Glossary of Email Marketing Terms - Part I
Part I: A B C D E F G H I J K L
A/B Testing: The A/B testing feature in email is a way to let you send two slightly different emails to your audience so that you can obtain information on which triggered the most engagement and then use the most effective email to send to the rest of your list.
Above the fold: In print and web design, optimizing the content that appears above 'the fold' (i.e. the part that appears to a viewer first, without scrolling/opening) is given serious consideration. The part of an email message or Web page that is visible without scrolling. Material in this area is considered more valuable because the reader sees it first. Your fold may be affected by the users' preview pane, monitor-size, monitor resolution, any headers placed by different email programs.
Acquisition cost: (aka Customer Acquisition Cost) In email marketing, the cost to generate one lead, newsletter subscriber or customer in an individual email campaign. Typically, the total campaign expense divided by the number of leads, subscribers or customers which it produced.
Ad swap: An exchange between two parties exchanging email lists or running the other's comparably valued ad at no charge. Value is determined by size of list, quality of list, brand value, etc.
Affiliate: A marketing partner that promotes your products or services under a payment-on-results agreement.
Affiliate marketing: It is an advertising model where a company pays compensation to third party publishers to generate traffic or leads to the company's products and services.
Affirmative consent: An active request by a reader or subscriber to receive advertising or promotional information, newsletters, etc. Generally affirmative consent does not included the following -- failing to uncheck a pre-checked box on a Web form, entering a business relationship with an organization without being asked for separate permission to be sent specific types of email or opt-out.
Alert: Email message that notifies subscribers of promotional events or specials.
Application Program Interface (API): How a program (application) accesses another to transmit data. A client may have an API connection to load database information to an email vendor automatically and receive data back from the email.
Application Service Provider (ASP): Company that provides a Web-based service. Clients don’t have to install software on their own computers; all tasks are performed on (hosted on) the ASP’s servers.
Attachment: A text, graphic, PDF, sound or video file that accompanies an email message, but is not included in the message itself. Attachments aren't the best way to send email newsletters because many Internet Service Providers (ISPs), email clients and individual email recipients do not allow attachments, because hackers use them to deliver viruses and other malicious code.
Authentication: An automated process that verifies an email sender's identity.
Autoresponder: A computer program that automatically answers e-mail sent to it. Automated email message-sending capability, such as a welcome message sent to all new subscribers the minute they join a list. The event may be triggered by joins, unsubscribes, all email sent to a particular mailbox. It can be more than a single message — can be a series of date or event-triggered emails.
Bayesian spam filter: (aka content-based filter) An anti-spam program that evaluates header and content of incoming email messages to determine the probability that it is spam. Bayesian filters assign point values to items that appear frequently in spam, such as the words "money-back guarantee" or "free." A message that accumulated too many points is either rejected as probable spam or delivered to a junk-mail folder.
Blacklist: (aka Blocklist and Blackhole list) It is a spam blocking list, that can prevent your mail server from sending email. A list developed by anyone receiving email, or processing email on its way to the recipient, or interested third-parties, that includes domains or IP addresses of any emailers suspected of sending spam. Many companies use blacklists to reject inbound email, either at the server level or before it reaches the recipient’s in-box.
Block: A refusal by an ISP or mail server not to forward your email message to the recipient. Many ISPs block email from IP addresses or domains that have been reported to send spam or viruses or have content that violates email policy or spam filters.
Bonded Sender: A private email-registration service, owned by email vendor Return Path, which allows bulk emailers who agree to follow stringent email practices and to post a monetary bond to bypass email filters of Bonded Sender clients. The programs debits the bond for spam or other complaints from recipients.
Bounce: A message that doesn’t get delivered promptly is said to have bounced. Emails can bounce for many reasons: the email address is incorrect or has been closed; the recipient’s mailbox is full, the mail server is down, or the system detects spam or offensive content. See also hard bounce and soft bounce.
Bounce message: Message sent back to an email sender reporting the message could not be delivered and why. Note: Not all bounced emails result in messages being sent back to the sender.
Bounce handling: The process of dealing with the email that has bounced. Bounce handling is important for list maintenance, list integrity and delivery.
Bounce rate: (or return rate) Number of hard or soft bounces divided by the number of emails sent.
Broadcast: The process of sending the same email message to multiple recipients.
