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Business Lists Glossary

Here is a collection of definitions of terms used in direct marketing, particularly in the field B2B Marketing.


Acquisition Cost: the dollar cost for bringing on a new customer.

Acquisition mailing: a package mailed to acquire new customers, members or donors.

Active Subscribers: persons who are currently under contract to receive regular delivery of publications, products or services for an agreed upon period of time.

Addressing: delivery format options when purchasing a mailing list. Typical addressing options include email, magnetic tape, printed Cheshire labels, and FTP.

Address accuracy: the correct number of contacts and contact information or the percentage of correct matches compared to a national database.

Advertising: any paid communications including internet, print, television, radio, or outdoor messaging.

All Available: When a broker or mailer requests the all available quantity, they are asking to purchase all of the contacts on the mailing list for the specified selection criteria.

Analytics: analyzing data for decision making.  Data-driven decisions based on Analytics helps with the ongoing successful evolution of the initiative being analyzed.  This is critical to optimize your spend with direct and interactive marketing organizations.  There are all types of analytics.  Many are free such as Google Analytics, and there are many paid analytics software as well.  You can track impressions, page views, clicks, conversions, phone calls, emails and other conversions.  Mobile analytics and online video analytics are additional resources that should be analyzed.

Attrition Rate: the number or percentage of customers who stop purchasing the products or services.

Authentication: the process of an online visitor to enter a user ID and password in order to access resources.  Sometimes there are double verification methods put in place to confirm authenticity and opt-in accuracy.


Balance Count: the number of contacts available from a list segment or universe after omitting prior usage.

Banner Advertisement: a displayed advertisement on a web page.

Bar-Coding: the process of formatting addresses on the envelope (or other packaging) as a bar code which allows postal machines (or bar code readers) to read the address efficiently.

Base Rate: the starting price to order names and addresses from a mailing list. If the base rate for a list is $100/M, then the cost to order 3,000 names would be $300. This does not include additional list selections such as email addresses, phone numbers, etc.

Brand: an identity that distinguishes a company, product, or service from others.

Bulk Mail: a category of Third Class Mail for a large quantity of same size pieces – processed for mailing before delivery to the post office.

Bulk Postage Rate: a reduced postage rate to mailers who are fine with less than first class delivery speed.  Bulk rate privileges require special processing by the mailer – postal code sorting, banding, etc.

Business Reply Card (BRC): a card in a mailing that simplifies reader response.  One side contains a response form that the donor completes, the other side features pre-paid postage and the return address.

Business Reply Envelope (BRE): a self-addressed envelope that the postage is paid for by the organization that prints it.

Business to Business (B2B): marketing, or any efforts, that only include one business to another business.  (Direct to consumer is not B2B).

Business to consumer (B2C): marketing, or any efforts, directed from a business to a consumer.


Call Center: an inbound telephone or telemarketing support group.

Call to Action: content or copy that is written to get the reader to take an action such as click a button, fill out a form, make a phone call, send an email and so on.

Campaign Management: the designing, executing, tracking/analysis and based on the data ongoing evolution of the initiative… such as direct marketing campaigns.

Cancellation Fee: a charge to the buyer of a mailing list or any item/service when an order is cancelled. For mailing lists, if the order has been run by the service bureau, then run charges might also be applied.

Carrier Route / Walk Presort: mail that identifies the carrier walk number for mail delivery by CPC.  Mailers can get a discount rate if they sort down to carrier walk.

Cartridge: an addressable material for mailing lists.

Catalogue: a multi-page product pamphlet or book that includes an order form.

Cheshire Labels: are mailing labels that have been printed on a page and cut by a Cheshire machine into individual labels.

Circulation: the total number of copies distributed of a print publication.

Clearance: a document 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: when an internet user clicks a paid search ad to drive up the cost to the advertiser.  This is sometimes done by unethical competitors or by unethical owners of websites that are sponsors of paid search (they receive a commission every time a paid ad is clicked on their website).

CTR (click-through rate): a number calculated by taking the number of times an advertisement is clicked (numerator) divided by the number of times that same banner advertisement is viewed (denominator).  Click through rates on Google’s AdWords sometimes influences rankings.  Click through rates in natural organic results on Google sometimes influence SEO indexing/ranking.

