The language of digital marketing can be confusing. Email marketing, in particular, comes with a variety of complicated terms and metrics. 

A thorough understanding of common email marketing terms is key to the success of any online marketing campaign. To that end, we’ve highlighted several important email marketing terms to know:

Above the Fold

Above the fold is a term that originally meant the upper half of the front page of a newspaper. It now also applies to email content, referring to the space that readers can see before they need to scroll. As a best practice, many marketing emails display the most important information above the fold in an effort to hook readers before they move on to other content.

Acceptable Spam Complaint Rate

This metric tracks how often email recipients report messages from a specific sender as spam. Industry standards established by providers such as Gmail advocate for a rate of 0.1 percent, or just one spam report for every 1,000 emails sent. 

Autoresponder

An autoresponder service allows you to automatically send emails to specific recipients. The tool lets senders create email content in advance that gets sent based on specific triggers. For instance, confirmation notifications and thank you emails are among the most common messages sent via autoresponder.

CAN-SPAM

This crucial acronym stands for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003. It references legislation outlining rules for commercial email — and the ability of recipients to request businesses to stop emailing them. Specifically, CAN-SPAM prevents marketers from using false header information and deceptive subject lines. 

Under CAN-SPAM, it’s impossible to “contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law,” even when working with email marketing companies — hence, the need for a reputable email marketing service, should you decide to outsource portions of your company’s marketing campaign.

Click-Through Rate

The click-through rate (CTR) measures the percentage of email recipients who click on a link contained within a message. To calculate an email’s CTR, divide the number of clicks it receives by the number of delivered messages. 

CTRs can vary significantly based on the industry, the purpose of a particular email, and the quality of the message’s content. This metric alone may not indicate a campaign’s success, but it offers insight into whether email subscribers are engaged.

Conversion Rate

Conversion rate is a metric that quantifies the extent to which email subscribers complete desired actions.

For example, if the goal of a law firm’s email marketing campaign involves client consultations, the conversion rate may mean the percentage of recipients who schedule case evaluations in response to a particular email message. It’s possible for email marketing campaigns to maintain high click-through rates but struggle with conversions.

Double Opt-In

A top method for building email marketing lists, double opt-in occurs when subscribers click on links within confirmation emails to verify that they’ve agreed to receive marketing messages. This process takes longer than single opt-in but it produces a high-quality email list by ensuring that all included email addresses feature valid, regularly monitored inboxes. 

Email Service Provider

Email service providers (ESPs) are services that facilitate the building and maintenance of email lists. The two main functions of an ESP are storing email addresses and sending messages. Many ESPs also include features to target messages to specific recipients or automate marketing functions to save time. 

Filter

Filters allow email recipients to categorize messages based on specific criteria. Spam filters are among the most common email filters, as they reduce the time spent clicking on and reading junk emails. People also use filters to organize emails based on whether messages are intended for work, education, social media, or other purposes.

Hard Bounce

Hard bounces occur when emails cannot be delivered due to permanent issues that will not be resolved over time. In most situations, hard bounces are due to invalid email addresses. It is nearly always in the sender’s best interest to delete addresses that result in hard bounces.

Landing Page

Email messages often include links to landing pages, which are web pages specifically designed to:

  • Provide more information about a company, product, or service.
  • Direct email contacts to the next stage in the sales funnel.
  • Capture information on customers and measure the success of a particular email marketing campaign. 

Open Rate

A key email marketing metric for assessing recipient interest, the open rate highlights the percentage of subscribers who open a particular email message. While this rate alone cannot determine an email marketing campaign’s success, it signifies that subscribers actually receive emails (as opposed to bouncing) and are interested in viewing them. 

Opt-Out

When email subscribers choose not to receive marketing messages anymore, they can follow simple opt-out steps to confirm their intentions. For most email subscriptions, the opt-out process involves clicking a link and completing an opt-out form. Once this step is completed, the subscription ends and the individual will no longer receive marketing messages.

Many companies include marketing surveys in their opt-out forms to better understand why consumers decide to opt out.

Single Opt-In

As its name implies, single opt-in involves a one-step process that only requires the intended subscriber to enter a valid email address in a signup box. Upon completing this step, the subscriber officially joins the email list. This approach eliminates the need for a confirmation email, but often leads to less reliable email lists.

Soft Bounce

As with hard bounces, soft bounce emails cannot be delivered as intended to the recipient. However, while hard bounces signify a permanent inability to send emails, soft bounces can often be solved. 

Many times, soft bounces occur because inboxes are full or because files contained within emails are too big to be received. Many companies continue to try sending emails after an initial soft bounce.

Transaction Emails

Often referred to as triggered emails, these automated messages are sent as soon as the intended recipient engages in a specific action. While these emails typically occur outside of email marketing campaigns, they still play a role in marketing efforts. 

Abandoned cart emails, for example, get sent when customers neglect to complete online purchases. Regardless of their purpose, these emails are personalized to contain information that would only be useful to the recipient.