Email Marketing Dictionary

The Glossary of Email Marketing Terms from Email Marketing Rules

50/50 split test: Exposing half your subscribers to one version of an email or landing page and the other half of your subscribers to another version and seeing which version performs better to inform future decisions; also see A/B testing and 10/10/80 split test

10/10/80 split test: Exposing 10% of your subscribers to one version of an email or landing page and another 10% of your subscribers to another version, seeing which version performs better, and then exposing the remaining 80% of your subscribers to that winning version; also see 50/50 split test and A/B testing

above the fold: The portion of an email that displays before a subscriber scrolls; also see below the fold

absolute list growth: A measure of the change in the number of subscribers on an email list over a period of time; also see engaged list growth and real list growth

A/B testing: Exposing a portion of your subscribers to one version of an email or landing page and another portion of your subscribers to another version and seeing which version performs better; also see 50/50 split test and 10/10/80 split test

acquisition: see list building

Permission Matrixactive consent: Permission indicated when a person explicitly acts to indicate that they want you to add them to your email list (e.g., checking an unchecked box); also see passive consent

active opt-in: see active consent

active unsubscribe: When subscribers opt out either through an unsubscribe mechanism provided by the sender or through one provided by their ISP, including report spam buttons

alt text: Text coded into an <img> tag that is displayed when the image is blocked and when recipients mouse over the image, although support isn’t consistent

animated gif: An image file that displays multiple images sequentially over time, sometimes in a loop

apology email: A message sent in response to an error or mishap

app-based email: An email client that’s installed on a device; also see webmail

back-in-stock email notification: Sent after the product is back in stock, this triggered email is sent to those who opt in on an out-of-stock product page to receive notification when that particular item is available again

below the fold: The portion of an email that displays only after a subscriber scrolls; also see above the fold

best practices: Those practices that generally produce the best results or minimize risk

blacklist: A list of senders of spam typically maintained by an independent organization that is used by ISPs to determine whether and where to deliver email

blocked: When an ISP prevents your emails from being delivered to their users

Anatomy of an emailbody content: The text, images, and other content inside your email that becomes visible when opened

body copy: see body content

bounced: When email is rejected by an internet service provider because it was sent to an unknown email address (hard bounce) or because of a temporary condition like the recipient’s mailbox being full (soft bounce)

broadcast email: An email that is sent to all subscribers

browse abandonment email: A message sent to an individual subscriber in response to that person browsing certain pages of your website but not making a purchase

browse retargeting email: see browse abandonment email

bulked: see junked

call-to-action (CTA): What a message asks a subscriber to do, but more specifically the buttons and links subscribers click to take action

challenger: During an A/B test, the design or process that you think will be an improvement to your existing design or process; also see champion

champion: During an A/B test, your existing design or process; also see challenger

cinemagraph: A picture composed of both static images and one or more animated gifs, which give motion, often subtle, to a small portion of the overall picture

click: When a subscriber selects a link or linked image in an email with a mouse, trackpad, tap of a touchscreen, etc. and visits the associated landing page

click reach: The percentage of your subscribers who clicked at least one of your emails over a period of time (e.g., over the past month or quarter)

click-to-open rate: Percentage of subscribers who opened an email that also clicked the content inside, which is calculated by dividing clicks by opens

Subscriber Statusconfirmed opt-in (COI): The process of sending a subscription activation or opt-in confirmation email to a new subscriber that requires them to click a link in that email to confirm their signup or else receive no additional emails

confirmed opt-in lite (COIL): The process of requiring new subscribers to confirm their signup by engaging with the emails sent to them early in the email relationship or else receive no additional emails

content filtering: When an ISP evaluates an email’s subject line and other content as part of its process to decide whether and where the mail should be delivered

Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM): A law regulating commercial email messaging that forbids deceptive messaging, requires senders to include a working unsubscribe link and their mailing address in every email they send, and requires senders to honor opt-out requests quickly, among other things

conversion: When a subscriber clicks through an email and then makes a purchase, registers for an event, or takes another action requested by the email

conversion reach: The percentage of your subscribers that have converted through at least one of your emails over a period of time (e.g., over the past month or quarter)

dedicated IP address: An IP address from which only one company sends email, making that company solely responsible for the sender reputation of that address; also see shared IP address

defensive design: Design techniques that allow an email to communicate its message effectively when images are blocked