Co-operative (co-op) Database: a prospecting database that is sourced from many different sources and/or mailing lists.  Lists are sometimes combined, de-duplicated, and enhanced to create a database to be used for select prospects.

Co-operative (co-op) Mailing: a mailing that includes offers from more than one mailer. This is often done via package insert programs and card decks.

CASS (coding accuracy support system): a certification available from the United States Postal Service (USPS).  To receive CASS certification from the USPS a mailer is required to prove the accuracy of its addressing.

Compiled List: a list that has been created from multiple sources.  Sources may include public records, online registrations and surveys, direct response, directories, phone books, or court records.  Many compiled lists are appended with demographic, psycho-graphic, behavioral, and/or attitudinal data.

Continuation: a new order from a mailer for the same list within the past 12 months. A continuation order is an indication that the prior use of this list was successful.

Continuity Program: 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 discounted merchandise for the first several purchases in order to generate profitable business from the program commitment.

Controlled Circulation: the number of paid subscribers to a publication.

Control Package: the baseline test for direct mail packages for measuring the performance of test packages with different offers, content, or formats.

CAN-SPAM (controlling assault of non-solicited pornography and marketing): 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.  All emails must be CAN-SPAM compliant.  For more information about CAN-SPAM compliance and other email marketing tips visit: https://internetconsultinginc.com/email-marketing/#email-marketing

Conversion Rate: the ratio of actions converted to buyers. This ratio is used to track two-step programs, such as trial offers or lead generation with the percentage of responses converted to customer status.

Copy Testing: The use of two, or more, messages mailed to selected individuals in the same audience.  Utilizing different coding on response forms, can determine which message drew the larger percentage of requests or orders.

Cost per Click (CPC): the monetary cost or average cost-equivalent that is paid for click-through advertisements.

Cost per Inquiry (CPI):  the arithmetical formula derived by dividing the total cost of a mailing or an advertisement by the number of inquiries received.

Cost per Order (CPO): the price for each purchase.  Similar to Cost Per Inquiry but for orders instead of inquiries.

Cost per Piece (CPP): the total cost to produce each individual mail piece divided by the total quantity mailed.  This includes all agency, data, production and back-end processing costs.

Cost per Thousand (CPM): a common way to compare costs. The entire promotional cost of a mailing package is divided by one thousand. May include all operations to get packages into the mail stream: production; rental of outside mailing lists; postage costs; and fulfillment.

Count: the number of names on a mailing list that meets the selection criteria for the target market. The calculation of the count is performed by the mailing list owner’s service bureau.

Counts through Date: 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.

Coupon: a promotional piece intended to be filled in by the inquirer or customer and returned to the advertiser.

Creative: all elements of a direct mail package, including copy, font style, images, colors, etc.

Criteria: something that distinguishes one list from another, one segment from another, one selection from another by looking at the attributes of each customer.

Cross – Section: statistical selection of a representative sample.

Customer Acquisition: obtaining new customers. Customer acquisition also includes the process of converting existing prospects into new customers. Knowing customer acquisition costs is important to evaluate the return on investment (ROI) for sales, marketing and other initiatives.

Customer Base: individuals and companies that are your primary market. In other applications, the phrase is used to identify those who have purchased from you on at least one occasion.

Customer Loyalty Programs: incentives that encourage customers to stay on-board and purchase more of your products and/or services.

Customer Profile: a statistical picture of the typical buyer of your product as drawn from purchasing records and other market research sources. Includes demographic and psycho-graphic descriptions, containing data such as customer’s size, location, type of industry, dollar amount of orders, buying habits, etc.

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


Database: a collection of information and tables which usually includes forms for entering data, rules for checking and validating data that which has been entered, and the format for creating informative reports.

Data Card: information/description from brokers or list owners of a specific mailing list – source, type of buyers, titles (if applicable), recency of list, prices, selection options, etc.

Database Marketing: 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.  Personalizing messaging increases conversions.

Data Processing: Actions taken on data files such as sorting, file formatting, generating salutations, suppression, de-duplication etc.

Data Record: An individual entry within a computer file containing – in mailing terms – the name and address plus demographic data of the person named within the record. A group of data records makes a database.