Bulk folder: (also junk folder) Where many email clients send messages that appear to be from spammers or contain spam or are from any sender who is not in the recipient’s address book or contact list. Some clients allow the recipient to override the system’s settings, and direct that mail from a suspect sender be sent directly to the inbox.
Call to action: In an email message, the link or body copy that tells the recipient what action to take.
CAN-SPAM: Popular name for the U.S. law regulating commercial email (Full name: Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003)
Catch-all: An email server function that forwards all questionable email to a single mailbox. The catch-all should be monitored regularly to find misdirected questions, unsubscribes or other genuine live email.
Cell: (aka Test cell or version) A segment of your list that receives different treatment specifically to see how it responds versus the control (regular treatment.)
Challenge-response system: An anti-spam program that requires a human being on the sender's end to respond to an emailed challenge message before their messages can be delivered to recipients. Senders who answer the challenge successfully are added to an authorization list. Bulk emailers can work with challenge-response if they designate an employee to watch the sending address' mailbox and to reply to each challenge by hand.
Churn: How many subscribers leave a mailing list (or how many email addresses turn bad) over a certain length of time, usually expressed as a percentage of the whole list.
Click-through: When a hotlink is included in an email, a click-through occurs when a recipient clicks on the link.
Click-through rate (CTR): Total number of clicks on email link(s) divided by the number of emails sent. Includes multiple clicks by a unique user. Some email broadcast vendors or tracking programs define CTR differently.
Click-through tracking: It refers to the data collected about each click-through link, such as how many people clicked it, how many clicks resulted in desired actions such as sales, forwards or subscriptions.
Commercial email: Email whose purpose, as a whole or in part, is to sell or advertise a product or service or if its purpose is to persuade users to perform an act, such as to purchase a product or click to a Web site whose contents are designed to sell, advertise or promote.
Common Gateway Interface (CGI): It is a specification for transferring information between the Web and a Web server, such as processing email subscription or contact forms.
Confirmation: An acknowledgment of a subscription or information request. Confirmation can be either a company statement that the email address was successfully placed on a list, or a subscriber's agreement that the subscribe request was genuine and not faked or automatically generated by a third party.
Confirmed opt-in: It is a process used to ensure that only people who want to receive your information are subscribed to your list.Inexact term that may refer to double-opt-in subscription processes or may refer to email addresses which do not hard bounce back a welcome message.
Content: All the material in an email message except for the codes showing the delivery route and return-path information. Includes all words, images and links.
Co-registration: Arrangement in which companies collecting registration information from users (email sign-up forms, shopping checkout process, etc.) include a separate box for users to check if they would also like to be added to a specific third-party list.
Conversion: When an email recipient performs a desired action based on a mailing you have sent. A conversion could be a monetary transaction, such as a purchase made after clicking a link. It could also include a voluntary act such as registering at a Web site, downloading a white paper, signing up for a Web seminar or opting in to an email newsletter.
Cost per Action (CPA): (also can be Acquisition). A method of paying for advertising, or calculating results from non-CPA marketing.
Cost per Click (CPC): A method of paying for advertising. It is different from CPA because all you pay for is the click, regardless of what that click does when it gets to your site or landing page.
Creative: An email message's copy and any graphics.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM): A technology for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers.
Cross-campaign profiling: A method used to understand how email respondents behave over multiple campaigns.
Cross-post: To send the same email message to at least two different mailing lists or discussion groups.
Dedicated Server: An email server used by only one sender. A dedicated server often costs more to use because the expense can't be spread among many users, but it performs better than a shared server. Email usually goes out faster, the server is more secure, and you eliminate the possibility that another sender could get the server blacklisted for spamming.
Delivered email: Number of emails sent minus the number of bounces and filtered messages. A highly inexact number because not all receiving ISPs report accurately on which email didn't go through and why not.
Delivery tracking: The process of measuring delivery rates by format, ISP or other factors and delivery failures (bounces, invalid address, server and other errors). An inexact science.
Denial-of-service attack (DOS): An organized effort to disrupt email or Web service by sending more messages or traffic than a server can handle, shutting it down until the messages stop.
Deploy:The act of sending the email campaign after testing.
Digest: A shortened version of an email newsletter which replaces full-length articles with clickable links to the full article at a Web site, often with a brief summary of the contents.
Discussion group: An email service in which individual members post messages for all group members to read ("many to many.") In contrast, a newsletter is a "one to many" broadcast, where comments by members or subscribers go only to the message sender.
