Email Marketing Glossary: Good Terms to Know


Above-the-fold – The 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.

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.


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

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.


call to action, or CTA, is a banner, button, or some type of graphic or text on a website meant to prompt a user to click it and continue down a conversion funnel It is an essential part of inbound marketing as well as permission marketing in that it actively strives to convert a user into a lead and later into a customer. The main goal of a CTA is a click, or a scan in the case of a code and its success can be measured via a conversion rate formula that calculates the number of clicks over the times the CTA was seen. Another way to test the effectiveness of a CTA is using A/B Testing where several graphics are presented to a user and the graphic with highest success rate becomes the default.

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.

Conversion rate – The number or percentage of recipients who respond to
your call-to-action in a given email marketing campaign or promotion. This
is the measure of your email campaign’s success. You may measure conversion
in sales, phone calls, appointments etc.

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.

CTR (or 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.

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.

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.


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.


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.

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

Email Filter – “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. This type of blocking occurs on a per email basis.

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 traffic to a website,
store or office, signups to a newsletter or sales of a product or service.

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.


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


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. 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.

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


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


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 AuthenticationA 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.


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.
Th e 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).

Single Opt-In (with a subscriber acknowledgement email) - The 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

Confirmed Opt-In (a.k.a. Double Opt-In) - A more stringent method of
obtaining permission to send email campaigns. Confirmed 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 confirm their subscription. Only those subscribers who take this
additional step are added to your list.

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.


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 profitable email marketing.

Personalization – Adding elements to your email that are personalized based on information you already know about them. Personalization can 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.

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. 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.


Read or Open LengthA 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. 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.


Shared IPA 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.


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.


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.


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


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

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