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A/B Split
Also known as a split testing. When the list is divided into two parts, each of which is tested with a variation of the message. See also Nth Name.

Above the fold
The part of a Web page or email messages that is visible without scrolling. Material in this area is considered more valuable because the reader sees it first. Refers to a printing term for the top half of a newspaper above the fold.

Affiliate Marketing
An advertising scheme in which a Web site (the affiliate marketer) directs web visitors to his affiliate sponsor and is paid with a commission on the visitor’s purchases (if any).

Email message that notifies subscribers of an event or special price.

Application Program Interface (API)
An software interface that allows your application to access another application or web service. A client may have an API connection to load database information to an email vendor automatically and receive data back from the email.

Application Service Provider (ASP)
Company that provides a web based service. Clients access the service by interfacing with a web server. No software is installed on their computers. The tasks are performed remotely by the ASP’s servers - the service is hosted remotely..

An automated protocol that verifies an email sender's identity.

Automated email message-response, such as a welcome message sent to all new subscribers when they join a list. May be triggered by joins, un-subscribes, all email sent to a particular mailbox. May be more than a single message — can be a series of date or event-triggered emails.

Acceptable Use Policy (AUP)
A collection of limits set by an Internet Service Provider on how a customer can use the service. Most AUP's expressly forbid the sending of spam

Business-to-business (also B2B).

Business-to-consumer (also B2C).

Blacklist or blacklisting
A list developed by anyone receiving email, or processing email on its way to the recipient, that includes domains or IP addresses of any emailers suspected of sending spam. Many companies use blacklists to reject inbound email, either at the server level or before it reaches the recipient’s in-box. Also Blocklist and Blackhole list. An example of a up to date black list is the Spamhaus Block List

An action by an ISP to not forward your an email senders messages to recipients. This is a distinct activity from a Bounce.

Bonded Sender
A type of delivery insurance, stamp of approval company for email marketing companies. If you purchase a Bonded Sender Certificate, they will guarantee that your mail gets delivered to the large ISPs that they have relationships with.

Bounce e-mail
An email that is not delivered normally is said to have bounced. Emails can bounce for dozens of reasons; incorrect email address, the recipient’s mailbox is full, the mail server is down, or the system detects spam or offensive content. See hard bounce and soft bounce.

Bounce message
Message sent back to an email sender reporting the message could not be delivered and why. Not all bounced emails result in messages being sent back to the sender. Nor are all bounce messages clear about the reason email was bounced.

Bounce handling
The process of dealing with the email that has bounced. Bounce handling is important for list maintenance, list integrity and delivery. Given the lack of consistency in bounce messaging formats, list handling software is programmed with several rules and needs manual help when it cannot determine the nature of the bounce.

Bounce rate
Percentage of hard/soft bounces relative to the total emails sent. Always a relative ratio since some systems do not report back to the sender clearly.

The process of sending the same email message to multiple recipients.

Brute Force Spam Attack
Where the spammer has generated email addresses by randomly forming possible valid addresses. For instance, the list might begin with and continue with and so on. 

A designed and planned series of e-mail marketing messages to a list of recipients delivered according to a time schedule, with a conversion goal in mind. A campaign allows each new message to build on previous success or permission. The progressive and relationship nature of the sequence is the basis of permission marketing.

Call to Action
Part of the text message that calls on the prospect to take action.

CAN-SPAM - Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003
A U.S. statute effective January 1, 2004 that allows spammers to be fined up to $6 million. It defines how legitimate marketers must create their e-mail ads in order not to be considered spam. The message header must have a truthful subject line and a valid return address. The message must clearly state that it is an advertisement and have a simple way to opt out (cancel future ads from this source). If the user opts out, the advertiser must no longer send to that address after 10 days.

Acronym for Common Gateway Interface. Is an application interface protocol for web based applications. Used to transfer information to and from web servers, such as on subscription and contact forms.

Challenge-response system
An anti-spam program that requires a human being on the sender's end to respond to an emailed challenge message before their messages can be delivered to recipients. Senders who answer the challenge correctly are added to an authorization list. Bulk emailers find ways round this by designating an employee to watch the sending address' mailbox and replying to each challenge manually.

Click-through & click-through tracking
A click-through occurs when a recipient clicks on a URL link included in an email. Click-through tracking refers to the data collected about each click-through link, such as how many people clicked it, how many clicks resulted in a conversion or subscriptions.

