Marketing Terms & Glossary

append data

The process whereby a database or list has additional information added to it from an external data source to make the records more robust and useful. Appended data could include age, household income, home value, industry information, business information, and more. The appended information is usually used to learn more about leads or consumers for target marketing. Also referred to as enhancing.

barcode (BC)

A series of vertical bars and spaces that represent any numerical series, most often a correct ZIP Code for the delivery address on a mail piece. The barcode facilitates automated processing by barcode readers and scanners. Barcodes that may be used for postal processing are POSTNET, Interleaved 2-of-5, Code 39, Code 128, and UCC/EAN Code 128.

barcode sorter (BSC)

A mail processing machine that reads barcodes on mail and automatically sorts the pieces.

barcoded discount

Available for certain Standard Mail (B) machinable pieces that bear a correct barcode and meet minimum volume requirements.


The method of securing the cover of a publication to its contents and for holding the pages of a publication together. Common examples are saddle-stitch (stapled along the spine) and perfect binding (glued).

break-even point

The point at which the revenue is equal to the associated expenses (no net gain or loss).

bulk mail

A large quantity of mail prepared for mailing at reduced postage. This term is generally used to describe commercial mail. Also referred to as Standard Mail and Presorted mail.

bulk mail center (BMC)

A highly mechanized mail processing plant that distributes Standard Mail in piece and bulk form.


Two or more packages secured together into a single piece or unit.

business demographic information

Detailed information about businesses, such as addresses, phone numbers, industry, annual sales, number of employees, geographic data, ownership information (such as public or private), and more. Also referred to as firmographic or demographic information.

business reply mail (BRM)

A service that enables mailers to receive First-Class Mail back from customers by paying postage only on the mail actually returned to them from their customers.

business-to-business marketing

Advertising or promotion targeted toward businesses as opposed to individual consumers. Also referred to as B2B.


A series of marketing or sales programs, used together to foster awareness of your company or products and to incent prospects to buy.

carrier route

The addresses to which a carrier delivers mail. In common usage, carrier route includes city routes, rural routes, highway contract routes, post office box sections, and general delivery units.

carrier route file

The official listing of all city and non-city delivery post offices available to mailers in a standardized format. It contains schemes for city routes, rural routes, highway contract routes, post office box sections, and general delivery units. The data are formatted by ZIP Code, street name, and street number range.

carrier route presort mail

Mail sorted by carrier route to qualify for discount postage rates. The mail requires no primary or secondary distribution. The term is a general descriptor of the available rates for this type of preparation, which includes Enhanced Carrier Route Standard Mail, automation carrier route First-Class Mail, carrier route Periodicals, and carrier route Bound Printed Matter. Unless mailed at automation rates, carrier route mail pieces usually do not bear a barcode. Also called Enhanced Carrier Route Standard Mail.


The area in which a business or a product operates together with its competitors. The category can be defined more or less broadly, depending on an organizationŐs strategic needs.

Cheshire label

A white, plain paper label used in mailing. A Cheshire machine is required to affix the labels to the mailing material.

cloning customers

Acquired/prospect customers that have the same characteristics as your existing customers.


A way of dividing all households into different types, usually called lifestyle groups. Clusters are useful for file segmentation.


Attaching a unique code or identifier to a marketing or sales program that enables response tracking to be used to determine the continuation or modification of future marketing or sales programs.

coding accuracy support system (CASS)

A form of certification available from the United States Postal Service, offered as a service to mailers, service bureaus, and software vendors that improves the accuracy of matching to delivery point codes, ZIP+4 codes, 5-digit ZIP Codes, and carrier route codes on mail pieces. CASS Certification includes list hygiene (puts addresses in standard form) and certifies that addresses in a mailing list are mailable (exist in the post officeŐs mail file). This process also adds a 4 digit code to the zip code (ZIP+4) — this identifies the carrier route. Group1 is the software used by Hearst Media Services to perform CASS certification.

collect on delivery (COD)

A service whereby payment for a purchase is collected by the deliverer of the goods, who in turn pays the sender.

combined mailing

A mailing in which individually addressed mail pieces of Periodicals or editions are merged and sorted together, usually using two or more postage payment methods.


To integrate dissimilar mail (such as subscriber and non-subscriber copies, machinable and irregular parcels) into the same mailing.

compiled list

A mailing list created using directories, newspapers, public records, retail sales slips, trade show registrations, etc.

confidentiality agreement

An agreement between two or more parties which precedes a contract to do business. The agreement states that business secrets will not be revealed to others.


All the customers of and prospects for a given category of products (e.g., information users, readers, Houstonians).

