How to Boost Direct Mail Response Rates with Variable Data Printing

584_0__appleSucceeding with your direct mail campaign is all about response rates, the percentage of recipients who buy your products or subscribe to your services.  Direct marketers are constantly looking for new ways to increase response rates, from mailing multiple pieces over a defined period of time to spending more on highly-polished pieces to carefully refining their mailing lists to include only the recipients most likely to respond.

The search for ever-higher response rates was the impetus for the introduction of variable data printing, a process which allows direct mail marketers to pull individual data elements (such as first and last names) from prospect files and merge these into the printing process.  According to some estimates, the use of variable data printing can increase response rates by as much as seven-fold.

How It Works

Imagine these two scenarios.  You sell customized t-shirts.  In the first scenario, you send out 15,000 post cards with a picture of a football t-shirt, including the name of a pro team, say the Eagles, along with the name of one of the team’s top players.  In the second scenario, you send the same postcard, with one difference.  Instead of one of the top players, the t-shirt prominently features the name of the post card recipient.  Seeing his own name not just on the address label, but right there on the printed piece will get some added attention—and boost response rates.

How to Leverage Variable Data Printing

Not all direct mail campaigns which incorporate variable printing are equal.  Here are 4 ways to take direct mail to the next level using variable printing:

  1. Use Color to Grab Attention:  you can save some money if you opt for black and white, but studies show that using color will get you better response rates.  Color will also add to your design options.
  2. Consider Design Options:  advancements in printing technology have increased your options for the design of you variable print piece.  Letters can be configured in ways that are customized to your industry—for example, if you do lawn maintenance, you could spell out your customer’s name in fallen leaves.  Don’t be afraid to get creative to take full advantage of variable print.
  3. Segment Your Mailing List:  variable printing can accommodate a mailing list which has been segmented based on any number of prospect preferences.  Consider a variable print direct mail campaign which is more personalized based on those preferences.
  4. Measure Your Results:  it’s important to know what works and what doesn’t.  You can do this by carefully tracking your variable print campaign.  You can also do some split testing, sending only some of your mail recipients the variable print piece and sending the rest a piece without variable print.  Analyze these results to improve your next campaign.

Direct mail is constantly evolving, as are the print technologies which support it.  Your best bet is to work with an experienced company who can explain all of your options to make your next direct mail campaign a winner.

For more information on your printing and mailing options, contact us today.

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