Variable data printing (VDP) can support a wide variety of applications that add value to printers' services. These range from personalised direct mail campaigns with or without complementary online elements, to 'self-service' publishing models for both business-to-business and consumer products in which customers choose the content and unique documents are assembled, printed and shipped to them.
Print-led direct marketing for customer loyalty club: Pet food manufacturer Royal Canin increased its customer club membership in Sweden from 5000 to nearly 40,000 through a VDP campaign linked to an online questionnaire and prize draw. The direct mail campaign was sent out in three stages to a total of 520,000 recipients. It included a brochure and a personalised card which pictured the recipient's pet breed - by partnering with the Swedish Kennel Club, Royal Canin was able to use a mailing list that contained detailed information about the Kennel Club members' animals.
The mail piece also included a personalised coupon for a discount and a link to a website for the opportunity to win a year's supply of pet food, in exchange for answering questions about the recipient's pet. An option to join Royal Canin's loyalty programme was also offered online. The campaign results were tracked and additional analysis carried out; this indicated that more than 80 per cent of the recipients viewed the campaign positively. The data gathered during the campaign can be used to better communicate with customers in the future and to further customise promotional mail pieces.
Multi-channel marketing for reactivating charity donors: Child-focused charity Save the Children Australia used a combination of customised direct mail and cross-media to recover nearly 200 donors who had become inactive, converting more than a third of them to register to make regular monthly donations. Starting with data that only included name, address, year of first and last donation, duration and frequency of the contribution and the project for which the donation was made, comprehensively personalised mailings with a donation form and personal landing pages for donation were created. Reminder emails were sent and each recipient was also contacted by a call centre.
Images were selected according to previous donation themes and some were further personalised with the recipient's name. In addition to a personalised URL, individual proposals for a new contribution were included in the text, together with details of the benefits that the previous donation had brought. Similar imagery and personalisation were also used on the personal landing page and in the reminder email. The overall conversion rate was almost four per cent.
Web-driven custom business report printing: A print-on-demand implementation of cross-media software has been used by Zurich-based information provider Neidhart + Schön (N+S) to enable customers to order customised financial reports on publicly-traded companies via an online portal. Declining print volumes and price pressures led N+S to implement a system that allows shareholders to choose the chapters that interest them and combine them into a finished document that is either delivered in digitally printed form or as a downloadable PDF.
The contents of the reports are created by an external agency and delivered to N+S as PDFs where they are split into chapter-sized sections to be chosen and combined in the order desired by customers. The base layout can be modified to fit the corporate identity of the customer and multiple languages are supported. Once the customer has made a series of simple selections via the portal, the new document is assembled automatically, including the creation of an individual table of contents and adjustment of pagination to suit print, if required. Complete documents are presented for download or sent to print. An additional option allows for personalisation of content and layout of the cover to suit the customer.
Consumer web-to-print for customised greetings cards: UK personalised greetings card business Funky Pigeon (owned by WH Smith since 2010) has used variable data printing software from the outset to support its rapid growth, offering tens of thousands of designs and products via its web portal. Image personalisation is a key component of the brand's success, with in-house designed image sets offering customers more than 10,000 motifs on a wide variety of themes, from spoof and humour to content suitable for virtually any occasion.
Photo upload by customers is also of growing importance, with around half of the orders produced now including images uploaded by visitors to the portal. Rapid rendering and near-instant previews are critical to conversion rates in a consumer-driven business like this and once designs are approved and orders placed, the cards are printed on digital presses for shipping. Other complementary high volume products are continuously being added to the portfolio to expand the appeal and increase sales value.
These varied examples demonstrate how VDP is a powerful enabling technology for a multitude of value-added services that print service providers can use to expand their portfolios, build customer loyalty and increase profitability, even to the extent of forming the basis of a complete business model.
This is one of a series of articles based on The ABCs of VDP, a free e-book from EFI that explains the benefits of variable data printing (VDP) and describes with examples how print service providers can produce, promote and sell VDP services to their customers, expanding their business portfolio and increasing profit margins.