Peripheral Visions

a blog from SuppliesGuys™ -- Good Guys. Great Buys.

Add a Personal Touch with Variable Data Marketing

Variable Data Marketing

Variable data marketing, abbreviated as VDM, is personalized marketing that uses different sets of data in marketing materials to reach out to a customer. The data used in VDM is personal buying information, such as what items a customer purchases regularly. Most often, variable data marketing is used within direct mail marketing, but also applies to e-blasts and other online marketing efforts.

The marketing plan begins with a structured database of information about each customer, such as name, address, purchase history. A company uses this data to personalize their marketing materials and offer special offers on the products a customer has purchased, or deals on relevant items to the ones in their history. The data becomes variable as it is plugged in to the marketing material, whether it be a direct mail piece or e-blast. Because each customer is different, each material has variables that are changed for each piece sent out. Although this may sound intensive, the variables are quite easy to switch out and for direct mail, the pieces don’t have to be printed in mass quantities as most jobs do.

How Small Businesses Can Use VDM

Small businesses can use variable data marketing to offer relevant offers with a personalized touch to their customer database. As variable data marketing is personalized and uses the customer’s name in much of the artwork, the customer becomes more likely to purchase from a company that adds a personal touch. Plus, when you’re offering them a specific deal based on their purchase history, you’re establishing customer loyalty and a lasting relationship.

Because VDM mail pieces and e-blasts don’t have to be sent out in mass quantities, it’s attainable for small businesses to test out variable data marketing to see if the characteristics adhere to their marketing plan.

Examples of Variable Data Marketing

If you’ve ever purchased anything from, you’ve likely received at least one email from them with recommendations on products that you’ve purchased. Amazon is taking your personal buying information and using it to reach out to you.

Another example of variable data marketing is done right here at The Supplies Guys. We work closely with a design company to create original artwork that uses the customer’s name and an offer on an item they’ve purchased from us. The Supplies Guys also offers PURLs, a personalized web address for customers to control their orders and view purchase history. PURLs are also a part of variable data marketing as they personalize the data for each customer. Here is an example of a Supplies Guys postcard that contains variable data, as well as the customer’s PURL:


Variable data marketing is an innovative marketing technique that is accessible to small businesses as well as large corporations. It is an important marketing technique as it reaches out to customers with a personal touch, a touch that always makes a difference to customers, regardless of whether they’re purchasing from a brick and mortar or an online retailer. Small businesses are the best candidates for variable data marketing because it spreads across all mediums and also assists in brand awareness as it gets names in front of customers’ eyes.

What do you think – would you implement variable data marketing into your small business’s marketing plan?

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