2 Sets of Success Metricsdeliverability: All of the issues involved with getting commercial emails delivered to their intended recipients’ inboxes

delivered: When email makes it to the intended recipient’s inbox or junk folder, as opposed to being blocked

desktop-centric design: Design techniques that create emails optimized for viewing on large monitors, typically with small, tightly clustered links and buttons

device-targeted content: Using responsive email design to target subscribers with different content depending on the device that the email is displayed on

double entry confirmation: Requiring a would-be subscriber to enter their email address again in a confirm email address field on a subscription form and requiring that the two entries match in order to reduce entry errors

double opt-in: see confirmed opt-in

dynamic content: A portion of an email that contains different content for different groups of subscribers or individuals based on their geography, demographics, behavior, or other factors

5 Types of Mediaearned media: Media content produced by media outlets, bloggers, consumers, and other end users of a brand’s products or services about that brand that’s distributed via any platform, such as publicity, social sharing, word of mouth, and ratings and reviews; also see granted media, leased media, owned media, and paid media

email acquisition source: The form or mechanism through which a subscriber opts in, or the ad, sign, or other vehicle that causes them to opt in

email authentication: A variety of methods that help ISPs accurately identify email sent by a brand, including Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM), Sender Policy Framework (SPF), and Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC)

email automation: Triggered emails, personalization, dynamic content, and other tools that send emails or add content to emails on a one-to-one or one-to-some basis without manual intervention according to rules established by a brand

email client: An application or web interface that displays emails and allows users to reply, forward, and interact with the content of the message

email list: A list of the email addresses and other records associated with your subscribers

email metrics: Measurements of the effectiveness of your email marketing program

email reader: see email client

email service provider (ESP): A commercial provider of email marketing services that allows their clients to manage their email lists, send messages, track the response of message recipients, and process opt-ins and opt-outs, among other capabilities

email template: Preformatted email file that includes all the elements you want to appear in every email and spots for content that changes from email to email

engaged list growth: A measure of the change in the number of subscribers who have engaged with at least one of your emails over a period of time; also see absolute list growth and real list growth

engagement: Opens, clicks, and other positive indications that a subscriber is finding value in receiving emails from a brand

Envelope Contentenvelope content: The portion of an email that’s visible to subscribers before they open it (i.e., sender name, subject line, etc.)

express consent: see active consent

expressed preferences: The topics, activities and other things that subscribers tell you they are interested in; also see implied preferences

feedback loop (FBL): A mechanism through which ISPs and other inbox providers notify email senders of spam complaints by their subscribers, allowing senders to unsubscribe those subscribers

first-name personalization: Dynamically adding an email recipient’s first name to either the envelope or body copy of an email

footer: The HTML text at the bottom of an email that includes the promotional fine print, legal language, unsubscribe link, mailing address, and other details

forward to a friend (FTAF): Providing a link in your email that takes subscribers to a form that allows them to forward all or a portion of your email or a particular message promoted in your email to one or more people that they know

freemail: An email account that is available for free from Yahoo, AOL, Gmail, Outlook.com, or another ISP

geofence: A boundary set up around a physical location that’s used to trigger messaging when a subscriber crosses it, either coming or going

geolocation-based messaging: Using a person’s mobile device or some other method to identify their physical location and then sending them email, push notifications, and other messaging because they approached or departed a predefined physical area

gift services footer: A secondary content block that is typically positioned just before the footer that pulls together links to gift guides, order-by deadlines, return policies and other important seasonal buying information

global filtering: When an ISP junks and blocks all email sent by a brand to any of its email users; also see subscriber-level filtering

granted media: Media content produced by a brand that’s distributed to an audience the brand developed via an open platform controlled by multiple third parties, such as email and SMS; also see earned media, leased media, owned media, and paid media

graphical text: Text that is part of an image; also see HTML text

header: The upper portion of an email that includes your brand’s logo

hero: see primary message

holiday header: A temporary, holiday-themed header design that supports the seasonal messaging of your emails

