use, to its full capabilities, beyond Dear [FirstName].