Lists and Databases 101

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With a language all its own, the world of database marketing can be a jargon-filled journey. But if you don't know a compiled list from a custom select, don't worry — Jonathan Mack presents the lowdown on lists- and database-speak right here.

CAN-SPAM Act — Made law in late 2003, the Act created guidelines for commercial e-mail senders requiring the use of appropriate subject lines, the option for recipients to opt-out, the inclusion of an address from the sender and the use of obvious labels for pornography and other adult material.

CPM List Pricing — Cost per thousand records from a list universe. For example, a list price of $100/M means that it would cost $100 to obtain 1,000 units from a given list universe.

Co-op databases — When two or more owners share and combine their lists so that each participant can access the combined list information.

Co-op mailing — When a mail piece includes an offer from two or more mailers, instead of just one.

Co-palletization — The consolidation of actual bundles of mail. Addressed and presorted mail is put on pallets in an effort tocut down on the sheer volume of stacked mail.

Co-registration — The process through which opt-ins are gained for several organizations or products at once. Individuals fill out a registration form on a Web site, which they can then choose to send to different companies through the use of check boxes.

Compiled list — A list of information such as names and addresses that is gathered from different sources including databases, Web site registrations, directories, public records and subscriptions.

Custom selects — Selects defined or created by a list user based on the list information. These are usually very specific and help make lists more cost-effective because they focus scope and produce the most relevant information for a list marketer's needs.

Data mining — The process through which hidden patterns are pulled out from large databases.

Data warehouse — A combination of a single organization's many different databases and electronically stored data. Data warehouses allow organizations to analyze customer information and demographics to help create targeted and segmented lists.

Hotline – Typically priced at a premium, this is the most current mailing list update.

House list — A file that is made up of a company or organization's customers, clients, donors or prospects. Marketers will use this list to market new products and/or services to prospects and can sell the list to list brokers or list managers to generate a profit.

List cleaning— Simply, the process of improving a list by updating the information and keeping data current and well-maintained.

List owner/list manager/list broker— List owners are the people in possession of a list. A list owner can obtain a list of their company's prospects or buy a list to become the owner of it. List managers maintain and update lists for list owners. List brokers are responsible for the sale and rental of a list from a list owner to a potential buyer.

List select — These are repeated and notable categories contained within a list. Common selects include state, age, profession and gender, although there may be many more specific selects possible based on a particular list's prospects. List selects allow mailing list users to better target and segment their offers.

List universe — The total number of prospects on a list.

Merge/purge — The process of combining two or more lists or databases and then getting rid of duplicates in the created masterfile, reducing printing and mailing costs.

NCOA — The National Change of Address (NCOA) database is maintained by the US Postal Service and useful to mailers for several reasons. Running a NCOA process on a mailing list updates addresses and maintains accuracy, lowers mailing costs and reduces the possibility of useless prospects, also known as “nixies.” NCOALink is the software provided by the USPS to help mailers with this process.

Opt in/out — When a person opts in, he/she has agreed to accept mail and other communications from an organization. Opting out is just the opposite — a person is able to decline to receive any information and communications from a sender.

Psychographics — Like demographics, these are used to further segment a list. Psychographics break prospects into categories based on personality, values, interests and lifestyle. Also referred to as IAO (interests, attitudes and opinions) variables.

Response rate — Usually represented as a percentage, a response rate is the ratio of the number of people who responded to an offer divided by the number of people who were sent that offer. A response rate is a great way to judge an offer's effectiveness.

RFM models — Short for recency, frequency, and monetary value measurements; these are used in predictive modeling, especially consumer mailers and offers.

Segmentation — This process groups prospects into corresponding, appropriate subsets based on certain criteria, also known as a list select.

Suppression — This is the process through which addresses are taken off of a mailing list. Senders of commercial e-mails must provide an opt-out option to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act. People who opt out are placed on a suppressed list to avoid future e-mail contact.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) — This is a method of software deployment through which a program is hosted on a Web site and can be used as a service for many users. This is growing in popularity because it allows workers in many locations access to the same data without needing to install applications.

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