Demystifying Email Marketing Jargon for the Small Business Owner: Part One of Three


If you have decided you want to take the leap into email marketing you are in good company. In the US in 2006 alone it is estimated that over $400 million was spent on email marketing. But if you, like many, have found the path rocky and fraught with lots of intimidating jargon you also are far from alone.

The fact is that while e-mail marketing should of course be entered into thoughtfully there is simply no reason for it to be intimidating or mysterious. This is the first of three articles designed to demystify the jargon surrounding email marketing.Β  Once you know your CPM from your conversion rates and your Opt Outs from your Open Rates you will be well on your way to taking that leap into designing your first email marketing campaign.

Ten e-mail marketing terms you should know


This is the part of a web page that is visible without scrolling. This is considered prime real estate on a web site because it is highly visible. If you are placing a sign-up box for your e-letter seriously consider placing it above-the-fold to have maximum sign ups.

Auto responder

Just like the name implies this is a program that automatically emails a response when someone sends an email to a specified address. You may already be familiar with an auto responder script if you use the “out of the office” feature in Outlook. Auto responders are commonly used for thank you for subscribing messages, we received your request to unsubscribe messages, welcome to my list messages, and to answer frequently asked customer questions.


This refers to an emailed marketing message or series of messages that are sent out with the purpose of reaching a specific goal. This goal is often a sale, but may also be another response such as, for example, signing up for a contest, visiting a brick and mortar store, or inviting a friend to sign up for a service.

Can-Spam act of 2003

In 2003 federal legislation was passed that requires that certain elements be included in every single marketing email sent out. It is very important to understand and follow these procedures. It helps legitimate marketers like us continue to reach the people who want to hear our messages.

You must by law include the following in every email you send: a legitimate header, a valid “from” address, a clear subject line, an unsubscribe or opt-out link, and a physical mailing address. You also must be sure to process all unsubscribe requests within ten days of receiving them.

Confirmed Opt In

This is a more rigorous opt in process that requires someone that wants to join your mailing list and receive email campaigns to not only submit their address but then respond to an email sent to them (usually by an auto responder) asking them to confirm that they do want the subscription. They do those either by clicking on a link provided in the email or by sending an email in return. This is also sometimes referred to as a double opt in.

CPM (Cost PerThousand)

This term is used when renting an email list and refers to the cost per 1000 names on that list. So, for example, if someone says their CPM is $350 that means that you would pay $0.35 (35 cents) a name for the names on that list. Rental agreements vary but, in general, this cost would be for a one time usage.

CTR (Click through Rate)

This is a percentage of email recipients that click on a specific URL (link) in your email. It is arrived at by applying the simple formula number of unique clicks divided by the number that were opened.

Conversion Rate

This is how you will measure your campaigns success. It refers to the number of (or percentage of) people who respond the marketing message you send out. Conversion is unique to your campaign and is determined by people responding to whatever your call to action is. Conversions could be anything from sales, to phone calls, to confirmed appointments.

E-Mail Blocking

This refers to sent emails being blocked by an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and not being allowed to arrive at their intended destination. Blocking is a practice that ISP’s actively use to prevent known or suspected spammers from sending unwanted emails out.

E-letter Ads or E-letter Sponsorships

Many e-letter owners sell ad space in their e-letters or allow advertisers to sponsor a specific article or articles. The advertiser provides the e-letter owner with the ad (HTML or text or both) to run and it gets inserted into the e-letter.

There you have it.Β  The first 10 words in your e-mail marketing arsenal. Be sure to check back for part two for ten more e-mail marketing terms demystified.