Mail merge is also known as variable data printing, or variable printing. With mail merge, a different set of data is printed on each different occurrence of your product. Often, this set of data is a name and a corresponding address used for mailing purposes, hence its name. But it doesn’t have to be.
The variable portion of the data can be any character data (letters, numbers, and some special characters). So it can be a name, an address, a member number, a model number, etc. You are not limited in the number of fields of variable data that you can print, but you may want to keep it manageable and not exceed 15.
For mail merge, unless you need us to overprint the variable data on an existing product, you need to supply us with 2 files:
You also need to supply us with the mapping of the variable data fields to your product.
The variable data file must be an Excel file, or, alternatively, a comma separated variable (CSV) file. The first row (record) of the file must be the header. There are no limits as to the numbers of fields (columns) or rows that you can have in the file.
Every row will be printed once.
A column may be printed zero to multiple times. This means that if the column “name” needs to be printed in 3 different places on a letter, for example, you do not need 3 different columns (“name 1”, “name 2”, “name 3”) with the same name data in your file.
Two columns may be combined to be printed, but a column may not be split. In other words, if you need the first name of your customer to be printed somewhere, and the first name and last name of your customer to be printed somewhere else, you can supply the 2 columns “first name” and “last name”, and we will combine both columns where you need the first name and last name of your customer printed. But if you supply only a field “first and last name”, we won’t be able to split this field to print only the first name of your customer where it needs to be.
There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to variable data printing:
1] it is done on digital machines only, since every occurrence of the product will have different data. As such, variable printing can only be done on smooth stock.
2] the same field of variable data may (and often will) occupy a different amount of space on the product. This is because of the length of the field (not everyone has a 7 character name, for example), but also possibly because of the font (with any proportional font, a “1”, for example, will take less space than a “9” or a “6”, so even if the member id is always a 5 digit field, not every member id will use the same amount of space on the paper). You must consider the occurrence of the data which will take the most space when you design your product.
3] if you are mailing your product out, you’ll want your address to comply with the Canada Post guidelines. This will allow your mail to reach its destination in the shortest amount of time.
4] if you are preparing a personalized product which you plan to mail out using an envelope, we recommend that you include the mailing information on the product itself, and that you use window envelopes for your mail out. This will simplify the envelope stuffing process, as you won’t need to match the product to its envelope.
5] if you need us to overprint your variable data on an existing product, you will need to provide us with some spares. Things never go 100% as planned (paper jams, etc.).
Mail merge is a great way to personalize your product to the person you’re sending it to. Instead of sending a letter with “Dear member”, or “Dear home owner”, or “Dear parishioner”, for example, you can send your letter with “Dear Jane”, “Dear Mr. Clark”, etc., as if you were writing to them personally.
Also, mail merge can save you time and make your mail out look more professional. Why stick name and address labels on envelopes when you can use personalized envelopes or window envelopes with a personalized product?
Here are some examples of mail merge we have done for our clients:
a] letter with marketing material, stuffed and sealed in an envelope with the name and address of the customer and the Canada Post Admail account number of the sender printed on the envelope; more than 5,000 copies.
b] newsletter (actually a multi-page booklet) with member’s and club’s name and address printed on the cover page; approx. 500 copies every quarter.
Are you worried about the confidentiality of your data?
Well, don’t be. We take the confidentiality of all our customers’ data very seriously, and we treat all of our customers with the same level of discretion. Your data will be given the same level of discretion as the data of the lawyers and accountants we work with.
Are you wondering how much a mail merge operation might cost?
There are too many variables to be able to provide you with some pricing here. Please contact us for that. But it is very likely that, in the end, your mail merge project will end up saving you time, trouble, and money.
Note that we also offer folding and envelope stuffing services. We can do as little or as much of your project as you want. You’re in control.