Decile: one tenth of a mailing, commonly divided by percentage of response.

Demographics: Socioeconomic characteristics pertaining to a geographic unit (city, postal codes, group of households, education, ethnicity, income level, etc.)

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

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

Direct Mail: is the delivery of advertising material to recipients of postal mail.

DMS (direct mail sold): 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 strives to generate profitable business results by using targeted communications to engage specific audiences through a combination of relevant messaging and offers that can be tracked, measured, analyzed, stored and leveraged to drive future marketing initiatives.

Direct response advertising: advertising, through any medium (such as email, postal mail, TV, print) designed to generate a response by any means that is measurable.

DTP (direct to publisher): a group 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: 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.

Drop rate: the calendar date, generally determined at time of scheduling the campaign, when the direct mail package is due for delivery to CPC.

Dupes (de-dupe): removing identical names and addresses on the same mailing list. To achieve cost efficiencies, and eliminate spamming the recipients, removing duplicate names (de-dupe) must be performed.

Duplication elimination: a database cleansing process that eliminates multiple times a name is on a list, so it will be accepted for mailing only once by that mailer. Also referred to a “dupe elimination”.


Email List: a compilation of e-mail addresses used for the distribution of information to multiple Internet users.  All email lists should be validated and all emails sent must be CAN-SPAM compliant or you risk being labeled a spammer.

Enhanced List: a mailing list that has been appended with additional demographic, psycho-graphic, behavioral, or attitudinal data.

Entry Page: the page where a visitor enters a web site.

Exchange: 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.

Exit Page: the page where a visitor leaves a web site.

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

Exchange: a transaction where two mailers exchange equal quantities of mailing list names.


File: a structured collection of customer records.

Focus group: a research approach which gathers a group of present or prospective buyers and through presentations and questioning, by a moderator, seeks opinions on products, services, ad campaigns, offers, etc. Those selected for the focus group should have a profile similar (if not identical to) the intended target audience.

Format: the actual structure of the mailing piece.

FSA (forward sortation area): a three character code indicating a distribution area. It is the first three characters of the postal code. In urban areas, it describes an area roughly the size of 25 letter carrier routes.

Frequency: how often a customer has purchased or responded in a given time period. It also may describe the number of times a promotion piece is mailed to the same target.

Fulfillment: the process which involves taking care of the details when a person takes a conversion action – either by providing additional information, shipping or billing products ordered.


Geo-coding: the process of assigning geographic information, such as latitude and longitude, to street addresses and other map locations.


Hotline: no names over three months, the most recent names, on a specific list.

House List: an internal directory of your own buyers or prospects. This list may include current and former (but now inactive) buyers/purchasers.


Inquirer: an individual who has requested information about a product or service, but has not yet placed an order.

Insert: 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 a store you purchased from in addition to the items you order. Another example are the “statement stuffers” that you receive along with your billing statements.

Inter-file Dupe: a duplicate name and address found on multiple mailing lists.

Interactive Media: integration of digital media into a structured digital environment that allows people to interact with the data.

Internet Buyer: an individual who ordered items through the internet.

Invalid Record: a customer record which does not conform to the list owner’s editing rules or does not meet the list user’s specifications.


Key Code: a code made up of numbers and letters that uniquely identifies the source of that name so results can be tracked, measured, and attributed to the mailing list.  Key codes enable you to make better marketing decisions based on those results. When orders arrive, it is important to capture the key code information at the time of purchase.  Where that is not possible, a process called “match back” or “implied response attribution” can be used to match unattributed sales to the promotional efforts that caused them.

Kill File: deleting customer records from a file.   This is done due to expiration, inactivity, change in demographic status and so forth.


Landing Page: the website page where a visitor arrives at after clicking on an internet initiative such as a paid banner advertisement, paid search URL, or organic search URL.

Last Update Date: when the names and addresses on a mailing list were last updated by the list owner’s service bureau.

Lead: a prospect who has provided their contact information and is currently engaged in the buying process.

Lead Conversion Rate: the percentage of leads that become customers.

Lead Generation: the process of finding quality prospects that have interest  in a product or service.

Lead Tracking:  the process of identifying which leads resulted in interest for  a product or service.

