Versioning and personalising

One of the characteristics of digital printing that sets it apart from conventional offset printing is the ability of digital presses to make every page that comes out of the machine different from the page before it.

Because the information on each page is constructed electronically and is not physically burnt onto a plate, as in the case of offset printing, it is possible for each page in a print run to differ from the page before it.

The technical problems involved in doing this have to do with the speed the data must be processed at in order to keep the press running a full speed, and the software required to build and process what we call a ‘variable data’ job.

The degree to which each page differs from the preceding page might be slight or very significant. For instance, a simple case might involve just the name and address on a flyer changing. A more complex application would involve complete slabs of text, photographs and background colours changing.

Each page doesn’t have to be different. A print run of say 1000 pieces, might consist of 50 different sets of 20, just as it might consist of 1000 different pieces.

Why would you personalise a print job?

‘Variable data’ has been in use for over ten years, and there is abundant evidence to show that a well targeted and designed variable data piece will attract a response many many times higher than a conventionally printed piece with no variable content. Responses as high as 25% or even more have been recorded, compared to one per cent or less for conventionally printed pieces.

What kind of print jobs are suitable for variable data?

There are at least three answers to that question. First, organisations with a problem may find a solution in the use of variable data. The problem might be something like ‘how can we increase brand loyalty’. Second, variable data campaigns are suited to organisations who sell services or manufactured items with a high unit value — the car industry and the health insurance industry are two examples. Third, variable data campaigns might be used by organisations seeking to strengthen relationships with their customers, without necessarily seeking to sell something. The use of highly personalised invitations might be used is such a scenario.

You must know a lot about your customers, you must have recorded that information in a database, and you must be able to analyse and extract the necessary data on which the variable data campaign will be based. Even if you can’t see a reason for mounting a variable data campaign now, you could and should at least review what you know about your customers and whether your information gathering and recording can be improved.

There is a growing body of opinion which suggests that the mailing of personalised pieces will become increasingly important. This is in response to

  • the uncontrolled growth of email spam which has resulted in email becoming an increasingly unattractive marketing tool, and
  • the growth of unwanted telemarketing calls which has resulted in the establishment of a national ‘do not call’ registry in the United States which has attracted over 50 million registrations!

Is variable data expensive?

There is a considerable amount of work involved in producing a variable data job, and this is reflected in the price we charge for variable data work. On the other hand, we offer versioning, within reason, at minimal additional cost. You can, for instance, have up to ten different business cards in a job for the cost of the total number plus a small fee for each additional name. Similarly, you could order 1000 brochures, and have 100 each of ten designs for the cost of 1000. For the price of 500 postcards, you could have ten different lots of 50 with a small fee for each additional card. It is hard to put firm limits on this service. Our capacity to offer versioning for large jobs that have to be printed offset is much more limited, and you should contact us to discuss your project if you need versioning, and suspect the job might have to be printed offset.

The staff of Kainos Print have been producing variable data work since 1998, and have the software and hardware necessary to produce variable data jobs. We invite you to click here to contact us if you think the use of a variable data campaign would benefit you.

Click here to see our white paper to learn more about digital printing.