Variable Images

Variable Data and Variable Logic are considered advanced personalization techniques by direct mail marketers. Variable data fields, when inserted into a template, will dynamically output a value that is specifically associated with the contact receiving the direct mail piece.

Variable images can add even more value to a personalized postcard or letter. With a few setup steps, you can add variable images into a Postalytics template and really improve the impact of your mailer.

Data-driven Variable Images In Postalytics

Many marketers have different images that they want to print for individual recipients. This can be done in a couple of ways:

  • Printing different images for different segments of a list using Variable Logic
  • Printing different images for each recipient using Variable Data

We show how to setup Variable Logic statements to print different images for different segments of a list in the Variable Logic help doc.

This article will focus on printing personalized images for each recipient using Variable Data.

Using Variable Data, Postalytics makes it easy to display a unique image for each of your recipients. You will follow the same steps of inserting variable data text but with the Image URL as your value to make your images come through on the template.

Variable Image URLs

Some common use cases for personalized images include company logos, sales rep photos and product images.

Step 1: Organize & Size Images, Create Image URLs

The first step in the process involves the images themselves. In order to work properly in a Postalytics template, the following must be set up:

  • Each image that will be rendered on a section of your mailer will need to be sized exactly the same.
  • The images must be then hosted on a URL that can be publicly accessed
  • For Smart Send Campaigns, the image URLs must be loaded into your list for each recipient
  • For Triggered Drip Campaigns, the image URL will be imported when each trigger occurs, there’s no list to include them in.

We’ll explain each of these three requirements in more detail.

Image Sizes Need To Be Consistent

In order for a Postalytics template to properly render and print your images, they must be sized exactly the same.

In the below example, the logos at the top of the letter have to be the same (let’s say 100px width by 100px height).

The personal image below the signature can be differently sized from the logo, but each personal image has to be the same (perhaps these are all 50px width by 75px height).

Personalized Images Logo

Images Must Be Hosted On Publicly Available URLs

Since Postalytics is a web-based service, we can simply “pull-in” images from URLs that are publicly available. You can setup your images in content management systems or image hosting services.

In the example below, I used an image hosting service called Imgur. There are plenty of other options available to upload, host, and provide your image URLs.

Be sure your hosting source can handle the size of your campaign. If you’re only sending a few mailers out at once, it shouldn’t be a worry. If you’re sending a large Smart Send campaign, say 20,000 pieces, you’ll want to make sure the images are hosted at a source that can handle 20,000 requests.

Image Hosting Service Example

Place Image URLs In A Column In Your Data

As you can see in the above image, a link or URL is created for each of your images.

For Smart Send Campaigns, these URLs must be entered into a column of your datafile that you will be importing into Postalytics.

For Triggered Drip Campaigns, these URLs will be placed in the data sent over when the trigger occurs.

Step 2: Mapping Image URLs Into A List (Optional But Recommended)

If you can, we recommend creating a list for your Variable Images campaign that can be used for setup and proofing.

If you don’t have your data organized yet, you can skip this part, but if you can, we recommend creating a list next.

As you know, Smart Send Campaigns always use a list and so organizing your list before you work on your template makes sense.

Triggered Drip Campaigns don’t use lists, as they receive data from integrations. However, setting up a test list can simplify the testing and proofing process.

In this example, after uploading my image to Imgur, I was able to copy the Image URL and paste it into my list data file. See below:

Variable Image URLs

When you import a list into Postalytics, you have many options to “map” the columns in your datafile to fields in the Postalytics Contact record.

You can map standard Postalytics fields, such as First Name, Last Name, City, State, Zip and you can use this feature to map custom fields, like Image URLs, to any of the user defined fields VarField1 – VarField35.

In this example, we’ve mapped the column “Company Logo URL” from the above datafile to “VarField1” in Postalytics:

Variable Image Mapping

Make a note of your list name and the field that you mapped the image URLs to, you will need later to communicate to us to finalize your template.

Step 3: Adding Placeholder Image To Your Template

The Postalytics Template Editor enables you to add a “placeholder” image to your template that will ultimately render your personalized images.

It is important to note that even if you’re using tools outside of the Postalytics Template Editor (such as one of the Adobe® products), you’ll want to account for at least the space for the Variable Data Image to be layered in with the Postalytics Editor.

To get started, open up your template in the Editor and insert a “Placeholder Image” using the Postalytics Image tool. Your “Placeholder Image” can be one of your actual production images, or any image that is the exact dimensions (width x height) of the images that you want to print variably.

Upload your Placeholder Image into the Postalytics Asset Manager and then place it on your template exactly where you’d like it to reside.

Placeholder image gif

You can move the Placeholder Image around to the desired location of your template either with the drag & drop tool or by selecting the text box and using the “Arrangement” tool on the right side of the editor:

Postalytics editor arrangement tool

Next, you’ll need to send us an email. Before you leave the editor, copy the Placeholder Image URL and paste it into your email.

copy image URL

Final Step: Contact Postalytics

Before you proceed with generating proofs using the Postalytics Proofer, you’ll need to contact us. As the Variable Images function is new in Postalytics, we’ll need to manually turn on your Variable Images to make the display properly in your proofs and for your campaign.

Please contact us at with the subject line “Variable Data Images” and include in your email:

  • Your account user name
  • The template name that you’re working on
  • The width and height of of the images you’re using (again, they all need to be exactly the same so they render properly when we modify your template)
  • Your Placeholder Image URL (so we know exactly which image(s) is variable)
  • The personalization field that you mapped into Postalytics for your variable images.

Here’s an example of the email:

example email for variable images