Direct Marketing Glossary of Terms




/A is a pricing method where the cost varies based on the number of customers acquired or “per acquisition.” For example, if the price were $100/A and you acquired 5 customers, then the cost would be 5 times $100 = $500.



/F is a pricing unit of measure meaning per file. This results in a flat rate. For example, a mailing list priced at $500/F would cost $500 for the entire file or any subset of the file.


Stands for Per thousand.


Abandonment is when a visitor leaves your web site during the transaction.


Acquisition cost

Acquisition cost is the cost associated with bringing on a new customer.


Active Subscribers

Active subscribers are people who have contracted to receive regular delivery of magazines or other publications for a period of time that is still in effect.



ActiveX is a technology that enables programs to be downloaded and run in a web browser.



Addressing is the delivery format options available when purchasing a mailing list. Typical addressing options include magnetic tape, printed cheshire labels, email, and FTP.



Advertising is all paid, non-personal communications including television, radio, print, outdoor, and the Internet.


Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is an advertising system in which marketers promote other companies in return for a commission on sales.


Affiliate Program

An affiliate program is an automated marketing program where a web advertiser or merchant places banner ads or buttons on their own web site in exchange for a referral fee or commission from actions taken when the customer has clicked the affiliate link to get to the destination merchant’s web site.


Affinity Analysis

Affinity analysis is the process of uncovering relationships between the purchases of products and/or services. For example, an affinity analysis might reveal a high correlation between luxury car buyers and country club memberships.


Affinity Marketing

Affinity marketing is any marketing effort that targets potential customers based on established buying patterns.


All Available

All available is a term used when ordering names from a mailing list. When a broker or mailer requests the all available quantity, he or she is asking to purchase all of the names on the mailing list for the specified selection criteria.



An application service provider (ASP) is a company that charges a fee to host applications on the Internet.


Arithmetic Mean

The arithmetic mean is a measure of central tendency that is calculated by dividing the sum of observed values by the number of observations. For example: the arithmetic mean for age would be 30 for the following set of observations: John = 20, Joyce = 30, Jim = 40


American Standard Code for Information Interchange. ASCII is a standard for representing computer data.


Attrition Rate

The attrition rate is the percentage of current customers who will not be buying next year.



Authentication is the process that requires an online visitor to enter a user ID and password in order to access resources on a web site.


Balance Count

A balance count is the number of incremental names available from a mailing list segment or universe after omitting prior usage.


Banner Ad

A banner advertisement is an advertisement that is displayed on a web page.


Represents ZIP Code information in graphical format. The ZIP Code is represented by a series of lines that enable a piece of mail to be handled with automatic sorting machines at the post office.

Base Price
The price per thousand names ordered (represented customarily as $/M as in $50/M). The price does not include selections, format, or shipping charges.


Base Rate

The base rate is the starting price to order names and addresses from a mailing list. If the base rate for a mailing list is $100/M, then the cost to order 5,000 names would be $500. This does not include the cost list selections such as $10/M for a 3-month hotline, etc.


A bind-in is a promotion that is bound within a catalog or magazine. You will often find bind-ins as post card-sized promotions in magazines.



A blog is an online journal that may be setup and maintained with minimal technical expertise.



A blow-in is a promotion that is loosely inserted in a catalog or magazine. You will often find blow-ins as post card-sized promotions that fall from the magazine when you open it up. These are called “blow-ins” because of the process used to insert the promotions into the publication.



A brand is an identity that distinguishes one company, product, or service from another by communicating the benefits.


Brokerage Commission

A brokerage commission is the commission retained by a list broker for selecting and procuring customer names for a mailer. The brokerage commission is usually calculated by taking 20 percent of the base price of the order. The brokerage commission will not usually be calculated on selection charges.


Bulk Mail

Bulk mail is a quantity of mail that the sender has prepared for mailing in order to qualify for postage rate discounts. The sender must also meet specific USPS requirements in order to qualify.



A business reply card (BRC) is a postcard that is prepaid by, and preaddressed to the mailer. Mailers pay an annual fee for a business reply permit.



A business reply envelope (BRE) is an envelope that is prepaid by, and preaddressed to the mailer. Mailers pay an annual fee for a business reply permit.


Call Center

A call center is an inbound telephone support or telemarketing department within an organization.


Campaign Management

Campaign management is the planning, executing, tracking and analysis of direct marketing campaigns.


Cancellation Fee

A cancellation fee is a charge that is applied to the buyer of a mailing list when an order is cancelled. If the order has been run by the service bureau, then run charges may also be applied along with the cancellation fee.


Card Deck

A card deck is a mailing that consists of a series of postcards, each promoting a different offer for a product or service.



A cartridge is an addressable material available for mailing lists.


CASS Certification
Coding Accuracy Support System, is used to improve delivery and qualify for postal automation discounts. Mailers or their list suppliers must use “CASS-certified” software at least every six months to update the ZIP Code, ZIP+4, and DP Barcode data on their mailing lists. Mailers must be able to demonstrate that their lists are CASS-certified to claim postal discounts by submitting a report to the Postal Service.

Cheshire Labels
Standard mailing labels which are printed four across on ungummed continuous paper. The labels are cut and affixed to mailing pieces by a Cheshire labeling machine at a mailhouse.

chi-square automatic interaction detection (CHAID) is an automated process used to show the relationships between independent and dependent variables that can improve or optimize the performance of a customer acquisition campaign.



Churn is the practice of customers switching vendors to take advantage of special discounts or promotions. The effect of churn can be extremely costly for companies that invest significantly in customer acquisition.