Click-through rate
Percentage of recipients that click on a given URL in an e-mail campaign. The click-through rate is the number of click-throughs relative to opened as opposed to sent emails.

An acknowledgment of a user's request. The acknowledgment can state the request has been processed or has been placed on queue.

Confirmed opt-in
A Confirmed opt-in is a two-step process for a user to joint your list. They must initially sign up, and then they receive an e-mail to confirm the subscription to the mailing list.

Conversion rate
Percentage of recipients who respond to your call-to-action in a given e-mail marketing campaign. It is the final measure of a email campaign's success. The conversion might be sales, sales leads, appointments or event specific user information.

Arrangement in which companies collecting registration information from users (email sign-up forms, shopping checkout process, etc.) include a separate box for users to check if they would also like to be added to a specific third-party list.

Cost per Acquisition (CPA)
Also Cost per Action. A form of advertising based on a transaction rather than impressions or clicks. Used widely in affiliate marketing. The CPA is the agreed rate for the campaign. Sometimes referred to as variable rate campaigns. CPA can be proportional to the value of the client's purchase.

Cost per Click (CPC)
A form of advertising where the payment is per user click-through. The payment is independent of the visitor's action or whether the click-through converts or not.

Cost per Thousand (CPM)
Used for banner advertising where payment is per banner impression.

An email message's copy and any graphics.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Customer Relationship Management systems. The ability to keep track of every interaction with every prospect and customer and keeps tracks of trends and tabulates results of such notes on an aggregate scale. Essentially, an intelligent interface that allows keeping notes of every action, sale, phone call, email, fax, etc. Allows businesses to better know their customers and target messages to portions of their customers and prospects. CRM is an integrated system designed to identify, acquire, and retain customers. CRM helps organizations maximize the value of every customer interaction by managing and coordinating customer interactions across multiple channels and departments.

Click Fraud
Cheating the advertisers by clicking on links with no intention of converting but rather to generate revenue for the web sites serving the ads.

Clickthrough Rate (CTR)
Percentage of clicks on email URL links divided by number of email's opened. Often has a discrepancy between clicks measured at the server and measured by at the email. Click-throughs on email text on the PC are more fragile than clicks on browser displayed pages. Unique click-throughs refers to discarding multiple clicks from the same user - avoiding possible click fraud.

Sending the same email message to two or more mailing lists.

Comma Separated Value or File (CSV)
A specific format of data in which fields are separated by commas.

Dedicated Server
A server used by only one webmaster or email manager. A dedicated server costs more to use as the expense is not shared by several users. Dedicated servers perform better and are more robust than shared servers. Dedicated servers also eliminate the possibility of being blacklisted or banned from search engines because of the actions of one of the users.

Deduplication (deduping)
The process of removing identical entries from two or more data sets such as mailing lists.

Delivered email
Number of emails sent minus the number of bounces and filtered messages. Always an approximate estimate of the real delivered mails since many ISPs do not accurately report the bounced emails.

Delivery tracking
The process of measuring delivery rates by format, ISP or other variables and delivery failures (bounces, invalid address, server and other errors). Also an approximate estimate of the real number.

Denial of Service Attack (DOS)
Where the attacker attempts to take down a service, email or web, by flooding the service with so much data that it may crash or be unable to serve genuine requests. Distributed Denial of Service Attacks (DDOS) where the Denial of Service attack comes from a network of computers rather than a single point of attack.

Dictionary Attack
Where the spammer has generated his list of emails by using common words and names. For instance, a dictionary attack would begin by with, and continue with

A shortened version of an email newsletter which replaces full-length articles with clickable links to the full article at a Web site, often with a brief summary of the contents.

An anti-spam software application being developed by Yahoo and using a combination of public and private "keys" to authenticate the sender's domain and reduce the chance that a spammer or hacker will fake the domain sending address

Double Opt-In
A double opt in is a two-step list subscription process. The subscriber signs up, and must then respond to a follow up e-mail to opt in twice to your mailing list.

Email address
The combination of a unique user name and a sender domain. The email address requires both the user name and the domain name.

Email Append
This is the process of adding an individual's email address to that individual's record inside an existing database. This is accomplished by matching the database against another in-house or third-party, permission-based database to produce a corresponding email address.

