Making Print Personal: 5 Ways to Use Variable Data in Direct Mail
Data gathering is the new normal. Best-in-class organizations and marketers are constantly acquiring and utilizing marketing data across departments and company silos. Whether from their own loyalty programs, social media, third-party vendors, opt-in marketing, or retail initiatives, data streams in from a variety of sources. Sometimes, this ever-growing mountain of information can seem somewhat removed from the work of direct mail marketing, especially at the speed that data collection happens. But direct mail is a valuable avenue for strategic data use. At SPC we understand this value, and seek to help our clients understand how to best utilize this intersection of data and direct mail printing.
Direct mail is a key tool in today’s marketing arsenal, and the application of data thoughtfully deployed in print can lead to even greater ROI. The tactics and results will certainly differ based on individual marketing goals, but the ability to serve up fully variable, relevant imagery and messaging is an important one for SPC customers, and marketers as a whole. Digital print and inkjet capabilities have enabled new levels of personalization that are only limited by customer data and creativity. We’ve seen personalized data used successfully in many direct mail marketing efforts, but here are just a few examples that might spur your own team’s creativity.
1. Products in the Eye of the Consumer
Direct mail pieces that focus on commerce and products can be customized to serve up product images for individual recipients based on purchase history, loyalty program data, or website pages visited. This built-in relevance makes it so that all printed communications are more directly useful and actionable for those same customers. This cloud of intelligence sharpens the utility for customers, which then has a halo effect of positive connection that follows the customer in subsequent brand interactions.
2. (Geo) Location, Location, Location
Many marketers have the opportunity to utilize location data like zip codes, app geolocation info, tracking cookies, physical street addresses and more. Marketers can provide customized offers that tap into that information — like coupon codes that are only valid at specific (local) outlets or product choices that depend on local climate/temperature — think winter clothing or camping gear for summertime. Location can not only drive offers and products to audiences, but can also bring awareness of events, goods and services that are applicable to them and those in their proximity.
3. Give It Away Now
Corporations aren’t the only ones able to benefit from the intelligent use of data. Nonprofits and other charitable organizations can also organize, clean and enhance their own data to use it more effectively. One of the most straightforward deployments is in the area of regular giving. Printed appeals for giving or membership can be customized for each user based on historical giving levels, helping to prompt donors to match or increase their gifts to an organization. These kinds of asks can also allow data use to be more personal, showing givers how much the organization values them.
4. ABC=Always Be Collecting (Data)
Direct mail marketing doesn’t have to be a one-way street. Marketers can track the effectiveness and response rates of their mailings on a customer-by-customer basis using tools like unique bar codes and coupon identification numbers. When a customer accesses or redeems a unique offer, that additional data comes back to the organization — showing that the marketing offer was effective, while also directing future offers aimed at that customer. The data collection snowballs, sharpening the efficacy of the marketing and increasing its future ROI at every turn. These types of elements help drive engagement, while simultaneously adding greater value. Response data adds new layers of information to marketing datasets, not only to refine current campaigns, but also to provide informative fuel for future marketing efforts.
5. Securely Yours
Variable data can be used to ensure that unique items — whether it’s legal information, official documents, event tickets, ID badges or loyalty cards — can be tracked back to a single user or source. Discouraging theft, piracy and licensing issues are just a few of the advantages of variable product data supporting greater business goals.
There are many more ways to use variable data to energize marketing efforts, and most of these uses are limited not by the available technology, but by a marketers’ imagination. Raw data is just that — the raw material that creative ideas can spring from, adding value, awareness and engagement to a marketing initiative. Printed direct mail marketing that is powered by data is just more effective, and the beginning of greater ROI for your brand, campaign or marketing push.