Circulation is the total number of copies of a magazine, newspaper, newsletter, or catalog that are distributed via direct mail or other channels.



A clearance is a document used to obtain a list owner’s approval for a particular mailer to use their mailing list. A copy of the mailer’s offer (sample mail piece) is often required to obtain this approval.


Click Fraud

Click fraud is when an Internet user clicks a paid search link with the intention of driving up the cost to the advertiser.


CTR (Click Thru Rate)

The click-through rate (CTR) is calculated by taking the number of times a banner advertisement is clicked (numerator) divided by the number of times that same banner advertisement is viewed (denominator).



A clickstream is the recorded path of a visitor on a web site.


Co-op Database

A co-operative (co-op) database is a prospecting database that is sourced from many mailing lists from many different sources. These lists are combined, de-duplicated, and sometimes enhanced to create a database that can then be used to select prospects. Many co-op operators require that you put your customers into the database before you can receive prospects from the database.


Co-op Mailing

A co-operative (co-op) mailing is a mailing that includes offers from more than one mailer. Examples include statement stuffers, package insert programs, and card decks.


Coefficient of Variation

The coefficient of variation is defined by the ratio of the standard deviation to the mean. The coefficient of variation is important because it adds context to a standard deviation by comparing it to the mean. For example, look at the following observations:

A) Standard Deviation = 10, Mean = 100
B) Standard Deviation = 10, Mean = 1,000

Observation A has a much greater spread around the mean than observation B.


Comma Delimited
Data that is marked at the beginning or end of each field of a record with a comma. This the most common data format used on diskettes and e-mail.


Compiled Database

A compiled database is a mailing list database that has been created from public records, such as town records, phone books, or court records. Many compiled databases are appended with demographic, psychographic, behavioral, and/or attitudinal data.


Compiled List

A compiled list is a mailing list that has been created from public records, such as town records, phone books, or court records.



A continuation is a new order from a mailer that has used the same list within the past 12 months. A continuation order is generally considered to be an indication that the prior use of this list was successful.


Continuity Program

A continuity program is a program in which products, such as CDs, books, or videos, are purchased in a series over time. Continuity mailers will often provide free merchandise or deep discounts for the first several purchases in order to generate profitable business from the program commitment.


Control Package

A control package is the direct mail package that used as the baseline for measuring performance of test packages with different offers, content, or formats.



Controlling assault of non-solicited pornography and marketing (CAN-SPAM) is legislation that was established in 2003, and is the first U.S. standard for senders of commercial e-mail. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responsible for enforcing this legislation.



A conversion is the event that occurs when a recipient of a direct mail or e-mail offer takes action — usually in the form making a commitment.



A cookie is a text file that allows a web server to store information about a visitor and recognize them when they return to the web site.



The cost per click (CPC) is the actual cost or or average cost-equivalent that is paid for click-through advertisements.



Cost per thousand (CPM) is often used to define the cost per 1,000 mailing list names purchased, sold, or mailed; M is the roman numeral for 1,000.


A count is the quantity of names on a mailing list that meets the selection criteria for the target market. Each mailing list provides one or more attributes that can be used select a subset of the mailing list — these are often called “selects.” The mailer uses these selects to specify their target audience. For example, a mailing list that has state and gender as selects would enable you to select all females from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The calculation of the count is typically performed by the mailing list owner’s service bureau.


Counts Through Date

The counts through date is the date that corresponds to the number of names and addresses on a customer file or mailing list. The counts through date may not be the same as the last update date, which represents the date when the file is updated at the list owner service bureau.



Cross-selling is a tactic used to sell additional products and/or services to a customer. These additional products and/or services are often related or complementary to the initial product or service requested by the customer.


Customer Acquisition

Customer acquisition is the sales and marketing process of obtaining new customers. Customer acquisition also includes the process of converting existing prospects into new customers.


Customer Loyalty

Customer loyalty programs are incentives that encourage customers to stay on-board and purchase more of your products and/or services.


Customer Profile

A customer profile is a description of your typical customer. A customer profile can be created by modeling your customer database as is, or after appending additional information.


Customer Retention

Customer retention is the tendency to keep customers buying from you. Customer retention is essential to sustaining business growth and profitability. In most businesses, it costs much more to acquire a new customer than it costs to retain an existing customer.


Database Format
Data or information, which is specially organized for rapid search and retrieval by a computer. Databases are structured to facilitate the storage, retrieval, modification, and deletion of data in conjunction with various data-processing operations.

Database Marketing

Database marketing is a form of direct marketing that leverages databases of customer names and/or prospect names to generate personalized communications in order to promote products and/or services.



A data card is a document describing a mailing list or insert program that is available for rental and/or exchange. It typically includes description, counts, pricing, selects, output options, and profile information. Data cards are available for postal lists, email lists, telemarketing lists, and insert media programs.



A decile is one tenth of a mailing, usually divided by percentage of response.

A decoy is a name that is placed on a mailing list, during the fulfillment process, that allows a list owner to monitor list usage. List decoys are also referred to as seeds.


To use a title like “Director” on records where a personal name is not available. This is commonly requested as “default to title ______________” with the title specified. The alternatives to defaulting are to skip records without names available or to simply send the mail to the institution or location without a title.

A mailing piece with a valid mailing address.


Deliverability Rate
The proportion of names on a mailing list with valid mailing addresses.



The delivery sequence file (DSF) is a database tool used to standardize mailing addresses to improve deliverability. The delivery sequence file (DSF) database contains every valid postal address in the United States.



