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16 Core Email Marketing Terms: What They Mean & Why They’re Important

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You should know email marketing terms to get the most out of email marketing.

The basics of email marketing are simple: send an email and hope that someone gets it. As long as your email campaigns aren’t getting labeled as spam, you should theoretically live a long, fruitful life of email-driven profit… right?

Unfortunately, email marketing isn’t that easy. Your brand’s email campaign is going to be competing with the emails from dozens of other companies. So how can you tell that your email campaign worked? How can you talk about email performance? And what do all those email marketing terms mean?

Here are 16 different core email marketing terms that you should know, whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been in the email marketing business a long time:

The Basics

  1. Email Service Provider (ESP) – An email service provider, usually referred to as an ESP, is an email platform that helps you get your emails to the inbox of your recipients.

  2. Internet Service Provider (ISP) – To say the least, ISPs do a lot of things, from domain registration and basic Internet access to providing email services. The latter reason is why email marketers should care about ISPs – Gmail, AOL, Yahoo, and Outlook all have different ways of blacklisting emails for spam, as well as delivering your emails to your recipient’s inbox.

  3. Internet Protocol (IP) Address – An IP address is a code that’s assigned to each device in a computer network. For email marketing, the “reputation” of your IP address is very important – if ISPs see a lot of spam reports associated with you IP address, the ISP will block your IP address and you won’t be able to reach your recipients.

The Metrics

  1. Delivery Rate – This is the rate at which your emails are delivered to recipients. Most companies should shoot for a 95% delivery rate or higher. A lower delivery rate means more of your emails are bouncing.

  2. Bounce Rate – Bounce rate is the percentage of emails that didn’t get delivered to recipients, either because the email address was nonexistent, the recipient had an out-of-office notification or a full inbox, or the ISP rejected the email sender’s IP.

  3. Open Rate – This is the percentage of recipients who open your email. On average, brands will see about a 15-25% open rate for marketing emails and up to 40% on transactional emails.

  4. Click-through Rate (CTR) – The CTR shows you how many recipients not only opened an email, but clicked a link. Most ESPs provide a way to track which links were clicked and which recipients clicked what. This is a great indicator of interest in your company and what you’re offering in the emails.

  5. Conversion Rate – A conversion rate is the percent of recipients who purchased a product based on an email. The easiest way to track this is to create a separate landing page for a product that is solely trafficked by email recipients.

The Email Types

  1. Transactional Emails – Transactional emails are emails that have financial information in them – whether that’s shipping confirmations, order information, or something else, these emails are opened more often because they’re sent after a customer has already interacted with the brand in some way.

  2. Email blast – An email blast is just an email campaign by a less dignified name. This harkens back to the days where email marketing was often untargeted and sent to rented or purchased lists of email addresses.

  3. Email newsletter – Sometimes, email newsletters are synonymous with email blasts, but often newsletters contain more content than sales offers. Newsletters are often used by B2B companies to keep in touch with clients and prospects, or by nonprofits showing different initiatives.

  4. Triggered / Automated Email – Triggered emails are emails that are sent automatically when a certain event or action has occurred. For example, if a customer is shopping but abandons his or her cart, a triggered email might be sent to remind them to finish the transaction

The Data

  1. Subscribers – People who have voluntarily subscribed to receive your email campaigns.

  2. List – The list of email addresses from the people who are receiving your campaigns.

The Tactics

  1. Segmentation – If you’re sending different kinds of offers to different people (which is pretty likely), you’ll want to segment your list. That means breaking up your general list into lists based on preferences and demographics, from product purchase history to gender and location.

  2. A:B Test – Testing is critical to finding out what works best for your email campaigns. An A:B test means splitting up your email list and sending out two different emails (Email A and Email B) with different subject lines and sometimes different content to see which performs better.

Future Terms for Future Tactics

This is a rundown of the core email marketing terms that any email marketer should know, but there are plenty more to go around. Lately, there’s been talk about things like email personalization, geo-targeted emails, and contextual content in email campaigns. These are more advanced terms for more advanced use cases, but can greatly enhance the effectiveness of a campaign.

Contextual Marketing eBookWant to learn everything there is to know about contextual marketing?****Download our eBook, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Contextual Marketing.”

The Inkredible 5 Winter 2015

Want to see how brands like Yahoo, Hyatt, and others are using context in emails? Check out The Inkredible Five: Winter 2015.

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