Frequently used terms in the direct marketing sector


Address Imaging – Printing names and addresses, messages or logos onto letters, response devices or outer envelopes

Acquisition – in marketing, the process of obtaining a new customer

Above the line advertising (ATL) - Above The Line advertising is where mass media is used to promote brands and reach out to the target consumers


Below the line (BTL) - Below the line advertising is more one to one, and involves the distribution of direct mail and other print advertising. It can also include PR, banners, posters and brochures placed at point of sale

Brochure – A high‐quality pamphlet, with specially planned layout, typography, and illustrations included in a direct mail package

Broadside – Single sheet of paper, printed on one or two sides, folded for mailing or direct distribution, and opening into a single, large advertisement

Buckslip – A single sheet included in a direct mail package to add information or draw attention to the offer/call to action

Bulk mail – Mail which consists of a high volume of identical pieces, usually sent by the same mailer. Often delivery standards for bulk mail are longer than for other types of mail.

Business Reply Envelope (BRE) – A pre-addressed, postage-paid envelope used to return a reply form or order form


Case Study – a detailed business or marketing study that stresses factors contributing to its success or failure

Catalogue – A bound booklet and displays items for sale, usually including descriptive information or illustrations

Carbon footprint – the estimated emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases associated with any particular action such as sending direct mail which includes production of paper, printing and delivery just to name a few

Classic Direct Mail Package – Envelope, letter, brochure, response device, business reply envelope (BRE)

Cooperative Mailing (Coop) – A group of freestanding promotion pieces, generally from several different, unrelated companies, sent out in a single envelope, card deck or self‐mailer

Contact Strategy – A customer contact strategy defines the desired customer experience based on the customer or prospects segments, frequency of contact, communication quantities, total circulation, etc.

Conversion rate – the percentage of responses to a direct mail or direct marketing offer which get converted into sales

Copy – advertising term referring to the written text used by marketers to present their offers to the public

Courtesy Reply Envelope – A pre‐addressed envelope used to return a reply form or order form. The prospect or customer must affix postage before mailing

Creative – the design of all elements of a direct mail piece, including copy, style, imagery, colour code format etc.


Data mining – the application of algorithms for extracting useful information from data sets. The process of data mining is about data analysis in search for patterns that can be used for business advantage. It can also be used to perfect targeting techniques and thus improve the ROI of marketing activities including direct mail.

Digital Printing – method of printing in which the data and images are printed, then transferred to paper by means of an electrostatic charge

Dimensional Mail – Mail delivered in a three‐dimensional enclosure, creative packaging, attention‐grabbing shape, or lumpy envelope

Direct Mail – Promotional mail, including envelopes, post cards, self‐mailers, catalogs, etc. delivered to homes and businesses

Direct Mail Kit (DMK) – An industry term for a whole direct mail package consisting of multiple elements (e.g. envelope, letter, brochure, response device, BRE, etc.)

Deduplication – the exercise of finding duplicate entries, in two or more mailing lists, and eliminating them; also called ‘merge and purge’

Door drop – in most cases, the term refers to unaddressed mail

Double Postcard – A self‐mailer, folded in half, to the size of a postcard and sealed at one edge. Half of the form is a promotion addressed to the recipient and the other half is a response device addressed to the sender. The recipient detaches the response device and mails it back to the sender.



Freestanding – inserts offering products or services, placed in monthly billing statements




Indicia – postal indicia takes the place of a stamp or postage meter imprint and is generally printed directly on the pieces to be mailed. This saves the time and expense of applying postage manually. Some postal operators allow customers to personalise indicia with an image, slogan or company logo.




Lead – a potential customer who has indicated interest in knowing more about specific product or service offered by a company.

Lift Letter – A second, shorter letter in a direct mail package restating the key benefits, the offer and call‐to‐action

List broker – a company or agent legally representing owners of marketing data and offers these data for sale or rental

List rental – the cession of data (such as mailing lists) to a marketer for a limited number of uses, often just one. List rental is generally more common than list sales.

Loyalty programme - A rewards program offered by a company to customers who frequently make purchases. A loyalty program may give a customer advanced access to new products, special sales coupons or free merchandise. In many markets, direct mail is one of the most effective communication channels for loyalty programmes.


Machinable mail – mail items that can be efficiently processed by automated postal sorting equipment.


Non-standard mail needs to be hand sorted and means additional cost for the postal operator.


Offset Printing – A printing technique in which the inked image on a printing plate is imprinted on a rubber cylinder and then transferred (offset) to paper

Outer Envelope – An envelope used to carry the elements of a direct mail package to customers or prospects


Package Inserts – Freestanding inserts offering products or services, placed in the package or shipment with a customer’s order

Personal Copy – Copy that focuses on customers desires and aspirations, and how your product or service can help them achieve that change

Personalisation – Personalisation uses an individual’s information, stored in a database, to target the recipient’s demographics or interests using fields within the database, such as "first name," "last name,” "company," etc.

Prospect – a potential customer. Prospecting is the process of identifying potential customers and converting them into leads and opportunities.

pURL – personal URL, the address of a page on a website that has been customized for a single customer or prospect.



Response Device – A device to get the responder to mail back, phone back, email back, fill an online form or otherwise respond to the mailing 


Sampling – distributing free samples of a product so that prospective customers can try it and possibly become interested in buying.

Sales letter – Letter used to introduce the selling effort of a direct mail package

Self‐mailer – Direct mail that is self-contained, and sent without an envelope or wrapper


Testimonial – Statements from customers that support a benefit, fact, or claim about a product or service

Transpromo – the use of statements and bills as an advertising medium for up-selling or cross-selling to customers.


Unaddressed Mail – Unaddressed mail is a low‐cost mail service offered by some postal operators, useful when you need to acquire new customers or build store traffic, and do not have their names and addresses

Up-selling – the practice of attempting to get a customer to buy more expensive items, upgrades, accessories or other extras in order to increase profits to the seller


Variable Data Printing – Variable data printing uses software that combines art files and data files to print pages or complete direct mail packages, customising text, photos, logos, solid colors, etc.





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