Making sense of email marketing terms can sometimes feel like you’re trying to learn a new language, and it’s normal to feel lost. But intense as the jargon is, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the basics. Some terms have legal implications that are crucial to be aware of, while others represent trends and practices that you’ll want to work into your strategy.

So, instead of smiling and nodding along in those marketing meetings, get to know some of the most-used terms. To help you get up to speed, we’ve put together this quick glossary of email marketing terms that you need to know, along with some of our resources that will give you more in-depth knowledge. Let’s get to it.

A/B Testing

It can be difficult to tell which aspects of your campaigns — email subject line, CTA or opt-in forms, for example — will yield the best results. A/B testing allows you to test two variants of a single item to see which is the most effective. 

Acceptance Rate

This is the percentage of emails you send out that are accepted by your recipients’ email servers and is sometimes referred to as the deliverability rate. It doesn’t necessarily mean that an email made it into an inbox, just that it didn’t bounce back.

Bounce Rate

Speaking of bounces, the bounce rate refers to the percentage of emails you send out that are not accepted by your recipients’ email servers.

Bulk Emails

Marketing or advertising emails sent out to large groups of people at once. These are generally canned text emails, meaning they are not personalized to each recipient — though they may still be targeted to a specific segment of your audience.

Buyer Persona

A buyer persona is a fictitious representation of your ideal customer. The persona bears the archetypal traits of your customer such as their age, interests, location, occupation, marital status, income, and more. By putting a (fictional) face to a nameless audience, you can better personalize your marketing.

Call to Action

A proper call-to-action (CTA) guides your audience to take the next most relevant action, such as buying, starting a free trial, or signing up. A CTA invites a lead to perform the desired action, which in turn helps you achieve your marketing goals. Focusing on a single CTA can help you optimize conversions, from your email template to your landing page.


The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003, which dictates guidelines that businesses must follow when sending commercial emails. Under CAN-SPAM (which is enforced by the FTC, or Federal Trade Commission), recipients must have a visible and operable way to unsubscribe from your messages, and your emails must contact accurate “from” lines, among other provisions.

CTR (Click Through Rate)

This is the percentage of recipients that click on a link in your email and is calculated by dividing the number of unique clicks on a link by the number of emails that were sent. The higher your CTR, the better.

Content Marketing

As the name suggests, content marketing is an inbound marketing tactic that entails the use of content to generate awareness and demand for your product or services. As you create value-packed content, you can leverage email marketing to distribute it to your audience and drive profitable buyer actions.

Conversion Rate

The number of people who follow through on your email’s call to action. This can be a click, a download, a purchase, or some other action, and is one of the top indicators of your email’s performance.

Customer Acquisition Cost

When a customer takes the desired action, we call that a conversion. The customer acquisition cost (CAC) is the cumulative amount you have spent to generate a conversion. In other words, it’s a measure of the amount spent to acquire new customers.

Double Opt-In

A double opt-in is when you require that a subscriber goes through a two-step process to subscribe to your email — usually a standard sign up followed by a confirmation email with a link.

Email Campaign

An email or series of emails driven toward a unique marketing goal.

Engagement Rate

The rate of engagement is a measure of how people react and interact (like, share and comment) with your content on a brand’s website, social media, or email. A high engagement rate shows your content is doing great at grabbing the interest and attention of your audience.

Hard Bounce

This is a type of bounced email where delivery fails due to a fixed reason, such as a blocked or invalid email address.


A type of email that allows you to customize your design and format more so than you can with a standard plain text email.

IP Warming

Sending emails to a recipient at a gradually increasing volume to establish the relevancy of your IP address.

Landing Page

This is a standalone web page where you direct your web traffic through email marketing campaigns, organic web traffic, pay-per-click campaigns and more. The page is conversion-focused and features a single CTA. Some examples of a landing page CTA include subscribing to a newsletter, registering for a webinar, downloading a whitepaper, or making a purchase. By directing a specific audience to a landing page with a single CTA, you can better optimize for conversions.


When a web visitor clicks the CTA and takes the desired action such as signing up for a webinar or booking a demo call, they become a lead. A lead is a person or business that shows interest in your product or service.

Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing is the process of sharing valuable and relevant content through a series of touchpoints – often through an automated email journey or drip campaign – to convert a lead to a customer.

List Segmentation

Separating your contact list into distinct groups (usually those in the same phase of the funnel) for the purpose of sending more targeted and relevant content.

Marketing Funnel

A marketing funnel visually depicts the buyer’s journey. It often has three stages: awareness, consideration, and conversion. It’s shaped like a funnel because the first and topmost stage, awareness, will have the highest number of leads, and only some of these leads ultimately move down the funnel to convert.

Omnichannel Marketing

Omnichannel marketing means meeting and engaging your customers on all channels: digital or traditional. The goal is to send a consistent message across all mediums to improve customer experience which is what today’s customers crave.

Open Rate

This is the percentage of emails you sent out that were opened by their recipients.


To subscribe to an email. It’s important that your leads opt-in since this means they are interested in hearing from you and thus more likely to engage. Sending emails to individuals who haven’t opted-in can also be detrimental to your IP.


To unsubscribe to an email. It’s required that you provide a clear way for recipients to opt-out from your emails and that you honor removal requests when they occur.


Features within an email that are customized for their recipient. This can include using their name, inputting product recommendations based on their preferences, and sending unique content based on where they are in the buyer’s journey.


When you meet a customer’s needs, they will be excited about your brand and won’t hesitate to recommend it to friends and family. If the friend or family they invite responds to your CTA or offer, they become a referral. Referrals are one of the most responsive and high-quality leads you ever get because they trust the referring party.

Return on Investment

Like other investments, in marketing, you have to make financial inputs. However, you want to put your money into campaigns that yield the best results. The return on investment (ROI) is a key performance indicator (KPI) that hints you on the amount you earn from each campaign. 

Search Engine Optimization

Your content needs to appear prominently in search engine results for your target audience to find it. Search engine optimization (SEO) enables you to achieve that goal. SEO is a multifaceted process that involves writing with the right keywords, improving page load speeds, building backlinks, and more. SEO drives more traffic to your website, where you can convert visitors to email subscribers and customers.

Sender Score

The reputation of your IP address scored from 0 to 100. Think of it like a credit score, where the higher your score, the more reputable your IP. Email services use this score to help determine who gets sent to the inbox and who doesn’t.

Single Opt-In

A one-step opt-in process to receive your emails. Unlike double-opts, this could lead to less engaged recipients since they haven’t confirmed their interest.

Soft Bounce

When emails were accepted by the server but still sent back to you undelivered. This can happen for a few different reasons, including full mailboxes and emails being too large.


Also referred to as junk email, these are messages that are unsolicited and unwanted, and thus filtered out of the inbox. Your emails can be classified as spam if they’re sent to recipients who didn’t opt-in to hearing from you. And in addition to missing the inbox, sending spam can harm your IP and hurt your acceptance rate. There can also be legal consequences.

Unique Selling Proposition

When you create a product or service, chances are that it won’t be a pioneer in its respective niche; there are others already dominating the market. For your product to stand out from the crowd, it has to include a unique selling proposition (USP). The USP is a feature or benefit that sets the product apart from others.

We hope you found this crash course in email marketing terms helpful! If you want to dive in further, check out our email marketing glossary of 50+ terms.