Core Based Statistical Area (CBSA)

An area defined by the Office of Management and Budget based around an urban center of at least 10,000 people and adjacent areas that are socio-economically tied to the urban center by commuting. The Houston CBSA has 10 counties which include: Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, San Jacinto and Waller.


The quantity of names on a mailing list that meet the selected criteria for a target market.

courtesy reply mail (CRM)

Envelopes or postcards that a mailer provides to its customers to expedite delivery of their responses. The customer affixes the reply postage before mailing.

customer acquisition

The sales and marketing process of obtaining new customers.

customer loyalty programs

Incentives that encourage customers to stay on-board and purchase more of a retailers products and/or services.

customer profile

A description of a businessŐs typical customer. The profile can be created by modeling a customer database.

customer retention

The tendency to keep customers buying from a business.


A collection of information stored in a computer medium that can be easily accessed and manipulated.

database marketing

A form of direct marketing that leverages databases of consumer and business information to generate target marketing campaigns or personalized communications in order to permute products and/or services.


The process of identifying and removing duplicates names from a mailing list.

delivery sequenced mail

Mail that is arranged by a mailer in delivery order for a particular carrier route. This mail requires no primary or secondary distribution.


Information and characteristics about individuals or groups such as age, gender, income, marital status, home ownership, presence of children, etc.

Designated Market Area (DMA)

A geographic area defined by Nielsen Media Research Company as a group of counties that make up a particular television or broadcast market. The Houston DMA has 20 counties which include: Austin, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grimes, Harris, Jackson, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Polk, San Jacinto, Trinity, Walker, Waller, Washington and Wharton.

destination bulk mail center (DBMC) rate

A rate available for Standard Mail (A) and Standard Mail (B) Parcel Post that is properly prepared and entered by the mailer at the BMC or other designated postal facility that serves the delivery address on the mail.

destination delivery unit (DDU) rate

A rate available for Periodicals and Standard Mail that is properly prepared and entered by the mailer at the delivery unit that serves the delivery address on the mail.

destination sectional center facility (DSCF) rate

A rate available for Periodicals (except In-County) and Standard Mail that is properly prepared and entered by the mailer at the sectional center facility (SCF) (or, for certain Parcel Post, at the BMC) that serves the delivery address on the mail.

direct mail

A marketing or sales piece mailed to a specific audience.

direct marketing

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 an offer.

drop shipment

Typically the movement of a mailerŐs product on private (non-postal) transportation from the point of production to a postal facility located closer to the destination of the product.


See append.


The side of a mail piece with the delivery address.

firmographic information

See business demographic information.

first-class mail (FCM)

A class of mail that includes all matter wholly or partly in writing or typewriting, all actual and personal correspondence, all bills statements of account, and all matter sealed or otherwise closed against inspection. First-Class Mail comprises three subclasses: postcards, letters and sealed parcels, and Priority Mail. Any mailable matter may be sent as First-Class Mail. First-Class Mail is a USPS trademark.


A piece of mail that exceeds the dimensions for letter-sized mail, but not certain maximum dimensions.


An abbreviation used on mail container labels that indentifies the contents as flat-size.


The collection of all letters, numbers, punctuation marks, etc., of a certain size and style.

fulfillment house

A company specializing in responding to and tracking orders sold through direct mail.


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


A preprinted permit imprint on bulk mail that shows postage prepayment by an authorized mailer.

in-house list

A list of names, addresses and/or telephone numbers of customers compiled by a company.


See Preprint.


The arrangement of text blocks, headlines and graphics on a page.

lead generation

The process of finding potential customers that have a qualified interest in a product or service.


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

lifetime value (LTV)

The total sales revenue received, actual or estimated, from an average customer during their relationship with the company.


The improvement in response, from a mailing list or prospect database, as a results of statistical modeling and segmentation.

list broker

A specialist who helps mailers to select mailing lists and coordinates the procurement of mailing lists.

list compiler

An individual or company that specializes in gathering names, addresses and information from a variety of sources to produce a customized list of prospective customers.

list hygiene

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 rental

The purchase of a response or compiled mailing list for one-time use.


A code used on mail container labels that indicates the contents as letter-size mail.

mail shop

An independent company that specializes in preparing direct mail packages for mailing.


A group of mail pieces within the same mail class and mail processing category that may be sorted together under the appropriate standards.

mailing list

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.

manifest mailing system (MMS)

A postage payment system that enables that USPS to accept and verify permit imprint mailings that contain non-identical-weight and/or non-identical-rate pieces of the same mail class (except Periodicals) and same mail processing category. These pieces are prepared by the mailer according to certain standards.


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

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

market potential

The number of customers or amount of revenue that you could possibly gain by selling to an entire market segment.

market segment

A subset of the entire market.


