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Direct Mail Glossary


If you are new to Direct Marketing — Here's a Glossary of Direct Marketing Terms!

ACTIVES: Members whose subscriptions have not yet expired, or listed customers who have made purchases within a year.

BACK-END: Up-selling a direct marketing campaign respondent (ie converting a prospect to a buyer or converting a buyer to a repeat buyer).

BACK TEST: Retesting an uncertain list which did not produce excellent results, but might have potential.

BILL ENCLOSURE: Promotional material enclosed with a bill, an invoice or a statement.

BINGO CARD: Reply card inserted in a publication. Used by readers to request literature from companies whose products and services are either advertised or mentioned in editorial columns.

BOUNCE BACK: An offer enclosed with a mailing sent to fulfill a customer order.

BRC: Business Reply Card.

BRE: Business Reply Envelope.

BREAK-EVEN: The point in a business project when income equals expenses.

BRP: Business Reply Post.

COA or CHAD: Change of address.

CASH BUYER: A buyer who encloses payment with an order.

CATALOG: A book or booklet showing more than one product; graphics and text display merchandise with prices.

CHESHIRE LABELS: Paper that has printed names and addresses which are to be mechanically affixed individually to each mailing piece.

CIRCULARS: A printed advertisement in any medium. Circulars can include printed offers sent out by direct mailers.

CLEANSING: In list management, refers to the process of removing or altering a name and address inside a list. The list detail may be out of date, may have moved categories or may have been incorrectly entered.

CODING: Identifying marks used on response coupons to identify the mailing list, version of mailing, or other differentiation within the mailing.

COLLATE: To assemble individual elements of a mailing in a sequence for inserting into a mailing envelope.

COMMISSION: A percentage of sale agreed upon between the list owner and the list manager/ broker for their part in selling a list rental.

COMPILE: A process where a computer translates a series of instructions written in a programming language into actual machine language.

COMPILED LIST: Any list of names and addresses that can be compiled from a variety of different sources including newspapers, directories, public records and retail sales slips, which identify groups of people with common traits.

CONSUMER: Anyone who buys a product or uses a service for non-business purposes.

CONTINUITY PROGRAM: Products or services bought as a series, instead of all at one time. Usually these products and services have a common theme and are shipped at regular intervals.

CONTROLLED CIRCULATION: Free publications with restricted distribution.

CO-OP MAILING: Where two or more organizations combine to make separate offers within the same mailing, each party sharing the mailing cost.

COPY: The written text used by marketers to present their offers to the public.

COST PER INQUIRY (CPI): Formula derived by dividing the total cost of a mailing or an advertisement by the number of inquiries received.

COST PER ORDER (CPO): Formula derived by dividing the total cost of a direct marketing campaign by the number of orders received. Based on actual orders rather than inquiries.

COST PER THOUSAND (CPM): Common rate for list rentals when fee is based on actual orders rather than inquiries.

COUPON: Part of an advertising promotion intended to be completed by the customer and returned to the advertiser.

DATA: A display of facts, concepts and instructions in a formal manner processed manually or automatically.

DATABASE: A collection of data. A direct marketing database provides a means to contact a group of prospects and a method to measure purchases.

DONOR LIST: A list of those who have given money to charitable organizations.

DUMMY: 1. Name inserted deliberately into a list to verify how the list is being used. 2. A pre- production printed mock-up showing how the final article is likely to look and read.

DUPE: The appearance of identical, repeated information in a database. Dupe is short for "duplicate".

EXPIRE: Former customer who no longer purchases goods or services.

FIXED FIELD: A method of formatting list information in a computer file that puts every piece of data in a specific position relative to every other piece of data.

FORMAT: The form in which a mailing list is to be presented - this could be on a computer tape, on floppy disks, etc.

FREQUENCY: The number of times an individual has ordered over a certain period of time.

FRONT-END: Activities performed to produce responses to a direct marketing program and the measurement of those activities.

GEOGRAPHICS: Any method of subdividing a list, with geographic subdivisions; county, town, state, scf, zip code, zip+4.