HTML text: Text from a limited number of fonts that are universally or widely supported across email clients; also see graphical text

image blocking: When ISPs or subscribers don’t allow the images in an email to load

implied consent: see passive consent

implied preferences: The topics, activities, and other things that subscribers indicate they are interested in based on their interactions with your brand; also see expressed preferences

Increasing Engagement by Mailing Inactives Lessinactive subscriber: A subscriber who has not opened or clicked in any of your emails in a long time; the opposite of an active or engaged subscriber

inactivity: When a subscriber has not opened or clicked in any of your emails in a long time

inbox placement rate: The percentage of emails sent by a brand or from an IP address that reaches their intended recipients’ inboxes, as opposed to being blocked or junked

internet service provider (ISP): Shorthand term for providers of web-based, desktop, and mobile email inboxes that send, store, and organize messages for users and manage and block spam (e.g., Gmail, Outlook, etc.)

IP address warming: A process of building up a sender reputation on a new IP address by gradually ramping up the volume of email sent from it

junked: When emails are routed to a recipient’s junk or spam folder by an ISP

Traditional Model of Email Interactionlanding page: Webpage, app, and any other destination that subscribers are directed to when they click a call-to-action in one of your emails

leased media: Media content produced by a brand that’s distributed to an audience the brand developed via a closed platform controlled by a third party, such as Facebook, Twitter, and mobile app platforms; also see earned media, granted media, owned media, and paid media

list building: The process of adding email addresses to your mailing list

list churn: Subscribers lost to unsubscribes, spam complaints, and bounces from email addresses that no longer work

list hygiene: Ensuring that your email list is free of invalid and undeliverable email addresses, role-based email addresses, spam traps, unconfirmed email addresses, and chronically inactive subscribers

list rental: Having a message sent on your behalf to an email list owned by someone else

Stage-Bypass Model of Email Interactionlive content: Images and other email content that vary based on when the email is opened, what kind of device it’s opened on, and other factors

loaded weight: The file size of the HTML coding of an email plus the total file size of all images used in the email

mailing list: see email list

mailstream: The emails resulting from a single opt-in or preference selection

malicious opt-outs: When a person uses your opt-out page to unsubscribe someone else without that person’s consent

malicious signups: When a person signs up to receive email from a brand using an address they know to be false, inaccurate, or spam traps for the explicit purpose of harming that brand’s sender reputation

mobile-aware email design: Basic design techniques that create a single email that functions well across a range of screen sizes, but is deferential to smartphones

multivariate testing: Similar to A/B testing, except multiple variations in an email or landing page are tested simultaneously, which requires lots of data to do accurately

native inbox links: Enabled by marketers, these links appear as part of the email client interface and perform a variety of actions

navigation bar: A row of links to important pages on your website

newsjacking: Leveraging the popularity of a news story, event, or cultural phenomena to promote yourself or your company

onboarding: The process of familiarizing new subscribers with your email program and your brand using your signup confirmation page and welcome emails

open: When the images in an email are loaded or rendered, which typically happens when a subscriber views an email with images enabled

open reach: The percentage of your subscribers that have opened at least one of your emails over a period of time (e.g., over the past month or quarter)

opt down: When a subscriber chooses to receive a brand’s emails less frequently

opt-in confirmation email: Part of a confirmed or double opt-in, this email requires a new subscriber to click a link in the email to confirm their signup or else they receive no additional emails

opt-in confirmation page: Webpage or app messaging that follows a successful email signup

opt-in email marketing: Sending email only to those who have given you permission to do so; also see opt-out email marketing

opt out: see unsubscribe

opt-out email marketing: Sending email to those who have not given you permission to do so and requiring them to unsubscribe or mark your emails as spam if they don’t want to receive future emails; also see opt-in email marketing

opt-out page: see unsubscribe page

opt-out process: see unsubscribe process

opt over: When a subscriber opts into one of your other channels, such as social or mobile, during your email unsubscribe process

opt up: When a subscriber opts into additional mailstreams from a brand via a preference center, loyalty program, sister brands, or another mechanism

owned media: Media content that’s produced by a brand that’s distributed to an audience the brand developed via a closed platform controlled by the brand, such as a brand’s website, brochures, in-store signage, and events; also see earned media, granted media, leased media, and paid media

