TKs Korner Masthead

January 2024


Digital Printing —Variable Data Printing
for Business Development



How Would You Like To:


• RAISE Response Rates


• INCREASE Total Purchase Dollars Per Customer or Order




• LOWER Costs per Response


• LOWER Costs per Sale


• GATHER pertinent information on each of your customers to market more effectively



THIS ISSUE EXPLORES DIGITAL PRINTING and Variable Data Printing (VDP) and how it is revolutionizing the way businesses reach out to their customers, as well as how they develop their business or marketing strategies.


How does digital printing differ from conventional offset printing and why is it fueling the growth of One-to-One Marketing using Variable Data Printing (VDP)?


I CAN HELP. Shapco can help. Digital Printing can help. One-to-One Marketing can help!


Shapco has been providing digital, VDP printing for many years. We can help you implement engaging one-to-one promotions, provide cross-media campaign measurement, and even streamline your entire marketing supply chain.




This issue won’t make you an expert on the subject of digital printing and variable digital printing (VDP) overnight, but it will help you understand the potential of digital technology using VDP, and how it can help you reach your communications and marketing objectives.


DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY is Changing the Face of Printing


Digital technology makes printing faster and easier to produce, provides flexiblility, and reduces the need to produce and hold huge inventories. It is transforming from a mass medium that is a ‘spray and pray’, into customized one-to-one marketing.


Digital Defined

With most types of digital printing, there’s no film, color proofing, stripping or plate making, no press make-readies, no time consuming changeovers, and less waste. Because the images are generated digitally, they can most often be changed ‘on the fly’.


Digital technology permits quick turnaround, immediate finishing, no wait-time for drying, and allows for low-quantity print runs. Books and brochures can be printed on-demand as they are ordered — eliminating the need to print large quantities of materials and then holding them in inventory.


VARIABLE DATA PRINTING Provides a Powerful New Tool


Variable Data Printing (VDP) will win the attention of your audience, one person at a time, and frequently captures higher sales, lowers the cost per sale/response, and increases your ROI.


VDP is a form of on-demand printing in which elements such as text, graphics and images may be changed from one printed piece to the next without stopping or slowing down the press, using information from a database.


What’s behind the change is the marriage of reliable, high-speed digital printing and sophisticated database software, which combine to produce 0ne-to-0ne marketing using VDP for full color documents that look and feel comparable to conventional offset printing.



Digital Goes Personal


Blending digital printing technology with electronic customer databases, VDP allows you to create personalized promotions that not only call each member of your audience by name, but also reflects their personal characteristics, lifestyles and tastes.


Communicators now have the ability to target messages more precisely than ever before. Like hearing your name across a crowded room, personalized communications cut throughthe clutter and help establish a different relationship; you’re not just selling — you’re speaking person-to-person with your prospects.


The Returns


While some claims seem inflated, research and experience indicate that personalized communications increase customer retention, the size of the purchase/order and response rates 6 times over. Others say, variable printing varies from double the normal return on the "first level" variable to 10 to 15 times on fully variable. It depends on the data and the relevancy, but it is a very effective tool to increase ROI on your mailings. Even with higher per-page costs, variable data printing can make for a lower cost per response, and higher returns from your communications investments.


See research results and comparisons in charts below on how to lower costs per response, as well as lower cost per sale and increasing ROI, with noncustomized versus customized programs.





How to Increase Response Rates


• Use what you know about your customer/prospect


• Send them a relevant message


• Ask them to act or take action in a specific manner


NOTE: +600%, this equates up to 16% total.


Full variable data, personalization, customization, database segmentation. ie; specific targets, smaller quantity, more opportunities to respond.


NOTE: When a Business Reply Card (BRC )is "pre-completed" with recipients name and address, return rate increases 13%.


30 Direct Mail Statistics: See why direct mail is still the best medium to get your marketing messages out.


For the list of 30 reason and more, go to:
30 Direct Mail Statistics You Can Use Right Now


And most IMPORTANTLY, by tracking the results, you can easily calculate the cost per response, inquiry or sale.


Measurability is a Major Advantage for marketing compared to other communication tools.


Using Alerts in Real Time of when a website has been visited, and what responses have been given, provides the ability to follow up in a timely manner. This is critical for marketing managers, as well as sales reps and others who want to gather information quickly and accurately, and respond as needed.


Utilizing Dashboard Technology— data being generated, gathered and formulated into trackable, measurable and informative formats in real time. Each opportunity, what products or services they are interested in, as well as giving you the ability to monitor your sales teams efforts, follow-up and sales. Integration of online tools is inclined to make your direct mail stronger than ever.


• In the dashboard, you’ll be able to Monitor Up-to-the-Minute Results by campaign and itemize: reports of visitors, actions while on landing pages, downloads initiated, data collected, A/B test results, and activities from sources like direct mail, email, telephone number tracking, and text messaging.



Database is the Most Important Lever


See more.


• Must be clean


• Must be well defined


• Limited target group, data mined and clearly detailed


• Will outscore an ill defined, broad targeted group


Drayton Bird’s direct marketing expert estimates a good database might imply:


> 6x’s higher response rate with good database


> 2x’s higher response rate with good offer


> 2x’s higher response rate if the timing is right


> 1.25x’s higher response rate with good creative


> 1.2x’s higher response rate with response possibilities


NOTE: 18% of Americans relocate annually and 2% of your list moves monthly


Mail List Hygiene:


• Merge/purge


• Zip code sort


• Address standardization


• Delivery sequence file


• Delivery points for bar coding, specific delivery points


Hide this content.


Shapco has been assisting our customers with their database list needs for over 20 years.



Shapco has been assisting our customers with their database list needs for over 20 years.


Levels of Variable Printing


See more.


