Digital Marketing Terms Series - Email Marketing Terms
We understand that sometimes, marketers use digital marketing jargon that clients don’t always understand. That’s why we’ll be posting a series of blog posts over the next few weeks with a list of marketing terms for each aspect of digital marketing. Today, we’re focusing on email marketing terms.
Email Marketing Terms
A/B testing – A method in internet marketing research where 2 or more variations of an email, ad, landing page are created as a controlled scenario/experiment and tested to see which of them performs best/bring about the best results. (This often works best when one variable at a time is tested.) This is done in order to improve the overall effectiveness of the final marketing strategy.
Above the Fold – The portion of the page or email that you can see without scrolling down (or over). This specified amount of “above the fold” space on the screen varies by viewer and/or computer (or mobile device) because of the difference in screen settings and sizes. Businesses will often pay top dollar for ad placements above the fold, which increases the costs of internet marketing services, but might also enhance results.
Attachment – Typically refers to a file (document, photo, video) that has been attached to an email message.
Autoresponder – A program that sends a series of automated response email messages to incoming emails.
Bounce Rate – With email marketing, this is the percentage of email recipients/addresses that don’t receive your email at a legitimate address, haven’t opened most or any of your emails for a while, or have a full inbox. See “Hard Bounce” and “Soft Bounce” for more information.
CAN-SPAM – Full name: Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003; A US law (which officially went into effect back in January 2004) that set specific standards and rules for commercial email. These standards and rules include not using false or misleading email header information (i.e., make it clear who is sending the email; this includes the “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the original domain name and email address), not using deceptive email subject lines, identifying which email messages are ads, letting email recipients know where your business is located, letting email recipients know exactly how to unsubscribe from/opt out of receiving future email from you, honoring those opt-out requests immediately or almost immediately, and monitoring what other email marketing companies or freelancers are doing on your business’ behalf. Damages resulting from non-compliant email can include costly fines and even jail time.
CASL – Stands for the Canadian Anti-Spam Law, which became law in 2014. Even if you’re not in Canada, but you send emails (or other CEMs [commercial electronic messages] including text messages and social media posts) to Canadian residents, you are required to comply with CASL. Its main theme states that it is mandatory for Canadian and global companies that send CEMs encouraging involvement in a commercial activity (e.g. an email offering a coupon/coupon code or informing customers/clients about a sale or special promotion) within Canada, or to or from Canada to receive written or oral permission from potential email recipients before sending them any email messages (or text messages and social media posts). The most serious violations of this law can result in pricy penalties/fines for both businesses and individuals.
Churn/List Churn – A term used to describe the loss of subscribers on an email list because of unsubscribes or subscribers becoming inactive; more specifically refers to how the loss of subscribers affects email list growth efforts.
Email Automation – Any marketing system that uses software programs and/or email sites to automatically send email messages based on specific triggers (e.g. new customers/clients, recipients who didn’t open the last 3 emails, recipients who have opened the last 5 emails but did not click any of them, etc.). Multiple of these automated emails can be used in a sequence, which would then be used to develop funnels for email recipients and segment those recipients based on their behavior. For example, an automation funnel could be set to send email #1 when a new individual signs up for email messages. Then, based on whether or not the individual clicked on email #1, either email #2a or #2b would be sent to them. Commonly automated emails include welcome emails for recipients who just signed up, and emails for recipients who unsubscribe (which usually say “we’re sorry to see you go” or something similar).
Email Campaign – A series of email messages that have a shared theme and promote a product or service.
Email Campaign System – A system allowing organizations to send out campaign emails to recipients on their email lists with a unified, standard style. Features typically include list segmentation abilities and the ability to schedule emails for certain dates in the future.
Email client/Email reader – A piece of software in which you send, receive and read email messages. The most popular email client examples are Outlook, Gmail, and Yahoo.
Email service provider – Any service that delivers your email messages for you and manages basic tasks for your email list (e.g. processing unsubscribes, providing email analytics, etc.). This service provider typically also allows for email automation. Some examples of email service providers include MailChimp, Constant Contact, Marketo and Aweber.
Email List – A list of email addresses used to send different types of email marketing campaigns aimed at certain segments of that list. These lists are usually segmented by user classification (based on demographics & behavior) so that one group can receive one type of email communication, while another group can receive a different kind of email communication. For example, a list of prospective customers might receive mostly promotional emails, such as information about temporary sales/deals or special coupons for first-time customers only to entice them to make their first purchase. But a list of current customers might receive emails about products they might like based on past purchases and new product launches while also receiving promotional emails about coupons or temporary sales/deals to take advantage of.