INQUIRY: Someone who has asked for literature or other information about a product or service. Unless otherwise stated, it is assumed no payment is required for the information. (A catalogue request is generally considered to be a specific type of inquiry.)

INSERT: Promotional piece placed in an outgoing package or invoice.

INSTALLMENT BUYER: A person who has ordered goods or services, but pays for them in periodic installments.

INTEGRATED MARKETING: A combination of two or more forms of marketing used to sell a product or service (e.g. a direct mail campaign combined with a series of email campaigns).

KEY CODE (KEY): Group of letters and/or numbers, colors, or other markings, used to measure the specific effectiveness of media, lists, advertisements, offers, etc.

LETTERSHOP/MAILHOUSE: Company which performs the mechanical details involved with mailing including addressing, imprinting, collating, etc.

LIFETIME VALUE: In direct mail and marketing, the total profit or loss estimated or realised from a customer over the active life of the customer's record.

LIST: Mailing List. Names and addresses of companies and individuals with a common interest, activity or characteristic.

LIST BROKER: A specialist who makes all the arrangements for one company to make use of another companies list. A broker's services can include research, selection, recommendation and subsequent evaluation.

LIST COMPILER: A person who builds a list of names & addresses from a variety of sources. Sources can include directories, newspapers, public records, sales slips, trade show registrations, etc.

LIST MANAGER: A person who oversees the use of a list(s) by others. The list manager, if not also the list owner, serves the owner by promoting and marketing a list, record keeping and list cleaning, along with the collection of list usage fees.

LIST OWNER: 1. A person or company who has built a list by compiling names which have something in common. 2. Someone who has purchased a list from someone else.

LIST RENTAL: The arrangement between the list owner and mailer where the owner gives the mailer a set of names for a one time use for which the list owner is paid a royalty by the mailer.

LIST SELECTION: Processes of segregating smaller groups within a list. This segregation creates a list within a list.

LIST SOURCE: Original source of names and addresses for a mailing list.

LIST TEST: Part of the list selected to try and determine the effectiveness of the entire list. See also "List Sample".

LIST USER: A person using names and addresses of someone else's list as prospects for the user's product or service.

MAIL DATE: Date planned for a mailing, usually an agreement between the mailing list owner and list user.

MAILER: 1. Direct mail advertiser who promotes products or services by using house lists or his own list - or the two combined. 2. Folded carton, wrapper, or tube used to protect materials in the mail. 3. Printed direct mail advertising piece.

MARGIN: The gross profit on sales derived by subtracting the cost of goods sold from gross revenue.

MASTER FILE: A file that is of a permanent nature, or one that contains all sub- files.

MERGE-PURGE: To merge one file with another to produce a file with no duplicated names, etc.

NEGATIVE OPTION: A buying plan in which a club member or customer agrees to accept and pay for products or services announced in advance at regular intervals. The customers can stop the company shipping the products only if they notify them, within a reasonable time after announcement, not to ship the merchandise.

NESTING: Placing one enclosure within another before inserting them into a mailing envelope.

NET NAME ARRANGEMENT: An agreement where the list owner agrees to accept adjusted payment for less than the total names shipped to the list user. (e.g. pay for total names mailed after duplicates are eliminated).

NTH NAME: A selection for a list test mailing where names are selected on the basis of the size of the test sample in relation to the size of the list.

OFFER: The terms promoting a particular product or service.

ONE-TIME BUYER: Buyers who have only ordered once.

ONE-TIME USE OF A LIST: Normally a list is rented for a one time use only. With a list exchange or list reproduction agreement it is usually understood that the mailer will not use the names more than once without the prior agreement of the list owner.

ORDER CARD: Reply card used to initiate an order through the mail.

ORDER FORM: Printed form on which a customer can provide a name and address to initiate an order by mail.

PACKAGE INSERT: Any promotional piece included in a mailed offer. It may be for different products from the same company, or for products and services from other companies.

PACKAGE TEST: A test of one or more elements of a mailing piece against another.