Level 1 — STATIC

Conventional printing with no variable data, salutation or name changes on each copy. (Fairly simple, but doesn’t increase your level of return greatly from a mass direct mail.)



A number of versions of documents are prepared to appeal to different groups, determined by demographics, income, location, interests or other characteristics. (You might have different levels of variability for different markets, can involve text and picture changes based upon segment.)



Text and pictures can change totally from copy to copy.



Combines both static and personalization. ie. an offset print run for the guts, plus digital personalized covers or center spreads to appeal to many, along with one-to-one marketing.



Hide this content.


And 5 levels of complexity:


See more.


Level 1 — VERSION

Builds pages that change easily without significant database work. ie. sale sheets.



Materials with a common design having a basic name or other simple database change.



Page layout that requires higher-level database support. Individual page elements are determined by logic that is used to access the database. ie. more complex direct mail and newsletters.



Financial transactions that incorporate personalized and customized content with financial data. ie. mutual fund and billing statements.



Involves use of a sophisticated database that contains specific detailed information about an individual. The data is used to generate completely unique text, graphics, images and template content.


Hide this content.


While VDP opens new options in communications, it’s best to proceed carefully. The printing equipment available needs to meet the demands of the job and each type of equipment has its own weakness and strengths. Working with Shapco, you’ll be assured that we are experienced in handling both the printing technology and the information systems needed to drive it.


When Considering Variable Digital Printing


When starting out it’s best to keep things both simple and subtle. While it’s possible to personalize virtually every aspect of a publication, large numbers of permutations become more difficult to manage, simply assembling all the images and reviewing all the options can be challenging. It also appears that the days of boldly calling attention to personalized information are coming to an end. Today, many of the best examples seamlessly weave personalization into the project without flaunting it. The goal is to reach customers, not to showcase your technical prowess.


Before you decide to choose Variable it’s good to keep a few things in mind:


• Not all commercial printers are equipped to handle VDP, which requires a broader range of skills.


• Software is easier to use, yet, graphic arts professionals are likely to need the help of information technology specialists to acquire and manage the data required. At most printers that offer digital printing IT experts are full members of the production team.


• Of course, the data must be good. Nothing blunts the impact of a personalized publication more than a mangled name or title.


• VDP requires a new way of looking at costs. Both production times and costs are likely to be higher, but so are the responses and purchases, which can make VDP more cost effective.


• No need to print and store large quantities of copies that may never be used or quickly become out-of-date.


• In the long run, it might actually be less expensive to pay as you go and only print the number of publications that are required at the moment, without tying up capital in brochures stacked on a warehouse floor.



I have some ideas that you might want to consider and would love an opportunity to come in and show them to you. Let me know if you are interested and we’ll set up a date and time to do this.



Food for Thought:


Repetition is the mother of recognition and learning. The more often you hit the target market with different and creative pieces, the better chance of having them recognize and purchase or act on your offer.



For more information that you may find of interest, click on the links below:


Specific information about digital presses









For more digital equipment offered at Shapco; equipment specs and capabilities, please go to What Sets Shapco Apart


Before we go...

If you have a production issue not discussed above that you would like me to address, or a project that needs to be looked at, please give me a call or send me an email.


As always, I will do whatever it takes to ensure you receive the best value for every marketing dollar you invest.


Connect with me on LinkedIn

You can also check out my profile, join my network and view more client comments on LinkedIn at:


Referrals are greatly appreciated. If you know someone I can help, or who might like to receive TK's Korner, please let me know.

Take care and have a great day!


Tom Kubinski

Printing Consultant Who Helps You Make Good Impressions
Direct: 612-278-1568
Cell: 612-760-3700


Our Work

Shapco has done it all — showstopping display pieces, innovative packaging, award-winning art books, direct mailers that get results, you name it — and our team is always ready for a new challenge.


Explore our portfolio and start envisioning what we can do for you.

Take a Virtual Tour of Shapco and visit our Website for more information.


Virtual Tour: Shapco Printing Inc.


Website: Shapco - Minnesota's Most Awarded Offset & Digital Printer


Our Services: Advertising Specialties, Large Format, Full Service Mailing, Fulfillment / Inventory Management, e Commerce Portal, Offset Printing, Digital Printing, Packaging, Kitting etc.


Our Work: Advertising Specialties, Books, Packaging, Digital, Large Format, Booklets, Brochures, UV Offset, Direct Mail, Specialties, Menus and a whole lot more


Why Shapco: "If You Dream It, Shapco Can Print It. What can Shapco do for you?"



Did you miss an issue of TK's Korner? Click below to view!


Branding - 22 Laws Of
Brand Warfare
Clear Dry Ink
Creative Coatings Techniques
Desktop Techniques
Digital Printing - Variable Data or Business Development
Direct Mail Raise Response, Lower Costs
FSC Certification
In House Mailing Capabilities
Ink Tour—Everything you wanted to know
Marketing More Effectively
Paper Mill Tour - Coated
Paper Mill Tour - Uncoated
Picking the Right Paper and Substrate
PDF Formats
PDF Info & Quark vs. InDesign
PODi - Digital Print Success Story
Postal Changes, Mailing Requirements & Rates
Press Check Tips
PURL - Avoid Dog House Campaign
QR Codes
Save Disk Space
Social Media -- The Basics
Social Media vs. Print
Top File Issues
UV Burn
Ways to Save Money
What Sets Shapco Apart?
Why Print in a Down Market?
Why Work With TK?



Tom Kubinski
Printing Consultant
Direct: 612-278-1568
Fax: 612-334-5879
Cell: 612-760-3700
1109 Zane Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN. 55422
Phone: 612-375-1150
Fax: 612-334-5879
Toll Free: 1-800-230-2828

Did you miss an issue
of TK's Korner?
Click to view!