Domain Keys: An anti-spam software application being developed by Yahoo and using a combination of public and private "keys" to authenticate the sender's domain and reduce the chance that a spammer or hacker will fake the domain sending address.
Domain Name System: How computer networks locate Internet domain names and translate them into IP addresses. The domain name is the actual name for an IP address or range of IP addresses. See reverse DNS.
Double opt-in: A process that requires new list joiners to take an action (such as clicking on an emailed link to a personal confirmation page) in order to confirm that they do want to be on the list. Sometimes interpreted incorrectly by some email broadcast vendors to mean a new subscriber who does not opt-out of or bounce a welcome message.
Deduplication (deduping): (aka merge/purge) The process of removing identical entries from two or more data sets such as mailing lists.
Dynamic content: Email-newsletter content that changes from one recipient to the next according to a set of predetermined rules or variables, usually according to preferences the user sets when opting in to messages from a sender. Dynamic content can reflect past purchases, current interests or where the recipient lives.
Effective rate: Metric that measures how many of those who opened an email message clicked on a link, usually measured as unique responders divided by unique opens.
Email address: The combination of a unique user name and a sender domain (JohnDoe@anywhere.com). The email address requires both the user name and the domain name.
Email appending: Service that matches email addresses to a database of personal names and postal addresses. Appending may require an "OK to add my name" reply from the subscriber before you can add the name to the list.
Email blast: (or e-last) An e-mail message that is sent out to many recipients. If the volume is huge, and the recipients are random rather than targeted, an e-blast is no different than spam.
Email bomb: In Internet usage, an email bomb is a form of net abuse consisting of sending huge volumes of email to an address in an attempt to overflow the mailbox or overwhelm the server where the email address is hosted in a denial-of-service attack.
Email Change of Address (ECOA): A service that tracks email address changes and updates.
Email client: The software recipients use to read email, such as Outlook Express or Lotus Notes.
Email Domain: Aka Domain. The portion of the email address to the right of the @ sign. Useful as an email address hygiene tool (e.g. identify all records where the consumer entered "name@aol" as their email address and correct it to "email@example.com").
Email filter: A software tool that categorizes, sorts or blocks incoming email, based either on the sender, the email header or message content. Filters may be applied at the recipient's level, at the email client, the ISP or a combination.
Email Friendly Name: (aka Display Name, From Name)The portion of the email address that is displayed in most, though not all, email readers in place of, or in addition to, the email address.
Email harvesting: An automated process in which a robot program searches Web pages or other Internet destinations for email addresses. The program collects the address into a database, which frequently gets resold to spammers or unethical bulk mailers. Many U.S. state laws forbid harvesting. CAN-SPAM does not outlaw it by name but allows triple damages against violators who compiled their mailing lists with harvested names.
Email marketing: The use of email to develop relationships with potential customers and/or clients. Email marketing is one segment of internet marketing, which encompasses online marketing via websites, social media, blogs, etc.
Email marketing platform (or software): Email marketing software is service-based software that marketers use for email marketing. This software can be used for a variety of different purposes, from growing a list of email subscribers, to designing and building customized email templates, to creating segmented lists for more targeted, relevant emails to be sent. With a variety of services, resources, and tools, the software allows marketers to do much more than simply send emails.
Email marketing service: An email marketing service helps businesses manage and use email effectively as a marketing tool. Basic features include the ability to create and send email messages to large contact lists, to design attractive emails using email templates, to create and format newsletters, and to gather the contact information of people interested in your offers.
Email newsletter: Content distributed to subscribers by email, on a regular schedule. Content is seen as valued editorial in and of itself rather than primarily a commercial message with a sales offer. See ezine.
Email Prefix: The portion of the email address to the left of the @ sign.
Email service provider (ESP): Another name for an email broadcast service provider, a company that sends bulk (volume) email on behalf of their clients. It is also called email vendor.
Email template: An email template is a message containing predefined content, format, and structure that is used to create individual emails.
Event triggered email: Pre-programmed messages sent automatically based on an event such as a date or anniversary.
Ezine (also e-zine): Another name for email newsletter, adapted from electronic ‘zine or electronic magazine.
False positive: A legitimate message mistakenly rejected or filtered as spam, either by an ISP or a recipient's anti-spam program. The more stringent an anti-spam program, the higher the false-positive rate. FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions.
Filter: See email filter.
