Variable Addressing: How It Works

Meet the writer: Karen Pieper

Hi, I'm Karen! I've been in the industry for 21 years and can't wait to share my perspective on all things direct mail. I'm currently the Digital Marketing Manager at Letter Jacket Envelopes and deal with tasks from managing the website, facilitating conversations with customers, and much more!

Variable addressing is a relatively new approach to a word processing technique that enables mass printing orders where every envelope has a different address printed on it. Older versions that have existed since the 1980s often involve custom-coding variable entry fields and rigging data sets to merge a new image file for the printer to load every time before printing. If that technique sounds complex, that’s because it is.

Now, software can rapidly produce unique printing instructions for every envelope without having to manually load a large image file every time. In layman’s terms, the variable addressing printing software simply knows that every print job will be different, and it reads off the different addresses as it is printing, not before.

This relatively new technology offers many benefits. Marketers and any organization that has the task of mailing out mass amounts of mail to thousands or even millions of different people quickly and cheaply may wonder how they ever lived without it.

An Element of Variable Data Printing

Variable Data Printing (VDP) is the type of software that makes variable addressing possible. Companies have latched on to VDP as a method to offer diverse, unique and personalized experiences to every single customer.

For example, Coca-Cola used VDP to print unique cans and bottles as part of their “Share a Coke” campaign. The surprise and delight element of seeing your friend’s name or a concept you can relate to on the bottle led to a sales lift of just under 3 percent in the UK. Since there were literally thousands of different bottles and cans to choose from, every Coke buyer could enjoy something a little different during their purchase experience.

In the world of direct mail, VDP is used to rapidly customize not just names and addresses, but calls to action, images, key interests like sports and generally the entire content of the mailer to appeal as much as possible to the recipient.

Variable addressing is a simplified version of this technique that restricts itself to envelope address printing, but it is no less powerful or useful.

Benefits of Variable Addressing

There are two major benefits of using variable addressing, both of which have to do with reducing the time and cost of direct mail campaigns. First, the rapidly-deployable nature of variable addressing allows custom print jobs with thousands of different addresses to occur at the almost same speed as a print job where every printing was identical.

Because of the sophisticated but efficient nature of the print image compiling, custom-printed, variable-addressed envelopes can fly off the line. Envelope printers like Letter Jacket pay less and take less time to perform these jobs, so we pass the savings on to our customers.

The second excellent trait of variable addressing is that it permits bulk mailing discounts. The U.S. Postal Service offers discounts for bulk mailing campaigns as long as the mail can be pre-paid and pre-printed with postage codes in serialized fashion. Variable addressing allows paid-postage to be printed directly onto the envelope along with the address rapidly, allowing direct mailing organizations to take advantage of bulk mail discounts and eliminate time-consuming steps like paying for postage after-the-fact or reprinting postage codes.

Letter Jacket is excited to offer this capability to our customers. You can get started with a variable addressing envelope order request by clicking here and leaving a message with further instructions on the envelope style you choose.

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