Email client
The software recipients use to read email, such as Outlook Express or Mozilla.

Email Domain
The portion of the email address to the right of the @ sign. Good indicator of the email's validity and origin.

Email filter
A software tool that categorizes, sorts or blocks incoming email, based either on the sender, the email header or message content. Filters may be applied at the email client, the recipient's mail server, at the email client, the ISP or a combination.

Email list management software
Application that allows users to collect, import and manage subscribers. CRM systems now have this function.

Email marketing software
Allows users to send out newsletters to their lists and track results. Standard features include mail-merge personalization, message scheduling, and bounce-back handling.

Email newsletter
Content distributed to subscribers by email, on a regular schedule. Content is seen as valued editorial in and of itself rather than primarily a commercial message with a sales offer. Also known as an ezine.

E-mail newsletter advertising
Buying ad space in an e-mail newsletter. Advertisers pay to have their ad (text, HTML or both depending on the publication) inserted into the body of the newsletter. E-mail newsletter ads and sponsorships allow advertisers to reach a targeted audience driving traffic to a website.

Email Prefix
The portion of the email address to the left of the @ sign.

Email vendor
An email broadcast service provider, a company that sends bulk (volume) email on behalf of clients.

Email service provider (ESP)
A company that sends and manages e-mail campaigns on behalf of clients. They broadcast e-mail lists from their own servers and domains. The advantage of contracting an ESP for your campaigns is that their mail servers have a higher delivery ratio than a standard company mail server. The ESP have a close relationship with ISPs and mail services like hotmail so emails from their domains and IP addresses have a lower bounce ratio.

Event triggered email
Pre-programmed emails sent automatically based on an event such as a date or anniversary.

A spam related program designed to locate and compile email addresses from web pages, online discussion forums, ad Internet databases. A process which is also known as harvesting emails.

An "electronic magazine". Also known as a newsletter. Usually sent on a regular schedule. Is content rich, not an announcement or commercial proposition.

Forum or newsgroup messages
An email service in which individual members post messages for all group members to read ("many-to-many"). In contrast, a newsletter is a one-to-many post.

False positive
A legitimate message, that has legitimate content and which adheres to the technical standards, but is mistakenly rejected or filtered as spam, either by an ISP or a recipient's anti-spam application. The more stringent an anti-spam application, the higher the false-positive rate.

Whatever appears in the email recipient's inbox as the visible name of the origin. Chosen by the sender. May be a personal name, a brand name, an email address, a blank space, or hash number. The actual sender address contained in the email's header may be different, i.e. the email reply address may be different. The "from" is easy to fake.

Full service email service provider
An email vendor that also provides consulting on strategic and creative aspects of the campaign, in addition to sending messages.

Goodbye message
An email message sent automatically to list members who unsubscribe, acknowledging the removal from the list. Best always include a link to re-subscribe in case the unsubscribe was requested accidentally. 

Hard Bounce
A hard bounce is the failed delivery of an e-mail due to a permanent reason, such as a non-existent e-mail address.

Harvesting Emails
Extracting emails from pages on the internet using a robot software. Either through a search starting from a single page or a search based on a specific term put into a search engine. Used in email spamming.

HTML e-mail
An html formatted e-mail instead of plain text. HTML allows a graphical appearance with fonts, graphics and background colors. HTML makes an e-mail more interesting and can improve the response rates of a campaign.

Routing and program data at the start of an email message, including the sender's name and email address, originating email server IP address, recipient IP address and any transfers in the process.

High Level Domain
The portion of the Domain that is to the right of the last period, e.g. "com, net, gov". This is useful for checking email validity. 

In House list
The list of email addresses an company develops on its own. Email campaigns based on in-house lists are invariably more successful than those based on purchased or vendor lists. It is always the recommendation that a business should develop its own in-house list.

IP address
A unique routing address assigned to each device connected to the Internet. An IP address can be dynamic, meaning it changes each time an email message or campaign goes out, or it can be static, meaning it does not change. Static IP addresses are best, because dynamic IP addresses often trigger spam filters or bans from search engines.

Internet Message Access Protocol, a standard protocol for accessing email from a server.

Inventory is the term commonly used for the subscriber base or size of a an email or newsletter list.

Internet Service Provider. Examples are BT, AOL, Wanadoo, Freeserve.