Demographics are information about individuals or groups such as age, gender, income, marital status, home ownership, presence of children, etc.


Dependent Variable

A dependent variable is one that is observed in regards to a change in one or more independent variables. For example, a response rate could be the dependent variable and age and income could be independent variables.


Direct Mail

Direct mail is a form of direct marketing in which organizations send printed offers or packages to individuals’ mailing addresses.



Direct mail sold (DMS) is used to define how names are acquired for a mailing list. DMS names represent individuals who have purchased a product, service, or membership through direct mail.


Direct Marketing

Direct marketing is the practice of delivering targeted promotional messages directly to potential customers on an individual basis, as opposed to mass media. Direct marketing includes direct mail, e-mail, telemarketing and other media channels that are used to reach individuals who are likely to respond to your offer. The results of a direct marketing campaign should be measurable.



The direct marketing association (DMA) is the leading global trade association of business and nonprofit organizations using and supporting direct marketing tools and techniques.


Direct Response

Direct response is a type of marketing or advertising that allows potential customers to respond directly to the marketer to place an order, send a donation, fill out an application, request or supply information.



Direct to publisher (DTP) is an attribute of mailing list names that are defined as magazine subscribers that respond directly to the publisher by filling out a request card.


Double Opt-In

Double opt-in is a method that enables individuals to elect to receive communications such as promotional materials from specified sources. To start receiving the communications, the individual takes two actions. The first action by checking a box that is unchecked by default. After the first action, the individual must take a second action confirming their wish to receive communications. This confirmation is typically in the form of a follow-up email with a button or link to a confirmation web page. Otherwise, they are not considered a double opt-in.



E-commerce is the area of sales and marketing that takes place over the Internet. E-commerce has its own language and standards.


Email List

An e-mail list is a compilation of e-mail addresses used for the distribution of information to multiple Internet users.


Enhanced Carrier Route System
To qualify for ECR rates, you must sort your mailpieces to the individual carrier routes within a 5-digit ZIP Code. All pieces in an ECR mailing must meet all the basic requirements for Standard Mail, be part of a single mailing of at least 200 pieces of Enhanced Carrier Route mail, be properly sorted to carrier routes and sequenced, bear a delivery address that includes the correct ZIP Code or ZIP+4 code, and meet high quality standards.


Enhanced List

An enhanced list is a mailing list that has been appended with additional demographic, psychographic, behavioral, or attitudinal data.



An exchange is a reciprocal arrangement between two mailers where they each allow the other to send a promotion to their house list. Exchanges are typically done on a name per name basis. Exchanges are common among catalogers that sell to the same market. List brokers and list managers often coordinate these arrangements and track the exchange balances. Although there is typically no cost for the prospect names in the exchange, list brokers and list managers are paid an exchange fee for their services.


Exchange Balance

An exchange balance is the number of names owed by the mailer to the list owner or vice-versa, depending on prior exchange history. Exchange balances are calculated at a specific point in time.


Exchange Conversion

An exchange conversion is the event that occurs when a mailer changes their order for a given list from exchange to rental.


Exchange Fee

An exchange fee is a fee charged by a list broker or a list manager for facilitating a list exchange between two mailers.



Expires are names and addresses of individuals on a mailing list who are no longer active buyers, subscribers, members or donors.



A free standing insert (FSI) is an unattached promotion found in a newspaper or magazine.


Fixed Field
A data format in which each field is a set number of characters.


Frequency is the number of times a customer has placed an order within a specific time frame.


FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
FTP is an application protocol used to exchange files between computers on the Internet.


Geocoding is the process of assigning geographic information, such as latitude and longitude, to street addresses and other map locations.



A hotline is a segment of a mailing list that represents people who have recent transactions with the list owner. These may be buyers or subscribers who purchased in the last 30, 60, or 90 days. The hotline is a desirable segment of the mailing list because it has been proven to be a generally more responsive segment. As such, hotlines typically cost a bit more to rent.


House File

A house file is a list of all of a company’s customer names and addresses, as well as prospect names and addresses that have been acquired independently or purchased for unlimited use.



Householding is the process in which all of the members of a household are grouped together for promotional purposes in order to send a single mail piece or package per mailing address.


In-House Transfer

An in-house transfer is an event that occurs when the mailer service bureau is the same company at the same location as the owner service bureau. No actually shipment would occur in this event.


Independent Variable

An independent variable is one that may be used to predict a resulting change in a dependent variable. For example, a response rate could be the dependent variable and age and income could be independent variables.



An inquirer is an individual who has requested information about a product or service, but has not yet placed an order.



An insert is a marketing program where promotional materials are inserted into a package, envelope, magazine, catalog, or other medium. For example, you might find promotional material in the package you receive from Amazon in addition to the items you order. Another example are the “statement stuffers” that you receive along with your billing statements.


Inter-File Dupe

An inter-file dupe is a duplicate name and address found on multiple mailing lists.


Interactive Media

The interactive media is integration of digital media such as electronic text, graphics, and
sound, into a structured digital environment that allows people to interact with the data.



The internet is an electronic communications network that connects local computer networks and organizational computer facilities around the world.


Internet Buyer

An internet buyer is an individual who has previously ordered items through the internet. When conducting a direct marketing campaign where the sole response mechanism is the internet, it’s important to choose mailing lists of internet responders because many people are still reluctant to order through the internet.


Intra-File Dupe

An intra-file dupe is a duplicate name and address found on the same mailing list.



