Modern businesses know that today’s marketing must be diverse. It is no longer viable to use the “spray and pray” tactic in hopes of generating leads and making a profit. While marketing to audience segments is still better than marketing without parameters, to stand out in a noisy market, today’s businesses have to get personal with their customers on an individual level.
Why? Recent studies indicate “80 percent of consumers are more likely to do business with a company if it offers a personalized experience.” If the majority of people making purchases from companies like yours are more likely to buy from a brand that personalizes their communications, it makes sense to give the majority what they want. And, according to Constellation Research, “Lack of content relevancy generates 83% lower response rates in the average marketing campaign.” This is just more proof that personalized marketing campaigns are significantly more effective than general campaigns.
So, what does all of this have to do with variable data printing (VDP)? Well, everything, really, at least when it comes to direct mail. When we talk about marketing personalization, many businesses automatically think of email marketing. However, the same strategy can (and should) be applied to direct mail campaigns. And, it is largely due to variable data printing technology that companies can now use customer data to create more efficient and personalized direct mail campaigns.
What is Variable Data Printing?
Let’s back up for a second and talk about what variable data printing is, and how it works. Variable data printing (VDP) is an advanced printing technology which allows companies to print customized direct mail pieces using a database to fill in specified text and/or graphics. Each piece can be personalized to target a specific audience and/or individual within a targeted group.
For example, VDP allows brands to address customers not only by name, but also with relevant images and graphics with specific messaging targeted to their behavior. However, the data used to create personalized pieces is only as good as its keepers, so it’s important for businesses using VDP to ensure their data collection is efficient and accurate.
When done right, VDP technology helps increase direct mail response rates exponentially. “While response rates for non-personalized mail pieces average 2%, [highly] personalized pieces have a response rate of 6% — an increase of 300%,” according to PODi and DMA data. But the benefits of variable data printing go beyond the ability to personalize direct mail campaigns; when combined with high-speed variable 4-color inkjet, the technology offers a remarkable level of speed, quality, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.
Cultivating Customer Loyalty
Now that you have a better understanding of how VDP technology works, let’s talk more about how it can help your business cultivate customer loyalty. Loyalty begins with trust, right? Any relationship, whether it be personal or professional, is formed on the basis of trust. Likewise, the brand to consumer relationship is no exception.
When a consumer receives a personalized letter addressing them by name that includes content relevant to their specific interests and preferences, it shows that the company has taken the time to get to know them. And, research indicates, “79 percent of customers only consider brands that show they understand and care about “me,” and 56 percent are loyal to brands that deeply understand their priorities and preferences.”
Why is Customer Loyalty so Important?
It is clear to see how customer loyalty can result in increased sales over time. If first time buyers are gold; repeat customers are the platinum buyer segment. Not only do retention efforts cost less than acquiring new customers, but these tactics can also create a more powerful, lasting impact on your bottom line.
In fact, research from the Center for Retail Management at Northwestern University says, “up to 15% of a business’s most loyal customers account for 55% to 70% of a company’s total sales.” Simply put; keeping customers is paramount; your loyal customers are essentially keeping your business thriving.
Connecting on a personal level with consumers appears to make a big difference with today’s consumers, which brings us back to variable data printing. VDP allows us to create personalized direct marketing campaigns; with that personalization comes trust, and with that trust comes customer loyalty. The end result is – you guessed it – a steady stream of revenue from just a small percentage of your customers.
Customer Loyalty Checklist
If you want to improve customer loyalty using direct mail, VDP is the most cost-efficient and effective technology to do just that. Here are a few additional steps to take to ensure your campaign is well-received by your intended audience.
1. Convince your target audience that you care.
Provide testimonials, free samples, money-back guarantees. Do whatever it takes to get their attention and show consumers they’re worth the effort.
2. Prove your trustworthiness.
Deliver on your promises. Provide high-quality products and services. Give consumers what they paid for, so they’ll become loyal customers.
3. Go above and beyond.
Give your customers something extra for being loyal. It doesn’t have to be big, but people love free stuff; give them the VIP treatment they’re looking for.
4. Get personal.
Show customers you care about them, specifically. Address them by name. Show them the content they want, in the format they want. Use VDP technology to do this with your direct mail campaigns for best results.
5. Listen to your customers.
Listen to what your customers want and figure out how to give it to them. Remember, as your relationship with your customers ages, their needs may change. Find new ways to engage your customers, such as by creating specifically tailored offers, cross-selling and offering rewards incentives.
6. Rinse and repeat.
Consistency is key. You have to prove yourself over and over again. You have to go above and beyond every time.
Building and maintaining customer loyalty is a never-ending process. Even if you think you’ve got it down, there’s always room for improvement. Never settle for “good enough”.
Want Better Response Rates?
Yeah, we thought so. Polaris Direct provides variable data printing services using high-speed 4-color inkjet presses to help businesses like yours get better response rates and impact customer loyalty. Contact us today to find out more about our how VDP technology can help your business.
About the author: Lisa Leslie is a Copywriter for Polaris Direct, a nationally acclaimed high-volume direct marketing services company in Hooksett, NH. A skilled writer and creative thinker, Lisa works to uncover authentic and inspiring brand stories to create content that drives customer engagement. Throughout her professional career, she has filled a variety of roles, ranging from marketing administration and project management to digital marketing consulting and content development. In each role, Lisa has remained committed to helping brands tell their stories in ways that capture audiences and encourage customer loyalty. Her intuitive listening skills, broad experience, and talent for writing make her a unique and valuable asset to the Polaris Direct team.