What is Variable Data Publication?
Variable Data Publication (VDP) is the systematic delivery of alternative versions of a document, or communication, using different combinations of component; which may cover content, illustration, design, format, language, advertising and even the media channel it is delivered by; to achieve a specific, very customer-focused outcome. Such a tailored approach to communication is likely to produce high levels of user-satisfaction and engagement among its audiences, because of the greater relevancy to themselves of what each of the recipients receives. This may be taken to a personal level, where the individual's profile, or stakeholder relationship with the subject matter, is referenced; or be associated with groups representing market segments, areas of interest, traits, or 'tribes'.
In either case the marketing communication or publication may address the recipient directly and will reflect them personally to a greater or lesser extent, dependent on the variables available and the cleverness of the system.
Why is it so effective?
VDP works because it answers the questions that the customer, or prospect, asks, or communicates information that the recipient can relate to—and doesn't push only what the marketer wants to say at them (either about something they are not interested in, or using puffed up language they don't believe). Today's prospects and recipients of communications should not be underestimated. They are used to being well informed, can easily 'crowd source' opinion, compare or verify what they are being told; are intolerant of things 'not about them' (not relevant to them, or the enquiry they are making); easily see through advertising hype and are inherently distrustful of the corporate, management, or 'party', line, which they expect to be spun. It works because it is 'customer-focused' and localisation of content in communications, as well as personalisation becomes possible.
To appreciate the cost effectiveness of VDP solutions the overall bottom line needs to be compared with the alternatives, as like for like totals, not just the simple unit cost of a deliverable:
- There is a higher return per item because the buy-in levels are better (much higher success rates at the point of action).
- There is little or no wastage because it is produced to meet demand (so it is leaner and greener and fits the Corporate Social Responsibility profile that many organisations are trying to be recognised for).
- The distribution costs are lower, particularly where a traditional print based 'one size fits all' solution has been used previously.
- It also opens up a relationship and the potential of a dialogue with prospects, through which more communication, detailed profiling and follow up digital marketing may take place, which of itself delivers value.