AUGUST 3, 2023

The Ultimate List of Key Terms in Email Marketing

Email Metrics

  • Bounce Rate – the percentage of emails that were not delivered successfully to recipients due to reasons such as invalid email addresses or server issues.
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR) – counts how many email openers clicked on a link.
  • Click-Through – the action of clicking through one of the links in your emails.
  • Click Rate – counts how many email recipients clicked on a link.
  • Complaint – a complaint from your subscribers either in the form of click the spam button on one of your emails or through replying/contacting you directly telling you they no longer wish to receive your emails.
  • Engagement Rate – the overall measure of recipient engagement with email campaigns, combining open rates, click-through rates, and other metrics.
  • Open Rate – counts how many email recipients opened an email.
  • Opt-Out – to indicate that future email messages are unwanted from a particular email sender. Contacts who "opt-out" from email mailing lists no longer wish to receive email from a particular sender. Also see Unsubscribe.
  • SPAM Complaint Rate – the percentage of recipients who mark an email as spam or junk after receiving it in their inbox.
  • Unsubscribe Rate – the percentage of recipients who opted out of receiving future emails from the sender.
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    List Management

    • Churn Rate – the rate at which subscribers leave the email list over a specific period.
    • Double Opt-In – the process of confirming a subscriber's email address through a confirmation email before adding them to the mailing list.
    • Disengaged – a categorization that defines subscribers who have not engaged with your email marketing efforts in a set time frame. For example, a subscriber may be considered disengaged if he/she has not opened or clicked any of your emails in the last 6 months. There's no objective definition of disengaged, and can vary widely depending on your list composition and industry vertical. Also see Dormant, Inactive.
    • Dormant – see Disengaged.
    • Engagement – a term referring to an email subscriber's level of interaction with your emails. Factors that show user engagement include opening, clicking, whitelisting, and starring your emails.
    • List Attrition – the loss of contacts on your email list. This can be due to spam complaints, hard bounces, repeated soft bounces, or unsubscribes.
    • List Cleaning – the process of suppressing, unsubscribing, or otherwise removing bad email addresses from your email list. Regular list cleaning is a good practice to maintain high deliverability marks.
    • List Growth Rate – the rate at which the email subscriber list is growing, typically calculated monthly or quarterly.
    • List Fatigue – the gradual disengagement and dropping off of your email list. List fatigue can be seen in greater numbers of inactive contacts and more unsubscribing contacts.
    • List Segmentation – the process of dividing an email subscriber list into smaller segments based on specific criteria, such as demographics, behavior, or engagement level, to deliver targeted content.
    • List Rental – sending to an email list owned by a third-party. List rental differs from list purchase in that you never see the email address list. Rather, the third-party vendor sends your email on your behalf to their list.
    • Manage Preferences Center – a form residing on your website where email subscribers can manage their preferences (frequency, contact information, mailing lists, etc). The data is passed from the manage preferences form to your email service provider, which can be used for segmentation and targeting.
    • Onboarding – the process of bringing on new email contacts to your email list. Generally, new contacts are evaluated during a scrutiny "onboarding" period before considered fully active members of your email list.
    • Overlay Capture – a method of capturing email addresses by serving an on-site overlay prompting website visitors to subscribe to your email list.
    • Retargeting – the process of issuing additional marketing touches to a contact based on a past behavioral action. For example, if you visit a particular product page and then later get hit with a display ad showing that product, chances are you have been retargeted.
    • Reverse Append – the process of obtaining missing email addresses when you have other contact information such as name, address, phone number, etc. Reverse appends work by using a third-party who maintains large databases of contacts to cross-reference your existing list to garner email address information.
    • Seed List – a list of email addresses included on email campaigns sent regardless of exclusions. Seed lists are not email address of your actual email subscribers, but rather a "test" list of inboxes that either you or a third-party owns. The primary purpose of a seed list is to estimate inboxing rates.
    • Segmentation Tags – custom labels used to categorize subscribers based on their interests, behavior, or preferences.
    • Single Opt-In – adding a subscriber to the mailing list immediately without requiring a confirmation step.
    • Signup Source – the source where an email address is captured. This can be from opt-in at checkout, through a website overlay, signup box on a blog, at point of sale for bricks & mortar locations, social media, physical events, etc.
    • Subscriber – a contact who is part of your email list.
    • Test List – an internally maintained list of email addresses. Test lists are useful for testing email rendering for issues prior to sending out a live email campaign.
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      Email Automation

