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5 Great Tips for Variable Data Printing

Looking to personalize your mailings and be more strategic about targeting your customers and prospects but not sure how to get started? Setting up your first data-driven printing job can seem overwhelming, so here is a short list to demystify the process and give you confidence that yes, you can do this!

1. Be smart, not complicated. The more data you have on your customers the better, but having lots of data is not required for effective personalization. More important is having the right data and using it well. For example, a new movers list can be invaluable, especially for small businesses. People moving into the area will need everything from new pediatricians to new favorite restaurants and hangouts. Likewise, if you know someone is just graduating from college, they will likely be looking at buying a car, furnishing an apartment, and upgrading their wardrobe. You don’t need lots of data. You just need the right data. Be smart, not complicated. The more data you have on your customers the better, but having lots of data is not required for effective personalization. More important is having the right data and using it well. For example, a new movers list can be invaluable, especially for small businesses. People moving into the area will need everything from new pediatricians to new favorite restaurants and hangouts. Likewise, if you know someone is just graduating from college, they will likely be looking at buying a car, furnishing an apartment, and upgrading their wardrobe. You don’t need lots of data. You just need the right data. 


2. Go long (and short). When designing variable data layouts, remember to take into consideration the longest and shortest fields in your database. When personalizing by name, for example, your layout must accommodate “Bob Smith” as well as “Hubert Blaine Wolfeschlegelsteinhausen.” Use rules-based design to enable flexibility. 


3. What’s your default? No matter how well you prepare your database, you will always have missing information. You’ll have a first but not last name. You’ll know most people’s alma maters but not all of them. When one of your records is missing an element, you don’t want to end up with “Dear First Name Here.” Set your defaults (such as “Dear Valued Customer”) to appear when a piece of data is missing. 


4. Keep it clean! Keep your database clean and updated. Regularly run postal address updates, remove duplicates, and clean up inconsistencies in the fields (for example, some fields may use “Market St.” while others use “Market Street.” Use surveys and other tools to ensure that your data is up to date. Have recipients’ addresses changed? Are they now married or single? Do they have children in the home? Continually invest in and maintain the accuracy of your data. 


5. Don’t forget the imagery. If you will be swapping out images based on demographic or other data, those images must be prepared, as well. They must be properly labeled and sized so that they will fit into the layout. 


Preparing variable data jobs doesn’t have to be a mystery. A little planning can smooth the process and give you predictable results. You can do it—we can help!