Are you leveraging the latest in personalization in your direct mail campaigns? (Part 1)

By T.J. Tedesco

Levels of Personalization

Personalization can range from nearly nothing like “Dear Occupant” to a handwritten letter or anything in between. Due to superior speed and quality, laser imaging is now the most popular method of addressing and personalizing direct mail forms. Over the last couple of decades, technological improvements have enabled the direct mail industry to leap forward in terms of personalization capabilities.

Here are descriptions of the three basic levels of laser image personalization. We cover the first two in today’s blog post. We’ll cover the 3rd in next week’s blog post.

Basic Imaging

In its simplest form, laser imaging uses laser toner application technology to apply generic text and variable address information. The best “lasers” are really light-emitting diode (LED) printers that produce a crisp image from edge to edge of the paper. Lasers tend to get “scattered” or fuzzy at the edges of the paper. In addition to the name and address block, a few words may also be variable depending on data fields containing geographic, sociographic, segmentation, or demographic criteria. Basic imaging personalization became prevalent during the early part of the 1990s.

Although many millions of pieces are still mailed with this level of laser imaging, it now fulfills only the lowest consumer expectation requirements. In order to provide the recipient with a more relevant message, direct marketers should consider stepping up their personalization effort.

Variable Imaging

Variable imaging adds more personalization and customization capabilities than basic imaging. In addition to imaging basic information such as recipient’s name, address, and salutation, variable imaging allows marketers to insert and subtract sentences and even paragraphs depending on whether or not database “triggers” are activated.

Variable imaging means that recipients receive information and images that are more likely to appeal to them based on captured database information.

Below is an example of a variable imaging post card campaign with variable photos, copy and even QR codes.

To learn more about Heeter’s direct mail capabilities, please contact me at or give me a call at 724-746-8900.

Some of the content for this post was originally published in the newly released Direct Mail Pal 2014, authored by T.J. Tedesco and Charley Howard (publisher: Printing Industries Press).