Personalization: Digital Printing Data Strategies
Beyond 'Dear John' Personalization!
The early days of variable data digital printing conjure up images of dot-matrix printers and personalized salutations. Our state-of-the-art systems provide both enhanced flexibility and true commercial print quality for each piece produced.
Understanding the possibilities
With variable data digital printing, each piece produced has the potential to be unique. This is achieved by marrying a base layout with specific information associated with the recipient.
An example is a salutation such as Dear [firstname], which uses a simple substitution variable to insert each recipient's first name. Each variable that will be substituted must have its own unique placeholder. Our software links the placeholder value, in this case [firstname], with the corresponding field, which in this case is the first name field of your data.
Substitution variables are not limited to the standard name-and-address fields of a typical contact record. There is no limitation on the placeholders you can insert in your layouts; of course, each placeholder must have a field associated with it in your data set.
Substitution variables aren't limited to text, either. There are actually five types of substitution variables we can define for a given run:
Text. The most basic variable type, a text value in the record replaces the placeholder text in the layout.
Calculation. A calculation variable combines one ore more variable values and static text to create the value for each record. You could calculate the [fullname] variable, for example, by combining [firstname], a space and [lastname].
Color. You can specify Pantone or CMYK color values as a variable: Define a color not otherwise used as a placeholder, and we replace all instances of that color with the color associated with each record or with a logic statement (e.g. if male, blue; if female, red).
Image. You can create image substitution variables by including a file name with the data for each record. You'll need to supply us with all of the files that will be substituted, along with the image placeholder file name that has been included in the master layout.
Layout. Finally, you can define multiple base layouts for your job if you identify the layout file to use with each record. An example of where this might be applicable would be an event sponsored by two organizations. Invitations mailed to each contact could reflect the branding of the organization that supplied the contact be processed.
Creating rules to simplify data
In the layout example mentioned previously, you wouldn't have to specify the layout as part of your data set. If there is a field identifying the source of the contact, we can write a rule that determines the file to use based on the value of the source field. That way, you don't have to merge frequently-appearing values into every contact record you create.