      • Automation – using predefined triggers and workflows to send targeted emails to subscribers based on their behavior or actions.
      • Autoresponder – an email that is automatically sent based on a pre-determined set of conditions. Autoresponders can be set to trigger based off of a variety of conditions such as user signup, site browse behavior, birthdays, email interaction, etc. Autoresponders are an integral part of any well-run email marketing program. Also see Triggered Email.
      • Cart Abandonment Email – emails sent to a contact that "abandons" his/her shopping cart. Emails can be sent in real-time or on a set delay.
      • Transactional Email – automated emails triggered by a user's action, such as order confirmations, password resets, or shipping notifications.
      • Triggered Emails – also known as automated emails or event-driven emails, are a type of email marketing campaign that is sent automatically based on specific triggers or actions taken by a user.
        Email Campaigns

        • Cadence – the overall pattern of your email campaigns, identified by the "rhythm" of your emails. Though technically different, often times frequency and cadences are used interchangeably by marketers.
        • Campaign – a singular send of a marketing email.
        • Drip Campaign – a series of automated emails that are sent in a specific sequence after a user-initiated event. Common drip campaigns include customer welcome campaigns, post-purchase campaigns, and re-engagement campaigns.
        • Frequency – the rate of email campaigns sent over a given time period.
        • Marketing Emails – emails with strong commercial intent. Marketing emails are distinct from transactional emails, which focus on non-marketing messages such as confirming an order, shipment information, or password reset.
        • Partnership Campaigns – an email campaign rule with a complementary industry partner to cross-promote products or services to each other's email lists. Partnership campaigns can be useful in email list growth and brand exposure.
        • Re-Engagement Campaign – a special series of emails sent to disengaged or inactive contacts with the purpose of getting a portion of them to engage (open/click). Re-engagement campaigns go hand in hand with maintaining a clean list, since usually those inactive contacts who don't respond at the end of the series will be suppressed from future sends or unsubscribed by the retailer. Also known as Reactivation Campaign, Win-Back Campaign.
        • Reactivation – see Re-Engagement Campaign.
        • RFM Analysis – RFM stands for "Recency, Frequency, Monetary". This is a framework for developing marketing strategy based on three key components categorizing customers or contacts.
        • Send Time Optimization – the process of optimizing what time during the day you send out your emails to achieve the highest desired metrics.
        • Send Time Personalization – the process of optimizing the send time of your email campaigns so that each email is deployed to a contact at the time that the contact is most likely to open emails.
        • Touchpoint – a marketing point of contact with your subscriber. A touchpoint refers to any time your brand is in contact with your subscribers through your marketing efforts. Your contact receiving an email would represent a touchpoint.
        • Throttling – the tactic of sending out your emails on a single campaign over a period of time, usually a few hours. Throttling means your emails will not get sent to your target list all at once, which can be good for your deliverability.
        • Transactional Emails – non-commercially focused emails. These include order confirmations, shipping confirmations, and password reset emails. Transactional emails can be sent to users regardless of opt-out status. These emails should not focus on driving contacts to buy, and a general rule of thumb for transactional emails is at least 80% of the content should be focused on the transaction.
        • Win-Back – see Re-Engagement Campaign.
          Deliverability and Reputation

