Email Marketing Glossary

Email Marketing glossary and popular terms

We are guilty of sometimes assuming everyone knows what we are talking about when discussing email marketing. Yet, we are also aware that a lot of our clients aren’t email marketing experts and they don’t have the time to be.

That’s where we step in and do what we can to help. Along the way we get a lot of people asking us what certain email terms mean, or what some common acronyms stand for in the world of email marketing.

Therefore we thought it might be useful to produce a reference guide of common email marketing glossary and terms. We hope you find it useful.

Abandoned cart email: A message sent to a subscriber who has not progressed to a purchase.

Above the fold:  The part of an email that displays in the preview pane before a recipient opens and scrolls.

A/B testing:  Sending 2 or more different versions of your email to a portion of your database to see which version performs better and then launching the winning version to the remaining recipients.

Active: Email address is set to receive campaigns. Also see inactive.

Active consent:  When a person actively gives permission that they want to be added to your email list (e.g. checking an unchecked box); also see passive consent.:

Adhoc fields: Fields created to be used on a one off basis to capture data in a form.

Alt text:  A text alternative for images for instances when the image cannot be viewed.

Animated gif:  An image file that displays multiple frames over a period of time in a set sequence.

Automated email: An email sent to a subscriber on a pre-set condition e.g., a birthday.

Blacklist:  A blacklist is a database that uses various measures to determine if an IP is sending legitimate email or spam. Blacklists  are maintained by organisations and are used by ISPs to manage email deliverability.

Block List: A list of email addresses that should not be emailed as they could be opted out or hard bounced addresses.

Blocked:  When emails are blocked by an ISP from being delivered.

Boilerplate: Text that can be reused in new contexts or applications without being greatly changed from the original.

Body content:   The content of your email campaign namely images, text and any other content between the header and footer.

Bounced:  When email is rejected by an ISP due to a temporary (mail box full or server down) or permanent failure (wrong or inactive email address).

Boolean: A data type can have one of two values, e.g. yes or no.

Call-to-action (CTA):  The button or link prompting an action.

Channel unsubscribe: The option to unsubscribe from a particular type of mailing.

Click-Throughs: : Number of recipients that clicked on a link in an email campaign.

Click-Throughs Totals: A measure of the total number of click throughs.

Complaint: When a recipients sends an email from the inbox to their junk folder.

Confirmed View: A measure of how many recipients chose to download images AND/OR click on a link.

CSS: Cascading Style Sheets, used to apply styles, positioning and colours to HTML content.

Custom fields: Fields created in addition to system fields, specific to user requirements to host additional data on recipients. See also system fields.:

Conversion:  When an action from the email is followed through such as a purchase, or registration for an event

Bullet proof button: A call to action button within an email, but rather than using an image, the bulletproof button is created by using HTML, VML and inline styling to create the style of a button

Dedicated domain: A domain set up specifically for email marketing avoiding use of root domain of a company

Dedicated IP address:  An IP address assigned to one company or brand in order to send email so that company is fully responsible for the sender reputation of that IP address; also see shared IP address:

DNS : Domain Named Server(s) maintain a directory of domain names and translate them to Internet Protocol (IP) addresses

Double opt-in:  Asking a potential subscriber to provide their email address in order for an email to be sent to them containing a verification link which the recipient must click to confirm that their address is real and wants to opt in

Double opt-out: A two process to unsubscribing, where the recipient is sent an email with a verification link to unsubscribe.

Dynamic content:   Content that changes based on specific data held on recipient - such as location.

Email alias: A forwarding email address

Email authentication:  Various measures in place that aid ISPs identify email sent by a company or brand.  Examples of authentication tools are DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail) and (SPF) Sender Policy Framework

Email automation:  Emails that send further emails or change content automatically depending on the recipients preference or action

Email client:  A computer program used to access and manage users email

Email content type: The type of email recipient has opted to receive, i.e. text, HTML or Multipart.