Lettershop:  a company that addresses and mails out direct mail pieces.

List: names and addresses of individuals and/or companies grouped by specific characteristics or activity.

List Broker: a specialist who helps marketers to select mailing lists and coordinates the purchase of mailing lists. List brokers usually 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 can increase your ROI and typically doesn’t cost more than buying directly because they are paid a commission by the list owner.

List Brokerage: the process of selecting and purchasing mailing lists and other sources of names for customer acquisition.

List Fulfillment: the service provided by the list owner’s service bureau to supply orders for mailing lists.

List Hygiene: the process of updating a mailing list to remove unwanted names, undeliverable addresses, or individuals who have asked not to receive marketing offers.

List Maintenance: the process of updating a mailing list with current names and addresses.

List Management: the process of marketing mailing lists. Tasks include publishing data cards and maximizing sales through promotional efforts. It also includes processing orders, coordinating approvals with the list owner, and coordinating fulfillment with the list owner’s service bureau.

List Manager: a company or individual who acts as an agent of the list owner in selling their mailing lists. Mailing lists are typically managed by only one list manager in an exclusive arrangement with the list owner.

List Owner: the company that owns a mailing list. The list owner will often employ a list manager to help them manage and sell their list. The list owner may also employ a service bureau to handle count requests and list order fulfillment tasks.

List Rental: is the purchase of a mailing list for a one-time use.

List Research: the process a list broker uses to search for one or more mailing lists to be used as part of a direct marketing campaign.

List Title: the name assigned to a mailing list on a data card. An example of a list title is “US Small Business Professionals”.


Mail Date: the date when the mail piece is mailed to the prospects on the mailing list(s).

Mail House: an outside vendor providing a variety of mailing services such as addressing, labeling, collating, assembling, sorting, mailing, etc.

MOB (mail order buyer): an individual who has previously ordered items in response to promotions send by mail, telephone or email.

Mail Server: a dedicated server that is used to deliver or send e-mail.

Mailer: a company that uses direct mail to send out direct marketing pieces. The term can be also used to refer to a marketer use emails in their direct marketing.

Mailer Service Bureau: a service bureau that is responsible for coordinating the integration of all of the lists being used in a direct marketing campaign. A service bureau is typically responsible for address correction, merge/purge, applying data models, and otherwise enhancing the data.

Mailing List: a databases of names and addresses used by a company to send marketing material to as part of a direct marketing campaign.

Market: the target audience for a direct marketing campaign. The market is usually defined as business, consumer or government. The market can be further defined through more specific segmentation.

Market Research: collecting, recording, and analysis of data about opportunities relating to the marketing of products and services.

Marketing Mix: the mix of product, price, promotion, and distribution in a marketing plan.

Mass Marketing: selling to everyone through mass media channels vs more targeted channels like direct marketing.

Mass Media: marketing channels such as television, radio, or newspaper that market to large audiences instead of marketing directly to individuals or businesses.

Median: an measurement 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 ages: 19, 25, 36, 65, 66, 68, 70.

Merge / Purge: the processing of two or more lists merging into one. At the same time, the “purge” process removes any duplicate names.

Minimum Order Fee: 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.

Modeling: data analysis used by direct marketers to predict future events and/or behavior by applying statistics to historical data and trends.

Monetary Value: the average price paid by prospects on a mailing list for a product or service. Can also refer to the average donation made prospects on a mailing list to a fundraising organization.

Multi-buyer: is a prospect who has ordered more than once. Multi-buyers can also referred to as repeat buyers.

Multi-channel Marketing: a marketing method which uses a combination of  direct mail, telemarketing, email marketing, radio or television commercials, etc.

Multiple Dwelling: a housing unit used when three or more families live at the same address. For proper delivery it is necessary to include the apartment or suite number in the address. Multi-dwelling units can be included or omitted from mailing lists.


NCOA (national change of address): 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:  an agreement, when ordering or prior to ordering, whereby the list owner agrees to accept adjusted payment for less than the total names shipped to the list user. Such arrangements can be for a percentage of names shipped or names actually mailed (whichever is greater) or for only those names actually mailed (without a percentage limitation).

Net Quantity: 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.

Next Update Date:  the date 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.