          • Authentication – the process that email undergoes to identify the sender of an email with the email message being sent. Authentication plays a part in ISP servers accepting or rejecting your mail. Two common authentication frameworks are DKIM and SPF.
          • Blacklist – a list maintained by industry groups or ISP's internally of bad senders. Being blacklisted will hurt your deliverability.
          • Blocked – a form of bounced email where the ISP does not deliver you email due to spam filtering or block lists. Sometimes referred to as a block bounce, other times categorized under the umbrella of soft bounce.
          • Deliverability – the rate at which emails reach the recipients' inboxes.
          • Delivery Rate – the percentage of your outgoing emails that were "delivered", or not rejected by the ISP servers. Not to be confused with inboxing rate.
          • Dedicated IP – a sender IP address that is specifically dedicated to you as an email sender. Dedicated IP's are different from shared IP's in that they are set up exclusively for your use rather than shared across multiple senders.
          • Deferred – email that has neither been accepted nor rejected by the recipient mail server. Deferred emails are retried several times over a time period, at which point it is accepted during the process or rejected at the end.
          • Dirty List – term used to refer to an email list that is composed of many bad addresses, such as inactive contacts, spam traps, fake addresses, etc.
          • DMARC – stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance. Your DMARC record instructs the receiving email servers what to do with emails that do not pass DMARC authentication, including whether to reject, quarantine, or do nothing.
          • Domain Reputation – the reputation associated with your sending domain or subdomain. Domain reputation plays a part in determining your overall sender reputation and thus your deliverability.
          • DKIM Record – the DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) protocol provides a method for receiving servers to confirm the message's integrity, that it originates from the claimed sender, and that it hasn't been altered from its intended state.
          • Hard Bounce – an email that permanently failed to be delivered due to an invalid or non-existent email address.
          • Inboxing Rate – the rate at which your outgoing emails reach the email inboxes of your subscribers.
          • Sender Reputation – your reputation as an email sender. The better your sender reputation is, the better your deliverability.
          • Sender Score – reputation score assigned to a sender's IP address, domain, or email-sending practices by internet service providers (ISPs) to determine email deliverability.
          • Soft Bounce – an email that temporarily failed to be delivered due to a full mailbox or a temporary server issue.
          • SPF Record – for your email messages to be properly validated by this mechanism (also known as Sender Policy Framework), SPF records are crucial. Setting up SPF records correctly is essential to building a solid base for email deliverability.
          • Spam Trap – an email address designed to catch bad senders. Spam traps are either "fake" email addresses spam-fighting associations release (but are never manually subscribed) or very inactive email address that ISP's turn into traps. If you send email to a spam trap, known as "hitting" a spam trap, you will suffer an immediate and heavy drop in your deliverability.
          • Whitelisting – the process of indicating specifically that an email sender's mail is wanted. Usually the process of whitelisting involves adding a contact to your email address book. Future mail from this contact will always be delivered to your inbox, by passing any spam filters.
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            Email Content and Optimization

            • Alt Text – the HTML text that shows up in place of an image if an image is blocked.
            • A/B Testing – known as split testing, involves sending different versions of an email to a small portion of the audience to determine which version performs better.
            • Animated GIF – an image file in GIF format that can be rendered to produce short animations by looping several frames of the image. Since email clients have difficulty rendering video, animated GIFs are often used to infuse some moving imagery into marketing emails.
            • Bulletproof Button – a HTML-styled "button". This is essentially a link styled with a display:block and a background color. Although their styling can't match an image-based button, bulletproof buttons are widely used because they are visible with images turned-off (a default in many email clients).
            • Branding and Visuals – refer to incorporating the company's logo, colors, fonts, and overall visual style into the email design.
            • Call-to-Action (CTA) – prompt within an email that encourages recipients to take a specific action, such as "Buy Now" or "Subscribe Here."
            • Cookies – a piece of tracking code that populates a website visitor's browser. Cookies are used for tracking, attribution, and retargeting efforts.
            • CTA Copy – is the text within an email that prompts the recipient to take a specific action, such as "Shop Now," "Download the e-book," or "Subscribe Today."
            • Dynamic Content – pieces of content in your emails that are dynamically called based on a certain logic criteria set. Dynamic content is useful in personalizing your content, since you can select what version your contacts see based on various behavioral or historical data points.
            • Email Body Copy – refers to the main content of the email message, including text, images, and any other relevant media.
            • Email Templates – pre-designed layouts that serve as a framework for creating consistent and visually appealing emails.
            • Footer – the bottom navigation, disclaimers, icons, and other elements that remain consistent in your email templates across multiple campaigns.
            • Header – the top navigation, logo, SWYN, and other elements that remain consistent in your email templates across multiple campaigns.
            • Hero Image – the main, large image in your email.
            • Images Off – the default view in many email clients, which blocks images from rendering unless the contact specifically selects otherwise.
            • Mosaic – the process of creating pixelated substitutions of images using HTML styling and tables in order to be visible with images off.
            • Open-Time Personalization – the ability to dynamically update email content at the time of opening, providing real-time personalized information.
            • Personalization – tailoring email content to individual recipients based on their preferences, behavior, or past interactions.
            • Personalization Tokens in Copy – refer to dynamic content elements that personalize the email message based on recipient data, such as their name, location, or previous interactions.
            • Preview Text – the snippet of text displayed next to or below the subject line in the recipient's inbox preview.
            • Preheader Text – also known as the preview text, is a short snippet of text that appears after the subject line in the recipient's inbox
            • Responsive Design – the approach of creating email layouts that automatically adjust and adapt to the screen size and device of the recipient. This ensures that the email displays optimally on various devices, such as desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
            • Secondary Banner – a smaller "banner" image incorporated in your email templates that push a call-to-action different from the main call-to-action of your email campaign. Secondary banners can be used in a variety of ways, such as promoting top categories, seasonal ongoing sales, contests, and more.
            • Subject Lines – are short, attention-grabbing phrases that appear in the recipient's inbox and provide a preview of the email's content.
            • Text-to-Image Ratio – the ratio of HTML-based text to images. A low text-to-image ratio (many images) has historically been linked with spam emails.
            • Unicode Characters – these "special" characters are unicode symbols such as hearts, stars, and snowflakes. Email marketers use these characters in subject lines to give a visual element and attempt to stand out in the email inbox.
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              Compliance and Regulations