Email service provider (ESP):  A company that provides email marketing services so you do not have to send bulk emails through your own servers

Engagement:  Interaction with an email that has been measured such as opens, clicks on links, scrolling etc.

Envelope content:  Details visible to recipients before an email is opened such as the from name, from address, subject line etc.

Express consent: The subscriber clearly confirmed they are happy to receive email communications from you. They would have opted-in by actively checking off (or on) a box to opt in to receive communication from your company.

Feedback loop (FBL):  A service provided by ISPs and other inbox providers to notify email senders of spam complaints so they can be removed from future mailing lists

Footer:  The bottom part of an email that may not change very often and will include an opt out link, registered address details and links to privacy policies

Forward to a Friend (FTAF):  A system link that takes recipients to a form where they can enter more email addresses in order to send the email in its entirety avoiding breaking of formatting

Freemail:  A free of charge email account such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, Outlooks and AOL

Global filtering:  Blocking of all emails by an ISP sent by a company or brand to any of its email users

Global unsubscribe: Choosing to unsubscribe from all types of communications.

Graphical text:  Text that is part of an image

Hard bounce: Permanent delivery failure, such as email address no longer exists.

Header:  The top part of the email that generally contains the company logo, the view online link and forward to a friend link

HTML: Hyper Text Markup Language, used to create the structure of a webpage or email.

HTML text:  Text that is widely supported across email clients

Image blocking:  When images are blocked by ISPs or subscribers

Implied consent: They didn’t specifically check a box on (or off) to confirm they are happy to receive communications from you but made a purchase, or downloaded a marketing guide implies that it’s OK to email them for a while. A person must have done business with your company within the last 24 months for their consent to be considered implied.

Inactive:  A recipient of your emails that has not opened or clicked in in set time; could also be a subscriber who has been made inactive due to non-engagement, opting out or bounce activity

Inbox placement rate:  Emails percentage that reaches the intended recipients’ inbox

Internet service provider (ISP):  A company that provides internet access

IP address: A unique string of numbers separated by full stops that identifies each computer using the Internet Protocol to communicate over a network

IP address warming:  Gradually increasing the volume of emails sent from an IP address in order to have desirable sending history for ISPs to see

Junked:  When emails are sent to a recipient’s junk or spam folder by an ISP

Landing page:  The destination (web page for example) that subscribers are directed to when they click a call-to-action

Lead nurturing: Term applied to collecting data on recipients by sending them through a series of emails in order to establish viable sales leads.

List building:  Growing your email subscriber lists

List churn:  Email addresses that are removed from lists due to aging, opt outs, complaints and bounces

List hygiene: ;Maintaining a healthy email marketing list ensuring old, invalid, and suppressed addresses are not included in any sends

Live content: Content in an email that varies and possibly changes depending on user engagement

Loaded weight: Total size of an email which includes the HTML file size and the associated images used in the email

Merge Lists: Combining data from two or more lists into one new or pre-existing list.

Multivariate testing: Similar to A/B testing but ability to test unlimited combinations of elements on a web page or email and measure the significance of those changes

MX Record: A type of resource record in the DNS that specifies a mail server responsible for accepting email messages on behalf of a recipient's domain

Multipart version: An email that contains both text only and HTML and displays either content depending on recipient’s inbox settings

Native inbox links: Also known as best practise links such as view online, forward to a friend etc.

Notification email : An email generated automatically based on a specific event such as form submission.

Non Engager : A recipient of email campaigns who has not opened nor clicked in emails for a  period of time, although remain an active user

Confirmed Open: When images in an email are downloaded by a recipient or automatically based on a user enabling images automatically in their inbox

Open reach: The percentage of subscribers that have opened emails over a period of time

Opt down: When a recipient selects a different topic or frequency rather than opting out altogether from all emails

Opt-in confirmation email: This forms part of a double opt-in process where the subscriber has to click a link in the email to confirm their registration

Opt-in confirmation page: The page the displays after someone has successfully registered

Opt-in email marketing: Only sending emails to people who have given you permission to do so