Nixie: The return, by post office, of a mailing piece which proves undeliverable because of inaccurate name or address.  Most mailers process such returns against records to eliminate invalid or inactive names.

Non-name addressing:  when business mailings are directed to a title or function (Controller, Personnel Director) rather than a specific name.

NAICS (north american industry classification system):  the classification system that provides a method for organizing industries of unique organizations. SIC codes preceded the NAICS.

Nth name: a method of testing the pulling power of a list by asking the list source to provide a representative sampling. This could be every 10th name, every 20th name or whatever mathematical selection will provide a valid representation.


Occupant Addressing: use of the word “Occupant” in place of a specific name. This is used primarily for consumer-oriented mailings to residential addresses. It may also be used in addition to the customer name if it is likely the customer has moved and the mailing is not targeted to an individual.

Offer: the detailed products or services being presented to the reader and encompassing price and supporting content.

One-Time Usage: on a standard list rental, it is agreed that the mailer will use supplied names only one time. If additional mailings to the same audience are planned, extra payments are required.

Opt-in: 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 action by checking a box or subscribing or some other conversion action. Otherwise, they are not considered an opt-in.

Opt-out: a method that enables individuals to elect to avoid receiving communications such as promotional materials from specified sources.

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

Overlays: the authorized use of a list to add information and data, through match identification, by tagging to another list. The transfer can be demographics, a telephone number, email address, a job function, even psycho-graphic data on buying habits.

Owner Service Bureau: 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.


Package: 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.

PIP (package insert program): 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.

Personalization: including personal information, such as a first or last name, in a direct marketing campaign.  Campaigns that personalize the content to the person or business usually have a significantly higher conversion rate than generic campaigns.

Postal Code: a group of six characters used by Canada Post Corporation for the purpose of sorting mail.

Predictive Model: a data model, based on inferential statistics, that is used to predict the response to a direct marketing promotion.

Pressure sensitive label: A label that can be removed from its backing and re-affixed to another surface, such as an order form.

Private Database: a compilation of names from external sources that is used for a specific mailer’s exclusive prospecting purposes.

Projection: An estimate of expected returns from a particular mailing campaign or a determination of total returns developed from responses during the early days or weeks of offering.

Promotion Cost: amount of money spent by a direct marketer to reach a prospect or prospects through advertising.

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

Prospecting: mailing to get leads for further sales contact rather than to make direct sales.

Prospect universe: The total market of potential customers. The “universe” is developed through determination of buyer profiles, evaluation of prior mailing results or through other marketing studies.

Psychographics: any characteristics or qualities used to denote the life style(s) or attitude(s) of customers or prospective customers.

Purge: the process of eliminating duplicates and/or unwanted names and addresses from one or more lists.


Qualified leads: names and addresses of individuals who have taken a conversion action that indicates genuine interest in a type of offer.

Query:  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.


Recency: the latest purchase or other activity recorded for an individual or business on a mailing list.

RFM (recency-frequency-monetary value ration): a formula used to evaluate the sales potential of prospects on a mailing list.

Record: a unit within a database – customer name and address would be one record within a database.

Record layout: a field by field description of the data contained in a record, usually describing each field’s length, position, name, and data format .

Referring Page: the URL of the previous web page a visitor came to your web site from.

Relationship Marketing: building a relationship with existing customers to promote customer loyalty. The primary objective of relationship marketing is to increase the lifetime value of a customer.

RFQ (request for quotation): a standard business practice where suppliers are invited bid on specific products or services.

Respondent: a prospect who responded to an offer, survey, or advertisement, regardless of whether or not they made a purchase.

Response Analysis: the analysis of response data to determine how well a direct marketing campaign performed.

Response List: a mailing list of prospect who have previously responded to direct mail offers.

Response rate: the percentage of sales or inquiries vs. the number of mail pieces sent, or phones call made, or emails sent.

Retention Rate: the percentage of customers who continue to purchase after the initial direct marketing campaign ends.

Retest: a second use of a mailing list to determine how well the list performs. A retest is performed when the first test is inconclusive.

Return Date: the date when the mailing list is supposed to arrive at the mail house.

Return envelopes: addressed reply envelopes, either stamped or unstamped – as distinguished from business reply envelopes (BRE) which carry a postage payment guarantee – included with a mailing.

