Email Marketing 101

The part of a web page that is visible without scrolling. It is generally more desirable placement on a Website because of its visibility. If you have a “join our mailing list” tag on your Website, you should place it “above the fold” making it easy for visitors to opt-in.
Affirmative Consent
Another word for permission. The recipient of your email has been clearly and fully notified of the collection and use of his email address and has consented prior to such collection and use. Affirmative consent is not only a best practice; it is required by all reputable email marketing services.
Auto Responder
A program or a script that automatically sends a response when someone sends a message to its address. The most common uses of auto responders are for subscribe and unsubscribe confirmations, welcome emails and customer-support questions.
CAN-SPAM Act of 2003
Federal anti-spam legislation passed in 2003 that requires the following in each email: a legitimate header, a valid “From” address, a straightforward “Subject” line, an unsubscribe/opt-out link and/or instructions and a physical address. It also requires that all unsubscribes are processed within ten days of receipt.
An email marketing message or a series of messages designed to accomplish an overall goal.
Challenge Response
An automated message triggered by the receipt of an email for the purpose of identifying the sender as a trusted source. The challenge is a message to the sender of the email with instructions on how to validate themselves. If the sender provides a valid response, his email address is added to the recipient’s list of trusted senders and his message is passed along to the recipient.
Click-through Rate (CTR)
The percentage (the number of unique clicks divided by the number that were opened) of recipients that click on a given URL in your e-mail.
Confirmed Opt-In
A more stringent method of obtaining permission to send email campaigns. Confirmed opt-in adds an additional step to the opt-in process. It requires the subscriber to respond to a confirmation email, either by clicking on a confirmation link, or by replying to the email to confirm their subscription. Only those subscribers who take this additional step are added to your list.
Conversion Rate
The number or percentage of recipients who respond to your call-to-action in a given e-mail marketing campaign or promotion. This is the measure of your e-mail campaign’s success. You may measure conversion in sales, phone calls, appointments etc.
Cost per Thousand (CPM)
In e-mail marketing, CPM commonly refers to the cost per 1000 names on a given rental list. For example, a rental list priced at $250 CPM would mean that the list owner charges $.25 per e-mail address.
An ezine is an electronic magazine emailed to a list of subscribers. Advertisers pay to have their ad (text, HTML or both depending on the publication) inserted into the body of the email. Buying ad space in an e-zine or email newsletter, or sponsoring a specific article or series of articles allow advertisers to reach a targeted audience driving traffic to a website, store or office, signups to a newsletter or sales of a product or service.
Email Blocking
Email blocking typically refers to blocking by ISPs. E-mails that are blocked are not processed through the ISP and are essentially prevented from reaching their addressed destination. ISPs actively block email coming from suspected spammers.
Email Newsletter Ads or Sponsorships
Buying ad space in an email newsletter or sponsoring a specific article or series of articles. Advertisers pay to have their ad (text, HTML or both depending on the publication) inserted into the body of the email.
False Positive
Legitimate permission-based email that is erroneously blocked due to the limitations of current email blocking and filtering techniques. False positives are an industry wide problem. Currently, 17% of permission-based email is erroneously blocked.
From Line or Sender Line
The from line has two parts: part one is the “From Name” – such as “Constant Contact’s Email Marketing Diva, Michelle Keegan.” Part two is the “From Address” – the electronic address including “@” such as, “[email protected]” Your recipients may see just the from name, just the from address, or both depending on the configuration of their email client.
HTML E-mail
An e-mail that is formatted using Hypertext Markup Language instead of plain text. HTML makes it possible to include unique fonts, graphics and background colors. HTML makes an e-mail more interesting and when used properly can generate higher response rates than plain text.
Hard Bounce/Soft Bounce
A hard bounce is the failed delivery of an e-mail due to a permanent reason like a non-existent address. A soft bounce is the failed delivery of an e-mail due to a temporary issue, like a full mailbox or an unavailable server.
House List (or Retention List)
A permission-based list that you built yourself. Use it to market, cross sell and up-sell, and to establish a relationship with customers over time. Your house list is one of your most valuable assets because it is 7 times less expensive to market to an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one. Use every opportunity to add to it and use it.
Landing Page
A web page that is linked to an email for the purpose of providing additional information directly related to products or services promoted in the email.
Text links, hyperlinks, graphics or images that, when clicked or when pasted into a browser, send the prospect to another online location (e.g. a landing page or other pages of a website). Links in emails are a call-to-action. To be most effective in motivating action, links should be visible, clear and compelling.
Open Rate
The percentage of e-mails opened in any given e-mail marketing campaign, or the percentage opened of the total number of e-mails sent.
Opt-in (or Subscribe)
To opt-in or subscribe to an e-mail list is to choose to receive e-mail communications by supplying your e-mail address to a particular company, website or individual thereby giving them permission to e-mail you. The subscriber can often indicate areas of personal interest (e.g. mountain biking) and/or indicate what types of e-mails she wishes to receive from the sender (e.g. newsletters).
Opt-out (or Unsubscribe)
To opt-out or unsubscribe from an e-mail list is to choose not to receive communications from the sender by requesting the removal of your e-mail address from their list.
