21 email marketing terms every small business owner should know

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By Melissa Ng   |   Last Updated 9 February 2022

As email is one of the most scalable marketing channels for small businesses, it’s no wonder that email marketing campaigns are used by nearly every type of small business.

Email is arguably one of the best ways to market your products or services to interested customers. Email marketing allows you to target customers based on the information they have provided or what you know about them. This might include their age, location, past purchase history, interests etc. In addition, email marketing reaches people when they’re ready to read their email; unlike social media users browsing their feeds at random times throughout the day, email recipients are almost guaranteed to be attentive during work hours (or at least until lunch).

However, as with any form of marketing, small business owners need a basic understanding of the terminology to create an effective campaign or newsletter. So whether you’re researching free email marketing tools, looking to make the most out of your email marketing software, or looking to ramp up your email marketing strategy, we’ve got you covered.

So, here’s an email marketing glossary for small business owners without further ado.

1. Automated email marketing

Automated email marketing allows you to send emails to your customers based on various criteria or triggers. For example, when someone signs up for your newsletter, you can program your email marketing platform to automatically send them a welcome email with important information about your business.

So, why is it important? Suppose you have certain emails that you always send to customers based on things they do (signing up to a list, purchasing a particular product, logging in to your website) or at certain milestones in their journey (birthdays, membership anniversary). In that case, you can automatically send those emails instead of wasting your time doing each one manually.

You need to set up the rules and creative once and let it run in the background. However, remember to review them periodically to ensure they are still up to date and relevant to your customer.

2. Blacklist

A blacklist is a database or list of email addresses, domain names, or IP addresses with a bad reputation and is considered spam. If you find yourself on a blacklist, your email will most likely end up in your customer’s spam or junk folder, or it may not get delivered at all.

The most common reason why a business ends up on a blacklist is that many of their email recipients have marked their email as spam, leading to spam complaints. That’s why it’s crucial that you only send emails to customers subscribed to receive marketing emails from you, the email content is current and up to date, and the email is relevant to the person receiving the email.

3. Bounce rate

When you send an email to your list, the email is either delivered (it reached the customer’s inbox) or undeliverable. Those undeliverable emails are considered “bounced”. So, the bounce rate is the percentage of emails that didn’t reach your customer’s inbox.

For example, if you send out 1,000 emails and 900 were delivered successfully, your bounce rate is 10%.

The lower the bounce rate, the better. A high bounce rate can indicate that you’ve got some bad emails in your list. For example, you might have many people signing up for your newsletter with a dodgy email address such as 123@test.com. If you’ve bought an email list or your email list is growing in size, it’s essential to clean your lists regularly. Also, see hard bounce and soft bounce below for more information.

4. Call to action

The call to action (CTA) is a phrase used in the email to encourage the customer to take an action. Some examples include shop now, learn more, download the app, speak to an expert, get in touch.

The CTA could be a button, a link, or a phone number. It’s important to include clear CTAs throughout your email to help guide the customer through the sales journey.

5. Click through rate

The click through rate (CTR) is the number of unique link clicks in your email as a percentage of the number of opened emails. The higher the CTR, the better.

The CTR is an excellent indicator of how effective your email is. Because why send a marketing email if no one is going to click on the link and take action?

6. Cost per mile

Cost per mile (CPM) is the cost of sending 1,000 emails. It’s also called cost per thousand (CPT). This can help you determine whether or not an email sponsorship is a good option for you, whether you are including one in your newsletter, or you have the opportunity to be featured in someone else’s email.

Double opt-ins help to increase the integrity of your email list because it ensures that the person who has entered the email into the subscription box is also the owner of that email and has access to the inbox.

7. Double opt-in

When a customer subscribes to your mailing list, you can choose a single or double opt-in. The subscriber will need to go through two steps with the double opt-in before becoming an official subscriber to your list.

For example, suppose a customer subscribes to your newsletter by submitting their email address (1). In that case, they may then receive a notification to their email address asking them to click a link to confirm their subscription (2).

8. Email deliverability

Email deliverability is the percentage of the emails sent that ended up in the subscriber’s inbox. For example, if you sent 1,000 emails and 900 were delivered successfully, your email deliverability would be 90%.

9. Email service provider

The email service provider (ESP) is a company that provides you with the software you need to maintain your email lists and send out emails to your subscribers.

Your ESP should allow you to maintain and segment your email list, build different email templates and creatives, send emails to your subscribers manually and automatically, have testing options or experiments, and provide detailed reports and analytics of your campaigns.

10. Hard bounce

A hard bounce is when your email cannot be delivered to the subscriber, and it will never be delivered to them. This might happen if the email address no longer exists, the domain name is invalid, or the email server has blocked delivery of the email.

Having a lot of hard bounces from your campaign shows that you need to improve the hygiene of your email list. Try to remove these inactive or invalid emails from your list regularly.