ROI (return on investment): a basic formula that measures how the investment made on a marketing campaign generated a profit. The higher the ROI, the better.

Reuse: a second use of a mailing list. Mailing lists are usually sold for single use only. However, its possible to request reuse of a mailing list.

Roll out: the launching of a direct mail campaign after completing printing, target research, list acquisition and testing.

Run Charge: a fee charged to process a mailing list. The run charge may be expressed as an “/M” (per thousand) or as a flat rate “/F.”


Sample Mail Piece: a sample of the mailing piece that is planned to be mailed out. The sample is one of the factors the list owner may consider before granting list rental approval.

Saturation Mailing: mailing to 90% of residential addresses, or 75% of the combination of residential and business addresses in a specific geographic area or carrier route.

SCF (sectional center facility): a processing and distribution center used by the USPS that serves the geographical area defined by a three-digit ZIP Code prefix.

Seed List: the addition of names to a mailing list before it is released for use. These additional names are used to monitor how and when the list has been used. This practice allows list owners to safeguard against unauthorized use. The procedure is also known as “seeding” the list.

Segmenting: division of a mailing list by specific criteria such as city, state, zip code, company size, titles, etc.

Select: an characteristic that can be used to filter a mailing list. Selects can combined together to form the selection criteria that meets the needs of the mailer. For example, you might want to get a mailing list of married females in New York with an age range of 25 to 55.

Selection Criteria: definition of characteristics that identify segments within a list.

Selection Cap: a maximum charge to the mailer that would cover all selections costs for a mailing list.

Selection Charge: the additional charge paid by the mailer for list selections. For example, the selection charge for selecting gender might be $15/M in addition to the base rate.

Self-mailer: a mail piece designed so that it can be addressed and mailed without an envelope.

Service Bureau: a company that provides services related to handling of mailing lists. The service bureau will work for either the list owner or the  mailer. The list owner’s service bureau is responsible for answering count requests and for fulfilling list orders. The mailer’s service bureau is responsible for coordinating the integration of all of the lists being used in the direct mail campaign.

SOHO (small office home office): a home office or small business with less than ten employees.

Solo-mailing: a one-time mailing (also called stand-alone mailing).

Source: where the names on a mailing list come from. It’s important to understand the source of a list because it is a good gauge of its receptiveness. There is a big difference between mailing lists sourced from purchasing behaviors and mailing lists that are compiled.

Source codes: Internally developed codes printed on response forms that indicate the sources of promotion material. Used to measure the  effectiveness of different marketing messages.

Spam: unsolicited e-mail.

Split test: two or more samples from the same list used for testing different mail pieces, offers, mail dates or any other part of the mailing. Usually an A/B split.

Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Code: SIC Codes are numerical codes created to identify companies that produce similar products or services.

SAN (subscription account number): the identification number for an annual subscription to the National Do Not Call Registry.

Subscriber List: the current list of subscribers of a publication – newspaper, magazine, trade journal, etc.

Suppression: where specific criteria is provided to eliminate duplicate or unwanted records from a list.


Target market: the ideal audience for a mailing effort.  Audiences may be demographic or have other buying or specifying attributes.

Telemarketing: 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.

Test: 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: 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.

Tracking Code: 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.


Undeliverable: a mailing piece returned to the mailer as undeliverable for reason of incorrect name or address.

URL(uniform resource locator): an address on the Internet that enables computers and individuals to access a website or specific web page. Also known as the “domain name” or “web site address”.

Unique Visitors: the number of unique individuals who visit a web site.

Unit of Sale: 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.

Universe: total number of individuals that might be included on a mailing list; all of those fitting a single set of specifications.

Update: the process of updating a mailing list with current customer information. Mailing list updates occur at the owner service bureau.

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


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

White Mail: mail that comes in from customers. It can include complaints, commendations, names of friends, orders, checks, even cash. A very important part of every direct-mail operation.


Zip Code: a group of five digits with an extended ‘ZIP+4’ code used by United States Postal Service for the purpose of sorting mail.

Zip count: Number of names in a given mailing list for each Zip Code.