              • CAN-SPAM Act – the law that sets rules and requirements for commercial email messages, including providing a way for recipients to opt out and including the sender's physical address.
              • GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) – a European Union (EU) regulation that addresses data protection and privacy for individuals within the EU, affecting how emails are collected, stored, and processed.
              • Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) – anti-spam law that applies to all electronic messages (i.e., email, texts) that organizations send in connection with a "commercial activity."
              • California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) – law concerning privacy rights for California consumers, including: The right to know about the personal information a business collects about them and how it is used and shared; The right to delete personal information collected from them (with some exceptions).
                Email Infrastructure and Terminology

                • API (Application Programming Interface) – a set of programming standards that allow for software to connect to and interact with each other.
                • Email Client – a program used to interface with the email server in order to read, send, and organize email. Email clients are divided by web-based clients (also known as webmail) and desktop-based clients. Microsoft Outlook and Thunderbird are two examples of desktop-based clients.
                • Email Service Provider (ESP) – software or application used by recipients to access and read emails, such as Gmail, Outlook, or Apple Mail.
                • Internet Service Provider (ISP) – in the email marketing industry, used to refer to providers of webmail such as Gmail, Yahoo!, AOL, and Hotmail.
                • Inbox Provider – the primary function of an inbox provider is to facilitate the sending, receiving, and management of emails. See also ESP provider.
                • IP Reputation – the reputation associated with your sender IP address. Your sender reputation relies heavily on your IP reputation, since your sender IP serves as a "name" identifying you as a sender.
                • SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) Server – a server used to handle outgoing mail.
                • Webmail – a web-based email client used to view email. Gmail, Yahoo!, and Hotmail all have webmail that provide web browser based interfaces.
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                  Revenue Metrics

                  • Average Order Value (AOV) – is the average monetary value of an order placed by a customer.
                  • Attribution Window – the specific time frame during which a marketing interaction or touchpoint is considered for revenue attribution.
                  • Conversion Rate (in terms of revenue) – the percentage of email recipients who completed the desired action, such as making a purchase, filling out a form, or subscribing, based on the email campaign's goal.
                  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) – represents the predicted total value a customer will bring to a business over the entire duration of their relationship.
                  • First Touch Attribution – is a marketing attribution model that attributes the entire credit for a conversion to the first touchpoint or marketing interaction that introduced a lead to a brand.
                  • Last Touch Attribution – is an attribution model that attributes the entire credit for a conversion to the last touchpoint or marketing interaction that directly led to a conversion.
                  • Return on Investment (ROI) – is a metric used to measure the profitability of an email marketing campaign. It calculates the revenue generated from the campaign relative to the cost of running it. A positive ROI indicates a profitable campaign, while a negative ROI means the campaign cost more than it generated in revenue.
                  • Revenue per Email (RPE) – is a metric that measures the average amount of revenue generated per email sent.
                  • Revenue Attribution – is the process of tracking and assigning revenue to specific email campaigns or marketing activities.

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