Personalizing direct mail in new ways with VDP

Variable Data Printing (VDP) is a process that enables you to personalize almost any element, such as text and image, in a direct mail campaign — not just names and salutations. The response rate can more than double with this new technology.

VDP postcard

A VDP postcard.

We asked our colleague Brian Boyajian of MicroPage Inc. some questions about VDP. For further information, Brian can be reached at 212 533-9180 or email at

What is variable data printing (VDP) used for?

Let’s say you are producing a postcard for an event. Before VDP we would be able to personalize the address, and laser print a salutation in black ink in the copy area. That was about it. Now we can do a lot more. We can:

  • Print the recipient’s name in color anywhere on the postcard
  • Typeset a personalized message and place it inside of an image, even a photograph
  • Create versions of the postcard and swap out different images and headlines targeted for specific groups
  • Print a website address personalized with the recipient’s name that communicates with the recipient by name when they visit the site.

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How does VDP work?

It starts with the client’s database. The more details in the database — the more we know about the audience — the more personalization can happen. Once we know to what degree we can customize the piece, we work with the graphic designer to create “zones” where the images and copy will be personalized. The project prints on our Canon Imagesetter — a toner based printing system that is designed for VDP. The quality is equivalent to offset printing on most projects.

What is the response rate for VDP?

VDP typically doubles the response rate of regular mailings, and can go much higher, depending on the database quality and effectiveness of the concept and copy. We can share many case studies showing impressive results.

How much more expensive is it than offset printing?

VDP requires more front-end database work and programming — this makes it more expensive than conventional printing. But often we can include mailing house services, such as addressing, in the process, so it is not billed as an additional item. Keep in mind that if you are doubling your response rate VDP may well be a good return on investment.



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