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If you’ve decided to implement an email marketing program or are ready to talk to your marketing team or a consultant about email marketing, this article will introduce you to the important email concepts, terminology and metrics that you’ll need to understand. Once you have a basic grip on those email concepts, you’ll be able to properly evaluate the success of an email campaign or the knowledge of any consultants you may be interviewing.



Learning the Lingo of Email Marketing

The first step to creating a successful plan of action is to understand the key concepts of Email Marketing so that you can speak the language! Comm100 has boiled it down to a top ten, though reading all of the resources in this section of the website can give you a much greater jump start.


Email Concepts No. 1: Open Rate

Email open rate means, quite simply, how many people (in percentage form) opened the email that you sent. This metric, however, is becoming less important in anything other than a relative way. Email open rates are tracked using a small graphic in the email. Many email providers block graphics. Because of this graphic blocking, a client may open an email and have it not register as being opened unless the client actively turns on graphics. Some reports suggest that standard open rate reporting can be off by as much as 35%, depending on your email list.


What you should remember is that open rates should be highest when emailing your existing customers and lowest with cold leads. Comparing open rates across various sends is useful, too. It’s not a 100% accurate number, however.



Email Concepts No. 2: Click-Through Rate

Email click-through rate compared to the number of opened emails (NOT to the entire send). Different companies measure this in different ways. Unfortunately, there isn’t a standard answer for the question: “Is it all clicks or does only one click count per open?” This measurement is important because the entire purpose of your email is to drive traffic to your landing page or website.



Email Concepts No. 3: Deliverability

Email Deliverability means the number of emails from your send that actually made it to the inbox (as opposed to the junk folder or the black hole of “unknown address”). Getting your email into the inbox can be a complicated process, and Comm100 has gone into detail in a full article in this section.



Email Concepts No. 4: Personalization

Personalization is when you use a client’s user name, first name or other unique information in the email that you send. To do this, your database needs to capture that information, and your email service provider needs to accept and include data fields that match. Be careful using personalization. It’s not appropriate for every industry. However, in the right context, it can improve email conversions dramatically.



Email Concepts No. 5: List Cleaning/List Scrubbing/List Pruning

Keeping your email list “clean” is important. The more bad email addresses (typos, defunct accounts, etc.) that you have on a list, the more likely you are to get flagged as potential spam. Also, your reporting metrics won’t reflect your email’s true performance. Many email providers automatically prune lists of bad names as you go along. Explore your options with your email provider.



Email Concepts No. 6: CAN-SPAM

CAN-SPAM is a piece of U.S. federal legislation that was passed in 2003. It’s a set of rules that you MUST follow when sending email if you want to not be classified as spam and potentially face federal fines and penalties. Comm100 has included an article in this section that details the rules. Make sure you know them!



Email Concepts No. 7: Opt-In/Double Opt-In

There are three kinds of email lists. “Opt-In” means that your users have “opted into” your email list and given you permission to email them. “Double Opt-In” means that users have given you permission twice (usually via a confirmation link in an email). All other lists are considered cold lists or prospect lists (usually bought or rented). There are different benefits to each kind of list. See our full article to figure out which is best for you!



Email Concepts No. 8: Unsubscribe/Opt-Out

Quite simply, “Unsubscribe” / “Opt-Out” is the ability of users to unsubscribe from your email list. There are two types: Universal Unsubs and List Specific Unsubs. Universal Unsubs are users who unsubscribe from all future emails of any kind from you. List Specific Unsubs will unsubscribe from just a portion of your list. For example, they don’t want special offers but do want weekly newsletters.



Email Concepts No. 9: HTML Email/Plain Text Email

These are the two types of email that you can send. An html email includes colors, tables and graphics. A plain text email includes only text. In truth, you should send both formats because not all email clients (and particularly some phones) accept html email. However, figuring out what balance works for you may be trial and error.



Email Concepts No. 10: Bounce Back

Bounce back is the number of names on a list that get returned to you as “undeliverable”. This could be because the email address was mis-typed, the email address doesn’t exist anymore, the email address has a full inbox, or any other number of reasons. This metric is most important when you’re using a bought or rented list because it shows you how many bad email addresses you purchased.



Email marketing is obviously more complicated than just ten email concepts! But this will get you started.



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