A glossary of terms commonly used in direct marketing.


Acquisition Cost

In direct marketing, commonly refers to the cost associated with acquiring an additional customer. Also known as Customer Acquisition Cost or CAC.

Unaddressed advertising mail service with a reach of 1.2 million households in Singapore.

A.M. Mail
Postage-paid time-certain local delivery service.  A.M. Mail envelopes dropped into any posting box during regular mail collection hours will be delivered to recipients no later than 11am the next working day.

Above the line.  Refers to marketing or advertising done using mass media like television, radio or newspapers. In contrast with BTL, or below the line advertising.

Augmented reality. A live view of a physical, real-world environment that is supplemented (and for the most part, enhanced) by digital information.  AR can be applied to physical mail to enrich the user experience  and create new engagement opportunities.


Business-to-business. Relating to transactions between businesses rather than between businesses and consumers (B2C).

An advertisement outsert that wraps around a publication and has to be removed in order for the publication to be read.

Business Reply Service. A paid reply envelope service that makes it convenient for respondents to reply to direct mail, surveys, billings and contests, thus helping to improve response rates. Postage is only charged upon response, and the service is available for both local and overseas mail.

Below the line. Refers to marketing or advertising which is not done using mass media. Examples of BTL activities include sending direct mail, sampling exercises, and the distribution of brochures.

Bulk Mail
A cost-effective way to send large quantities of homogeneous or same sized/type mail items as discounts are provided on postage under the Postage Paid Impression (PPI) service.


Carrier Sheet
A printed sheet carrying the mailing address. Used when printed items are mailed out, usually in conjunction with a polybag or polywrap. The carrier sheet can be used as a marketing tool to reach out to recipients.

Cold Call
Unsolicited approaching of potential customers with no prior relationship through various means like telephone calls, emails or personal visits. Something marketers need to handle with care now, in view of the DNCR and the PDPA.

Call to Action
The part of the marketing message that attempts to evoke a response, and provides a way for readers to do so, e.g. with a QR code, URL or telephone number.


Data Cleansing
The act of identifying and correcting incomplete, inaccurate or inconsistent data. A pay-per-use feature available on Analytics Lab.

Data print bureau offering a range of mail management solutions including bill and statement printing, data archival and retrieval, and data entry and scanning.

Dead Mail
Mail that cannot reach its intended recipient due to a wrong or incomplete address,  and cannot be returned to sender due to a lack of sender address. Also known as undeliverable mail.

Social and economic information that marketers use in defining their audience, e.g. age, gender, household income and housing type etc. Identifying and understanding customer demographics allows for more targeted messaging, and better response.

De Dupe
Identification and consolidation of duplicate names that exist on a data list.  De-duplication is an essential part of keeping a data list clean and usable.

Direct Mail
Advertising mail that is addressed. Direct mail differs from standard AdMail by being targeted, and is a great way to build and maintain a relationship with your existing customer base.

DL Envelope
One of the most common and standard envelope sizes, measuring 11cm (height) by 22cm (width). DL is short for Dimension Lengthwise.

DNC Registry
Do Not Call Registry. The DNC registry allows people to opt out of marketing messages that target their Singapore telephone numbers, and will come into force early 2014.


Web-based booking system for SingPost’s delivery services. Enables self-serve for courier collection scheduling, printing of delivery labels, and payment for services.


The process or business of supplying a product or information in response to a customer request or sales order.

Franked Mail
A form of pre-paid postage suitable for the regular posting of a large quantity of mail of varying weight, size and destinations. A franking machine prints an impression of the required value of postage, and helps to maintain accurate and up-to-date product records.


Defining the target audience of a campaign based on physical location. Allows marketers to target specific regions based on affluence level or proximity to a particular points of sale, for example.


Semi-addressed advertising mail service that allows access to 82,000 affluent households not accessible by any other maildrop service.

Hybrid Mail
A process whereby mail is transmitted electronically to a print site where it is printed and physically mailed out.


A separate advertisement placed within a publication, package, or statement. Inserts can be loose or bound-in. In contrast with outserts.


A company responsible for processing and putting together the individual elements of a mail piece before it is lodged. Services provided include inserting, wrapping, labeling, folding and sealing.  SingPost provides lettershopping services through Quantium Solutions.

List Broker
A middleman whose business is matching list owners with prospective list renters. List brokers usually earn off a commission, paid for by the list owner.

Lifetime Value
The contribution that a customer makes to a company’s net profit in the course of the total relationship they have. Understanding customer lifetime value helps in allocating resources in terms of custom acquisition and customer retention.

Local Courier Service
On-demand pick-up and time-definite delivery of letters, documents and small items/packages within a country of origin or single metropolitan area or within an urban centre.


Machinable  Mail
Refers to mail that adheres to quality guidelines in terms of weight, dimension, and address printing, thus allowing for automated sorting. Bulk mail that is machinable can be sorted faster and more efficiently, resulting in cost savings for the customer.

Mailing List
The names, addresses and other details of customers and potential customers that have been compiled for outgoing communications.


Normal Mail
Any class of mail that is accorded standard dispatching and handling. Also known as ordinary mail or regular mail.


