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Variable Data Series: About Variable Data and How to Submit Files and Spreadsheets

by Sara Smolensky | February 14, 2013

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Welcome to another installment in our Smartpress VDP series. Today, we’re going to review the benefits of variable data printing and learn how to create and submit the required documents for variable data printing at Smartpress.

What Is Variable Data Printing?

Variable data printing, also known as VDP, is a powerful printing technology that customizes individual printed pieces according to the needs and interests of the recipient. The variable data can be used to create table cards and certificates where the variable data is printed in line as text, or for complex direct mail marketing campaigns that utilize personal data to tailor the text, color, imagery and overall design.

To put it simply, variable data printing works by inserting information from a database into pre-designed template files. These files are then handed over to the printer and the rest is history!

Why Use Variable Data Printing?

Variable data printing is revolutionary. Possessing the ability to completely customize the content of your printed documents makes what you have to offer your customers far more relevant.

Apart from saving time, variable data printing will get you better results. We all love the sound of our own name, and VDP takes advantage of this.

When asked about which method of communication was preferred when being approached by a company, 61% of consumers said direct mail. Followed by 20% email, 5% mobile, and 14% other.

Businesses that utilize VDP have reported the benefits listed below:

  • Increased brand recognition
  • Higher response rates
  • Faster response times
  • Greater ROI (return on investment)

What Kind of Files Are Required?

Preparing your data for variable data printing couldn’t be easier.

For the most popular type of variable data printing, addressing for a bulk mailing, you will need to provide a spreadsheet that lists the address information in the proper format. The most popular types of files for this task are Excel and .CSV files. Once you have a completed address file, you can upload the file to the print company usually through their online order process or via an FTP site. Check out the example below to get an idea of what a mailing list template typically looks like.

Variable Data Addressing

Variable Data Addressing on Postcard

The process is nearly the same when it comes to Variable Data Personalization. This can be a customization of any field with the exception of addressing. You will again supply a completed spreadsheet with all the details for your desired customization. Just make sure you include all your information clearly and concisely and include any relevant graphics, template design, or instructions on how you want the finished product to look. Check out the sample variable data template and the place card printing example below.

Variable Data Personalization

For more information to download Variable Data Mailing and Variable Data Personalization templates, please read more about List File Upload instructions.

Interested in learning how variable data printing can work for you? Be sure to read other posts in the VDP Series.

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