An intranet is a private network inside an organization that uses internet technology.


Key Code
A code consisting of letters and/or numbers which is assigned to a specific list by the list user to facilitate the tracking of responses and analysis of a list’s effectiveness. The key code is printed on the mailing label or elsewhere on the mailing piece and/or order form.


Landing Page

The landing page is the page where a visitor arrives at a web site after clicking on a paid banner advertisement, paid search URL, or organic search URL.


Last Update Date

The last update date is when the names and addresses on a mailing list were last updated at the list owner service bureau.



A lead is a prospect who has identified himself or herself, and is engaged in the buying process.

The lead conversion rate is the percentage of leads that subsequently became customers.


Lead Generation

Lead generation is the process of finding potential customers that have a qualified interest in a product or service.


Lead Tracking

Lead tracking is the process of following up with prospects who have expressed interest in a product or service.



A lettershop is a company that assembles, addresses and mails direct mail pieces or packages.



Lifetime value (LTV) is defined as the total sales revenue received, actual or estimated, from an average customer during their relationship with the company.



Lift is the improvement in response, from a mailing list or prospect database, resulting from the application of statistical modeling or segmentation.


List Broker

A list broker is a specialist who helps mailers to select mailing lists and coordinates the procurement of mailing lists. List brokers typically have access to research systems that enable them to search all lists available on the market and to produce recommendations and purchase orders. Using a list broker to purchase mailing lists does not typically cost more than buying directly because they are paid a commission — typically 20% on the base rate — by the list owner.


List Brokerage

List brokerage is the process of selecting and procuring mailing lists and other sources of names for customer acquisition for a commission (usually 20 percent).


List Fulfillment

List fulfillment is the service provided by the owner service bureau to supply counts and orders for mailing lists.


List Hygiene

List hygiene is the process of updating a mailing list to remove unwanted names, undeliverable addresses, or individuals who have chosen not to receive direct mail offers.


List Maintenance

List maintenance is the process of updating a mailing list with current names, addresses, and other relevant information.


List Management

List management is the process of selling mailing lists. List management includes the tasks of publishing data cards and maximizing sales through promotional efforts. It also includes the responsibility of processing orders, coordinating approvals with the list owner, and coordinating fulfillment with the list owner’s service bureau.


List Manager

A list manager is a company or individual who acts as an agent of the list owner in selling their mailing lists. List managers are typically responsible for publishing data cards and maximizing sales through promotional efforts. They are also responsible for processing orders, coordinating approvals with the list owner, and coordinating fulfillment with the list owner’s service bureau. Mailing lists are typically managed by only one list manager in an exclusive arrangement with the list owner. However, management of a given mailing list may change from one list manager to another over time.


List Owner

A list owner is the company that owns a given mailing list. The list owner will often emply a list manager to help them sell the list and to manage the list order process. The list owner may also employ a service bureau to handle count requests and list order fulfillment tasks.


List Rental

A list rental is the purchase of a response or compiled mailing list for one-time use.


List Research

List research is the process of searching for one or more postal mailing lists, e-mail lists, or insert media programs to be used as part of a direct marketing campaign.


List Title

The list title is the name assigned to a mailing list on a data card. An example of a list title would be Time Magazine Active Subscribers.


Loss Leader

A loss leader is a product or service that is sold below cost to attract customers to more profitable offers.


Magnetic Tape
A medium for transferring electronic data between mainframe computers. Our standard is a 9-track tape.

Mail Date

The mail date is the date when the actual offer is mailed to the individuals on the mailing list(s).



A mail order buyer (MOB) is an individual who has previously ordered items in response to promotions send by mail. Some limit the definition to only those who also order through mail. However, today very few orders are received via mail and this definition has expanded to also include those who order by telephone.


Mail Preference

The mail preference service is a service provided by the DMA that enables individuals to have their names and addresses removed from mailing lists. These names are made available to both members and non-members of the association. For those individuals who specify they would like to receive more mail, special instructions for this purpose are forwarded.


Mail Server

A mail server is a dedicated computer that is used to deliver or send e-mail.


Mail Shop

A mail shop is an independent company that specializes in preparing direct mail packages for mailing.



A mailer is a company that sends direct mail. A mailer often employs a list broker to assist with buying mailing lists and a service bureau to assist with the list processing necessary to conduct their direct marketing campaigns. The term mailer is sometimes used to refer to a marketer sending email or other direct communications.


Mailer Direct Commission

A mailer direct commission is the commission retained by a list manager for selling customer names to a mailer when no list broker is assigned. The list owner reserves the right to decide whether or not the list manager is entitled to retain this commission.


Mailer Service Bureau

A mailer service bureau is a service bureau that works for the mailer. The mailer’s service bureau is responsible for coordinating the integration and enhancement of all of the lists — house and outside lists — being used in the marketing campaign. The mailer’s service bureau is typically responsible for address correction, merge/purge, applying data models, and otherwise enhancing the data.


Mailing List

A mailing List is a collection of names and addresses used by a company to send material to multiple recipients, most often as part of a direct marketing campaign.


Management Fee

A management fee is the commission amount retained by the list manager when a sale of a list or data is made on behalf of the list owner. A typical management fee for a list rental is roughly 10 percent of the total invoice amount to the mailer. Refer to the definition for exchange fee for exchange order type transactions.



A market is the target audience for a direct marketing campaign. The market may be generally defined as business, consumer, government, or other. The market is more specifically defined through the segments of the mailing lists chosen for the campaign.


