Direct Marketing Glossary

Welcome to our Direct Marketing Glossary. Direct Marketing starts with good quality data, so it’s a no-brainer for us to create this list of common terms. Sometimes in Direct Marketing, words have a different meaning than their traditional use. Or perhaps the word has a specific meaning.


Therefore, we’ve compiled this Direct Marketing Glossary to help anyone unfamiliar with Direct Marketing to learn more about different terms and what each means.


Direct Marketing Glossary

Add-on A related product or service offering at the time of the original promotion or as a follow-up promotion at a later date.

ANZSIC Codes Australia and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification codes were developed by Statistics New Zealand and the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This classification is commonly used by data providers to ensure consistency.

Attrition Rate The percentage of customers who do not complete their order.

B2B Business to Business Relates to businesses whose clients are other businesses rather than consumers.

Batch Processing Processing groups of data all at once via computer programmes rather than handling each piece of data as it is received.

Benefit The actual benefit the customer receives from a feature of a product or service.

Bleed Printing the image or colour right to the edge of the paper. This is done by printing larger and then trimming to the finished size.

Body copy The main part of the message, not including the headline or images.

Breakeven The point where the income from the campaign is equal to the costs of the campaign.

Brochure A single or multipage presentation of the offer, with may include product or service descriptions.

Bulk Mail Mail that is arranged in an organised format in larger numbers so that discounted bulk mailing postage may be used. Requirements can be obtained from Mailing houses or the Post Office.

Business Reply Envelope An enclosed pre-addressed envelope back to the company sending the letter to make it easier for the customer to respond.

Call to Action An instruction that is given to encourage the customer or prospect to respond.

Catalogue A multipage information book or pamphlet detailing multiple products or services, and often including an order form.

Conversion rate Can mean several things, including: (1) How many people respond compared to how many people were approached, (2) How many people responded compared to how many purchased, and (3) How many first-time customers become repeat customers.

Copy testing Using different messages sent out to a small sample of the same audience for the same campaign to gauge response.

CPI (Cost per inquiry) The number of inquiries received is divided by the total cost of the campaign.

CPO (Cost per order) The number of orders received is divided by the total cost of the campaign.

CPM (Cost per thousand) A standard way to express costs of large campaigns

Creative Everything that makes up a direct mail package. This could include brochures, letters, samples, fonts, copy, telemarketing scripts, and images.

Cross-selling Selling items or services to existing customers from other sectors or departments of your business.

Customer Base The total number of customers to date. Some have come from the latest campaigns and referrals, some from earlier customer acquisition campaigns and marketing efforts.

Customer Profile The typical characteristics of your customer or prospective customer. This might include age, location, sex, product purchased, how often they purchase, size of business, and other demographics.

Database Collection of data and tables with the ability to sort and analyse data to gain more understanding about its contents and use to build your customer base.

Data enhancement Improving the quality and/or the volume of the data. This might include deleting clients or prospects who no longer exist, updating addresses, staff contact details, company size, postcodes, and adding in new prospective clients.

Data Entry Entering new data into a spreadsheet or database. This might include names, addresses, phone numbers, postcodes, company details, purchase details, payment or refund details, and product information.

De-Duplication Process of matching records to exclude duplicated information. Excel can do this automatically for you for basic duplications. More complex situations require special software or even the human eye to solve duplicates.

Demographics Socio-economic characteristics of people, including income, ethnicity, age, sex, household income, company size, industry type, education, and location.

Direct Marketing A marketing method using targeted communication, to name individuals within specific audiences, with relevant messages that result in measurable results that can be analysed and repeated.

Duplicates (Dupes) Two or more identical names and addresses on the same marketing list. Cleaning such a list (dedupe) needs to be performed so that clients or prospects do not receive more than one communication.

Expiry date A response deadline after which an offer, product, or service will not be available, or not available at a special price or rate. Often used to increase urgency and increase response.

Feature A perceived advantage a product or service has over an alternative product or service.

Frequency How often a customer, prospect, or target market is approached. Or it can refer to how often a customer has responded over some time.

Fulfilment is The process of responding to a response. This could be completing a request for information, or it could be the completion of an order.

