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The Direct Marketing Dictionary, Part 2

Posted by Randy Mitchell on September 30, 2014

In Part 1 of the Direct Marketing Dictionary, we explored the hidden meanings behind some unique marketing terms, including “test cell” and “lift.”

Now let’s dive a little deeper. In Part 2, we’ll continue our dictionary, explore some terminology and uncover the hidden meanings of terms that are important to marketers and direct marketing agencies. In the process, we’ll also explore some top direct mail techniques and learn how they helped shape our vocabulary.



The size, margins and printing specifications for mailers or publications.

Example: “The campaign called for a breakthrough format, so we used a dimensional mailing.”

Fast Fact: A #10 direct mail package describes one common format. This size can easily accommodate folded 8 ½” x 11” sheets of paper.

DM Insight: The format of your direct mail communication should be driven by the goals you want to achieve, the story you need to tell and your budget. For example, you’ll need lots of real estate to engage readers and educate them about a complex product or service. An information-rich direct mail package with a brochure and a drive online to learn more might be appropriate in this instance. Providing your target with the information they need to make an educated choice is a top direct mail technique.


Raise your hand if you immediately thought of “Star Wars”. Well, young Jedi, this laser actually describes a type of printing that allows for unlimited personalization. And if you use highly relevant personalization, it’s one of the top direct mail techniques and a pretty powerful force.

Example: “Direct marketing agencies often use laser-printed letters within direct mail packages to tailor copy to the many various segments.”

Fast Fact: Much of the toner used in laser printing is actually composed of minuscule plastic spheres rather than ink.

DM Insight: Personalizing copy to various target audiences via laser or digital printing is one of the top direct mail techniques. In fact, a recent study indicated that 2 out of 3 consumers preferred personalized communications to mass, non-customized communications.1 More specifically, laser printing the recipient’s account number on the response device helped drive enrollments and renewals across a number of industries.


Direct Mail Best PracticesPreheader Text
A brief line of text that appears at the top of an email. The preheader text is one of the first elements your target sees when they look at your emails.

Example: “Many marketers focus on the subject line but neglect the preheader text.”

Fast Fact: In many browsers, the preheader text follows the subject line when an email is in preview, so your target sees it before they open your email.

DM Insight: The preheader text gives you another opportunity to get people to open your email. So use it in conjunction with the subject line. Working together, they can give your target a powerful and personalized reason to open and read more.


The successful direct mail package or email that is being used as a base when testing new variants.

Example: “In order to beat the control, you’ll need to use multiple calls to action, a response device and other top direct mail techniques.”

Fast Fact: When testing against a control, it’s important to test a clearly defined variable. Otherwise, you won’t know precisely which element in the test caused the rise in response or conversion.

DM Insight: One of the big advantages of direct mail is that the medium is highly measureable. So make sure to test at least one variable in the control every time a communication is sent out. It’s one of the top direct mail techniques, and it’s how successful direct mail packages are developed and continually improved.


Responsive Design
A type of web design that adjusts to the user’s device. This makes it easy to read and navigate on mobile phones, tablets and desktop computers.

Example: “The website’s responsive design made it easy for customers to order, either at home or on the go.”

Fast Fact: Research indicates that almost half of mobile users feel frustrated and annoyed when they visit a site that isn’t mobile-friendly.2 In fact, 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.3

DM Insight: Mobile has become the primary screen for the majority of consumers. People like to be able to control how, when and where they read and manage information. That makes it imperative to design your communications so customers have a positive online experience no matter which device they use.



1. Jacobs & Clevenger Retail Communication Preference study
2. Think with Google
3. Kissmetrics

Topics: Direct Marketing

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