Direct Mail and Mailing List Glossary

BAR CODE – A coding structure printed on a mailing piece which is used by the UPS to sort mail.

BPA – Business Publishers Association, the auditing entity for commercial and business magazine circulation.

BRC – Business Reply Card. A promotion reply postcard pre-addressed to the mailer that usually requires no postage payment by the responder. An annual fee is paid by an organization for a business reply permit.

BRE – Business Reply Envelope. A promotion reply envelope, pre-addressed to the seller/original sender, for orders, payments, or inquiries. BREs usually require no postage payment by the responder.

BROKERAGE COMMISSION – A proportion usually set at 20% paid to a list broker by the list owner for rental business placed on a list.

BULK RATE MAIL – Mail prepared to USPS standards to qualify for third class discount rates namely bulk rate, fifth-digit, carrier-route presort.

CARRIER-ROUTE CODE – The alphanumeric code provided on a mailing label to identify a given carrier route.

CARRIER-ROUTE PRESORT – A subclass of third class bulk mail which qualifies for a substantial postal discount. Occupant lists typically qualify for such discounts.

CASS CERTIFICATION – Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) – A system offered 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 provides a common platform to measure the quality of address matching software and to diagnose and correct software problems.

CHESHIRE OR CHESHIRE LABEL – A mailing label that has been computer printed on a page in groups. It can then be cut by a cheshire machine into individual labels.

COMPILED LIST – An original list of individuals or establishments take from printed records. Compiling is the only methodology to obtain complete coverage of a classification.

CONSUMER LIST – A list of individuals at household addresses that may be a compiled list, a response list or a list produced as the result of the canvassing of a local area.

CONTROLLED CIRCULATION – Recipients of a magazine (free of charge), who are qualified to receive it based on their classification, lifestyle or group affiliation or because they represent a targeted group of particular interest to advertisers.

CPM – Cost per thousand, does not include preparation costs.

DATABASE – A file consisting of all inputs owned or controlled by a single company, including its customers.

DECOY – Also known as a dummy, a record unique to a database inserted as a control to flag what was mailed, at what time, and by whom.

DPV VERIFICATION – Address verification system monitored by the United States Postal Service that assists mailers in obtaining accurate delivery address information and facilitates identification of erroneous addresses contained in mailer address files.

FIRST CLASS MAIL – (USPS) A class of mail including letters, postcards and postal cards, all matter wholly or partially in writing or typewriting, and all matter sealed or otherwise closed against inspection. 15% or so of all mail with advertising is placed in the mail stream as first class mail.

FOUR LINE ADDRESS – A mailing list record including the recipient name, company, local address, city, state and zip code.

JOB FUNCTION – Descriptive title of a professional role. Primarily used in targeting individuals within a business list.

KEY CODE – Method of coding individual records in a data set. Codes are used to identify and track the response to a mailing.

LABEL – Printable material (peel-off or pressure sensitive) used to apply contact data to mail pieces.

LETTERSHOP – An organization that handles the details of printing and mailing direct mail pieces.

LIFESTYLE SELECTIVITY – Selections on mailing lists indicating what people need, buy, own, join, and support. Most often used to select individuals within a Consumer or Consumer Email prospecting list.

LIST BROKER – An individual who arranges the rental of lists to end-users on behalf of a list owner in return for a commission on the rental fee. Also known as a List Reseller.

LIST ENHANCEMENT – The transfer via overlay of data elements from one list to another.

LIST MANAGER/LIST MANAGEMENT – Institution/individual responsible for managing the promotion and rental of a controlled list such as a list of magazine subscribers.

LIST RENTAL – An arrangement in which a mailer obtains the right to mail the list owned by another on a one-time basis at an agreed upon cost per thousand names.

MERGE-PURGE – A process to combine two or more lists and at the same time identifying duplicates and eliminating unwanted records from the output.

MULTIPLE DWELLING – A housing unit for 3 or more families at the same address.

NATIONAL CHANGE OF ADDRESS PROCESSING – A service that helps reduce undeliverable-as-addressed (UAA) mail by providing mailers with current, standardized, delivery point coded addresses for individual, family, and business moves correcting input addresses prior to mailing. More info on NCOA Processing.

NET-NET NAMES – An agreement made by a list renter with a list owner to pay only for names that survive given screens including income, credit, house, list duplicates, etc.

NIXIE – Piece of mail returned as “undeliverable as addressed.”

NTH NAMES OR INTERVAL – Process of selecting only a given number of names from a larger portion by taking an equal sample of data from all parts of the greater data set.

OCCUPANT LIST– Lists compiled from households which consist of address only. Also known as a “Resident” list. More info on Occupant/Resident lists.

PAID CIRCULATION – Subscribers to a magazine who pay to receive the publication. These contact names are often rented to businesses for advertising purposes by a publication’s list manager.

PERIODICALS – (USPS) A class of mail, formerly called second-class mail, that consists of magazines, newspapers and other publications.

PRESORT – Discount extended by the USPS to those who prepare (presort) the mail for direct delivery to post offices or to carriers at post offices. Occupant lists typically qualify for such discounts.

RECORD LAYOUT – A database layout description denoting where each part of the record appears such as name, local address, city, state, zip and other relevant data.

RESPONSE RATE – A ratio of the number of people who responded to a promotional offer divided by the total number of people who received the offer.

SAMPLE MAILING PIECE – A sample of a mail piece typically presented to a list owner/manager for review.

SIC – Standard Industrial Classification, a system used to provide a category for every type of business, institution and office of a professional. Major categories include:

  • Agriculture (01-09)
  • Mining (10-14)
  • Construction (15-17)
  • Manufacturing (20-39)
  • Transportation (40-49)
  • Wholesale/Distributors (50-51)
  • Retail (52-59)
  • Finance, Insurance & Real Estate (60-67)
  • Services (70-89)
  • Public Admin (91-97)

SCF – An acronym for “Sectional Center Facility.” The SCF is first three digits of a zip code. (SCF for 79924 would be 799). An SCF identifies a larger area than would be possible with a single zip code.

STANDARD MAIL – (USPS) Bulk advertising mail formerly known as third-class mail. Standard mail is more affordable than first and second class mail (periodicals).

ZIP + 4 CODE – Designation by the USPS for the nine-digit zip coding structure.