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How personalization drives direct mail response rates

Commercial printing How personalization drives direct mail response rates


by Dimitri Van Gaever

It’s not that much of a secret, really. It’s just a question of combining creativity with modern printing technology. Offering endless personalization possibilities thanks to variable data printing, direct mail these days is a sure means to attract the consumer’s attention and make response rates soar.

Direct mail response rates are going strong

As stated in the DMA Response Rate Report', direct mailing’s ROI beats all digital marketing channels combined by a whopping 600 per cent. The DMA has also observed consumers to be four times more likely to convert when they’ve been encouraged to do so by a direct mail (provided the mail was sent by a company they’ve already purchased from in the past), compared to other marketing channels. To top it all off, the average ROI direct mail offers is equally as strong as that of social media (which lies somewhere between 15 and 17 per cent).

Variable data printing is key

The driving force behind successful direct mailing campaigns, variable data printing is an indispensable technology for any marketer who wants to score big time with a cunning print-based marketing strategy – no matter how hung up they may be on offset printing. While offset may be more cost-effective when there are less than 10,000 pieces to be printed, personalizing direct mails on a large scale is simply impossible without variable data printing, which is, of course, a digital print solution. And unless your direct mail is personalized, there’s no way it’s going to stand out against all the other (impersonal) ads consumers are bombarded with every day, let alone offer the consumer an extra easy decision path – two characteristics which happen to be direct mail’s major selling points.

Some tried-and-tested personalized direct mail examples:

Creative Marketing Solutions

The vet who sent out this direct mail sure knows a thing or two about grabbing a pet owner’s attention. Next to featuring the cat’s name and the fact that Abby is indeed due for one of her annual visits, chances are Abby is also a ginger cat. (Admittedly, ginger cats tend to be male … but you get where we’re going with this. Next to text, variable data printing can easily print personalized images as well.)

The Financial Brand

Talk about a decision path that’s literally easy for this consumer to take, right?

One Imaging Inc

We don’t know who Pamela is and whether she’s into buying a Nissan, but we can’t imagine her not checking out that personalized landing page.

Direct mail personalization: when offset meets digital

Fortunately for marketers on a budget – which all marketers inevitably are - most direct mail print service providers offer the possibility of combining offset and variable data printing. First, they print whatever can be printed in offset. Next, a digital printing press fills in the gaps with personalized text and graphics, e.g. the recipient’s address or a map to their nearest product provider, in an additional process.

Variable data printing with Xeikon

Variable data printing is a complex matter that requires great precision, but it’s nothing the Xeikon X-800 can’t handle. All Xeikon presses, by the way, can be fitted with a pre-printed stock sensor to ensure all personalized text and images wind up exactly where they’re supposed to.