Opt-out page: see unsubscribe page:

Opt-out process: see unsubscribe process:

Passive consent : Where a person does not actually perform any action in order to be added to an email marketing list (e.g., not requiring checking or unchecking of a box); also see active consent:

Passive unsubscribe: When recipients do not opt out manually or report as junk but instead stop use of their email account causing them to eventually be registered as a hard bounce

Personalisation: Inserting content relevant to the recipient in your emails such as first name or membership level

Phishing: The fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to obtain individual’s personal information

Post-click metrics: The measurement of a recipients further browsing following clicks throughs of your emails

Preference centre: A page that displays a subscriber’s chosen preferences (topics, frequency etc.) and personal details and able to make changes

Preheader text: HTML text at the very top of an email that could be used as a secondary subject line or to highlight headline content

Preview pane: The window that displays a smaller portion of an email before email is opened in its own window

Preview text: The first portion of text seen after the subject line from inside the email client when the preview message appears

Primary message: The main message of an email

Purchased List: A list of email addresses that has been purchased from a third party

Reactivation email: An email sent to a recipient to encourage them to open or click emails after a period of inactivity

Reading pane: see preview pane:

RenderingHow an email client translates an email’s coding and displays the email

Re-permission email: An email that asks a subscriber to reconfirm their subscription by clicking a link in the email in order to remain active

Responsive email design: An email design that renders differently (and correctly) depending on the device that it is being viewed on

Rich email content: Video consoles and other email content that subscribers can interact with without leaving their inbox

Sender name: The name that appears in the from line in an email client

Sender reputation: A scoring of how your domain or IP is performing in the eyes of ISPs due to spam complaints and engagement

Shared IP address: An IP address that is shared by more than one company

Soft bounce: Temporary delivery failure, for reasons such as full inbox

Spam  Unsolicited emails

Spam complaint: When an email recipient reports the email as spam or junk so the ISP notes that the email was unwanted or irrelevant and future emails will be blocked

Spamtrap: Email addresses that are old or are not published for legitimate marketing use and used by ISPs and blacklisting organisations to identify spammers

SPF Record: Is a DNS record that identifies which mail servers are permitted to send email on behalf of your domain. The purpose of an SPF record is to prevent spammers from sending messages with forged from addresses at your domain

Split testing: see A/B testing:

Subject line: The text that appears in the “subject” line in an email client

Subject line quick link: A link placed by the subject line that lets recipients click through without opening the email

Subscriber: Someone who has consented to joining your email marketing list

Subscriber lifecycle: From sign up to suppression the various stages that a subscriber passes through

Subscriber lifetime value: The cumulative profit generated by a subscriber during their subscriber lifecycle

Suppression See unsubscribe

System fields: Default database fields

Text version: The plain text only version of an email so no images or formatting of text

Throttling: When an ESP reduces the rate at which emails are delivered

Total clicks: The total number of times links or linked images in an email were clicked on by subscribers, who then visited the associated landing page; a method of measuring opens that includes repeat clicks by an individual subscriber

Total opens: The total number of times the images of an email were loaded or rendered on opening an email

Transactional email: An email sent to an email addresses following a transaction or an alternative request such as a password reset email

Triggered email: An email sent to a person automatically following an action taken by that person in a previous email or web page

Un-suppress: An action performed to remove a recipient from an unsubscribe list back to a sending list

Unique clicks: The first click subscribers who selected a link or linked image in an email

Unique opens: The first time subscribers loaded or rendered the images of an email

Unsubscribe: When a subscriber requests to be removed from an email list

Unsubscribe page: The page that displays  when subscribers click the unsubscribe link in your emails

Unsubscribe process: The process of unsubscribing from email lists

URL An acronym for Uniform Resource Locator and is a reference (an address) to a resource on the Internet

Verified Email address has been opted in and validity verified

Webmail: An email client that’s accessed online

Welcome email: An email automatically sent to a new subscriber after opt in

Welcome email series: Automatic emails sent on a sequential basis over a period of time


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