Variable printing, also known as variable data printing (VDP), is a form of digital printing that allows you to change certain elements of the piece—say the headline, images, the name, or the color—without actually stopping the printing process. With the right technology, this produces very quickly, and with very high quality.
This is an ideal way to personalize each piece for your audience. It is perfect for direct mail pieces that are better when personalized.
Are there different types of variable printing, or variable imaging?
There are different levels of personalization.
- Name and address variability serves to accurately reflect the correct recipient for each piece. This is the most basic of variable printing and a very important one at that. It saves both the customer and the printer time, money, and resources when producing direct mail pieces.
- Additional versioning. This means that each piece has additional elements that are variable and personalized, such as specific parts of text in a sales letter. Versioning adds personalization and increases the ability to build relationships and trust with your potential customers.
- Transactional information or data-driven graphics. This takes personalization a step further and can be done in a variety of ways. Transactional information may include a financing approval amount specific to that recipient, while data-driven graphics may include a chart based on information specific to that recipient. Graphics, or specific financial numbers, are known to increase interest in printed pieces.
- Image personalization. Images help the brain remember. And when images are personalized for recipients it sends a strong message that is even more readily remembered. Image personalization allows for each recipient to have their very own image. For example, a restaurant might have data on the last meal ordered. Using an appetizing image of that last meal can bring them back to the restaurant for more.
What’s the ROI on a project like this?
It is true that variable printing projects will tend to cost more than other types of print projects. But as you’ve probably guessed, that isn’t the most important question you should be asking. Variable printing projects also tend to have a much higher return on investment, because personalization is such an effective method of connecting with customers or potential customers.
While direct mail campaign responses generally hover around 1%, those that involve variable printing are considerably higher, making that project a much more sound investment in your business.
Adding color to variable printing: is it worth it?
The data we’ve seen says: yes, absolutely. Print materials in full-color have a higher response rate than pieces that do not. This may be because it demonstrates an investment, professionalism, and a commitment to winning the customer that, while they may not consciously think about this, does influence the overall decision-making process.
Digital color is also distinctly beautiful, crisp, and engaging, making it a step above other forms of color printing. With our state-of-the-art 5-color printer, our team is able to produce rich, vivid colors with few limitations. If you can envision it, we can create it! That is always the goal.
Graphic design made for digital printers
Graphic design can entail many different skill sets, so finding a designer who specializes in exactly what you are looking for is likely to give you the best results. We work with our own in-house graphic designers who specialize in understanding digital production needs. Because we work with them every day, the risk of anything getting “lost in translation” during the post-production to printing phases is virtually zero.
As in many cases, Adobe comes through to make the variable printing process relatively simple.
You can quickly create a large number of data sets by creating an external text file that contains all the variable information and loading that file into a PSD document containing variables.
Because this is a key area where costly mistakes can be made (or simply a lot of time can be wasted going through multiple file iterations), you may want to consider working with an in-house graphic designer for the very best results. We will be happy to pair your project with a designer that will be right for your project.
What other questions can we answer about digital printing or digital imaging? We’ve been working in print for over 35 years, and have managed to stay at the forefront of printing technology every step of the way. Digital is just the latest resource in an ever-evolving field, and we love to tackle new projects that use it.
Feel free to reach out to us with any questions, or with a new project if you’re ready to kick off! We’re here to help. Call 702.617.9000 or send us a note here to get started.