A Concise Email Marketing & Automation Glossary

7 min read

Email marketing is a huge topic, and one that comes with a lot of tricky jargon. Get up to speed with the most common terminology in this handy glossary.

Email marketing is a vast topic, chiefly because it's such a valuable practice for all kinds of companies. Whether you are a B2B or B2C operation, chances are you can benefit from sending marketing emails.

Because the topic is so huge, it has amassed a large amount of terms and jargon; which may intimidate anyone new who wants to hop on the email marketing train.

Whether you're looking to start your email marketing journey or you just need to brush up on some key terminology, here's our rundown of some of the most common terms you may encounter.

Anti-Spam Laws: These are laws in place stating how bulk email should be sent to not cause annoyance to your recipients. These laws are different depending on what country you are in, and most email marketing platforms will help keep you compliant with these rules by default. Read More: US CAN-SPAM Act.

Bounce Rate: The bounce rate refers to the amount or percentage of emails within a campaign were not received due to a problem with the recipient's email address. There are two different types of bounces which we will discuss later: "hard bounces" and "soft bounces."

Call to Action (CTA): An instruction prompting the reader to take a desired action. It usually takes the form of a link or button saying "Buy Now," "Call Us," or "Try Today."

Click Through Rate (CTR): This is the number or percentage of people who clicked any kind of hyperlink within a marketing email.

Conversion Rate: A conversion rate is the percentage of people who complete a desired action, usually following a given stimulus such as receiving a marketing email or visiting your website. Usually refers to how many people made a purchase, but conversion can refer to any action you want the audience to undertake - e.g., following you on social media or visiting a specific web page.

Double Opt-In: This is used to verify that a new subscriber is genuine by asking them to confirm subscription through a secondary action. For example, when you sign up for a mailing list, you may then be asked to verify your sign-up by clicking a link sent to that email address.

Drip Campaign: Once a new subscriber signs up or fulfils certain criteria (see "Trigger-Based Marketing"), they set into motion a usually pre-written set of marketing emails that automatically get sent out over time to encourage the recipient along the sales funnel (see also "lead nurturing").

Email Marketing: This is the act of marketing to people by sending promotional emails.

Hard Bounce: This occurs when you try to send an email to an email address with a permanent problem; the username or domain may no longer exist, or the recipient's email server might not be currently operational. The email does not reach the intended recipient.

Inbound Marketing: This is the practice of attracting leads and prospects through passive methods that draw people to you through providing value and visibility; for example SEO practices, content marketing, and social media interaction. The term refers to the fact that these methods bring the customer in to you. See also "outbound marketing."

Lead: Pronounced like "feed," not "led." This refers to a person or company who has shown enough interest in your company to share some contact details with you - usually an email address at the very least. If they show significant interest in your offering, they may become a prospect (see "prospect").

Lead Generation: Refers to the process of attracting interest in your company or product from total strangers, with a view to gathering their contact details in order to start encouraging them down the sales funnel towards a sale.

Lead Nurturing: Once you've on-boarded a new lead, you need to develop your relationship with them in order to encourage them towards a sale. This process is called lead nurturing.

List Churn Rate: This is the rate at which email addresses are functionally removed from your subscriber lists due to external factors. This may be due to unsubscriptions, bounces, spam complaints or old addresses that are no longer used.

List Hygiene: The practice of maintaining your subscriber lists so that addresses that are no longer valid or functional are either removed or replaced with an up to date, functional address.

Marketing Automation: This is the practice of automating mundane and repetitive marketing activities, which are carried out automatically once certain criteria are met. This usually includes actions relating to email marketing (see "drip campaign," "lead nurturing") and social media.

Open Rate: Out of all of the people who received a certain email campaign, this refers to the amount or percentage of people who opened the email and viewed its contents.

Opt-In: A process by which someone voluntarily joins your subscriber list.

Outbound Marketing: This refers to the type of marketing where an organisation reaches out to new and existing prospects through methods such as telemarketing, print and broadcast advertising, direct mail and online display ads. The term refers to the fact that the company's message is facing out and grabbing customers rather than attracting them in (see also "inbound marketing").

Personalisation: This is where you make a marketing email appear more individual by using mail merge-like parameters; for example to insert the recipient's name or company name automatically.

Prospect: This is an individual or organisation who has shown significant interest in working with you, usually after some interaction with your team.

Sales Funnel/Process: This is a process that your customers go through to purchase from you. You can also categorise your leads and prospects depending on where they are in this process. Every company's sales funnel is different, but an example may look like Lead>Enquiry>Prospect>Quote Given>Sale Confirmed>Deposit Paid>Service Provided>Sign Off>Remainder Paid. Check out our guide to putting your sales funnel together.

Segment/Segmenting: When you segment a list of subscribers, you separate the list into smaller groups depending on certain criteria. These segments can be behaviour based (separating out subscribers who purchased a certain item or clicked on a previous email for example) or based on more static data (a subscriber's location, interests, age, gender).

Soft Bounce: This is when an attempt is made to send an email to an email address that has a potentially non-permanent issue. The user's mailbox may be full, the email could be too large for their mailbox, or perhaps their mail server is temporarily offline.

Subscriber: An individual who is on your subscriber list.

Trigger-Based Marketing: This refers to marketing that is undertaken after certain criteria (i.e., a "trigger") are fulfilled. For example, if someone opened a previous marketing email but has not completed the desired action after 4 days, an automatic email can be set up to trigger at the 4 day mark to give them another nudge. This is also called "event-based marketing."

Unsubscribe: This is when someone expresses their wish to stop receiving bulk email from a given sender, usually completed by clicking an "unsubscribe" link at the bottom of a previously sent email. Also called "opt-out."

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