The Ultimate Glossary: 44 Email Marketing Terms Marketers Must Know

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Email marketing is a central part of your inbound marketing strategy, but it can be an intimidating tactic to tackle if you're a newbie. Heck, even seasoned email marketers are continually learning new terms (we learned some new ones for this post!) and must keep up to date with ever-changing laws that affect how you do your job. So we put together this glossary of email marketing terms that you can refer back to any time you wonder what they heck a blog post, your boss, or your ESP's documentation is talking about.

Email Marketing Glossary: 44 Terms to Know

A

Acceptable Spam Report Rate - The rate at which you can be reported as SPAM without harming your sender reputation. Anything over 0.1% (1 report per 1000 emails) will get a warning.

Acceptance Rate - The percentage of email messages that are accepted by the mail server. Just because an email is accepted by the mail server does not mean it will get to an inbox.

B

Blacklist - A list that denotes IP addresses as spammer IPs, impeding email deliverability.

Bounce Rate - The rate at which your emails are not delivered. There are two types of bounces, hard and soft, both of which are defined later in this glossary. An acceptable bounce rate is less than 5%.

Bulk Mail - Large scale email marketing sends in which the same content goes to a large group of people.

C

CAN-SPAM - Short for 'Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003,' it's a law that outlines rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, provides email recipients with the right to make you stop emailing them, and lays out consequences for violations of the Act. You can read more about compliance in our post about marketing laws.

Clicks Per Delivered - A percentage measure of the number of clicks divided by the number of emails delivered to the intended inbox.

Clicks Per Open - A percentage measure of the number of clicks divided by the number of opens.

CPM (Cost Per Thousand) - In email marketing, CPM commonly refers to the cost per 1000 names on a given rental list. For example, a rental list priced at $250 CPM would mean that the list owner charges $.25 per email address. We'll get into buying lists later in this post.

CTR (Click-Through Rate) - The percentage (the number of unique clicks divided by the number that were opened) of recipients that click on a given URL in your email.

Conversion Rate - The percentage of recipients who respond to your call-to-action in an email marketing campaign or promotion. This is one measure of your email campaign’s success.

D

Dedicated IP - In email marketing, it refers to an IP address from which only you send email.

Double Opt-In - The recommended method of building an email list, it requires subscribers to confirm their opt in by clicking a link in a confirmation email or responding to the confirmation email in some other way.

E

Email Campaign - An email or series of lead nurturing emails designed to accomplish an overall marketing goal.

Email Filter – A technique used to block email based on the sender, subject line, or content of an email.

Email Sponsorships - Buying ad space in an email newsletter or sponsoring a specific article or series of articles. Advertisers pay to have their ad inserted into the body of the email.

F

False positive - A false positive occurs when a legitimate permission-based email is incorrectly filtered or blocked as spam.

H

Hard Bounce - A hard bounce is the failed delivery of an email due to a permanent reason like a non-existent, invalid, or blocked email address.

Honey Pot - A planted email address by organizations trying to combat spam that, when a spammer harvests and emails, identifies that sender as a spammer.

House List (or Retention List) - One of your most valuable marketing assets, it's a permission-based list that you built yourself with opt-in subscribers.

HTML Email - Sending HTML email makes it possible to get creative with the design of your emails.

I

IP Warmup - Sending a progressively increasing number of emails out of an IP address in order to build the IP's reputation.

L

Landing Page - A lead-capture page on your website that is linked to from an email to provide additional information directly related to products or services promoted in the email's call-to-action.

Levels of Authentication - A way of establishing a sender's identity, and ensure the sender is allowed to send from a given domain.

List Segmentation - Selecting a target audience or group of individuals for whom your email message is relevant. A segmented list means a more targeted and relevant email campaign, thus a higher response rate and less unsubscribes and spam reports.

O

Open Rate - The percentage of emails opened in an email marketing campaign, or the percentage opened of the total number of emails sent.

Opt-In (or Subscribe) - To opt-in or subscribe to an email list is to choose to receive email communications by supplying your email address to a particular company, website or individual thereby giving them permission to email you. The subscriber can often indicate areas of personal interest (e.g. mountain biking) and/or indicate what types of emails they wish to receive from the sender (e.g. newsletters).

Opt-Out (or Unsubscribe) - When a subscribers chooses not to receive email communications from the sender anymore, and requests removal from your email list. It is legally required that you provide a clear way to opt out in every email you send.

P

Personalization – Adding elements to your email that are personalized based on information you already know about them. It could refer to addressing the recipient by name, referencing past purchases, or other content unique to each recipient.

Physical Address - The physical, street address of the company sending the email, usually found in the footer of an email. Its inclusion is a legal requirement for all email marketing.

Plain Text Email - An email sent without HTML. You should always give your recipients the option to read emails in either HTML or plain text for better readability.

Privacy Policy - A clear description of a website or company’s policy on the use of information collected from and about website visitors and what they do, and do not do, with the data.

R

Read or Open Length - A measure of the length of time a person opens the email until they close it.

