Personalized Print I: a success story unfolds

Variable data printing has made tremendous progress since its beginnings

It caused quite a sensation back in the 1960s: bank statements in plain black text produced by dot-matrix printers and then mailed by name to each account holder. Today the very idea of this might only earn grins from nostalgists, especially in light of how far personalized mailings of all kinds have progressed from such modest beginnings. The international PDF/VT standard addresses the needs of modern variable and transactional printing and brings all the benefits of PDF workflows to the world of personalized and variable data printing.

Technological advancements over the past 50 years have culminated in a veritable explosion of print possibilities, more and more of which, a survey by the Hannover Chamber of Industry & Commerce shows, continue to be eagerly taken advantage of by manufacturers and service providers alike.

Advertising mail moved up a rung on the career ladder when digital printers hit the market in the early 1990s. Their ability to print new and different images with each turn of the drum opened up entirely new possibilities for direct marketing. Advertising was revolutionized with graphically more complex designs along with data-backed and targeted content. Since then companies have been able to enhance their campaigns by using colorful pictures and graphics to capture readers’ attention. The advent of ever newer software technologies made it possible to measure a campaign’s effectiveness with the click of a mouse – and even increase its effectiveness when businesses draw the right conclusions from the findings.

CRM software as a source of entirely new opportunities

The field of marketing communications is where variable data printing plays a starring role in winning and retaining customers. Today’s businesses are always looking for new opportunities and many have turned to sophisticated CRM systems. These systems can derive new information from client data to improve customer relationships. The information these systems provide is both tailored and relevant to the customers’ needs and sent out in combination with up- and cross-selling messages.

One thing is for sure: Most customers would rather hold a piece of paper in their hands instead of being sent a message on some screen. According to a study by the Siegfried Vögele Institute, print advertising materials have a more lasting impact than the fleeting digital approach. It’s clear that those good old direct mail campaigns have lost none of their value in this age of e-mail and social media.

Read more about the challenges that businesses face in producing advertising mail in our upcoming article “Personalized Print II.”