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Email Marketing Glossary 


A/B Split Test

A method of email testing where two equal segments of an email list are sent two different versions of an email to gauge response to certain variables. Commonly used for testing the response of recipients (in the form of open rates) to different subject lines.


The top part of an email or web page that can be seen without scrolling. This is generally more desirable placement because of its visibility.

Accepted Rate

The total amount successfully delivered to the server divided by the total e-mail deployed (unique records). The amount successfully delivered is the total amount attempted minus all failures, including hard bounces.

Alt Attributes

The HTML tags describing an image that appears when the mouse is rolled over the image on a Web page. Helpful for people who view pages in text-only mode. Some search engines look for keywords in Alt Attributes.



List of IP addresses that are being used by or belong to organizations or individuals that have been identified as sending SPAM. Blacklists are often used by organizations and Internet Service Providers as part of their filtering process to block all incoming mail from a particular IP address (or block of addresses).


A message rejected by the receiving server. Typically bounces are referred to as either hard bounce, a delivery failure for permanent reason (e.g. a misspelled email address) or soft bounce, a delivery failure due to a temporary condition (e.g. mailbox is currently full).

Bounce rate

Ratio of bounced e-mails to total e-mails sent.


Call to Action

Words included in images or text that encourage the prospect to take a specific action. For example, "Click here to see a product tour" or "Add this product to your wish list."


An email marketing message or a series of messages designed to accomplish an overall marketing goal.


A law, which became effective January 1, 2004, that establishes provisions for those who send email with primary purpose of advertising or promoting a commercial product or service.


The character set header. Different charsets allow non-western alphabets to be sent via email.

Click Through Rate (CTR)

The number of times a link is clicked from a message divided by the number of accepted messages.

Conversion Rate

The number or percentage of recipients who respond to your call-to-action in a given email marketing campaign or promotion. This is the measure of your email campaign’s success. You may measure conversion in sales, phone calls, opportunities or appointments.



A DNS (Domain name server) is the web service that translates a website's name to its Internet address

Double Opt-In

A more stringent method of obtaining permission to send email campaigns. Double opt-in adds an additional step to the opt-in process. It requires the subscriber to respond to a confirmation email, either by clicking on a confirmation link, or by replying to the email to confirm their subscription. Only those subscribers who take this additional step are added to your list.


Email Render Rate

The number of times an email is displayed (whether fully opened or within the preview pane) and recorded using a tracking image within an HTML format message and divided by the total and expressed as a percentage. While unique is the preferred method, this rate may be calculated using either the unique or the total email renders.


Hard Bounce

An email address that is rejected by the receiving server for a permanent reason (example: "email address does not exist"). Hard bounces are not valid email addresses and should be removed from lists.

House List

A permission-based list that you built yourself. Use it to market, cross sell and up-sell, and to establish a relationship with customers over time.

HTML Email

An email comprised of HTML code. Essentially, an HTML-based email is the equivalent of emailing a web page, complete with colors, graphics, and other visually appealing methods of delivering content.



IMAP (Internet message access protocol) lets you download messages from your webmail so you can access your mail with a program like Outlook Express or Apple Mail. IMAP syncs the actions you take in Outlook Express or Apple Mail with your webmail so if you read a message in your mail client, it'll be marked as read in the webmail.

Inbox Placement Rate

Abbreviated as IPR, in permission-based email marketing the inbox placement rate is a deliverability benchmark that is used to determine what percentage of send emails reach the intended subscriber's inbox. In email marketing, there is a growing trend for marketers to focus on inbox placement rates as a key metric instead of determining deliverability based only on email bounce rates.

IP Address

An IP address (Internet Protocol address) is a series of numbers that identifies a digital device such as your computer. They work like your home address--they allow data to arrive at the correct Internet location.


Landing Page

A lead capture page on your website that is linked from an email to provide additional information directly related to products or services promoted in the email's call-to-action. Every email should have a unique landing page to capture leads or a tracking URL to a standard landing page in order to determine ROI.


Open Rate

Is the percentage of unique confirmed opens divided by the total number of accepted emails. This metric may be calculated as total or unique, see the SAME Project Guide for details.

Opt-in Email Marketing

The process of collecting permission to email users whereby the user must take action to receive email communications. Also known as Permission-based Email Marketing.


To opt-out or unsubscribe from an email list is to choose not to receive communications from the sender by requesting the removal of your email address from their list.


Permission-based Email

Email sent to recipients who have opted-in or subscribed to receive email communications from a particular company, website or individual. It is an absolute requirement for legitimate email marketing.


The practice of building an email such that the recipient feels it is a more personal experience. Personalization can include a number of things, such as mail merging a name into the body copy, referring to previous purchases, or more dynamic content insertions based on demographic fields. (Tips: Avoid using personalization in the subject line of your emails as this is a tactic widely used by spammers.)


POP (Post office protocol) is a one-way download of your messages that allows you to access your mail with a mail program like Outlook Express or Apple Mail. POP only offers one-way communication, which means that actions you take in the mail program (like marking a message as read) won’t be synced to your webmails.

Preview Pane

Available in some email clients, preview panes display a portion of a selected email message without the recipient actually having to open the full message. In some clients, the size of the preview pane can be adjusted to display all or most of an email.

Privacy Policy

A clear description of a website or company’s policy on the use of information collected from website visitors and what they do, and do not do, with the data. Your privacy policy builds trust especially among those who opt-in to receive emails from you or those who register on your website. (Tips: If subscribers, prospects and customers know their information is safe with you, they will likely share more information making your relationship much more valuable.)

PTR Record

PTR record, or more appropriately a reverse PTR record is a process of resolving an IP address to its associated hostname. This is the exact opposite of the process of resolving a hostname to an IP address. For example, when you ping a name it will get resolved to the ip address using the DNS to something like Reverse PTR record does the opposite; it looks up the hostname for the given IP address. In the example above the PTR record for IP address will get resolved to



Identifying and sending to only a select portion of an email list based on a shared pre-determined criteria, such as the recipients' zip code or online purchase history. Segmentation is used to help increase the relevance of a message to the recipients.

Single Opt-in

Method of list building where only a single action is required of an interested party before he/she is added to a mailing list (such as submitting a web form). Differs from Double Opt-in in that no follow-up action is required on the part of new subscribers in order to confirm their opt-in status.


SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) is a set of standard Internet procedures by which two email providers (ex. Gmail, Yahoo Mail), transfer email messages to one another’s mail servers.


Unsolicited bulk marketing e-mail. Spamming is against the law, and we cannot recommend its use in any way.


Text Email

A black and white email consisting only of typed text. Preferred by recipients who view email on mobile devices, or those who prefer email without images.

Transactional Email Messagee

An email message that is primarily intended to facilitate, complete or confirm a commercial transaction that the recipient has previously agreed to enter in with the email sender. Also known as "relationship email message".

(Source: Commerce Committee Report, CAN-SPAM Act of 2003)


Viral Marketing

A type of marketing that is carried out voluntarily by a company’s customers. It is also referred to as word-of-mouth advertising. Adding words such as “send this page, article or website to a friend” encourage people to refer or recommend your newsletter, company, product, service or specific offer to others.



A list of email addresses that a user designates as safe to receive email from. Inclusion on a whitelist means that no email from those particular senders will ever end up in the user's junk mail folder unless express action is taken by the user to remove an address from the whitelist.


Acronym for "What You See is What You Get," it describes Web content or HTML software that displays the content being edited or created very similar to its final form.

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