Rental List (or Acquisition List) - Not a recommended email marketing technique, it is a list of prospects or a targeted group of recipients who have opted in to receive information about certain subjects, usually targeted by something like interest, profession, or demographic information.

S

Sender Score - A free service of Return Path, it's a reputation rating from 0-100 for every outgoing mail server IP address. Mail servers will check your Sender Score before deciding what to do with your emails. A score of over 90 is good.

Shared IP - A less costly option than a dedicated IP address, it is an IP address from which many people send emails.

Signature File - A tagline or short block of text at the end of an email message that identifies the sender and provides additional information such as company name, physical address, and contact information.

Single Opt-In - A single opt-in list is created when users sign up for email communications, but don't confirm the action. This means they can be signed up for a list by someone else, and as such is not a recommended way to build a healthy email marketing list.

Soft Bounce - A soft bounce is the failed delivery of an email due to a temporary issue, like a full mailbox or an unavailable server.

Spam or UCE (Unsolicited Commercial Email) - Email sent to someone who has not opted-in or given permission to email to the sender. Over 90% of email sent is classified as spam.

Spam Cop - A paid spam service that plants their own emails and monitors who harvests the address and spams it.

Spam Trap - An email address that was once valid, but no longer is. If you email this address, you'll receive a hard bounce notice. When the mail server sees consistent traffic going to the dead email, however, they can turn the email into a spam trap. It will stop returning a hard bounce for the known bad address, and instead accept the message and report the sender as a spammer.

SPF - Short for 'Sender Policy Framework', it's a DNS record that says on whose behalf an IP or domain sends email.

W

Whitelist - Instead of listing IP addresses to block, a whitelist includes IP addresses that have been approved to deliver email to a recipient.

There is a lot marketers need to know about email marketing, and this glossary only scratches the surface. What other terms would you add to this list? 