Market Penetration

Market penetration is the percentage of actual customers you have divided by the total number of consumers and/or businesses that define your market.


Market Research

Market research is the systematic gathering, recording, and analysis of data about problems and opportunities relating to the marketing of products and services.


Marketing Convergence

Marketing convergence is the orchestration of information technology, marketing and design required to ensure that companies present an integrated, consistent, clear and interactive message across all the media they use.


Marketing Mix

The marketing mix is the combination of product, price, promotion, and place (distribution) in a marketing plan.


Mass Marketing

Mass marketing is selling to everyone through mass media channels as opposed to targeted channels like direct mail.


Mass Media

Mass media are channels such as television, radio, or newspaper advertising that are targeted at large audiences as opposed to individuals on a mailing list.


Match Key

A match key is an alpha-numeric combination, often containing a zip code, which is used to de-dupe addresses on a mailing list.


Media Channel

A media channel is vehicle for promoting products and or services to customers and/or prospects.

The median is a measure of central tendency that is determined by sorting a list of values in ascending order and picking the middle value. For example, the median age would be 65 for the following set of observations: 19, 25, 36, 65, 66, 68, 70.

Notice that the arithmetic mean is only 50 (significantly lower).



A medium is the channel being used to contact the targeted audience. In direct marketing, mediums include postal mail, email, telephone, fax, and inserts.


A service which allows multiple lists to be combined into one single list so the pieces may be sorted to optimize postal discounts.

A computerized matching process which identifies and eliminates duplicate mailing labels (at the name, institution, or address level) on 2 or more lists. The goal of the merge/purge process is to produce a unique set of names to send the promotional materials. One goal is to cut down on waste by only sending one piece to each person. Another goal is to better understand the relationship among the lists that enter the merge/purge process. The names that appear on more than one list are called “multi-buyers” or “multis” and are often a more responsive and desirable segment of the merged list. The results of the merge/purge are also used to calculate the final price of rented mailing lists where there is a net name arrangement on the order.


Minimum Order Fee

A minimum order fee is a charge applied to a mailing list order when the number of names ordered is less than the minimum order requirement specified on the data card.



The mode is a measure of central tendency that is represents the value that occurs most frequently. For example, the mode for age would be 18 for the following set of observations: 15, 36, 18, 44, 18, 18, 41, 15, 18.



Modeling is an area of data analysis used by direct marketers to predict future events and/or behavior by applying inferential statistics to historical data and trends.


Monetary Value

Monetary value is the average price paid for a product or service, or the average donation made to a fundraising organization, for individuals on a mailing list.



A multi-buyer is a customer who has ordered more than once. Multi-buyers are also referred to as repeat buyers.


Multichannel Marketer

A multi-channel marketer is a business that offers customers more than one way, media or response channel, to buy their product(s) and/or service(s).


Multichannel Marketing

Multi-channel marketing is the business process that offers customers more than one way to buy their product(s) and/or service(s). Multi-channel marketing often includes multiple media and response channels.


Multiple Regression

Multiple regression analysis is a statistical technique used to develop a formula that predicts the correlation between a single dependent variable and more than one independent variables.



National change of address (NCOA) is a service provided by the United States Postal Service (USPS) that enables individuals to notify others of a new address. The NCOA file compiled by the USPS and is made available to certain licensees that use it to update mailing lists with changed addresses.


Net Name Arrangement

A net name arrangement is a clause in a list rental agreement that provides credit for duplicate names in the mailing list being rented. When renting a mailing list, it is likely that list contains some of the same names on your own house list or on other lists you are renting. These duplicates are typically identified through the merge/purge process. The net name arrangement consists of a percentage and a run charge. The percentage is the minimum percentage of the quantity ordered that must be paid at the full rate. The run charge is the rate charged for the duplicates. For example, suppose you order 100,000 names at $100/M with an 85% net name arrangement and a $3/M run charge. Then the merge/purge process reveals 9,000 duplicates. In this scenario, you would pay for 91,000 names at $100/M and 9,000 names at $3/M. Net name arrangements are not available on all mailing lists and are typically only available on larger orders.


Net Quantity

The net quantity is the number of names that remain on a mailing list after removing bad data and duplicate names. This number is known at the completion of the merge/purge process and presented on the computer verification (CV) report.


Net-Net Arrangement

A net-net arrangement is a special form of a net name arrangement where there is no minimum percentage (0%) requirement of names at the full rental rate. This effectively means you only pay for unique names from the mailing list.


Next Update Date

The next update date is when the names and addresses on a mailing list are scheduled to be updated at the list owner service bureau. Most mailing lists are updated monthly or quarterly, but there are many exceptions.


An incorrectly addressed mailing piece returned to the sender by the USPS.


North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is the system which provides a method for describing the industries of unique organizations. SIC codes preceded the NAICS.


Nth Select
A random list selection designed to produce a representative cross-section of a list. Most often used to test the effectiveness of a list by mailing a quantity less than the full count or to reduce a list to the number of available mailing pieces.



An offer is what the mailer is promoting via direct marketing to their customers and/or prospects.


One-Time Use

One-Time Use Mailing lists are rented, not sold. Unless otherwise specified, lists are rented for one mailing or use and may not be used again without the consent of the list owner and additional payment. Most lists are “seeded” (see below) so list owners can detect unauthorized uses.



Opt-in is a method that enables individuals to elect to receive communications such as promotional materials from specified sources. This is typically presented as a checkbox that is not checked by default. To start receiving the communications, the individual take action by checking the box. Otherwise, they are not considered an opt-in.



