Email Marketing Glossary of Terms

Email Marketers, like professionals in any field, tend to throw around lots of terms which may not be understood by outsiders. This is just a few of the different terms used in our review.

Auto Responder

A piece of software code that automatically initiates an email response when an email is received or other rules are met. Auto responder emails can be used for out-of-office replies, confirmations or in response to defined subject lines etc.


FTC initiated anti-spam legislation passed in 2003 requiring that every email contain a header, a valid From address, a Subject line, an unsubscribe or opt-out link and/or instructions on how to opt out vial mail with a physical address.


A Marketing effort or message typically using several different communications channels over a period of time in order to drive a certain action or concept.

Click-through Rate (CTR)

A formula which represents the percentage of unique clicks divided by the number of impressions received (emails sent, ads displayed etc).

Double Opt-In

A method of ensuring a clean email list which adds a step to the opt-in process. Typically this step is to require the opt-in candidate to reply to an email sent automatically after the first opt-in is triggered via checking a box or indicating that the user wishes to receive emails.

onversion Rate

The ratio of clicks on a certain link or ad to the number of sales or other desired action such as leads, downloads calls etc.

Cost per Thousand (CPM)

A marketing term identifying the cost per thousand of either impressions or contacts. If there is a cost of $200 CPM each impression or contact costs $.20.

Email Blocking

When a particular ISP (Internet Service Provider) buts a block on emails sent from a particular sender or IP address preventing them from being passed to the recipient. Typically this is a last response to a suspected spammer and is the biggest fear of all email service providers.

Email List

A list of names with contact information used in email communications. The most successful lists are “internal” meaning they are made of members or customers who have opted-in directly with the organization. “External” lists can be purchased from third parties but most Email Marketing vendors will not permit their use on their systems.

Email Newsletter

A series of communications sent by a company or organization with the intent of informing their customers, prospects or members. It is also sometimes used to generate revenue through sales, sponsorships or ads.

False Positive

In email marketing, this term is used to show the number of legitimate emails which were erroneously flagged as spam and, therefore, blocked by an ISP.

Hard Bounce

When an email suffers a failed delivery due to errors such as a bad email addresses. This is a permanent scenario and can be used to indicate the quality of a list. The lower the number of hard bounces, the better the list.

Landing Page

A page on the internet specifically designed to be the first point of entry by a user. Typically is designed in support of a campaign with the intent of driving the visitor to a specific action or conversion.

Open Rate

A ratio of the number of emails opened divided by the number of emails sent or received.


The action of a specific user indicating they wish to receive future communications via email. Opt-in can be the result of checking a box or subscribing to a newsletter etc.


The opposite of opting-in. The user is choosing not to receive future communications. Emailers are moving away from requiring customers/users to opt-out of emails if they don’t want them and, instead, require opt-in or double opt-in to prevent them from having bad lists and unhappy users.

Permission-Based E-mail

Email messages sent to recipients who have opted-in. Almost every email service provider requires lists to be comprised of 100% opted-in users.

Phishing (fishing)

En email sent on false pretenses in order to mislead the recipient into taking some action such as providing information or responding. Often these emails are sent to gather credit card, log-in or other sensitive information with the intent of committing fraud.

Preexisting Business Relationship

Part of the CAN-Spam Act which allows businesses to email customers with whom they have a prior or ongoing relationship without violating the law. Sales leads and customers (existing and prior), who have not unsubscribed, are the most typical examples of contacts who businesses can legally contact via email without explicit permission (opt-in).

Privacy Policy

A company’s stated policy on what data they collect concerning visitors and how they will, and will not, use this data.

Rental List

I list of names and contacts which one business, typically a list vendor, rents to another for the use in marketing or sales. Some lists are opt-in lists where a person agrees to allow the entity who collected their name to provide it to third parties and others are simply gathered from publicly available data such as business registrations. Most email marketing vendors do not allow the use of rented lists on their systems due to high bounce rates and spam complaints.

Single Opt-in

A method of generating a contact list where the user is asked to check a box, sent a text, sign-up for a newsletter with only one action which then adds then to a list for ongoing use. Unlike double opt-in, there is no second step such as needing to reply to an email.

Soft Bounce

The failed delivery of an e-mail due to a full mailbox, non-responsive server or other non-permanent issue.


A commercial email sent to a recipient without their permission.


The use of a false stated identity by the sender of spam email in order to entice an unwitting response.

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