Image credit: Horia Varlan

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1. Above-the-fold - Th e part of a web page that is visible without scrolling. It is
generally more desirable placement on a Website because of its visibility. If you
have a “join our mailing list” tag on your Website, you should place it “above
the fold” making it easy for visitors to opt-in.
2. CPM (Cost per thousand) - In email marketing, CPM commonly refers to
the cost per 1000 names on a given rental list. For example, a rental list priced
at $250 CPM would mean that the list owner charges $.25 per email address.
3. CTR (or Click-through rate) - Th e percentage (the number of unique clicks
divided by the number that were opened) of recipients that click on a given
URL in your email.
4. Conversion rate - Th e number or percentage of recipients who respond to
your call-to-action in a given email marketing campaign or promotion. Th is
is the measure of your email campaign’s success. You may measure conversion
in sales, phone calls, appointments etc.
5. Email blacklist - It is common for an ISP to a use a blacklist to determine
which emails should be blocked (see “email blocking”). Blacklists contain lists
of domains or IP addresses of known and suspected spammers. Unfortunately,
these blacklists also contain many legitimate email service providers. Just a
few spam complaints can land an email service provider or IP address on a
blacklist despite the fact that the ratio of complaints to volume of email sent is
extremely low.
6. Email blocking - Email blocking typically refers to blocking by ISPs or
corporate servers. Email blocking occurs when the receiving email server
(e.g. Yahoo!, AOL, Hotmail etc) prevents an inbound email from reaching
the inbox of the intended recipient. Most of the time the sender of the email
receives a “bounce” message notifying the sender that their email has been
blocked. ISPs actively block email coming from suspected spammers.
Copyright © 2008 Constant Contact, Inc. All rights reserved. Last Update: 9/08
Email Marketing from Constant Contact
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Top 25 Email Marketing Terms You Should Know
7. Email fi lters – “Filtering” is a technique used to block email based on the
content in the “from:” line, “subject:” line, or body copy of an email. Filtering
soft ware searches for key words and other indicators that identify the email
as potential spam. Th is type of blocking occurs on a per email basis.
8. Email newsletter ads or sponsorships - Buying ad space in an email
newsletter or sponsoring a specifi c article or series of articles. Advertisers
pay to have their ad (text, HTML or both depending on the publication)
inserted into the body of the email. Email newsletter ads and sponsorships
allow advertisers to reach a targeted audience driving traffi c to a website,
store or offi ce, signups to a newsletter or sales of a product or service.
9. Email whitelist - A whitelist is the opposite of a blacklist. Instead of
listing IP addresses to block, a whitelist includes IP addresses that have
been approved to deliver email despite blocking measures. It is common
practice for ISPs to maintain both a blacklist and a whitelist. When email
service providers, like Constant Contact, say they are “whitelisted” it
means that their IP addresses are on a specifi c ISP’s whitelist and are
confi dent that emails sent using their service will be delivered.
10. False positive - A false positive occurs when a legitimate permissionbased
email is incorrectly fi ltered or blocked as spam.
11. Hard bounce/Soft bounce - A hard bounce is the failed delivery of
an email due to a permanent reason like a non-existent address. A soft
bounce is the failed delivery of an email due to a temporary issue, like a
full mailbox or an unavailable server.
12. House list (or Retention list) - A permission-based list that you
built yourself. Use it to market, cross sell and up-sell, and to establish a
relationship with customers over time. It is one of your most valuable
assets because it is 7 times less expensive to market to an existing
customer than it is to acquire a new one. Use every opportunity to add to
it and use it.
Copyright © 2008 Constant Contact, Inc. All rights reserved. Last Update: 9/08
Email Marketing from Constant Contact
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Top 25 Email Marketing Terms You Should Know
13. HTML email - Sending HTML email makes it possible to include unique
fonts, graphics and background colors. HTML makes an email more
interesting and when used properly can generate response rates up to 35%
higher than plain text.
14. Open rate - Th e percentage of emails opened in any given email marketing
campaign, or the percentage opened of the total number of emails sent.
15. Opt-in (or Subscribe) - To opt-in or subscribe to an email list is to choose to
receive email communications by supplying your email address to a particular
company, website or individual thereby giving them permission to email you.
Th e subscriber can oft en indicate areas of personal interest (e.g. mountain
biking) and/or indicate what types of emails they wish to receive from the
sender (e.g. newsletters).
Single Opt-In (with a subscriber acknowledgement email) - Th e most
widely accepted and routinely used method of obtaining email addresses and
permission. A single opt-in list is created by inviting visitors and customers
to subscribe to your email list. When you use a sign-up tag on your website,
a message immediately goes out to the subscriber acknowledging the
subscription. Th is message should reiterate what the subscriber has signed
up for, and provide an immediate way for the subscriber to edit interests or
opt-out.
Confi rmed Opt-In (a.k.a. Double Opt-In) - A more stringent method of
obtaining permission to send email campaigns. Confi rmed opt-in adds an
additional step to the opt-in process. It requires the subscriber to respond to a
confi rmation email, either by clicking on a confi rmation link, or by replying to
the email to confi rm their subscription. Only those subscribers who take this
additional step are added to your list.
16. Opt-out (or Unsubscribe) - To opt-out or unsubscribe from an email list
is to choose not to receive communications from the sender by requesting the
removal of your email address from their list.
Copyright © 2008 Constant Contact, Inc. All rights reserved. Last Update: 9/08
Email Marketing from Constant Contact
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Top 25 Email Marketing Terms You Should Know
17. Permission-based email - Email sent to recipients who have opted-in or
subscribed to receive email communications from a particular company,
website or individual. Permission is an absolute prerequisite for legitimate
and profi table email marketing.
18. Personalization – Addressing individual recipients by fi rst name, last name
or both dynamically in an email. Personalization can also include a reference
to previous purchases, or other content unique to each recipient. Avoid using
personalization in the subject line of your emails as this is a tactic widely used
by spammers.
19. Privacy policy - A clear description of a website or company’s policy on the
use of information collected from and about website visitors and what they
do, and do not do, with the data. Your privacy policy builds trust especially
among those who opt-in to receive email from you or those who register on
your site. If subscribers, prospects and customers know their information is
safe with you, they will likely share more information with you making your
relationship that much more valuable.
20. Rental list (or Acquisition list) - A list of prospects or a targeted group of
recipients who have opted-in to receive information about certain subjects.
Using permission-based rental lists, marketers can send email messages to
audiences targeted by interest category, profession, demographic information
and more. Renting a list usually costs between $.10 and $.40 per name. Be
sure your rental list is a true permission-based, opt-in list. Permission-based
lists are rented, not sold. Don’t be fooled by a list off er that sounds too good to
be true or by someone who tries to mislead you by calling their list “targeted”
or “clean” without certifying that it is permission-based.
21. Signature fi le (or sigfi le for short) - A tagline or short block of text at
the end of an email message that identifi es the sender and provides additional
information such as company name and contact information. Your signature
fi le is a marketing opportunity. Use it to convey a benefi t and include a callto-
action with a link.
Copyright © 2008 Constant Contact, Inc. All rights reserved. Last Update: 9/08
Email Marketing from Constant Contact
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Top 25 Email Marketing Terms You Should Know
22. Spam or UCE (Unsolicited Commercial Email) - Email sent to
someone who has not opted-in or given permission to the sender.
Characteristically, spam is unwanted, unexpected email from a sender
unknown to the recipient.
23. Targeting - Selecting a target audience or group of individuals likely to be
interested in a certain product or service. Targeting is very important for
an email marketer because targeted and relevant email campaign, yield a
higher response and result in fewer unsubscribes.
24. URL (or Universal Resource Locator) - A website, page or any other
document address or location on the Internet that indicates the location
of every fi le on every computer accessible through the Internet.
25. Viral Marketing - A type of marketing that is carried out voluntarily by a
company’s customers. It is oft en referred to as word-of-mouth advertising.
Email has made this type of marketing very prevalent. Tools such as
“send this page, article or website to a friend” encourage people to refer or
recommend your newsletter, company, product, service or specifi c off er to
others.

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