SPECIAL REPORT VARIABLE DATA PRINTING -- 1-to-1 Drives Campaigns
While Williamson did not have any hard figures, other experts note that a typical response rate is 3 percent to 5 percent for a for a static direct mail piece with little to no personalization. By contrast, response rates of 20 percent to 25 percent have been realized from VDP-based programs.
"VDP isn't for every one of our accounts," Williamson cautions. "We look at a client's business model to find out what they want to achieve from their direct marketing efforts. We do a lot of focus groups—really look at the companies before we approach them or design a program for them. If we don't feel it's right for them, we won't take them down the (VDP) path."
It is more expensive than conventional printing, and there are some compromises that need to be made, such as size, she adds. "Most importantly, that client has to have a product or service that can absorb the slight increase in cost per piece. They get the value on the back end, when they're increasing sales or services. You have to be able to provide that ROI to them. Otherwise, it doesn't work."
The market types that are initially most favorable to VDP-driven programs, according to Williamson, are loyalty-based campaigns, including automotive, casino/gaming, alcohol and tobacco. Loyalty retention is a critical aspect, as is a budget to support the campaign. High-volume mailers who are used to getting their goods for a mere pennies per piece may find this commitment impractical, even with the cost savings accrued because of less waste with VDP.
Due to the complexity and precision of variable data jobs, Rapp Collins is very demanding of its digital print vendors. Williamson has qualified a handful of printers and triple bids out all VDP jobs, regardless of whether they're ad hoc or continuous work. With an ongoing program, Rapp Collins needs the stability of a yearly contract.