4 Unique ways to Utilize Variable Data Printing

Variable Data printing has been around for some time now, but innovation of the technique is always being expanded upon. This is the process of printing a changing field on a static background. Most commonly, a design will be set up with a blank field where a unique name or message can be inserted in different fonts or colors. It is also a great technique for creating custom cards and coupon codes.

More and more companies are realizing that personalizing a mailing or a printed piece will generate both a higher read-through rate and more interaction with their audience. We see the same techniques with e-mail blasts, where the subscriber’s first name will be inserted into the email instead of a generic “Hello” or “Greetings”.

Variable Data doesn’t only have to be used for personalizing names and addresses. Here are some unique examples of variable data that raise the level of a marketing campaign and build stronger connections between an organization its audience or a host and their guests.

1. Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke® Campaign

variable data labels
Photo From – http://goo.gl/1ZYNAW

For the first time in ten years, Coca Cola have increased their sales. This is likely due to a clever marketing campaign utilized variable data. Starting in the summer of 2014 (in the U.S.) Coke began printing labels with the phrase “Share a Coke with…” and 150 variable names imprinted on the labels. These personalized labels act as a unique call to action, urging customers to not only buy the product, but also to create a second interaction by gifting (sharing) it with someone else.

Even further than this consumer-company interaction, the Share a Coke campaign has fostered interaction on social media through image posts and shares. This increased user created content and produced even more exposure for coke products and their brand. By using variable data on their labels, Coke was able to not only increase sales, but also generated consumer interaction with their company and brand.

2. Variable Data Coupons

variable data coupons
Photo From – http://goo.gl/CWULKQ

Customer’s love to receive coupons, especially from places they frequently visit. Coupons are also a great way to drive new business in, or keep customers coming back for more. One way to make customers even more excited about receiving a coupon in the mail is to make that coupon personalized exactly for that shopper.

This can be done in two ways. First, coupons can be personalized with the customer’s name using prospective shoppers or previous shoppers. The otheroption would be to cross sell products and services to customers based on their shopping history.

For Example:

Somebody just bought a bicycle? Send them a personalized coupon for a new helmet. Another customer just bought a new snowboard? How about a discount off your store’s next ski outing!

3. Office Supplies

Having a neat and organized office is a key to productivity and efficiency. One way to achieve this is to provide your employees with custom stationery options such as notepads, journals, letterhead, calendars and more!

Personalized stationery appears more professional, and provides clear indication to who a note is coming from. Also as an office manager, it may be a good way to keep the employees in your office happy. Workers will appreciate the extra attention!

4. Personalized Invitations

Have a special occasion coming up and need custom invitations? Try printing your invites with personalized names to add class and distinction to your event. Your guests will appreciate the extra effort and your event will be off to a great start. With custom field printing, you can use different fonts to match the theme of your invite to keep the whole message consistent and professional is always an important aspect to a successful occasion.IMG_0742

You can even take it one step further by matching your invites with personalized place cards or name tags.

In Summary…

Variable data printing is an extremely versatile printing technique that can be useful for marketing, event planning and office organization. What are some unique ways you’ve seen variable data utilized?

Looking for expert advice on variable data printing or need a custom quote? Feel free to reach out in the comments section or visit our variable data page!

Digital Supremacy: Variable Data Printing

Digital Printing has been adopted by the print industry for its efficiency, plethora of functions and small run capability. It is the underlying foundation of Variable Data Printing also known as VDP.

Variable Data Printing is a”Mail Merge” on steroids

VDP offers the ability to print personalized messages, images or graphical aspects on each printed piece using data collected about an individual, leveraging familiarity to increase ROI.
A simple example of the use of variable data is personalization of the greeting in a letter. No longer does a letter have to be informal as “Dear Customer”. We can now, thanks to Variable Data Printing, personalize the salutation to include the name of the intended recipient such as “Dear Marcy” or “Dear Mr. and Mrs. Smith”. This feature alone can drastically increase the chances of the letter actually being read.

advanced uses

Variable data can include the use of personalized images or graphics to really dig into the familiarity advantage of variable data. For example:

Variable Data Printing Postcard

The owner of a local cellular phone store has a database full of data about the cellular service and devices of all his current customers use. He wants to send a postcard to each of them reminding them that their contract is about to expire and that they are eligible to upgrade their current cellphone. The owner contacts his print shop and explains what he wants to do. The print shop then explains that variable data can help him accomplish this and together come up with a killer personalized marketing piece.

The postcard would include 3 personalized fields:

  • The recipients name in the greeting
  • The expiration date of the recipient’s current contract
  • A picture of the cellphone they currently own

While the designer creates a beautiful layout, the store owner creates a simple database that holds the following information separated into columns:

First Name, Last Name, Address, Address 2, City, State, Zip, Contract Expiration, Device Model.

Variable Data Printing Database

After the graphics and database have been completed and submitted to the print shop, it is the job of the pre-press technician to connect the artwork file with the database using Data Fields. Each of the column names will become a data field such as <First_Name>, <Last_Name> and so on.

Variable Data - Data Fields

Variable Data Software such as FusionPro or Darwin is then used to prepare a VPS file that merges the artwork with the database on the fly as each piece is printed.


The process of a standard mailing without variable data usually begins by printing the static artwork on an offset press first leaving a blank “mailing panel” for the recipient address information to be imprinted after the run is completed using a separate mailing machine that inkjets the address on to each piece.

With digital printing, the mailing address is considered variable data that can be printed at the same time the piece itself is being printed. The printing, the indicia and the address are all printed in one fell swoop. Not only is this faster, but the customer also saves on mailing setup fees and removes any possibility of smudges to the address resulting in possible lost  revenues.

This post is an addendum to “Digital Evolution: The State of Commercial Printing“, which defines the changes the print industry is visibly undergoing at this time.

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