A subscriber wrote, “I have a hard time keeping all the ‘lingo’ straight in my head.”
So I thought I would do a series of posts on terms used in various types of Internet marketing. I’ll start with email.
If you read through the list carefully, you’ll also learn something about email marketing strategy and best practices.
Above the fold: The part of the email that shows in the Preview pane or without needing to scroll. It also applies to web pages–the part of the page that is visible when you first display the page, without needing to scroll. This is your prime real estate, because some people won’t bother to scroll unless what they see is compelling. The term originally referred to the top half of a large-format folded newspaper, such as the New York Times.
Autoresponder: 1 or more emails that are set up to automatically be sent to a subscriber at a set number of days after a certain event, usually initial subscription. Sometimes called a drip campaign. You can set up a series of emails that introduce new subscribers to your website, offer them discounts on products, provide a mini-course, etc.
Blacklist: A list containing email addresses or IP addresses of suspected spammers. Blacklists are used to block incoming email as spam.
Bounces: Email messages that fail to reach the the subscriber. A hard bounce is caused by an invalid email address; a soft bounce is due to a temporary conditions, such as a full inbox. Most email services will automatically remove a subscriber from your list after 1 or 2 hard bounces.
Campaign: An email sent to a list of subscribers. Sometimes called a promotion.
CAN-SPAM Act: A U.S. law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, and gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them. For example, one rules is that you must include your physical address in the email (usually at the bottom). You can get more information here.
CGI: Common Gateway Interface. A way to transfer data between a Web server and a CGI program. CGI programs are often used for processing email subscriptions and Web forms. When a viewer completes a contact form on your website and clicks Submit, you get an email; a CGI program accomplishes this. Most Web hosts offer CGI programs to automate the process, so you don’t have to do the programming yourself.
Click-through rate: The percentage of recipients who clicked on a link within an email. (See Tracking.)
Conversion rate: The percentage of recipients who made a purchase, signed up to receive a download, etc.
Deliverability: The percentage of emails that are successfully delivered (and not blocked as spam.) Email services often advertise their deliverability rate.
Double opt-in: The requirement that a person who requests a subscription must click on a confirmation link in an email to confirm the decision to subscribe. In this way, the person must click two separate times to successfully subscribe. Double opt-in is the recommended procedure because it reduces the number of people who consider your email to be spam.
Drip campaign: See Autoresponder.
eBlast: An email sent out to subscribers that is dedicated to one topic, usually subscribing people or selling a product.
Email client: The software that recipients use to read email. Examples are Outlook and Thunderbird. Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail are browser based, but can also be considered email clients.
Email server: A computer, or software on that computer, that maintains an online database of subscribers as well as the software to send out, receive, and route email.
Email header: The section of an email message that contains the sender’s and recipient’s email addresses as well as routing information. Most email clients hide some of this information, but you may be able to display it, which is useful for troubleshooting
False positive: A legitimate email message that is mistakenly rejected as spam.
Free download: A free report or other document that is used to entice web visitors to sign up to your email list. It is usually in Adobe PDF format, but could be a video, audio recording, or any other type of electronic download. You can configure your email service to provide this download automatically, either by including a link to it in a follow-up email or by redirecting subscribers to a web page containing the link.
HTML: HyperText Markup Language. The most commonly used coding language for creating Web pages. HTML is also used to create email messages that contain images and text formatting. (Also see Plain Text.)
List broker: A company that sells or rents lists of email addresses. Some of these brokers sell you lists of names that were not gathered ethically, so your emails to the people on the list may be considered spam.
Newsletter: A regularly sent email that goes out to a list of subscribers. It usually has a name, such as the Change the World Newsletter.
Open rate: The percentage of recipients who opened an email. (See Tracking.)
Opt-in form: A form on a web page that visitors can complete to subscribe to an email list. It always requires an email address, but may also require other information. A web-based email service generally provides the code for this form, which you copy and paste into your web page.
Personalization: The insertion of each subscriber’s name in email messages (for example “Dear Janet”). In order to personalize each email, you need to gather subscribers’ names in your opt-in form and then insert a “merge field” into the email. Most email services allow for personalization.
Plain text: Text in an email that contains no formatting elements. Sometimes called ASCII text. Some people choose to receive emails in plain text format because it can be safer, but they can’t see images or text formatting.
Promotion: See Campaign.
Spam: Unwanted, unsolicited junk email sent to a large number of recipients.
Subject line: The part of an email message that explains what the email message is about. Subject lines are important because they influence whether a subscriber will open an email.
Tracking: The process of tracking how many recipients opened (open-rate tracking) or clicked (click-rate tracking) in a particular email message. You should monitor your open and click rates to gauge the success of the email campaign. Open-rate tracking is done using an invisible image (so it requires HTML email); when a recipient opens the email and displays images (which often doesn’t happen by default), the email server can record that the email has been opened. Click-rate tracking is done by creating intermediate links that the email server can monitor.
Whitelist: A list of pre-authorized email addresses from which email messages can be delivered regardless of spam filters. You can ask your subscribers to whitelist your email address, so that your email campaigns aren’t blocked as spam.
Web form: See opt-in form.
Thanks to L-Soft for a good list of email terms.
Have I left anything out? Are any of these definitions unclear? Please leave a comment and let me know so I can fix this list.