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Variable Data


I went to a Xerox seminar yesterday where one of the big things talked about was using variable data printing on printed marketing material, like direct mail etc. I'm not sure what everyone's level of knowledge is on this topic, but briefly it is a software that allows you to change each printed document on the run - be it images, colour blocks or text.

I was wondering how many people have considered using this for a targeted campaign when designing collateral for their clients?


Active Member
Hi Chris,

I've seen it offered as a service from a few printers I've used in the past, but never had the need/opportunity to use it with my freelance work. I guess you need quite a client with a big mailing list/mail-out to make it really worthwhile.

Is this something you're considering offering as a service?
Yeah a few do offer it as do we. Depending on what you're using it for, the size of your database doesn't really matter. For example; it could be a mailer that goes out to thousands of houses printed litho and we over print their addresses digitally. Or instead of sending out a generic leaflet to thousands of people, targeting a smaller amount with information relevant to them. Whether you change the image, their name, slogan or offer, you can theoretically target your clients more concisely and potentially get a better hit rate.


Active Member
Makes sense, have you seen big improvements in response rate for mailers using this then? Or is there any data available to support that? As an approx % what does it add on to the job, say for example a mailer with a name graphic on the front, then mail merge for address details..
I haven't unfortunately got any figures, and I'm personally a little skeptical about its use and effectiveness. I don't think that it is enough to simply put "Hello Greg" on the front of something and that will make people respond better. But what I think will help is changing content, or relevant offers, or colours and pictures.

Do you mean a percentage of hit rates or cost? I wonder if there are statistics out there but I don't know any, and cost would be specific to the job.

But from a designers perspective - if you can sell this to your clients, you get more design work, because you are designing the different templates or elements that change.


Active Member
I meant percentage on costs, if there was an increase that could be applied across a simple job, but as you say dependant on many other factors!

In a way I guess it could become like the way AdWords advertisers create landing pages for different customers, you could be doing the same with the print, so tailoring the whole message for different types of potential/existing customers.
Yeah it could work like AdWords. You can apply the relevant elements to the relevant names throughout your database. It could work effectively. A good example was a leaflet for a Gym. There main demographics to generalise were male, female and family. They applied a different colour for each demographic, a different image on the front and a different supporting tag line. I think this was done simultaneously with printing their address also.

Not sure of percentage per cost, I guess it changes on the effectiveness of each design/ project