Guest Article: Growing Your Business with Variable Data Printing

Posted on Oct 30, 2017

It’s no secret that data drives marketing, which means marketers increasingly rely on data to produce highly personalized campaigns that are tailored to the unique profiles of a specific audience. They understand that making a message relevant enough that it enhances a customer’s experience is essential. With so much competition in the marketplace, customers have come to expect this personalized experience, and clean data is the key to achieving this.

InfoTrends, a division of KeyPoint Intelligence, is a marketing research and strategic consulting company for the digital imaging and document solutions industries. In a conducted study regarding the top communication objectives among 800 global marketing executives who were asked how they planned to improve the customer experience in terms of communication, the marketing executives answered: (1) provide better tailored offerings, and (2) better data-driven personalization and relevant communication.[1]

Marketers use data to tailor relevant offers to recipients. For print projects, more relevant, personalized communication has been shown to increase response rates – by about one-third according to the Direct Marketing Association.[2] This drives revenue, retention, and enhances customer loyalty – making the overall marketing spend more efficient for an improved return on investment.

Business Growth Opportunities for Print Service Providers

Print Service Providers (PSPs) have started responding to this push for personalized messaging by expanding their service offerings and investing in technologies that can accommodate the variable data processing that customization demands. Many PSPs have found that inkjet’s capabilities are ideal for producing customized marketing messages efficiently, cost effectively, and quickly. For example, with a white-paper-in/full-color-out workflow, preprinted shell inventory can be eliminated and production time streamlined. Customization and personalization have become virtually limitless.

In addition to the printing itself, other ancillary services can also offer growth opportunities. PSPs today offer data services like mail process management, postal services, and data cleansing, but other services could be added that are directly related to variable data printing – data analytics, data list acquisition, data mining, or campaign response tracking, to name a few.

The Variable Data Printing Challenge

As marketing pieces transition from mass marketing to segmented marketing to personalized marketing, variable data print jobs become much more complex. Not only does the text vary based on the individual recipient or recipient segments, but in order to maximize the relevance for each recipient, variable text, graphics, and images must be tailored to each audience profile for strong impact, optimized comprehension, and maximum response rates.

Handling large amounts of variable data quickly and efficiently requires specialized production management software to ensure that the digital press can operate at full rated speed. Also important is the flexibility to handle all industry-standard data streams and output to any number of required print devices whether in-house or in multiple print centers.

One of the primary objectives of Océ PRISMAproduction® Professional Workflow and Output Management Software from Canon is to enable efficient variable data printing. To do so, the software supports two variable printing file format standards: PDF/VT and PPML.

PDF/VT is an international ISO standard designed for variable data and transactional printing. It was developed to offer the reliability and predictability of the PDF/X workflow for variable and transactional data workflows. It is an open, device independent, non-vendor specific standard offering the benefits of job portability, page independence, and device neutrality. PPML (Personalized Printer Markup Language) is also a device independent and non-vendor specific format. It was developed by PODi, the Printing on Demand initiative, a consortium of leading companies in digital printing.

In addition to these industry standard, open variable printing file formats, Océ PRISMA software also supports proprietary variable data print languages such as RDO or VIPP. The ability to handle all these variable data formats enables print providers to optimize their current investment while allowing for flexibility in input and output processes, whether to Canon or third-party vendor devices. This unique capability utilizes a print provider’s investment in its current print fleet while enabling it to grow its customer base.

The Tools to Grow

A print provider can grow its business by capitalizing on the customization and personalization opportunities that variable data printing provides, creating stronger, more successful relationships with their customers. Canon Solutions America has the software tools that provide the flexibility and openness to handle most every major variable data file format with maximum performance. To learn more about why variable data printing remains an essential value-added service, download this white paper.


[1]Customer Engagement Technologies State of the Market, InfoTrends, 2015

[2] Lisa Cross, InfoTrends webinar, “The Right Data at the Right Time,” 7/17/14, retrieved from vimeo.com/101447313 on 9/15/14

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