Growing Your Business With Variable Data Printing

It’s no secret that data is driving marketing today. Making a message relevant to the recipient enhances that customer’s experience with the vendor. Customers have come to expect a personalized experience, and data is the key to doing so. As a result, marketers increasingly rely on data to produce highly personalized campaigns that are tailored to the unique profiles of their customers.

InfoTrends, a division of KeyPoint Intelligence, is a marketing research and strategic consulting company for the digital imaging and document solutions industries. It conducted a study regarding the top communication objectives among 800 global marketing executives. The top two objectives were to improve the customer experience and to increase customer loyalty. When asked how they planned to improve the customer experience in terms of communication, the marketing executives answered: (1) provide better tailored offerings, and (2) better data-driven personalization and relevant communication.

More relevant, personalized communication has been shown to increase response rates by about one-third.

This explains why marketers’ strategies are directly linked to data. They want to use data to tailor offers to the recipient and do better data-driven personalization to make sure the offers are highly relevant to the recipient.

For print projects, more relevant, personalized communication has been shown to increase response rates by about one-third, according to the Direct Marketing Association. Data drives enhanced relevancy, which, in turn, drives revenue, retention, and enhances customer loyalty, making the overall marketing spend more efficient for an improved marketing return on investment.

Business Growth Opportunities for Print Service Providers

Print Service Providers (PSPs) have started responding to this push for customized and personalized messaging by expanding their service offerings regarding how to use data and the opportunities that data can provide. They are investing in technologies that can accommodate the variable data processing that customization demands. Many PSPs have found that production inkjet’s capabilities are ideal for producing customized marketing messages in color efficiently, cost effectively, and at high speeds. For example, with a white-paper-in/full-color-out workflow, preprinted shell inventory can be eliminated and production time streamlined. Customization and personalization become virtually limitless with inkjet’s variable data printing capability.

In addition to the printing itself, other ancillary services can also offer growth opportunities. PSPs today offer data services like mail process management, postal services, and data cleansing, but other services could be added that are directly related to variable data printing — data analytics, data list acquisition, data mining, or campaign response tracking, to name a few. Many companies who are customers of PSPs need help with these processes. A PSP could either provide such services, collaborate with a firm that can provide these services, or advise their clients on how to accomplish these services themselves.

The Variable Data Printing Challenge

As marketing pieces transition from mass marketing (one-to-many) to segmented marketing (one-to-few) to personalized marketing (one-to-one), variable data print jobs become much more complex. Not only does the text vary based on the individual recipient or recipient segments, images and graphics may also vary. The days of imprinting variable black text on a preprinted color shell is usually not sufficient anymore. To maximize the relevance for each recipient, variable text, graphics, and images must be tailored to each audience profile for strong impact, optimized comprehension, and maximum response rates.

Handling large amounts of variable data quickly and efficiently requires specialized production management software to ensure that the digital press can operate at full rated speed. Also important is the flexibility to handle all industry-standard datastreams and output to any number of required print devices whether in-house or in multiple print centers.

Océ PRISMAproduction Professional Workflow and Output Management Software

One of the primary objectives of Océ PRISMAproduction® software is to enable efficient variable data printing. To do so, the software supports two variable printing file format standards: PDF/VT and PPML. PDF/VT is an international ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standard designed for variable data and transactional printing. It was developed to offer the reliability and predictability of the PDF/X workflow for variable and transactional data workflows. It is an open, device independent, non-vendor specific standard thereby offering the benefits of job portability, page independence, and device neutrality.

PPML (Personalized Printer Markup Language) is also a device independent and non-vendor specific format. It was developed by PODi, the Printing On Demand initiative, a consortium of leading companies in digital printing.

Both file format standards allow for running a digital press at rated speed without compromise if the raster image processor (RIP) cannot keep up with the output engine when handling the complexity of today’s variable data print jobs. Both platforms achieve output efficiencies by separating variable and static objects and caching static objects for repeated use.

In addition to these industry standard, open variable printing file formats, Océ PRISMA® software also supports proprietary variable data print languages such as RDO or VIPP. The ability to handle all these variable data formats enables print providers to optimize their current investment while allowing for flexibility in input and output processes, whether to Canon or third-party vendor devices, cutsheet, or continuous feed. This unique capability utilizes a print provider’s investment in its current print fleet while enabling it to grow its customer base by taking on additional projects without being concerned about handling various data input file formats.

Océ PRISMA software can also add value to PDF files by defining mail pieces within a PDF via tags and indexing for purposes of tracking, compliance reporting, or for closed-loop automated reprints.

The Tools to Grow

In summary, a print provider can grows its business by capitalizing on the customization and personalization opportunities that variable data printing provides. Marketers want to learn how to leverage personalization capabilities. By capitalizing on the benefits of variable data printing, PSPs can create stronger, more successful relationships with their customers. With today’s digital production inkjet technology, PSPs can respond quickly with 100% variable color messaging and do so efficiently and affordably. Plus, Canon Solutions America has the software tools that provide the flexibility and openness to handle most every major variable data file format with maximum performance.