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Versioned Versus Variable … What’s the Difference?

Versioned Versus Variable … What’s the Difference?

In the world of “personalized” communications there is one concept that many have trouble with: versioned versus variable.

Versioned means that for the campaign you have a few options that you’d like to use for the campaign art and copy, and a recipient list for each version.

Variable means that for the campaign you have ONE data list for the campaign and elements in each piece will change based on what the recipient’s record says in the data list. Elements could be copy, photos or both. If a campaign has multiple elements that change sometimes it could be termed “Versioned/Variable.”

Lots of times I’ll hear that a client wants to do a variable data project – but they describe a versioned project. They have MULTIPLE recipient lists that they want to send a direct mail piece to and for each TYPE of list they have a mailer associated with it. The copy and images in the mailer don’t change based on the recipient, just the file that is used to process the list.

True variable data uses typically uses ONE list with the elements in each record that are to be variable. For instance, if the record is flagged as female versus male, then the images may change based on that distinction. Other elements that are used in variable data campaigns: age range, education level, household income, pet ownership, number of kids, married versus single, past purchases…the list goes on and on.

With variable data the sky is the limit. It is wise to discuss your goals with your partners or vendors to ensure you don’t get caught up in the “variables” and never get the piece out.