My favorite tricks for email marketing with variable data

Of course, you know a lot about VDP, but have you ever heard of VDE?

That’s Variable Data Email.

It works just like Variable Data Printing — it’s the same concept applied to email.

The values stored for the contacts in your database can be used to drive the dynamic flow of content, so your email message is adjusted to include data relevant to each recipient.

The payoff? More relevant, personal messages means better response and ROI.

How does Variable Data Email work?

The system works with dynamic tags, which are specially formatted place holders within the email.

When the message is sent, a script looks for the tags and follows a set of rules to decide which block of code should replace the tag. Usually there will be a default block of content which displays if the rule doesn’t apply, and then one or more alternatives which are triggered by the values in the contacts database.

The possibilities for using this technology in email marketing for printers are endless — limited only by your imagination.

To get you started thinking about how you might take advantage of VDE, here are my favorite uses of the Variable Data features of the [EM] Email Marketing Application.

Variable Data Email Trick 1 — Automatic customization of your email messages

All the ready-to-use emails in The Printers Marketing System [EM] module include predefined dynamic tags for a number of components of the message, such as company logo, contact information, common website links etc. When you work with a new email from the TPMS library, you swap in your company’s specific tags, which takes just a couple of clicks for each tag.

When you send the message the script does its magic, and the dynamic tags are replaced with the default content from your account.

This means you can output completely customized emails with no editing — it takes just a couple of clicks to replace the placeholder tags with your own, then your logo, contact info, links to your web site and so on are flowed in automatically. You can tweak any details you want in the WYSIWYG editor, such as your special offer, and you are ready to send.

With VDE baked in to the TPMS [EM] app, email marketing is easy and quick, so you can get it done regularly instead of always seeing it drop off the bottom of the “To Do” list.


Variable Data Email Trick 2 — Swap in contact data for each of your sales reps

The [EM] application already includes a dynamic tag for sales rep when your account is first set up.

So let’s say you have three sales reps, Jose, Pat, and Sally. You enter their names as options for the “Sales rep” custom field in your contact list, and make sure each customer is assigned to the appropriate rep.

You simply set up a content block for each rep — you can keep it simple and just use a different phone number and email address, or more advanced with photos, greetings and signatures. There’s a WYSIWYG editor for setting up each block the way you want it.

Set up the rules for display — in this case you would set the content block for Sally to display when the value of “Sales Rep” = “Sally”, and so on for Pat and Jose.

Now when you create a new email you don’t need to set up separate versions for each of your reps, and do separate sends to separate lists of customers. With a weekly email and a few sales reps in your shop, this trick could eliminate many, many hours of unnecessary fiddling over the course of a year.

You could also use this trick to swap in different messages, or website urls, for your trade and retail customers., or any other segment of your list.


Variable Data Email Trick 3 — Include offers based on each customer’s order history

With a little more investment of work to update your customer database and contact list, you could use a value for last item ordered, or any other attribute of each customer’s buying patterns, then swap in content that is specifically relevant to them.

You might have a default offer that non-customers and empty values will see.

If your customer last ordered flyers, or menus, or signage, you can swap in a block of content that reflects that. You can simply swap out the item name, or include an image of the specific item, and offer a different incentive for each class of items.

You could get even more sophisticated by storing scans of your customer’s finished jobs, then include the image of the most recent or the most timely job in your emails to them.

This trick gets to the heart of why variable data is so powerful. It allows you to automatically serve messages tailored specifically for each individual, so they are more likely to read, respond and take the action you wish.


Variable Data Email Trick 4 — Set up PURLs almost effortlessly

If you are comfortable with some basic html and php, this is very easy to do and very powerful. If not, I can help you put it together and it’s well worth doing.

Include a link in your call to action so your readers click through to your website.

Set up the url with a parameter for the respondent’s name, or better yet, business and name to make sure all the urls are unique. The link might look like this:

Link text: "Bill, click through to your personal page here."
Tag in place to produce the link text: "%%FirstName%%, click through to your personal page here."
html link: href=" Printing"
Tags in place to produce the html link: href=""

Set up your landing page with a simple php script to parse the url and gather the business name and customer name, then use those values within the page to personalize the landing page.

If you need assistance with the scripting of the landing page or setting up your urls, we are happy to help.

Ready to see for yourself what you can achieve with The Printer’s Marketing System [EM] Email Marketing Application?

Explore the features of the most powerful platform for email marketing for printers here.

Or call 888-896-7216 to schedule a private demo.