Variable Data Printing: for truly personalised print

Variable Data Printing

Long gone are the days when a sticker or complicated overprint is required when personalising printed literature — today it can be done in one pass by merging a database of contacts, or other personalised data, with the job being printed. It is quick and seamless, giving you and your customers or prospects truly personalised print. This can go well beyond a simple name change on the cover, with personalised images also being possible, and the real beauty is that once set up, the printing press doesn’t need to slow down in order to print every unique version. This process is most commonly known as Variable Data Printing or ‘VDP’ for short.

Variable Data Printing (‘VDP’)

One of the benefits of having high-end digital printing equipment in-house is that we can offer our customers printing of highly personalised marketing collateral like mailers, postcards and brochures here at Firstpoint Print in London. With VDP, while every copy of a printed brochure, flyer or mailshot might carry essentially the same design and layout, through the merging of a variable data database while printing, every individual print can be personalised to each individual recipient, even if the overall quantity being printed runs into thousands of copies. This could be very useful for marketing collateral where, for example, a marketing department might want to address their customers or prospects by name within the actual printed literature. It is even possible to include a different photo or graphical element for each different recipient, although this level of additional personalisation obviously adds to the time required in setting up the database.

First impressions last

Personalisation, in whichever form it takes, helps to create an excellent first impression, particularly as the personalised element will look every bit as good as the surrounding printing because it’s all done in one pass using high-end printing equipment rather than being a tired-looking later addition. This kind of personalisation is proven to be more successful than non-personalised marketing literature as it engages with the recipient more personally. For example if you have a CRM database and know your customers’ hobbies, you could include a photo of a flowerbed for a gardener or a sports image for a sports fan and so on. They are far more likely to read your literature if it catches their interest, and therefore attention, in the first instant.

The Data Merge process

The full instructions for the Data Merge process vary from application to application so we will not go into high technical detail for each of them here. However, with the most widely used high-end design and artwork application these days being Adobe InDesign, this article will be useful to anyone who has access to a recent version of that application and/or one which incorporates an appropriate VDP plug-in module.

In essence, though, whatever application you use for your artwork (so long as it’s a professional package), just 3 things are required to print personalised literature using variable data. These are:

  1. The artwork file (e.g. InDesign file) which carries the design and appropriate ‘Data Merge’ placeholder fields (a.k.a. ‘Mail Merge’ fields in some other applications);
  2. A data source, in other words, a suitably prepared database which includes the same ‘Data Merge’ column headings, for example “Name” and “Company” and an ‘Image’ heading (and path/location) if variable images are also being incorporated into the final printing;
  3. A high-end digital printerwhich is where Firstpoint Print comes in!

Your Variable Data printer – for truly personalised printing

If you have a live ‘variable data’ job in mind and need some pointers or technical information, we’d be delighted to help. Our fast, state-of-the-art digital printers are extremely well-suited for personalised printing (or any digital printing for that matter). As well as being a digital printer, we are also a litho printer, a large format printer and have in-house design and artwork capabilities so have all your design and printing requirements covered, in-house, whatever quantity, specification and size you may need. Just give us a call or email us here — we have branches in London Bridge (SE1), Clerkenwell (EC1) and Victoria (SW1) so have a suitable branch for most organisations working in and around London.