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The Original VDP Guru – Dr. John Leininger

The Original VDP Guru – Dr. John Leininger

This week I had the pleasure to meet and listen to Dr. John Leininger of Clemson University’s Graphics Department (graphics.clemson.edu) speak at length about variable data printing. He offered very good information about VDP return on investment, how to test response rates and why variable data printing is useful for marketing efforts.

A little background for you, Dr. Leininger is a Professor in the Department of Graphic Arts at Clemson University located in South Carolina. He has lead several studies about variable data printing and it’s effectiveness from a marketing standpoint, is a member of the Digital Printing Council Board and reviewer for PODi (and that is just what I know from our meetings).

I thought you all would love the information that he provided. He has published some excellent white papers available for download: http://graphics.clemson.edu/vdp_roi/.

The downloads he provides show the trends and explain his method of “5-5-5” and how to track if a variable data campaign is effective. The concept is that you cannot honestly compare a previously static printed marketing piece to a new variable campaign to see honest response rate changes. This is because market conditions and other influences at the time of the first campaign are not the same as the second campaign.

His recommendation is that you should plan to include a test of the effectiveness in your VDP campaign with the “5-5-5 Rule.” Here’s a quick summary of the “5-5-5”:

1 – Using your variable data software to randomly select 5% of the mailing to receive a static piece (these are still printed variably but instead of personalized they use the same images and the same text, i.e., “Dear Customer”).

2 – Using your variable data software to randomly select another 5% of the mailing to receive a basic variable piece (where the text is variable but the images are the same across all pieces).

3 – Using your variable data software to randomly select another 5% of the mailing to receive full variable (where the text and images are variable).

4 – The balance of the names on your list get full variable (text and images).

Then, assuming you’ve a method to track responses (what’s the point if you aren’t tracking effectiveness), track how many of the randomly selected recipients respond to each piece. You’ll see what the response rate would be if you hadn’t used variable data (#1), if you only did basic variable data (#2) and the rates for full variable data (#3). And you’ll be able to justify the ROI.

Dr. Leininger has an absolutely great VDP ROI calculation spreadsheet that you should check out that works on the principles described above.