How Does Variable Data Printing Work?

Variable–data printing (VDP) is a form of digital printing where text, graphics and images are varied from one printed unit to the next. You can print 24 sets of 100 membership cards with different names, IDs and images without stopping your printing to change the artwork.

Personalised marketing is definitely not a new concept. You might have noticed it increasing in prevalence over the past 10 years. From personalised emails, web banners to smart news feeds and targeted video ads, the internet is tailored to you, your interests and your behaviours – and for good reason. For a marketer, it makes business sense to show you only what is relevant to you. As a user, you only wish to see what is of use to you. Personalised marketing is not only executed online, it is also executed in digital printing. You are no longer limited to only one design printed en-masse per print job. What you might know as dynamic content online is termed “variable-data printing” in print. Here’s a little more about what this is and how to use this type of printing.

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Variable - Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Let’s Dig Deeper.

Variable–data printing (VDP) may sound like a statistical term, but is a form of digital printing where text, graphics and images are varied from one printed unit to the next. In other words, you can print 24 sets of 100 membership cards with different names, IDs and images without stopping your printing to change the artwork. This is automatically done by referencing a database or external file that has all the varied elements. This form of printing is also known as variable–information printing (VIP) or variable imaging (VI).

How Do I Use It In My Business?

The most common method for setting up an artwork for variable data printing is to use specialised software (and plugins). This includes software such as Adobe InDesign, to combine the static and variable elements into print files. This produces a PDF/VT, PostScript or PPML file that can be sent directly to the digital printer to start the process.

Inform your designer of what you intend on printing and how you wish to use it, to ensure that the file is designed and formatted for variable printing.

Design Software - Photo by Joseph Pearson on Unsplash

It can be made using most design software

When Should I Use It?

The main benefit of variable data printing is making your marketing material, business stationery, or any printed piece more personalised and therefore more engaging.

Quick fact: 59% of shoppers say personalisation has an influence on their purchasing decision (Infosys).

Here are a few more use cases.

Integrated Marketing

Variable data printing presents and opportunity to create an integrated customer journey for a specific person you are targeting.

For example, you can print a QR Code or Personalised URL that leads your client or prospect to a tailored landing page or login portal that addresses that specific client or prospect. Any interaction with that code/URL is trackable which provides insights on how your campaign is performing as well as behavioural data specific to that individual.

You can follow this up with an email/sms offering the client an incentive to complete a certain action. This additional communication is only sent to the client upon interacting with the specific code/URL.

[Related: Omnichannel Marketing – An in-depth example and how to guide]

Membership cards

A simple membership card can be printed with your company logo and name. A personalised membership card has the holders name, their unique ID, and their picture. This can make a big difference in the sense of ownership and belonging to your organisation or club.

Related: Plastic PVC cards – The what, how and why

Member Cards - Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

Membership or Access Cards

Seating Cards

If you’re hosting a business event, a wedding or a dinner, then a custom seating card/invite will make for a memorable takeaway and keepsake for your attendees.

Seating Cards - Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

Personalised Seating Cards and Invites

Gift Cards

Gift cards can sometimes feel like a thoughtless gift. Therefore, adding some personalisation to the gift card can make all the difference between a last minute gift versus a thoughtful gift.

You can also use variable-data-printing to create referral cards with the referrer’s and referral’s details. You can even use a personalised message and a unique gift code for the referral.

Gift Cards

Turn your gift card into a thoughtful gift with some personalisation

Business Cards

Your business cards are hardly printed in isolation, unless you are a freelancer. Variable-data-printing allows you to create and print multiple sets of business cards with the varying details of each individual in your organisation without needing to place many separate orders.

Business Cards

Business Cards

The Bottom Line

The benefit of variable data is the ability to design and print more personalised collateral that will appeal to your recipient and result in higher engagements and meaningful actions.

You can use variable-data-printing to print a number of items such as business cards, gift cards, membership cards and more.

P.S. We recently launched the variable data option on our PVC Plastic Cards. Give these usage tips a try while they’re still fresh on your mind.

  1. Wikipedia
  2. How to Increase Sales Using Variable Data Printing
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