Creating product, company, and brand awareness, with the eventual goal of driving sales.


The process of combining two or more mailing lists into a single list.

metered mail

Any mail class (except Periodicals) with postage printed by a USPS-approved postage meter.


An area of data analysis used by direct marketers to predict future events and/or behaviors by applying inferential statistics to historical data and trends.

national change of address (NCOA)

An address correction service that the United States Postal Service (USPS) provides to mailers through USPS licensees. Mailing lists are compared against the change of address notifications, and if a match is made, NCOA corrects the address before it is used on a piece of mail.

net quantity

The number of names that remain on a mailing list after list hygiene and deduping is performed.

North American industry classification system (NAICS)

The system which provides a method for describing the industries of unique organizations. SIC codes preceded NAICS.

optical character reader (OCR)

A computerized mail processing machine that scans addresses on mail and applies the proper barcode.


The process of having various functions and/or services handled by a third party.

overs (or overruns)

The portion of a print run that exceeds the quantity specified in the purchase order.

overs (or overruns)

The portion of a print run that exceeds the quantity specified in the purchase order.

oversized rate

Parcel Post rate for pieces exceeding 108 inches but not more than 130 inches in combined length and girth.


A term used to describe all 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 term used to describe all 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 reusable platform on which mail is stacked to be moved as a single unit. Pallets are made of rigid material designed for four-way forklift entry and capable of handling loads of up to 65 cubic feet and 2,200 pounds. A USPS pallet measures 48 by 40 inches.


Mail that does not meet the mail processing category of letter-size mail or flat-size mail. It is usually enclosed in a mailing container such as a carton.


A class of mail consisting of magazines, newspapers, or other publications formed of printed sheets that are issues at least four times a year at regular, specified intervals (frequency) from a known office of publication. Periodicals usually must have a legitimate list of subscribers and requests.


Any authorization required for specific types of preparation or postage payment. Specifically, an authorization to mail without postage affixed by using indicia or an imprint. Payment is made against an advance deposit account that is established with the USPS for postage and services.

permit imprint

Printed indicia, instead of an adhesive postage stamp or meter stamp, that shows postages prepayment by an authorized mailer. Also see permit.


An individually addressed mail piece. This definition also applies when piece is used in eligibility standards. Quantities indicated for optional or required sorting always refer to pieces unless specifically excepted.

postage statement

Documentation provided by a mailer to the USPS that reports the volume of mail being presented and the postage payable or affixed, and certifies that the mail meets the applicable eligibility standards for the rate claimed.

precancelled stamp

Stamps cancelled by printing across the face before they are sold to mailers.

predictive analytics

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 data model based on inferential statistics that is used to predicts the response to a direct marketing promotion.


A free gift or offer sent to a potential customer either with the mail piece (front-end) or after the prospect has responded (back-end).


Advertising material that is printed, usually in mass quantities, in some other location, then shipped to the newspaper for insertion on a given day. Also called inserts.


The process by which a mailer prepares mail so that it is sorted to the finest extent required by the standards for the rate claimed. Generally, presort is performed sequentially, from the lowest (finest) level to the highest level, to those destinations specified by standard and is completed at each level before the next level is prepared. Not all presort levels are applicable to all mailings.

presort levels

Terms used for presort levels are defined as follows:
carrier route: all pieces for delivery on the same route, rural route, highway contract route, post office box section, or general delivery unit.
5-digit: the delivery address on all pieces includes the same 5-digit ZIP Code.
3-digit: the ZIP Code in the delivery address on all pieces begins with the same three digits.
SCF: the separation includes pieces for two or more 3-digit areas served by the same sectional center facility.
DDU: pieces sorted to and entered at the destination delivery unit.


Ranking prospects or leads according to which ones are most likely to buy.


To look at a group of customers, leads, or prospects and analyze them to see what characteristics (like industry, annual sales, number of employees, etc.) they have in common. Profiling information can be used to better direct future sales and marketing programs.


A potential customer who has not yet made a purchase.


Running marketing and sales campaigns with the goal of acquiring new customers.


Qualities defined by an individualŐs lifestyle, orientation, interests, habits, hobbies, occupation and/or socio-economic status.


To eliminate undesirable and/or duplicate names from a list.

qualified leads

Companies/consumers who responded to your sales or marketing campaigns and that you have determined (through direct contact or analysis) to be likely to buy your products and services.

response analysis

The process of analyzing response data to determine how well a direct marketing campaign actually performed.

response list

Names and addresses of individuals who have responded to direct mail offers.

response rate

The number of responses received from a mailing divided by the total quantity mailed.


A subsequent use of a rented mailing list. Mailing lists are typically rented for only a single use. Reuse of a mailing list must be requested in the original list rental agreement or through a follow-up agreement.


