When the average person visits their mailbox generally they’re looking for a few specific things: bills, packages they’ve ordered, personal letters addressed to them and the like. What they’re not looking for are advertisements addressed to “current resident” or pieces of junk mail for “valued customer”—often, these items are given a quick glance and end up in the circular file.
The downfall of direct mail has long been the impersonal nature of it. People assume that if you can’t even address them by name that you have nothing worthwhile to say to them and, thanks to many a failed direct mail campaign, there’s probably some credence in that sentiment. This impersonal nature is one of the chief reasons many marketers simply skip this facet of advertising in the day and age of email marketing, which comes complete with a prospect’s name. But, thanks to variable data and the many capabilities that come with it, many smart marketers are rethinking direct mail as a viable option in the world of prospecting.
What is variable data and how does it work?
Variable data is a two-part approach to marketing that involves a more meaningful connection with your target audience—and it all starts with knowing a person’s name. Through compiled prospect lists—whether purchased or put together in-house—businesses can create an extensive advertising campaign that starts with a template and ends with individually addressed pieces of direct mail that speak directly to a potential customer. Here’s an example:
The Sweet Tooth, a new candy shop in town, is looking to advertise a new line of gummy fruit snacks to people in its area—the decision is made to use a direct mail campaign, complete with a postcard mailer addressed with variable data.
Using a list of potential customers obtained from a local candy expo from the prior year—people who signed up to learn more about new candy products—The Sweet Tooth decides to create a postcard that showcases its new gummy treats with the message, “we heard you might be interested in Gummy Treats!” The shop then has a local print company do a run of 300 postcards, printing variable data in the form of unique customer names and addresses.
When the postcards are printed, The Sweet Tooth works with the local postal branch to deliver the postcards directly to the customers.
The bottom line? Variable data is simply the act of printing different data on individual components of a run. In the purposes of direct mail, it means printing unique customer information to get the attention of the person you’re marketing to—seeing their name on a piece of mail is a lot more enticing than “current resident” or even “valued customer.”
Variable data comes in all forms
Now, while the most common use of variable data printing for direct mail campaigns is customer names and addresses, it’s by no means limited to just this crucial information. Take a look at just a few of the other ways companies have successfully used variable data to turn a piece of direct mail into a sale:
– Printing unique customer numbers or unique promo codes to track conversions online.
– Printing different offers for different types of prospects or customers based on available data.
– Printing specialized contact information as a call to action, including personalized URLs.
The bounds of how variable data can be used are limitless and can be customized to fit the needs of your marketing campaign, no matter the scope or depth. Whatever unique information you need to communicate to your customers, know that it’s possible with variable data printing!
Making the most of variable data
The days of garbage mail and junk advertisements are far from being over, but that doesn’t mean your direct mail campaign has to be clumped in with lesser pieces of mail! Using variable data can and will be what brings your mailer to the top of the junk pile and prevents it from being just another piece of trash by the time the mail is read. Moreover, direct mail with variable data also affords you a number of other benefits over a regular ‘ol campaign, including:
– Tracking ability through unique identifiers, giving you the power to measure responses and understand your success.
– Pathing abilities, to lead your customers into your sales pipeline and make sure you’re giving each opportunity your best shot.
– Time-sensitive campaign capabilities, creating demand and urgency that causes customers to act.
If you think variable data printing is just a fancy spoof on junk mail marketing, think again: the right information, presented in the right way, with the personalized touch of variable data is a catalyst for success.