paid media: Media content produced by a brand that’s distributed to an audience developed by a third party via a closed platform controlled by that third party, such as TV ads, radio ads, newspaper ads, billboards, search ads, and display ads; also see earned media, granted media, leased media, and owned media

passive consent: Permission indicated when a person does not act to keep you from adding them to your email list (e.g., not unchecking a pre-checked box); also see active consent

passive opt-in: see passive consent

passive unsubscribe: When subscribers effectively opt out by either not engaging with your emails for a very long time or by abandoning their email account altogether, causing your emails to eventually hard bounce

permission: Actively or passively agreeing to receive promotional email

personalization: Including information that’s unique to the recipient in the subject line or body copy of an email

post-click metrics: Browsing, carting, and other activities on your site that take place after someone clicks through one of your emails

preference center: Webpage that displays a subscriber’s email address and other details, such as profile information (zip code, etc.) and communication preferences (topics of interest, etc.), and allows them to make changes as well as unsubscribe

preheader text: HTML text positioned at the very top of an email’s body content that is most often used to reinforce or extend the subject line; also see snippet text

preview pane: A window in some email clients that allows subscribers to view a smaller portion of an email than if the email were opened in its own window

preview text: see snippet text

primary message: The main message of an email, which is usually positioned at the top of the email and larger than other messages in the email

product grid: A multi-column and usually multi-row layout where each grid cell contains a product image and other information, such as product name, brand, and price

progressive profiling: Collecting additional demographic data and information about interests from subscribers by periodically asking them questions via email

quality assurance: Ensuring that email content is error-free and functions properly and that the intended subscribers receive that content at the intended time

reactivate: see reengage

reactivation email: see reengagement email

reading pane: see preview pane

real list growth: A measure of the change in subscriber lifetime value of a list, this metric subtracts the value of subscribers lost over a period of time from the value of those gained during that period; also see absolute list growth and engaged list growth

recovery module: A secondary content block usually positioned right before the footer that contains many links to different product categories, brands, or other areas of your website that is designed to appeal to subscribers who were uninterested in the other calls-to-action in the email

reengage: Getting a subscriber to open or click one of your emails after a long period of having not done so

reengagement email: A message sent to an individual subscriber in response to that person having not engaged with your emails or made a purchase in a long time in an effort to get them to engage and make a purchase again

relevance: How valuable a subscriber thinks your emails are—which is largely determined by how many emails you send, when they arrive, their content, and how they look and function within whichever email client is being used

Email Rendering Complexityrendering: How an email client translates an email’s coding and displays the email

re-permission email: A message that asks a subscriber to reconfirm their subscription by clicking a link in the email in order to remain on your active mailing list

responsive email design: Advanced design techniques that produce versions or renderings of an email that are optimized for particular screen resolutions or email clients

rich email content: Video consoles and other email content that subscribers can interact with without leaving their inbox

role-based email address: An email address that begins with webmaster@, sales@, info@, press@, or a similar function-based descriptor denoting that messages sent to this address are likely seen by or forwarded to more than one person

scalable email design: see mobile-aware email design

seasonality: Related to an upcoming or current season, holiday, or buying occasion

secondary message: The other message(s) in an email, usually following and smaller than the primary message

secondary navigation bar: Typically positioned right below your standard nav bar, this nav bar provides deeper navigation into one of your standard nav bar links, links to seasonal merchandise and content, or links that support the primary message or theme of the email

segmentation: Sending a particular message to only those subscribers who are likely to respond favorably based on their geography, demographics, behavior, or other factors; or sending the same message to subscribers at different times based on their time zone or geography

sender name: The name that appears in the “from” line in an email client

sender reputation: A reflection of your trustworthiness as an email sender that is affected by spam complaint rates and other factors that internet service providers use to determine whether to deliver, junk, or block your email

shared IP address: An IP address from which multiple companies send email, with all of them contributing to the sender reputation of that address; also see dedicated IP address

share with your network (SWYN): Functionality that allows subscribers to add content from your email to their social media timeline so their network of friends, family members, and other connections can see it

shopping cart abandonment email: A message sent to an individual subscriber in response to that person leaving one or more unpurchased items in their shopping cart