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

rural route (RR)

A delivery route served by a rural carrier.

sales force automation (SFA) tools

Tools that allow sales and marketing information to be shared and managed online.

saturation mailing

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.

saturation mailing

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 (SCF)

A postal facility that serves as the processing and distribution center (P&DC) for post offices in a designated geographic area as defined by the first three digits of the ZIP Codes of those offices. Some SCFs serve more than one 3-digit ZIP Code range.


A name added to a mailing list used to spot unauthorized use of the list. List seeds are also referred to as decoys.


A subset of the entire market, customer base, or other group that share similar characteristics (e.g., women, active citizens, shoppers).


The process of grouping customers based on demographics, psychographics, and/or behavior.

service bureau

A company specializing in such computer services as mail list management and merge/purge operations.

shelf life

The length of time before an item (such as a catalog) becomes obsolete.

sitma bag

A plastic bag with the address inkjetted on the white strip on the bag.


In direct mail, the arrangement of pieces in a bulk mailing by ZIP Code to facilitate processing and more reliable delivery.


The origin of the names on a mailing list.

standard industrial classification (SIC)

A coding system designed by the U.S. Department of Commerce for classifying the products and services produced by companies. Also see NAICS.

standard mail

A class of mail consisting of mailable matter that is not required to be mailed as First-Class Mail or is not mailed as Periodicals.

standard mail (A)

Standard Mail matter that weighs less than 16 ounces. It comprises the subclasses of Regular Standard Mail, Non-profit Standard Mail, Enhanced Carrier Route Standard Mail, and Nonprofit Enhanced Carrier Route Standard Mail. These subclasses include circulars, printed matter, pamphlets, catalogs, newsletters, direct mail, and merchandise. Standard Mail (A) may be sent at presorted rates and at automation rates.

standards mail (B)

Standard Mail matter that weighs 16 ounces or more but not more than 70 pounds. It comprises four subclasses: Bound Printed Matter, Library Mail, Parcel Post, and Special Standard Mail.

subscription account number (SAN)

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.


To remove one group from another, as in removing all of your current customers from a list of prospects.

target audience

The intended recipients, usually defined in terms of demographics, psychographics, or geography.

target market

The industries considered to be "prime prospects", or most likely to purchase a specific product or service.

target marketing

Marketing to groups of prospects that have the same characteristics as your target markets.

total market coverage (TMC)

A nonsubscriber product or combination of paid and free-distribution products that give the advertiser an opportunity to reach virtually 100% of the households in a market.


The maintenance of records concerning various aspects of mailing, e.g., response rate, date mailed, location of respondents, etc.

tracking code

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


The number of pieces by which a printing run is short of the quantity specified in the purchase order.

Unduplicated audience

The number of unique individuals exposed to a specified domain, page or ad in a specified period of time.

Unique visitor

A unique user who accesses the Web site within a specific time period.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator)

The unique identifying address of any particular page on the Web. It contains all the information required to locate a resource, including its protocol (usually HTTP), server domain name (or IP address), file path (directory and name) and format (usually HTML or CGI).


An individual with access to the World Wide Web.


Often used as a synonym for "impression."


A single continuous set of activities attributable to a cookied browser or user (if registration-based or a panel participant) resulting in one or more pulled text and/or graphics download from a site.


Individual or browser that accesses a Web site within a specific time period.

walk sequence

The order in which a carrier delivers mail for a route.

WAP (Wireless Application Protocol)

A specification for a set of communication protocols to standardize the way that wireless devices, such as mobile phones, PDAs and others access and browse Internet-based content.

Web site

The virtual location (domain) for an organizationŐs or individualŐs presence on the World Wide Web.


A small application designed to reside on a PC desktop or within a Web-based portal or social network site offering useful or entertaining functionality to the end user.


Any of a family of wireless LAN data standards used fairly ubiquitously for corporate and home connectivity.

XML — (eXtensible Markup Language)

A richer, more dynamic successor to HTML utilizing SGML or HTML type tags to structure information. XML is used for transferring data and creating applications on the Web.


The percentage of clicks vs. impressions on an ad within a specific page. Also called click rate.

Yield management

Yield and revenue management is the process of understanding, anticipating and influencing advertiser and consumer behavior in order to maximize profits through better selling, pricing, packaging and inventory management, while delivering value to advertisers and site users.

zone improvement plan (ZIP) Code

The system of 5-digit codes that identifies the individual post office or metropolitan area delivery station associated with an address. ZIP+4 is an enhanced code consisting of the 5-digit ZIP Code and four additional digits that indentify a specific range of delivery addresses. ZIP Code is a USPS trademark.