Firewall: A program or set of programs designed to keep unauthorized users or messages from accessing a private network. The firewall usually has rules or protocols that authorize or prohibit outside users or messages. In email, a firewall can be designed so that messages from domains or users listed as suspect because of spamming, hacking or forging will not be delivered.
Footer: An area at the end of an email message or newsletter that contains information that doesn’t change from one edition to the next, such as contact information,the company’s postal address or the email address the recipient used to subscribe to mailings. Some software programs can be set to place this information automatically.
Forward: The process in which email recipients send your message to people they know, either because they think their friends will be interested in your message or because you offer incentives to forward messages. Forwarding can be done through the recipient’s own email client or by giving the recipient a link to click, which brings up a registration page at your site, in which you ask the forwarded to give his/her name and email address, the name/email address of the person they want to send to and (optionally) a brief email message explaining the reason for the forward.You can supply the wording or allow the forward to write his/her own message. It is also called viral marketing.
From: Whatever appears in the email recipient's inbox as your visible "from" name. Chosen by the sender. May be a personal name, a brand name, an email address, a blank space, or alpha-numeric gobbledygook. Note - this is not the actual "from" contained in the header (see below) and may be different than the email reply address. Easy to fake. Aka Email Friendly Name.
Full-service provider: An email vendor that also provides strategic consulting and creative support, in addition to sending messages.
Gmail: A new, free email service offered by Google, giving users free storage space, email search and conversation threading. Gmail also uses technology to add advertisements next to messages containing keywords that match of those advertisers in its AdWords program, a policy that means promotional materials sent by one company could carry text ads of its competitors.
Goodbye message: An email message sent automatically to a list member who unsubscribes, acknowledging the request. Always include an option to resubscribe in case the unsubscribe was requested accidentally.
HTML message: Email message which contains any type of formatting other than text. This may be as simple as programming that sets the text in a specific font (bold, italics, Courier 10 point, etc.). It also includes any graphic images, logos and colors.
Hard bounce: Message sent to an invalid, closed or nonexistent email account.
Header: Routing and program data at the start of an email message, including the sender's name and email address, originating email server IP address, recipient IP address and any transfers in the process.
House list: The list of email addresses an organization develops on its own. (Your own list.)
Hygiene: The process of cleaning a database to correct incorrect or outdated values. See also List Hygiene.
Impression: A single view of one page by a single user, used in calculating advertising rates.
Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP): A standard protocol for accessing email from a server.
Internet Service Provider (ISP): An Internet service provider (ISP) is an organization that provides services accessing and using the Internet.
IP address: A unique number assigned to each device connected to the Internet. An IP address can be dynamic, meaning it changes each time an email message or campaign goes out, or it can be static, meaning it does not change. Static IP addresses are best, because dynamic IP addresses often trigger spam filters.
Joe job: A spam-industry term for a forged email, in which a spammer or hacker fakes a genuine email address in order to hide the hacker's identity.
Landing page: A Web page viewed after clicking on a link within an email. Also may be called a micro-site, splash page, bounce page, or click page.
Linkrot: What happens when links go bad over time, either because a Web site has shut down or a site has stopped supporting a unique landing page provided in an email promotion.
List: The list of email addresses to which you send your message. Can be either your house list or a third-party list that sends your message on your behalf.
List fatigue: A condition producing diminishing returns from a mailing list whose members are sent too many offers, or too many of the same offers, in too short a period of time.
List host: See email vendors.
List hygiene: The act of maintaining a list so that hard bounces and unsubscribed names are removed from mailings. Some list owners also use an email change-of-address service to update old or abandoned email addresses (hopefully with a permission step baked in) as part of this process.
List management: How a mailing list is set up, administered and maintained. The list manager has daily responsibility over list operation, including processing subscribes and unsubscribes, bounce management, list hygiene, etc. The list manager can be the same as the database manager but is not always the same person as the list owner. See list owner.
List owner: The organization or individual who has gathered a list of email addresses. Ownership does not necessarily imply "with permission."
List rental: The process in which a publisher or advertiser pays a list owner to send its messages to that list. Usually involves the list owner sending the message's on the advertiser's behalf. (If someone hands over their list to you, beware.)
List sale: The actual purchase of a mailing list along with the rights to mail it directly. Permission can only be "sold" if the subsequent mailings continue to match the frequency, brand name, content, and "from" of the past owner's mailings -- and even then this is a somewhat shaky procedure on the spam-front. You are in effect buying a publication, and not just a list.