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Personalized Print: 5 Things to Watch

By personalizing your direct mail pieces, you can increase response rates and cart sizes, too. But if you're new to personalization, the design process can seem intimidating. Here is a short "to do" list of common oversights to watch for. 

1. Use the correct data, not more data. The more data you have on your customers, the better. However, more important is being smart about using the information you have. For example, a new mover's list can be invaluable, especially for small businesses. People moving into the area will need everything from new doctors to new favorite restaurants. Likewise, if someone is graduating from college, they will likely be looking at buying a car, furnishing an apartment, and upgrading their wardrobes. You don't need lots of data. You just need the correct data. 

2. Go long (and short). When designing layouts for your personalized pieces, remember to consider the longest and shortest fields in your database. When personalizing by name, for example, your layout must accommodate "Bob Smith" as well as "Hubert Blaine Wolfeschlegelsteinhausen." Use rules-based design to enable flexibility. 

3. Always have a default. No matter how well you prepare your database, you will always have missing information. You'll have a first but not last name. You'll know most people's alma maters, but not all of them. When one of your records is missing an element, you don't want to end up with "Dear First Name Here" Set your defaults (such as "Dear Valued Customer") to appear when a piece of data is missing. 

4. Tidy up! Keep your database clean and updated. Regularly run postal address updates, remove duplicates, and clean up inconsistencies (for example, some fields may use "Market St." while others use "Market Street"). Continually invest in the accuracy of your data. 

5. Don't forget the imagery. If you are swapping out images based on demographic or other data, those images must be prepared, as well. Make sure variable images are correctly labeled and sized to fit into the layout. For example, if your design calls for vertical imagery, make sure a horizontal image doesn't sneak in there. 

Preparing variable data jobs doesn't have to be a mystery. A little planning can smooth the process and give you predictable results. You can do it—we can help! 

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