J&C Blog

Find all the latest marketing trends on the J&C Blog.

The Direct Marketing Dictionary, Part 1

Posted by Randy Mitchell on September 25, 2014

You can tell a great deal about a person’s occupation by glancing at their resource shelf.

My essential resources include the Associated Press Stylebook, The Chicago Manual of Style, several reference books on content strategy, the classic Webster’s Dictionary, the Synonym Finder and Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations.

That list tells you my title is “word nerd,” or something along those lines.

But there is one resource that’s sadly absent from any resource shelf. We need a Direct Marketing Dictionary.

Direct marketing is a profession that’s defined by its own language. At direct marketing agencies, our terminology is unique, colorful and sometimes a little confusing to the outside world.

So to help bring a little clarity to our distinct vocabulary, here is Part 1 of our Direct Marketing Dictionary.

Test cell
An individual test within a direct marketing program. These programs typically have cells that test different variables such as a creative element, the list or the offer.

Example: “The email test cell that performed the best had a button near the headline.”
Fast Fact: Some direct response promotions have literally hundreds of test cells depending on the size of the list involved.
DM Insight: Every direct marketing communication should include a test cell of some sort to try and improve response or conversion rates.

Business Reply Envelope (BRE)
These envelopes are pre-addressed and have pre-paid postage from the marketer. They are often included with direct mail letters.

Example: “The BRE is included for the mail-back response form.”
Fast Fact: BREs are subject to strict standards in regards to format, markings and addressing. The postal service can provide templates that meet all the standards.
DM Insight: Including a BRE in mailings makes it easier for customers to respond. They also help put customers in the mindset of response, which can increase response rates.

The improvement in response from a communication due to any testing.

Example: “By purging previous non-responders from the email list, the marketer got the lift the campaign needed to meet objectives.”
Fast Fact: To measure the lift, divide the response from a segment by the overall response, subtract 1 and multiply by 100.
DM Insight: Targeting techniques such as segmentation not only increase lift, they can also boost efficiency, eliminate waste, and ensure optimal spending.

Short Message Service (SMS)
SMS is more commonly referred to as mobile phone text messaging.

Example: “A direct marketing agency in Chicago used SMS to alert its retail client’s customers to in-store sales.”
Fast Fact: A staggering 99% of text messages are eventually read. 1 This rate is significant when compared to the percentage of emails or direct mail that is read. In fact, 85% of people responded positively when receiving SMS messages.
DM Insight: SMS, or text messages, can be a flexible, cost-effective component of an integrated marketing campaign. They’re ideal for short messages, offers and lead generation.

Click-Through Rate
The percentage of people who click on a link within an email or SMS to view more information or make a purchase.

Example: “Successful digital lead generation programs typically have a high click-through rate.”
Fast Fact: According to Outbound Engine, consumers who receive email marketing spend more when shopping, their orders are 44% larger and they order 28% more often.
DM Insight: To boost the click-through rate in emails, make sure you have multiple response links. Also, be sure a link is included in the text before the header image, within the body copy, and as buttons that are visible without scrolling down to the bottom of the email.

An abbreviation for postscript, the PS is the final line of text in direct mail letters. It usually appears after the signature.

Example: “One of the top direct mail techniques is to restate the offer in the PS.”
Fast Fact: Traditionally, the PS is the most read area in a letter. In fact, 80% of readers look at the PS.
DM Insight: Even people who just skim a letter will read the PS. That is why it’s so important to make the PS work as hard as possible. For example, use it to restate the offer and expiration date. That way, the reader knows the benefit and how quickly they have to act.Register now to get your personalized one-on-one session.

As you can see, direct marketing truly has redefined our vocabulary. But that’s just the start. We’ll have more definitions in Part 2 of the Direct Marketing Dictionary. In the meantime, if you’d like proven ideas for improving your direct mail response rates from a top direct marketing agency in Chicago, sign up for J&C’s assessment: Multichannel direct marketing.


1. Tatango
2. PapiMedia, “11 Types of Mobile Marketing”

Topics: Direct Marketing

Recent Posts