Ten ways to add value with variable data printing
90% of print service providers (PSPs) offer variable data printing (VDP) services1. Yet while the volume of VDP pages produced globally is predicted to increase in the coming years, the proportion of PSPs’ print business made up by VDP is expected to remain relatively static2 at around 31.4%.
One reason for this is that while some application areas still offer room for growth – for example, nearly 25% of direct mail is predicted to be printed digitally by 20173 – others are in decline4. For PSPs who are looking to increase the revenues they earn from VDP services, this presents a challenge. If the proportion of high value VDP work they produce is set to remain static, they need to find ways to generate more revenue from it.
Whether you work in-house or for external customers, there are a number of ways to add value to the VDP services that you offer:
Most marketers are aware that personalising messaging and offers can improve their return-on-investment (ROI), but it is up to you to ensure that they know how VDP can enhance their communications and promote a one-to-one customer experience.
2. Make ordering easier
Print buyers’ awareness of web-to-print solutions, many of which now offer VDP by default or as an option, grew by more than 60% from 2012 to 20145. With web-to-print services offering marketing, communications and brand management professionals increased brand control, faster turnaround times and cost savings, it’s no surprise that they are growing in popularity. Despite this, however, web-to-print ordering is a relatively untapped area of opportunity – with only 35.6% of PSPs currently offering corporate-facing online print ordering6.
3. Think value, not volume
The direct mail migration to digital production presents PSPs with an opportunity to demonstrate to their customers how much more effective direct mail can be with VDP – the estimated response rate for a typical mailing campaign is 3%, but 6.5% for a VDP campaign7. Targeted direct mail may entail printing fewer pages, but it will increase the value of each page and also the value delivered for your customer.
4. Make your customers’ print work harder
Working with customers to find new ways to use their data to elevate their communications. This will enable you take on a more consultative role and build stronger, longer-lasting customer relationships.
5. Paint a picture
VDP is rapidly shifting from monochrome – usually digital overprinting onto pre-printed stock – to full colour8, making it possible to add eye-catching images and graphics. Reassessing your VDP work for customers may reveal opportunities to enhance their communications by introducing pictures to illustrate offers or remind customers of what they ordered.
6. Finish, then deliver
Many special effects made possible with finishing can be used to make variably printed elements stand out. In direct mail, for example, some PSPs use tactile finishes, scented varnishes and spot coatings to increase the impact of their VDP9. Introducing mailing and fulfilment services is another way to increase the value of VDP projects, while simultaneously making your customers’ jobs easier.
7. Get the timing right
Timing can be everything in marketing and VDP makes it possible to give your customers’ print an edge over their competition. VDP makes it possible to produce highly personalised pieces of print on demand, which makes it possible to time delivery according to anything from the season to the recipient’s stage in the customer journey.
8. Make it multi-channel
Whatever their reasons for buying print, today’s print buyers work in a multi-channel world. As a result, you stand to add even more value to your VDP work when you integrate it with other channels by offering services such as web design, email and text messaging.
9. Demonstrate ROI
You may be familiar with how much more effective customised print is, but your customers may not be. Using case studies of past VDP projects or Canon’s ROI calculation tool can help print buyers understand how much more cost effective VDP activities can be in terms of ROI. Cross-media tools can also be used to pre-test effectiveness before launching a big campaign, or to measure effectiveness during the campaign.
10. Refine the data
Introducing basic data handling services will put you in a position to clean data for customers, thus increasing campaign effectiveness. Using cross-media to gather information on recipient responses and behaviour can also enable you to help customers improve their data for future campaigns.
Most PSPs already have the technology, skills and experience to deliver effective VDP campaigns for customers. However, to provide a differentiated offering you need to leverage these to find the best way that you can add further value to the VDP services you offer.
1 On Demand Printing & Publishing Service, InfoTrends, February 2015
2 On Demand Printing & Publishing Service, InfoTrends, February 2015
3 The Future of Variable Data Printing to 2017, Smithers Pira, June 2013
4 The Future of Variable Data Printing to 2017, Smithers Pira, June 2013
5 Building your future with print, Canon. 2014
6 On Demand Printing & Publishing Service, InfoTrends, 2015
7 Lead Genesys quoted in The Future of Variable Data Printing to 2017, Smithers Pira, June 2013
8 The Future of Variable Data Printing to 2017, Smithers Pira, June 2013
9 The Future of Variable Data Printing to 2017, Smithers Pira, June 2013