Permission-Based E-mail
E-mail sent to recipients who have opted-in or subscribed to receive e-mail communications from a particular company, website or individual. Permission is an absolute prerequisite for legitimate and profitable e-mail marketing.
Phishing (pronounced “fishing”)
Refers to email scams whose purpose is identity theft. Identity thieves send fraudulent email messages with return addresses, links, and branding that appear to come from credit card companies, banks and some of the Web’s most well known sites including eBay®, PayPal®, MSN®, Yahoo®, and AOL®. These messages are designed to “phish” for personal and financial information (e.g. passwords, usernames, social security numbers, credit card numbers, mother’s maiden name, etc.) from the recipient. For examples,
Preexisting Business Relationship
The recipient of your email has made a purchase, requested information, responded to a questionnaire or a survey, or had offline contact with you.
Important note: Federal law recognizes your right to send email to people with whom you have a preexisting business relationship provided that you include a working unsubscribe link or instructions, however, be aware of the difference between your legal rights and best practices. Blasting off an email campaign to all of your past customers will likely engender bad will and get you a high complaint, or abuse, rate. First, forget about the customers who are more than one year old if you haven’t emailed them before. To your remaining list, you may want to send a permission letter that reminds customers of their relationship with you. Then, encourage them to unsubscribe if they do not want to receive your future mailings. Your permission letter reassures your customers that you care about their permission, minimizes complaints and starts you off with a cleaner list.
Privacy Policy
A clear description of a website or company’s policy on the use of information collected from and about website visitors and what they do, and do not do, with the data. Your privacy policy builds trust especially among those who opt-in to receive e-mail from you or those who register on your site. If subscribers, prospects and customers know their information is safe with you, they will likely share more information with you making your relationship that much more valuable.
Rental List (or Acquisition list)
A list of prospects or a targeted group of recipients who have opt-in to receive information about certain subjects. Using permission-based rental lists, marketers can send e-mail messages to audiences targeted by interest category, profession, demographic information and more. Renting a list usually costs between $.10 and $.40 per name. Be sure your rental list is a certified permission-based, opt-in list. Permission-based lists are rented, not sold. Don’t be fooled by a list offer that sounds too good to be true. Save the $19.95 and buy yourself a George Foreman grill instead. Unlike the cheap list, the grill is worth the money.
Dividing your email list based on interest categories, purchasing behavior, demographics and more for the purpose of targeting specific email campaigns to the audience most likely to respond to your messaging or offer. Your list segmentation and targeting efforts pay off in higher open and click-through rates.
Signature File (or sig file for short)
A tagline or short block of text at the end of an e-mail message that identifies the sender and provides additional information such as company name and contact information. Your signature file is a marketing opportunity. Use it to convey a benefit and include a call-to-action with a link.
Single Opt-in (with a subscriber acknowledgement email)
The most widely accepted and routinely used method of obtaining email addresses and permission. A single opt-in list is created by inviting visitors and customers to subscribe to your email list. When you use a signup tag on your website, a message immediately goes out to the subscriber acknowledging the subscription (this is often accomplished using an auto-responder). This message should reiterate what the subscriber has signed up for, and provide an immediate way for the subscriber to edit her interests or opt-out.
Spam or UCE (Unsolicited Commercial E-mail)
E-mail sent to someone who has not opt-in or given permission to the sender. Do you get spam? (a rhetorical question, to be sure) Find out how the sender obtained your e-mail address.
The falsification of an email header so that the email appears to have originated from someone or somewhere other than the actual source. Illegitimate marketers use spoofing to disguise their identity in an attempt to commit fraud and avoid prosecution for sending UCE or spam. Federal law prohibits spoofing, however, until sender identity can be established, spammers will continue to escape the law.
Subject Line
The short line of type in an email that indicates what the message is about. Your subject line should be short (30 – 40 characters including spaces, or 5-8 words), and it should include a specific benefit that accurately reflects your offer in order to be effective. Federal law prohibits the use of misleading subject lines.
Suppression List (a.k.a. opt-out list)
A list of email addresses whose owners have asked to be removed from an email list so that they no longer receive email regarding an advertiser’s products or services. A reputable email marketing service makes this process automatic, however, if you use multiple email products, or have multiple databases from which you send emails, you should use a suppression list to process all unsubscribe requests across all lists.
Selecting a target audience or group of individuals likely to be interested in a certain product or service. Targeting is very important for an e-mail marketer because targeted and relevant e-mail campaigns yield a higher response and result in fewer unsubscribes.
Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Your USP is the unique attribute(s) of your business that makes your company, product or service the best solution to a problem, the best way to fulfill a need or desire or the best way to achieve a goal. Your USP answers the prospect’s question: “Why should I do business with you instead of someone else?”
Universal Resource Locator (URL)
A website, page or any other document address or location on the Internet. URLs indicate the location of every file on every computer accessible through the Internet.
Viral Marketing
A type of marketing that is carried out voluntarily by a company’s customers. It is often referred to as word-of-mouth advertising. Email has made this type of marketing very prevalent. Tools such as “send this page, article or website to a friend” encourage people to refer or recommend your company product, service or a specific offer to others.
WIIFM or “What’s In It For Me?”
The question at the forefront of every email recipient’s mind when making a decision to open, read and take action on your email (e.g. click on a link, call for an appointment, visit an office or retail location).

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