PAID CANCEL: A person who goes through with a buying commitment before cancelling. See also "Completed Cancel".

PAID CIRCULATION: Distribution of a publication to individuals or organizations which have paid for a subscription.

PARSE: Parceling up data records into precise, individual components like name, postcode, telephone number, etc.

PEEL-OFF LABEL: A self-adhesive label attached to a cardboard backing sheet in a mailing piece. The label can then be removed from the mailing piece and stuck to an order card. Also known as "Peel and Stick, or Pressure Sensitive" Label.

PENETRATION: Relationship of the number of individuals or families on a particular list compared to the total number possible.

PERSONALISATION: Giving a direct mail piece personal information intended for the specific respondent.

PHONE LIST: Mailing List compiled from names listed in telephone directories.

PREMIUM BUYER: 1. Person who is responding to an offer simply to get the free product or service offered with it. 2. Someone who responds to an offer of a special product on the package or label of another product.

PROSPECT: A potential buyer for a product or service who has yet to make a purchase.

PROSPECTING: Sending mail to generate leads for further sales contacts rather than trying to get immediate sales.

PSYCHOGRAPHICS: Characteristics or qualities used to denote the lifestyles or attitudes of prospects and customers.

PURGE: The process of removing duplicates and other unwanted names and addresses from a list or lists.

RECENCY: The latest recorded information about a company or customer on a customer list, in relation to purchasing or other recorded activity.

REFORMATTING: Converting a magnetic tape format from one arrangement to a more usable one. Exactly the same as "Conversion".

RELATIONAL DATABASE: A database that shows the relationship between various pieces of information stored about customers. The information stored can include anything from names and addresses to a customers buying habits. Relational databases make updating and altering records a much easier task.

RENEWAL: A subscription that has been renewed prior to it expiring or within six months after that date.

RESPONSE RATE: Amount of responses received as a percentage of total promotions mailed.

RFM: Acronym for Regency Frequency Monetary Value. RFM is a formula used to evaluate the potential of a mailing list to create responses.

ROLLOUT: To continue with the mailing after testing a portion of the mailing list.

RUNNING CHARGE: The price a list owner charges for names run or passed, but not used by a specific mailer'. When such a charge is made, it is usually to cover extra processing costs.

SEED: A name inserted deliberately into a list to verify list usage.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Refers to characteristics that identify segments or sub- groups within a list.

SELF-MAILER: A self-contained mailing piece which is designed to form an envelope when folded, therefore not requiring a separate outer envelope.

SOLO MAILING: A mailing which promotes only one product.

SPLIT TEST: Representative samples from the same list, used for package tests, or to test homogeneity of the list.

STATEMENT STUFFER: Printed piece inserted in an envelope carrying a customer's statement of account.

SUBSCRIBER: Person who has paid to receive a periodical.

TAG: To mark a record with definitive criteria so it can be used or avoided in the future.

TEASER: An advertisement or promotion planned to excite curiosity about a later advertisement or promotion.

TELEMARKETING: Using telecommunications in sales and marketing efforts.

TILL FORBID: An order by a customer which is to continue until the customer advises you to stop. Till forbid can also be abbreviated to "TF'.

TIP-ON: An item glued to a printed piece.

TITLE ADDRESSING: Functional titles used in compiling business lists, where no individual name has been found.

TRAFFIC BUILDER: A direct mail piece used mainly as a way to attract customers to the mailer's place of business.

TRIAL BUYER: A person who buys a product on the understanding that they do not have to pay for it until a certain period of time has passed.

TRIAL SUBSCRIBER: A person ordering a publication or service on a conditional basis, giving them the right to test the service or periodical and return it if they are not satisfied.

UNIT OF SALE: The average amount spent by a customer on a mailing list.

UNIVERSE: Total number of those who might be able to be included in a mailing list; all of whom fit a single set of specifications.

UPDATE: To add the most current information to a mailing list.

VERIFICATION: Sending a questionnaire to a customer to ensure that the order is a valid one.


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