Opt-out is a method that enables individuals to elect to avoid receiving communications such as promotional materials from specified sources. This is typically presented as a checkbox that is checked by default. To avoid receiving the communications, the individual must take action by unchecking the box.


Organic Search Listings

Organic search listings are generally found on the left hand side of the search engine results page (SERP), and are not influenced by paid advertising. Organic search results are influenced by keywords and phrases on web pages, external links to web pages, and various other search engine optimization (SEO) tactics.



Fields or columns of information included in your list.


Or outputs are the delivery format options available when purchasing a mailing list. Typical addressing options include magnetic tape, printed Cheshire labels, email, and FTP.




An overlay is the process used to append a customer or prospect mailing list with demographic data or other information.

Owner Service Bureau

An owner service bureau is a service bureau that works for the mailing list owner. The owner’s service bureau is generally responsible for responding to count requests and for fulfilling orders on a given list by extracting the data in the format specified and sending the result to the mailers service bureau.



A package is the term used to describe all of the elements delivered to the recipient as part of a direct marketing effort. For example, in a direct mail program this could include the outer envelope, the sales letter, the product sheet, the order form, and the reply envelope.



A package insert program (PIP) is a program that permits mailers to include a promotional piece in product shipments to the list owner’s customers. Space in this type of program may be limited.


Paid Search

Paid search is also referred to as pay per click (PPC) – a method that retrieves URL listings based on who paid the most for keywords to appear at the top of the ranking on a search engine results page (SERP).


A USPS term for handling of mail in which sacks and trays of mail are stacked on pallets. Palletized mail offers faster delivery because of less handling, better mail piece condition upon delivery, and faster unloading upon arrival at the postal facility.


A pander is the name of an individual who does not want to receive direct mail.



Pay per click (PPC) is a paid search method that retrieves URL listings based on who paid the most for keywords to appear at the top of the ranking on a search engine results page (SERP).



Payup is to remit the full monetary amount owed for a product or service. The term payup is often used by magazine publishers as a key performance indicator (KPI) for a direct marketing campaign. For example, a direct mail campaign may deliver a high response rate (requested a subscription to the magazine) but a low payup rate (did not pay for the magazine).



Personalization is a method of printing an individual’s name from a mailing list on a mail piece or letter.



Phishers are people who trick someone into giving them confidential information or taking an action that they would not normally take. Phishers use span messages that may often appear legitimate.



A platform is the operating system that runs a computer.



Podcasting is a term that was developed shortly after the Apple iPod came on the scene, based on a combination of the terms “iPod” and “broadcast”. Podcasting allows individuals to distribute their own audio broadcasts, and in many cases, similar to the format of a radio program. A more recent interpretation is “Personal On Demand broadCASTING”.



A point of purchase (POP) is a place, like a cash register, where a product or service can be purchased. Also referred to as point of sale (POS).



A point of sale (POS) is a place, like a cash register, where a product or service can be purchased. Also referred to as point of purchase (POP).


Postal Presort
The process of preparing mail by sorting pieces destined for the same area so they qualify for postal discounts.



A pre-clearance is a document used to obtain a list owner’s approval, in advance, for a particular mailer to use their mailing list. A copy of the mailer’s offer (sample mail piece) is often required to obtain this approval.


Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics is an area of data analysis used by direct marketers to predict future events and/or behavior by applying inferential statistics to historical data and trends. Predictive analytics may be used to forecast response, payment, lifetime value and more.


Predictive Model

A predictive model is a data model, based on inferential statistics, that is used to predict the response to a direct marketing promotion.



A premium is a free offer to a buyer encouraging them to place an order.



Presort accuracy verification and evaluation (PAVE) is a process that may be used in sorting your mail and getting postal discounts.



Presorting is a process by which mail is delivered to the post office in the order that minimizes the USPS efforts to deliver the mail. Usually, this means that the mail is ordered sequentially by carrier route.

Pressure Sensitive Labels

Private Database

A private database is a compilation of names from external sources that is used for a specific mailer’s exclusive prospecting purposes.


Promotion Cost

The promotion cost is amount of money spent by a direct marketer to reach a prospect or prospects through advertising.



A prospect is a potential buyer who has not yet made a purchase. A prospect becomes a customer when a purchase is made.



A proxy is system that lets multiple users connect to the Internet using the same Internet Protocol (IP) address.



Psychographics are information on individual beliefs, views, lifestyles, hobbies or interests.



Purge is to eliminate duplicate or other unwanted names from a mailing list.



A query is a question that is programmed to retrieve information from a database. Queries are used frequently in direct marketing to obtain counts from a mailing list database.



A quintile is one fifth of a mailing, usually divided by percentage of response.



A re-test is a second or subsequent use of a mailing list to determine how well the list performs. A re-test is performed when the first test is inconclusive.



A reactivation is when a dormant customer begins to purchase again.


Reactivation Program

Reactivation program is a campaign that encourages dormant customers to purchase again.



Really simple syndication (RSS) is a technology that allows notification when a web page or web log (blog) has been revised or updated with new information. Also see rich site summary (RSS).




Recency is a measure of how long it has been since a customer placed an order.



Recency frequency monetary value (RFM) is used to define mailing list selection criteria such as how much time has lapsed since a customer’s last purchase, how often a customer purchased, and the average amount spent by a customer.



A record is the collection of all fields from a database for a specific customer or prospect on a mailing list.


Referring Page

A referring page is the URL of the previous Web page from where a visitor came to your web site.