11. List hygiene

List hygiene is the process of maintaining a clean and healthy email list. This includes regularly removing invalid email addresses from your list and verifying that existing email addresses are current and valid.

Maintaining this process will help ensure that your email list is in top shape and will decrease the chances of high bounce rates or deliverability issues.

12. List segmentation

List segmentation allows you to classify your customers in your list based on certain factors or characteristics. For example, age, location, and even where they are in your sales funnel.

Not every email will be relevant to every customer in your list. List segmentation can help you send highly personalised and targeted emails to your subscribers, leading to a better experience for the customer. It can also help decrease spam complaints as the email should be of interest to the recipient.

For example, if you own a clothing store and your subscriber is only interested in women’s clothing, it would be pointless to send them an email about a special on men’s clothing.

13. Open rate

The open rate is the number of emails opened as a percentage of emails sent. The open rate is an important metric to keep your eye on because you want to make sure all your hard work in creating the email have not gone to waste and that subscribers are opening your email and reading your content.

List hygiene, list segmentation, and a killer subject line are critical components to improving your email open rate.

14. Personalisation

Personalisation is where you include content in your email that is customised based on the individual subscriber. For example, include your customer’s first name in the greeting or include products that the customer has recently browsed or saved on your website.

Relevancy is essential when presenting your customers with information and marketing, and personalisation in your marketing is a great way to achieve that.

15. Privacy policy

Every website that collects people’s information is required to have a privacy policy. The privacy policy explains what information is collected, how it is collected and stored, and how the information is used. It’s essential to also include a link to your privacy policy in your marketing emails, so your subscribers can easily find the information they’re looking for.

16. Single opt-in

When a customer subscribes to your mailing list, you can choose a single or double opt-in. The customer only needs to submit their email address to subscribe to your mailing list with the single opt-in. They do not need to confirm their subscription with a second step.

While single opt-in is by far the most straightforward way to get people on your list, it does increase the risk of invalid sign ups and spambots.

17. Soft bounce

A soft bounce is when your email temporarily cannot be delivered to your subscriber. This might be because their inbox is full, or the size of your email is too big for their inbox.

If you continue to send emails to these addresses and receive soft bounces, it will eventually turn into a hard bounce.

18. Spam

Spam or junk mail are emails sent to someone that has not opted-in to receive emails or has not given permission to the sender to send them emails. People also refer to unwanted emails as spam, even though they’ve opted in.

19. Subject line

The subject line is the headline of your email that will show up in the subscriber’s inbox. It’s the one line that will either get your subscriber to open your email or file your email away unopened into the abyss.

Picking the perfect subject line can be stressful! That’s why many businesses test different subject lines in their email campaigns, so they’re not sending a dud to the entire list.

20. Subscribe

Subscribing (or opting in) is when a person submits their email address to you and permits you to include them on your mailing list. You may require a single or double opt-in (see terms above).

21. Unsubscribe

Unsubscribing (or opting out) happens when a subscriber no longer wishes to receive email communications from you and opts out of your mailing list.

You are required to include a clear unsubscribe link in all your marketing emails so that your customers can manage their subscription at any time.

When someone clicks on your unsubscribe link, your email marketing platform will automatically change the status of that subscriber to unsubscribed, and you will no longer be able to send them emails.

A high unsubscribe rate can indicate different problems with the campaign, such as the quality of your content was low, your email wasn’t suitable for that particular list segment, or you sent the email at the wrong time, or the email didn’t look great on mobile.

Thank you for reading our email marketing glossary! We hope it helps you create better email campaigns!

If you’re looking for stellar email marketing services for small businesses, the AppSalon Marketing Touch Up is for you! The Marketing Touch Up is our exceptional one week service where we solve your biggest website and marketing problems, so your digital media and content shine.

We can help you with various issues, such as setting up your automations, branding your emails, and optimising your segmentation strategy.

Want more information? Leave your name and email below, and we’ll get in contact with you to discuss your email marketing needs.

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Melissa Ng, the Business Development & Operations Manager at AppSalon, is a versatile professional with a wealth of experience across fintech, startups, content creation, SEO, marketing, product management, and QA.

Melissa's career journey is highlighted by her seven-year tenure at Credit Savvy, a fintech startup under Commonwealth Bank. Here, she wore various hats, including product manager, content manager, operations manager, lead QA, and account manager. Her contributions led to the remarkable achievement of growing the user base from zero to over one million Australian members, in just over 5 years.

Beyond her professional achievements, Melissa embraces adventure, with interests ranging from hiking, pilates, and baking to knitting. Surprisingly, she even finds relaxation in cleaning.

Melissa Ng is a seasoned expert in the realm of digital business. With both extensive experience and commitment to excellence, Melissa endevours so that every single client receives the best possible outcome.


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