Optical Character Reader. An automated mail sorting machine that interprets the address information on a mail item and prints the corresponding postal code information onto the item as a barcode.

When a person makes a request to receive/stop receiving messages. Something marketers need to handle with care now, in view of the DNCR and the PDPA.

A separate advertisement bundled together with a publication, package, or statement. Outserts can be loose or attached to the exterior of the main material. In contrast with inserts.


The using of personal information (name, preferences, past sales records) in an outgoing communication piece in order to create tailored content that is better at meeting needs and garnering response.

Personal Data Protection Act. Law that governs the collection, use, disclosure and care of personal data in Singapore. In full force as of 2 July 2014.

PO Box
Lockable box rented from the postal authorities, located in the post office premises or other authorised place, as a collection point for one’s mail. Also known as a post office box or a postal box.

Poly Bag
Outer mailing envelope made out of polyethylene, usually used in conjunction with a carrier sheet.  Typically transparent, but can also be printed on with designs.

Mark imprinted or otherwise applied to individual items as evidence of postage accounting or payment; for service identification and for support of mail processing applications.

Postage Paid Impression (PPI)
A stamp/marking imprinted on the face of an envelope under license from the postal authorities, designed to avoid the need for stamps or individual franking on bulk mailings. No postage has been paid until the mail is delivered.

Postal Code
A series of letters and/or digits appended to a postal address to aid the sorting and delivery of mail. Postal codes in Singapore have had six digits since 1995, replacing a four digit system used from 1979. The four digit system itself superseded an original two digit system established in 1950.

A complementary service to postmarking consisting of postal related services such as sorting and weighing to determine the postage value prior to posting of the item.

Pre-sorted Mail
Bulk mail that has already been grouped in order of postal code, prior to lodgment. Pre-sorting mail allows for the bypass of certain mail processes, resulting in cost savings for the customer.

Information about a person pertaining to his/her lifestyle, values, personality, interests and attitude. Related to demographics but a different way of segmenting and understanding customer data.


QR Code
Quick Response Code. A type of barcode first invented by Denso for the automotive industry, QR codes have become popular in consumer advertising due to the large number of smartphone users with QR code scanners on their smartphones.


Registered Mail
A chargeable service by which, through a system of receipts, the postal administration monitors the movement of mail items from the point of acceptance to delivery. The sender receives a receipt at the time of mailing, the addressee has to acknowledge receipt of the item, and a delivery record is kept at the post office.

Response Rate
The number of responses received divided by the total quantity of promotional material sent out. In 2012, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) found that direct mail had an average response rate of 4.4%, compared to email at 0.12%.

Return Mail
Mail that is sent back to the sender due to a wrong or incomplete address.


In direct marketing terms, refers to the giving away of free product samples to allow customers and potential customers the opportunity to understand and experience a product before they commit to a purchase. Could also apply to a service.

Seed List
Known names (colleagues, friends, relatives) inserted into a mailing list for tracking purposes. Besides tracking delivery timing and quality, seeding also alerts the list owner should there be any unauthorized use of the mailing list.

Self Mailer
Advertising material which can be sent without the use of an envelope, polybag or wrapper. An alternative to a letter or a postcard.

SMS Mail
A value-added service for domestic delivery which alerts recipients via SMS when a mail is successfully delivered to their letterbox.

A postage paid next working day doorstep delivery solution that comes with a free packaging box for items up to 3kg in weight.

Split Run/Test
A method of testing and comparing the effectiveness of multiple variations of a marketing initiative. E.g. different email subject lines, different platforms promoting the same sales offer, or different designs for a direct mail piece. Also known as A/B testing.

Suppression List
Typically, a list containing emails that needs to be excluded from any future email blasts, but the term also applies to other forms of communication. E.g. the DNC registry is a form of suppression list that applies to telemarketing calls.

Statement Stuffer
Loose inserts included with billing or account statements.  These can be from the billing company, or sometimes even 3rd parties.


Take Ones
Promotional material (e.g. leaflets and brochures) found in racks or on counters.

Track & Trace
An online system to help customers locate and check the delivery status of their items sent through SpeedPost services.


Unaddressed Mail
Advertising mail that has no specific delivery address. Usually in the form of leaflets, letters, post cards, or flyers. See AdMail.

Undeliverable Mail
Mail that cannot reach its intended recipient due to a wrong or incomplete address,  and cannot be returned to sender due to a lack of sender address. Also known as dead mail.

Universal Postal Union
An international postal organization that is a specialised agency of the United Nations. Its 189 member countries form a single postal territory for the reciprocal exchange of letter-post items. Its Convention establishes the common rules applicable to the international postal service and the provisions governing letter-post services.


Variable Printing
A form of digital printing which allows for mass customization, where text or graphic elements on each individual printed piece may vary. Variable printing is one of the technologies which enable personalization in print-based marketing campaigns.


White Mail
Unsolicited mail received from customers in their own envelopes as opposed to an envelope (or any other response channel) provided by marketers.  Considered as a valuable response due to the unsolicited nature of the correspondence.


ZIP Code
Specifically, a system of postal codes used by the United States Postal Service, but the term is also used to refer to postal codes in general. ZIP stands for Zone Improvement Plan.

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