Regression Analysis

Regression analysis is a statistical method used to determine the correlation between one or more independent variables (X) and a dependent variable (Y). This information is used in creating response and lifetime value models that help direct marketers optimize their efforts related to new customer acquisition and retention.


Relationship Marketing

Relationship marketing is the practice of building relationships with existing customers to promote customer loyalty. The primary objective of relationship marketing is to increase the lifetime value (LTV) of a customer.



A respondent is someone who has responded to a direct mail offer or advertisement, regardless of whether or not a purchase has been made.


Response Analysis

Response analysis is the process of analyzing response data to determine how well a direct marketing campaign actually performed. Response analysis can be done prior to the completion of a campaign in order to predict the end result.


Response Channel

A response channel is vehicle for customers and prospects to respond to product and service offers presented to them through media channels by direct marketers.


Response Device

A response device is an order form, donation form, or other vehicle that is used by the recipient of a direct marketing offer to respond. A response device should include a key code or source code that indicates how the prospect was reached. For example, a key code might represent a specific mailing list that was used.


Response List

A response list is a mailing list of individuals who have responded previously to direct mail offers.

The response rate is calculated as the number of responses received from a mailing divided by the total quantity mailed.


Retention Budget

A retention budget is the portion of the marketing budget that is allocated to customer retention programs.


Retention Rate

The retention rate is the percentage of customers who continue to purchase in a subsequent year. New customers who are added in the subsequent year would not be included in the retention rate calculation.


Return Date

The return date is the date when the list is scheduled to arrive at the mail house.



Return on investment (ROI) is the financial success measure of a direct marketing activity.



A reuse is a subsequent use of a rented mailing list. Mailing lists are typically rented for only a single use. However, it’s possible to request reuse of a mailing list in the original list rental agreement or through a follow-on agreement.



Rich site summary (RSS) is a method used to define different versions of text on a web site such as titles, descriptions, uniform resource locators (links), so that it can be easily interpreted by special reader programs



A ride along program (RAL) is a mailing to existing customers offering them additional products or services from other companies.



A rollout is mailing to the remaining names on a mailing list after having tested an offer on a sample portion of that list.


Run Charge

A run charge is a fee charged for processing a mailing list. The run charge may be expressed as a variable charge based on the number of names processed in “/M” (per thousand) or as a flat rate “/F.”


Sample Mail Piece

A sample mail piece is a sample of the package that is proposed to be delivered to the mailing list. This sample is often provided as part of the approval process whereby the list owner decides if the mailer can rent their mailing list. The sample is one of a number of factors the list owner considers before granting approval.


Saturation Mailing

A saturation mailing is a mailing to 90 percent of the residential addresses, or 75 percent of the combined residential and business addresses, within a specified geographic area or carrier route.


Sectional Center Facility, a postal area identified by the first three digits of the ZIP Code.


Search Engine

A search engine is an automated system that creates indexes of the Web, and allows Internet users to search those indexes by entering keywords or phrases from interfaces such as Google, Yahoo! Search, or Microsoft Live Search.



Search engine marketing (SEM) is the art of improving a particular web site’s visibility by using search engine optimization (SEO) tactics or paying for listings on search engine results pages (SERP).



Search engine optimization (SEO) is a method used to improve the ranking of a web site(s) or web page(s) on search engine results pages (SERP). SEO relies on the content and navigational structure of a web site.



A sectional center facility (SCF) is a processing and distribution center (P&DC) of the United States Postal Service (USPS) that serves a designated geographical area defined by one or more three-digit ZIP Code prefixes.


A name and address included in a mailing list by a list owner or mailer to monitor the usage of the list.



A segment is a major subgroup of a mailing list. Each segment typically has a name, count, and price and is shown on the list’s data card. For example, 30-day hotline buyers might be a segment of a catalog list.



Segmentation is the process of grouping customers based on demographics, psychographics, and/or behavior.



A select is an attribute that can be used to filter a subset of a mailing list. Each select offers a domain of one or more discrete values or a range of continuous values. State is an example of a select with 50 discrete values (the 50 states of the United States). Age is an example of select with a range of continuous values. Selects are combined together to form the selection criteria for extracting the subset of the mailing list that meets the needs of the mailer. For example, you might want to get the subset of a mailing list where State is New Hampshire and Age is in the range of 25 to 55. The process of extracting the subset is the responsibility of the owner’s service bureau.


Selection Cap

A selection cap is a maximum charge to the mailer that would cover all selections ordered for a given mailing list.


Selection Charge

A selection charge is the additional price paid by the mailer for list selections. For example, the selection charge for choosing names of individuals who have purchased a product in the last 30 days (1-month hotline) might be $15/M in addition to the base rate. Note: list brokerage commissions are not usually paid on selection charges.



A self-adhesive label attached to a backing sheet. Each label is peeled off and applied to a mailing piece.


Self Mailer

A self mailer is a direct mail piece that does not need an envelope. This term is most often used to describe folded brochures or other formats than postcards, although postcards are technically self-mailers by definition.


Service Bureau

A service bureau is a company that provides services related to handling of mailing lists. There are two roles that a service bureau may play in fulfilling a list order: (1) owner’s service bureau and (2) mailer’s service bureau.

Service Bureau (Owners)

The owner’s service bureau is generally responsible for answering count requests and for fulfilling orders on a given list by extracting the data in the format specified.