snippet text: A portion of the first text from inside the email that some email clients display after the subject line in the inbox, when highlighting a new email’s arrival, or in other situations; also see preheader text

social media bar: A row of social media icons that link to your brand’s pages on those social media sites

social sign-in: Using the login information from a social network to sign in to a third-party website

spam: Any email that recipients consider unwanted or irrelevant—even if it’s from brands they know and even if they gave the brand permission to email them

spam complaint: When an email recipient hits the “report spam” or “junk” button, indicating to their ISP that the email was unwanted or irrelevant and that future emails from the sender are to be blocked

spamtrap: Whether they are long-abandoned, uncirculated, or contain a typo, these email addresses are used by ISPs and blacklisting organizations to identify spammers

split testing: see A/B testing

static image: An image that doesn’t change over time, unlike an animated gif

statistically significant: Having enough data from a test that the results are meaningful rather than simply the result of chance

still image: see static image

subject line: The text that appears in the “subject” line in an email client

subject line quick link: A native inbox link positioned by the subject line that lets subscribers click through to the email’s primary landing page without opening the email

The Subscriber Lifecyclesubscriber: Someone who has consented to joining your email list

subscriber-level filtering: When an ISP junks and blocks all email sent by a brand to one of its email users; also see global filtering

subscriber lifecycle: The various stages that a subscriber passes through from the time that they sign up until the time that they unsubscribe or otherwise cease receiving emails from a brand, including the stages of acquisition, onboarding, engagement, super-engagement, reengagement, and transition

subscriber lifetime value: The cumulative profit generated by a subscriber during their time on your list

subscriber replacement rate: The number of new subscribers a brand needs to add to its list over a period of time to replace those lost over that same period in order to maintain the size of its list

subscription activation email: see opt-in confirmation email

Subscriber Types by Volumesuper-engagement: Tactics that further engage subscribers who are already highly engaged

swipe file: A record of your top-performing emails, subject lines, calls-to-action, content blocks, landing pages, and other email elements that you return to for learnings and inspiration

system text: see HTML text

tap: see click

targeting: Sending the right message to the right subscriber at the right time

throttling: When an internet service provider slows the rate at which they deliver a sender’s emails to their users

total weight: see loaded weight

total clicks: The number of times the links or linked images in an email were selected by subscribers, who then visited the associated landing page; a method of measuring opens that includes repeat clicks by an individual subscriber

total opens: The number of times the images of an email were loaded or rendered; a method of measuring opens that includes repeat opens by an individual subscriber

transactional email: A message sent to an individual, regardless of whether they are a subscriber, in response to that person making a transaction, such as a purchase (e.g., order confirmation emails, shipping notification emails, etc.) or an administrative request (e.g., password reset email, email address change confirmation email, etc.)

The Email Pyramidtriggered email: A message sent to an individual subscriber in response to an action taken by that person (e.g., cart abandoned) or because of the arrival of an event indicated by the subscriber (e.g., their birthday)

unique clicks: The number of subscribers who selected a link or linked image in an email at least once and visited the associated landing page; a method of measuring clicks that only counts the first click made by individual subscribers, ignoring any subsequent clicks

unique opens: The number of subscribers who loaded or rendered the images of an email at least once; a method of measuring opens that only counts the first open made by individual subscribers, ignoring any subsequent opens

unsubscribe: When a subscriber requests to be removed from a brand’s email list

unsubscribe page: Webpage that is launched when subscribers click the unsubscribe link in your emails where subscribers complete the unsubscribe process

unsubscribe process: How subscribers remove themselves from your email list

video gif: A compressed, streaming animated gif capable of video-quality frame rates

webmail: An email client that’s accessed solely online; also see app-based email

weight: The file size of the HTML coding of an email; also see loaded weight

welcome email: A message automatically sent to a new subscriber just after they’ve opted in that welcomes them to your email program and seeks further engagement; also see welcome email series

welcome email series: Multiple emails automatically sent to a new subscriber over time that seek to maximize engagement

withhold study: When a brand doesn’t send emails to a portion of their list for a period to measure what effect that lack of messaging has on that group’s spending across all channels compared to subscribers who continued to receive emails during that period

win-back email: see reengagement email

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