Popular Industries


Matching NAICS Codes

  • 541110 - Offices of Lawyers
  • 541191 - Title Abstract and Settlement Offices
  • 541199 - All Other Legal Services
  • 922110 - Courts

Matching SIC Codes

  • 8111 - Legal Services
  • 9211 - Courts


Matching NAICS Codes

  • 621111 - Offices of Physicians (except Mental Health Specialists)
  • 621112 - Offices of Physicians, Mental Health Specialists
  • 621210 - Offices of Dentists
  • 621320 - Offices of Optometrists
  • 621310 - Offices of Chiropractors
  • 621391 - Offices of Podiatrists
  • 621330 - Offices of Mental Health Practitioners (except Physicians)

Matching SIC Codes

  • 8011 - Offices and Clinics of Doctors of Medicine
  • 8031 - Offices and Clinics of Doctors of Osteopathy
  • 8042 - Offices and Clinics of Optometrists
  • 8082 - Home Health Care Services


Matching NAICS Codes

  • 811211 - Consumer Electronics Repair and Maintenance
  • 532210 - Consumer Electronics and Appliances Rental
  • 443142 - Electronics Stores
  • 334413 - Semiconductor and Related Device Manufacturing
  • 541512 - Computer Systems Design Services
  • 423620 - Household Appliances, Electric Housewares, and Consumer Electronics Merchant Wholesalers
  • 423930 - Recyclable Material Merchant Wholesalers
  • 811219 - Other Electronic and Precision Equipment Repair and Maintenance
  • 334310 - Audio and Video Equipment Manufacturing
  • 334418 - Printed Circuit Assembly (Electronic Assembly) Manufacturing

Matching SIC Codes

  • 5731 - Radio, Television, and Consumer Electronics Stores
  • 3674 - Semiconductors and Related Devices
  • 7373 - Computer Integrated Systems Design
  • 3651 - Household Audio and Video Equipment
  • 7372 - Prepackaged Software
  • 555127 - Marine Electronics
  • 824910 - Schools-electronics
  • 504731 - Medical Electronics (wholesale)
  • 737902 - Electronics-consultants
  • 382506 - Precision Electronics Fabrication (mfrs)
  • 366303 - Marine Electronics Mfrs
  • 509340 - Recycling-electronics Wholesale


Matching NAICS Codes

  • 541613 - Marketing Consulting Services
  • 541910 - Marketing Research and Public Opinion Polling
  • 926140 - Regulation of Agricultural Marketing and Commodities
  • 522294 - Secondary Market Financing
  • 541611 - Administrative Management and General Management Consulting Services
  • 541618 - Other Management Consulting Services
  • 541990 - All Other Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services
  • 115310 - Support Activities for Forestry
  • 511130 - Book Publishers
  • 541810 - Advertising Agencies

Matching SIC Codes

  • 8742 - Management Consulting Services
  • 8732 - Commercial Economic, Sociological, and Educational Research
  • 9641 - Regulation of Agricultural Marketing and Commodities
  • 873203 - Product Development & Marketing
  • 874210 - Travel Marketing
  • 874213 - Marketing Programs & Services
  • 874214 - Marketing Consultants
  • 874247 - International Marketing
  • 874248 - Multi-level Marketing
  • 811118 - Legal Marketing
  • 874818 - Agricultural Marketing


Matching NAICS Codes

  • 522291 - Consumer Lending
  • 522220 - Sales Financing
  • 523930 - Investment Advice
  • 921130 - Public Finance Activities

Matching SIC Codes

  • 6159 - Miscellaneous Business Credit Institutions
  • 6141 - Personal Credit Institutions
  • 9531 - Administration of Housing Programs
  • 7515 - Passenger Car Leasing
  • 8742 - Management Consulting Services
  • 6061 - Credit Unions, Federally Chartered
  • 6062 - Credit Unions, Not Federally Chartered
  • 6081 - Branches and Agencies of Foreign Banks
  • 7352 - Medical Equipment Rental and Leasing
  • 7353 - Heavy Construction Equipment Rental and Leasing
  • 931101 - Federal Government-finance & Taxation
  • 931102 - State Government-finance & Taxation
  • 931103 - County Government-finance & Taxation
  • 931104 - City Government-finance & Taxation
  • 608201 - Export Finance