Service Bureau (Mailers)

The mailer’s service bureau is responsible for coordinating the integration and enhancement of all of the lists — house and outside lists — being used in the marketing campaign. The mailer’s service bureau is typically responsible for address correction, merge/purge, applying data models, and otherwise enhancing the data.


Simple Linear Regression

Simple linear regression is a form of statistical analysis in which observational data are modeled by a function which depends on a single independent variable’s correlation to a single dependent variable. In simple linear regression the model function represents a straight line.



A small office home office (SOHO) is a small business with less than ten employees.


Social Network Service

A social network service is a web-based service that provides users with the opportunity interact with each other via email, instant messaging and other online forums. MySpace and Facebook are examples of social network services.



The source is the origin of the names on a mailing list. For example, names might be sourced from catalog buyers, magazine subscribers, trade show attendees, etc. It’s important to understand the source of a list because it is a good indicator of its responsiveness to your offer. There is a big difference between mailing lists sourced from purchasing behaviors and mailing lists that are surreptitiously compiled.



Spam is unsolicited e-mail.


Standard Deviation

The standard deviation is a measure of variation that describes the spread around the mean for a set of data values.



Standard industrial classification (SIC) is a code that represents a company’s type of business.


Statement Stuffer

A statement stuffer is a promotion included in the envelope along with another company’s regular customer correspondence such as a monthly invoice or statement. You may notice statement stuffers along with your credit card bills or phone bills.



A stuffer is a promotion included in the envelope along with another company’s regular customer correspondence such as a monthly invoice or statement. This is also known as a statement stuffer. You may notice stuffers along with your credit card bills or phone bills.



The subscription account number (SAN) is the identification number for an annual subscription to the National Do Not Call (DNC) Registry. The last two digits of the SAN represent the calendar start year of the original subscription or renewal period. For example, 1122-334455-08 would be the SAN for a subscription that began or was renewed in 2008.


Exclusion of a list of selected names or addresses from the final mail file.



Telemarketing is a promotional activity that involves talking on the phone to customers or prospects. Inbound telemarketing occurs when a customer or prospect initiates the call. Outbound telemarketing occurs when the direct marketer initiates the call.


A test is a first-time use of a mailing list to determine how well the list performs. Tests are typically done in small, but statistically significant, batches to mitigate risk. After a successful test, the mailer will typically follow with a continuation order, which is a much larger order from the same list. If the test fails, then the mailer generally does not order that list again for the same purpose. An inconclusive test may call for a re-test with a slightly larger quantity.


Test to Continuation ratio

The test to continuation ratio is a ratio that measures the success of a particular mailing list based on several mailers’ usage. The numerator for this ratio is the number of new mailers that have tested the list, and the denominator is the number of these same mailers who placed a continuation order for the same direct marketing offer within 12 months.


Title Addressing
Use of an assigned title, job function, or description rather than a specific person’s name on a mailing label. The purpose is to direct the mailing piece in the most efficient way. Titles can have a significant impact on response rates. Examples would be “Director” or “Software Buyer.”

Tracking Code

A tracking code is a unique ID, defined by the list manager, to identify the mailing list. This is used for reporting and linking orders to the related list.



A uniform resource locator (URL) is an address on the Internet that enables computers and individuals to access a web page.


Unique Visitors

Unique visitors are the number of unique individuals who visit a given web site.


Unit of Sale

The unit of sale is the typical or average amount of purchase by those on a mailing list. On a catalog-sourced mailing list, this could be the average order size. On a magazine-sourced mailing list, this could be the average subscription price. On a non-profit-sourced mailing list, this could be the average donation.



The universe is the total count of the names on a mailing list. The universe is sometimes defined as recent buyers (e.g. “24-month buyers”). However, that’s more appropriate as a segment of the universe.



An up-sell is an effort to sell a customer a higher-priced version of the product or service they originally intended to buy.



An update is the process of updating a mailing list with current customer information. Mailing list updates occur at the owner service bureau.


Update Date

The update date is when the names and addresses on a mailing list are updated at the owner service bureau.


Update Frequency

Update frequency is the timing of the updates for a mailing list at the list owner service bureau. The update frequency for most mailing lists is monthly or quarterly, but there are many exceptions.



Usage is a common term used by list industry professionals to refer to mailer companies that rent or exchange specific mailing lists.


Waive Minimum

Waive minimum is a common phrase used when the list manager waives the minimum order fee on a mailing list rental order.


Web Analytics

Web analytics is software that analyzes the behavior of web site visitors.


Web Browser

A web browser is a software program that enables users to access the World Wide Web.



A web card is a version of a data card that is used to promote advertising space on a web site. Web card pricing may include fixed charges and/or variable charges based on click-through rates. Web cards are often posted in list research applications because their results are measurable, unlike traditional print space advertising.



A webcast is a presentation or seminar that is transmitted over the Web. A webcast is a one way communication on behalf of the presenter, and does not allow for interaction from audience — see webinar.



A webinar is an interactive presentation or seminar that is transmitted over the Web. A webinar is different than a webcast which is one way and does not allow for interaction between the presenter and the audience.



A weblog is an online journal that may be setup and maintained with minimal technical expertise.



A websert is a text or graphic link that appears after an online purchase is made. From a direct marketer’s perspective, a websert may be considered as a digital version of insert media.


Win Back

A win back is a dormant customer who begins to purchase again due to a targeted sales and marketing effort.



An extension to the traditional 5-digit ZIP Code that identifies addresses more accurately geographically.













For a further explanation of a term listed above or to help us add to this Direct Marketing Glossary of Terms, please contact us directly at (800)-227-6245 or [email protected]

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