Gone No Return This is a piece of Direct Mail returned because the receiver has left without the forwarding mail option.

Insert An additional piece of marketing that goes along with or is inserted into another piece of marketing. Often used in Direct Mail Marketing to offset the cost by allowing another advertiser to ride along with your marketing in the same envelope with no additional mailing costs.

Invalid Record Any customer or prospect record with does not conform to the rules of a list. This may be due to incorrect address information, missing data, spelling errors, or invalid email or phone numbers.

Lifetime value The total profit a customer brings to the company over their active life with the company. This might be measured in days or weeks for some products or services, and over decades for others.

List A collection of names, addresses, and contact details of people or companies having a common interest, characteristics or activity.

List Broker An organisation offering a variety of lists for rental or purchase.

List-cleaning Updating a list for accuracy and deleting any known businesses or contacts that are no longer in existence or valid. At this time additional data can also be added with meets the list specifications.

Mail house A service that provides various levels of mail processing, from providing a mailing list to complete processing and mailing. Most provide addressing, labelling, folding, collating, assembling, sorting, and inserting services.

Merge/Purge The process of adding two or more lists into a single list, making sure any duplicates are discarded.

Offer The specific proposition being presented, including the product/service, price and copy

One-time usage A term used within list rental contracts allows the renter to only use the list once. Any additional use of the list is illegal under the contract and may result in legal action or additional fees to pay.

Post-Code Within New Zealand, the four-digit code is allocated to all postal areas by New Zealand Post. This code is usually a requirement when mailing large numbers of letters, particularly via Mail Houses. It is also a requirement to obtain large postal discounts, which may also require postcodes to be placed in sequence.

Price Testing Offering the same product or service to the same market with a price difference to test response and profitability.

Projection An estimated expected result or response is often used in the early days of a campaign.

Proof A first or draft copy of a printed piece is used to make sure all information is correct including colours, size, information, wording and numbers.

Prospect An individual, company or organisation which has the desirable characteristics of being a client or customer.

Prospect List This is your list of clients and prospects before any additional or outside information has been added.

Prospecting The process of hunting for individuals, companies or organisations that may become suitable prospects.

Purge The process of deleting duplicate names or companies from one or more marketing lists.

Qualified lead The name of an individual, company or organisation, that has taken some degree of action to indicate they are or may be interested in a product or service.

Recency The latest activity or purchase recorded for a customer

Record A collection of data about one individual, customer, or organisation on a database.

Response rate The number of responses divided by the number approached.

Return Envelope Addressed envelope included in a direct mail communication sent to the customer or prospect to make it easier for them to respond via mail.

Return on investment (ROI) The final profit gained, is usually expressed as a percentage of the total investment spent on a marketing campaign.

Roll out The actual start of the campaign once testing, printing, list acquisition, and processing have been completed.

Seeding The addition of a minimum number of fictional names within a marketing list allows the list owner to evaluate the time and quality of delivery. It also allows the list owner to keep track of list rental usage.

Segmenting The division of a marketing list by some characteristics, such as company size, location, street name, and postcode.

Selection criteria The defined characteristics and subgroups within a target market audience. In the case of B2B typical examples include location, industry and number of staff or turnover.

Social Media Typically online marketing communications use highly accessible websites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Split test Two or more sub-lists from a marketing list is sent out with a change to one or more of the criteria, such as offer, price, location, timing, and package.

Target market The selected audience is based on defined demographic criteria. Business demographics are often defined by location, industry and number of staff or turnover. Additional selection criteria may apply, for example, website, gender of the owner, etc.

Testimonial A comment or statement made usually by a customer in support of the product or service. Usually only included upon the approval of the person providing the testimonial.

Undeliverable Can be used in direct mail, email, fax, and also text campaigns to describe an attempt at contact which has not been successful. Occurs when an address is wrong, the email address is wrong, or a phone number is incorrect.

Universe The total number of individuals or businesses which meet the required criteria or set of criteria.

White Space The areas on a page or electronic communication which are free from copy, images, or text. A certain amount of white space is desirable for balance and the fact that it often makes a piece more desirable to read.

Is a term you’re unsure of missing from our Direct Marketing Glossary? Email us and we’ll be happy to explain it, and we’ll add it here as well!