Email Marketing – Using email messages to acquire or increase sales, customers, or any other desired conversion.
Email Response rate – The percentage of people who responded to an email. A 21% response rate to an email offer means that 21 out of every 100 email addresses who received your email offer actually responded.
Embed – To add some type of media format (video, image, GIF, audio file) into a web page, an email, or a document.
Emoji – A small image typically used to express an emotion, but it can also represent an object or an idea. Emojis are often used in personal emails (and occasionally the subject lines of commercial emails), text messages, forums or social media posts.
Emoticon – A text-based representation of an individual’s expression, like a wink ;).
Engagement – a measurement of how people responded to or interacted with a piece of digital content (i.e. an email, blog post, web article, social media post, etc.). Email engagement is measured as the total number opens, clicks, and shares/forwards; can be expressed as a total number or as a percentage based on how many addresses the email was actually sent to. Applies to emails, blog posts, web articles, etc.
Hard Bounce – A hard bounce signifies a permanent reason an email message can’t be delivered. While there are several reasons an email might hard bounce, the most common reasons this happens is because of an illegitimate/nonexistent email address, an illegitimate/nonexistent domain name, or the recipient’s email server has blocked delivery entirely.
List Segmentation – An email marketing method where an email subscriber list is segmented or split into parts based on any number of specific conditions and/or triggers (e.g. subscribers of a certain geographical area, subscribers who didn’t open or click the last email). It’s a practice used by businesses and digital marketers in order to send specific people in an email marketing list the email communication that is most relevant to them.
Open Rate – Expressed as the percentage of emails opened out of the total number of sent or delivered emails, or expressed as the total number of "opened" emails out of the total number of sent or delivered emails. This rate is calculated by dividing the number of opened emails by the total number of sent or delivered emails, excluding bounced email messages.
Opt-in – A manner of registration that involves the person submitting information to explicitly request that they want to be contacted or added to a contact list (like an email list).
Opt-in form – The form used to sign up for an email list.
Opt-in rate – The percentage of people, typically site visitors, who sign up for an email list. For example, an opt-in rate of 7% would mean that seven out of every 100 visitors to your site sign up for your email list.
Opt-out – Here, people are automatically signed up to receive emails (or newsletters, calls, texts, etc.), but can opt out of receiving them at any time.
Referral rate – This term is almost always designated to email messages and is expressed as a percentage. The referral rate conveys how many individuals forwarded or shared a piece of digital content (and, potentially, whether or not someone shared that content multiple times); in the instance of email messages, this term describes how many individuals used (and how times they used) the “forward (to a friend)” functionality in the email.
Signature – A few lines of default text that can be edited by the email sender to their own liking and then added to (usually at the bottom of) all their outgoing emails from a personal or business email account.
SMTP – Stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, which is essentially the protocol/method used to move email messages from the email sender to the email recipient.
Soft Bounce – Usually an indication of a temporary delivery issue to an email address and might be dealt with differently than hard bounces by an email automation site or service. With some email automation websites or services, email addresses that continuously soft bounce in additional email campaigns will likely eventually be considered – and converted to – a hard bounce. They will usually allow a set amount of soft bounces for an email address with little to no current subscriber activity before they convert that soft bounce into a hard bounce. Common reasons for soft bounces include a full mailbox, the recipient’s email server being down or offline, or the email message and/or attachment they were sent is too large.
Spam (for email) – Email messages that are unsolicited, unwanted and/or unproductive; might be repetitive; usually promotional in nature and potentially nonsensical; might be rife with grammatical errors and spelling errors. There are now firmly set rules and punishments (including fines) for spam as a result of the CAN-SPAM Act (see definition). (BONUS: Spam takes its name from a famous Monty Python skit.)
Thread – A series of communications, usually emails (as in an “email thread”), between two or more people. (Might also refer to a Twitter thread, a forum thread, a comment thread or even a blog post thread.)
Unsubscribe rate – Email marketing term describing the percentage of how subscribers that are choosing to click the unsubscribe link or button and no longer receive certain email messages. This is usually calculated for each email campaign sent.
WYSIWYG – Acronym for “What You See Is What You Get”; A “WYSIWYG interface” usually refers to an interface allowing users to edit a file, in this case, an email message. This interface gives users the ability to make text bold, underline or italicize text, change the font and/or size of that text, center the text (or move it to the left or right), change text color, use bullet points or numbering, etc.
.zip – A file format signaling that the data in that file has been compressed, or “zipped”.