DIGITAL digest

Neary also cautioned that sending e-mails spread out over time doesn’t guarantee people won’t still hit the server in clumps because of viewing patterns, so it’s critical to have a server with adequate bandwidth and throughput. “You only get one chance of the recipient typing in a PURL,” he continued.

Security is another factor to consider with PURLs, said Scott Dubois, vice president of cross-media services and marketing at Reynolds DeWalt in New Bedford, MA. Recipients potentially can figure out the pattern and then access other people’s landing pages if some kind of security scheme isn’t used in place of names in a PURL. Web addresses on printed pieces should be hidden from view when sent through the mail stream, he added.

To address security concerns when developing a variable data proposal, Brad Lena, PIA/GATF senior technical consultant, suggested asking the prospect or client for just their database field headers, not any actual data. He also noted that customers will nickel and dime suppliers on printing costs, but are used to paying for data services and should be charged accordingly.

Less often yields more in personalized marketing, according to Arthur Middleton Hughes, vice president of KnowledgeBase Marketing, Richardson, TX. “E-mail blasts ruin the marketing channel because if people opt out, you can’t contact them anymore. Sending too many e-mails (in one week or month) depresses response rates,” he said in a presentation on database marketing.

Offering multiple choices or options—such as destinations for a family vacation—in a promotional offer kills response rates, Hughes continued. “Send one choice at a time and use different messages for other choices.”

Frank McPherson, president of Custom Data Imaging in Markham, Ontario, offered an intriguing suggestion for how to more efficiently produce some variable printing jobs. “We have product lines that are strictly done by the data department with no one from graphics or prepress getting involved. One of our data people runs the press for that work,” he revealed. “We’ve saved 8,000 to 10,000 man hours a year doing work that way.”

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