Making Big Data Connect via Personalization

Nov 15, 2012

Vya Staff

As marketers embrace growing volumes of customer data, variable data printing (VDP) is a way to make that data come to life and to help prospects and datarain-78027490_thumbcustomers make an emotional connection with your brand. While it may sound complex, campaign personalization via VDP is within reach and can be executed at varying levels of sophistication with your Big Data efforts. Whether you are just beginning to put structure around your customer data for the first time or are further down the path, variable data printing can be an effective approach to personalizing marketing campaigns. Here’s your quick guide to making big data connect – no matter the sophistication of your customer data.

Using Customer Data: Four Approaches

- Start Simple. Using variable data, direct mail pieces can be personalized with your customers’ or prospects’ first names, making them more likely to respond to your campaign and to form an emotional connection with your brand.
- Step it up. Consider this personalization example featured by Direct Marketing News, which personalized both the jersey image and incorporated the customer’s first name in the campaign messaging. For the past several years, Vya has included our clients’ names in the design of their holiday card. For example, the client’s name has appeared on an image of a Christmas ornament and a gift tag. According to Liz Schaefer,Vya’s Director of Business Development, “We’ve had an overwhelming, positive response to our personalized holiday cards. The personalization really captured our clients’ attention and interest.” With the holiday season quickly approaching, a holiday card campaign is a great first step into variable data printing.
- Connect online. For even greater personalization and interaction, variable data can be used to deliver direct mailers that include a personalized URL (PURL) web link to prompt customer and prospect engagement. This approach is simple in terms of data sophistication, but more complex to execute in terms of configuration, as the name of the recipient actually becomes a part of the URL (i.e. and is included on the landing page.
- Get Sophisticated. Variable data printing can also be leveraged to deliver different content to varying customer segments and groups – all coordinated under one campaign umbrella. This fully custom approach requires more data sophistication, including defined customer segments and groups, and there is some complexity involved in creating custom messaging for each segment: Be sure to leave ample time to develop several versions of messaging for each target segment when designing your campaign.

Seamless Campaign Execution

For many marketers, there is still a learning curve for variable data printing. Fortunately, full service marketing service providers can provide strategic and tactical support for personalized campaigns. Full service marketing providers can help you understand what data you need, clean data and remove any duplicate entries, help with campaign design and help to oversee the entire process of end-to-end multichannel campaign fulfillment (e.g. direct mail with PURL). According to ClickZ, “Synchronizing messages across channels, such as an email followed by a print piece followed by an email or a variation on the prescribed message string based on user response, is more effective than non-synchronized mailings.” MRM systems can help to synchronize campaign execution while delivering segment-level personalization.


You don’t need to be at the cutting edge of Big Data to make your customer data actionable. In fact, if you’re feeling a little behind in your Big Data efforts, you’re not alone, according to a recent report from McKinsey & Company. As we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, a crawl-walk-run approach to leveraging Big Data is totally ok, and a simple email or direct mail campaign where you leverage personalization via first and/or last names is a great first step. Finally, full service marketing providers can help you to fully leverage the power of personalization with an integrated variable data printing solution, which can be coordinated via an MRM system.

How are you using customer data to personalize your marketing messages?

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Tags: big data, Variable Data Printing, VDP, marketing campaign, MRM, marketing technology, personalization, marketing resource management

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