The Expanding Reach of Print Personalization

Posted by Roger P. Gimbel, EDP on Apr 25, 2024 10:44:25 AM
Roger P. Gimbel, EDP
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If one clear trend is dominating marketing, it’s personalization. In fact, personalization is nowhouse personalized considered essential for any brand that wants to stand out with consumers and successfully nurture customer relationships. A recent study by Salesforce found that 73% of shoppers expect brands to understand their unique needs and expectations.1

The best way to demonstrate this understanding of individuality among consumers is by creating marketing messages that apply to the recipient and are engaging in their presentation.

Personalized print took a big stride forward with the advent of variable data printing capabilities. At one time, simply adding the customer’s name to printed materials was impressive. Today, marketers are using much more sophisticated approaches than simple text substitution.

With the growing use of CRM systems, marketers have accumulated mounds of data they can use to segment and individualize direct mail pieces. Coupled with the power of ever more powerful VDP capabilities in software and hardware, you can customize nearly every element on a printed piece to achieve optimum results.

A simple starting point is the building block of a printed piece. All text, fonts and typefaces, images, colors, and even substrates can be substituted. How a marketer deploys these elements can create marketing magic.

Let’s first consider some personalization strategies:

Product Recommendations: Suggest products based on recent purchases, identify additional products customers may be interested in buying, or offer deals on items they browsed online but didn’t purchase.


Rewards/Loyalty: Offer personalized rewards to customers based on purchase history, longevity, referrals, or website searches. Refine these offers further with data about age, gender, professional affiliation, occupation, location, or any other important segmentation.


Location: Direct customers to the location nearest to them and include a local map. Vary offers according to travel distances to the store or branch.


Timing: Align offers with special life events, such as weddings, retirements, or birthdays. Other important dates might include warranty end dates, product maintenance schedules, seasons, or local events.


Now let’s consider some techniques to take full advantage of personalization:

Digital Links: Add digital links connecting a mail piece to your social media platforms and your website. Even better, add a QR code to each mailing that links a recipient to a personal URL or landing page. The pandemic showed anyone who ate in a restaurant how easy it is to use these codes and we’re used to them. Take advantage of this easy way to connect physical mail to digital content.

Rather than just adding an individual name, modify the copy that links to the promotion according to information you know about the customer. Consider: “Mary, we have the blue pants on special for you” or “Consider these shoes to complete your semi-formal ensemble.”

Colors, Fonts, and Images: Customize your colors to speak to the individuals or group you’re targeting. Similarly, choose fonts and images that reflect the interests or attributes of your recipients. If you call attention to an earlier purchase, create a field and insert an image of the previously purchased item.

Substrates, Inks, and Finishes: One of the unbeatable characteristics of print is how its tangible nature can convey your brand’s attributes or the ideas you want to communicate. If you’re targeting customers of high-end cars or other luxury items, you can use specific substrates that convey luxury, such as a premium-weight coated stock with a satin silky coating. If you’re after edgy urban hipsters, an uncoated stock will probably grab their attention.

And don’t forget about finishes such as UV coatings, raised UV applications, foils, embossing, and debossing. Targeted to the right group or individual, these embellishments raise the bar for standing out and engaging the senses. When you do that, your pieces become much more memorable.

Inks, like fluorescents and scented options, also add a punch.

When you go beyond simply changing the salutation, your personalized pieces work at a deeper level. Recipients may not take the time to consider why you chose a specific graphic, but that choice communicates that you understand them. Your choice of text telegraphs that you get their needs and are not wasting their time with unwanted pitches. Effective personalization need not be explicit. If a consumer feels your marketing piece conveys the right message at the right time, they are more likely to convert.


1 Excerpt from May 2022 Salesforce Report “Fifth Edition State of the Connected Customer” via Insider Intelligence.


Topics: variable data printing, news, personalizaton, personalized, segmentation, variable data, VDP, embellishments

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