New VDP platform from Advanced Image Direct integrates Salesforce

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Advanced Image Direct (AID) has patented Cloud2Mail, a variable data digital print platform that processes orders from the Web and prints four-color envelopes and letters simultaneously. Each envelope is printed with an intelligent bar code, so that the sender is notified by the post office once a piece of mail arrives at the delivering station.

"The solution is designed to allow users to send daily correspondence or real mail as easily as e-mail," said Frank Verrill, president of Advanced Image Direct. A piece of personalized direct mail costs 99 cents.

The company has a half-dozen clients conducting beta tests with the service, and is preparing to make the software available as a free application on Salesforce.com — allowing users to mail prospects and customers without importing contact data to Salesforce.

Users can pick a predesigned template, customize the message and send the order to AID. Orders are aggregated in batches at the company's production facility, printed and put in the mail within 24 hours.

Michael Flanagan, CEO and co-founder of Less Software, one of the companies using Cloud2Mail, said the technology produces notes that resemble print cards.

"Everyone sends e-mails and they are just lost in the fodder," he said.

After using the software internally for several weeks, Less Software rolled it out to its sales and customer support staff this month. Flanagan said he expects staff to use it primarily for thank you cards.

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