Landing page
Web page displayed to the user when he clicks on a link within an email. Also may be called a microsite, splash page, bounce page, or click page.

The list of email addresses to which you send your message. Can be either your house list or a vendor list that sends your message on your behalf.

List Broker
A list broker is a reseller of assorted lists or list data.

List hygiene
Maintaining a list free of hard bounces and unsubscribed names such that the open rate for the mailings are high.

List owner
The organization or individual who has gathered a list of email addresses. Ownership does not necessarily imply opt-in or permission from the recipients.

List rental
Where a list owner sends messages to his list on behalf of advertisers. Necessarily requires the list owner to send the emails, for the recipients and routing companies to allow the mailing through.

List sale
The actual purchase of a mailing list along with the rights to mail it directly. Permission from the email recipients may not however be transferred with the sale unless the list owner has pre-agreed so with the recipients. Permission from the recipients can be quickly lost if the list is abused or its permission terms not respected. Close to a spamming practice. 

Mail bomb
An orchestrated attempt to shut down an email server by sending more messages than it can handle in a short period of time. See DOS.

Mailing List
A mailing list is a list to be sent specific mailings to.

Mail loop
When automated responses or forward on mail servers result in an endless sequence of emails.

Mail Merge Personalization
Feature of the better email marketing tools that allows each email to each subscriber to be personalized based on information for that subscriber. When each email is sent out, a call to the database retrieves information like the actual first name of that subscriber and pastes it into the email. Important feature of the software for permission marketing and CRM.

A code to make an email address in either a text or HTML email immediately clickable. Clicking on the link opens the user's email client and inserts the email address in the "To".

Mail Transfer Agent (MTA)
A computer that forwards email from senders to recipients (or to relay sites) and stores incoming email.

Mail service provider (MSP)
Web based email service such as Hotmail, Gmail (google).

Multi-part mime
Message format which includes both an HTML and a text-only version in the same message. Most email clients have full html facility. Clients may opt not to display html in order to avoid viruses.

Nth Sample or Nth Name
The subset of every Nth individual on a list used as a test list. For instance, if one is doing Twelfth-Testing, every twelfth person on the list is sent an email. 

Open Rate or Open Tracking
Percent of e-mails opened relative to the total number of e-mails sent.

Opt-in (or Subscribe)
Opt-In is when a user actively agrees to receive messages. To opt-in or subscribe to an e-mail list is to choose to receive e-mail messages by supplying your e-mail address to a particular company, website or individual thereby giving them permission to e-mail you. The subscriber is usually requested to give personal information such as interests or requested for further interaction.

Opt-out (or Unsubscribe)
Opt-Out is when the user chooses to no receive messages. Spamming standards require all mailing list messages to carry a link for the recipient to un-subscribe or opt-out from further messages.


Pass Along
An email recipient who got your message via forwarding from a subscriber. Viral marketing place a forward this message link in the message. Most pass-alongs occur when the message is of particular interest to that target group, the mark of a successful viral campaign.

Permission Marketing
When all messages sent to recipients have opt-in agreement from the recipients. The permission marketing method is legitimate and also most profitable email marketing strategy.

Building email messages such that the recipient feels it was written specifically for him. Personalization is about including as much personal and specific information in the design and drafting of the message.

Plain text
Text in an email message that includes no formatting code. See HTML.

Post Office Protocol (POP)
A protocol used by email clients to retrieve e-mail from a mail server. Most email clients use the POP protocol, although some can use the newer IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol).

Person responsible for a the mail servers. The person with which ISP's get help with delivery or register complaints.

Mail client options a user can set to for receiving messages. How they want to receive addresses, to which email address message should go and which messages they want to receive from you. The more preferences you offer a user, the more credible your mailing request.

Preview pane
The window in an email client that allows the user to scan message content without actually clicking on the message. Substantially changes the open rate.

Privacy in the e-mail marketing world implies that a recipient's information, specially his e-mail address, is not shared and they will not receive e-mail they did not request.

Privacy policy
A clear description of a 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. A strong privacy policy and credibility in adhering to it is a pre-requisite for any success in email marketing.

Where an email message goes after you send it but before the list owner approves it for broadcast. Buffer where the mailing is stored prior to broadcast by server. Some list software allows you to queue a message and then set a time to send it automatically.

Relay Email Server
A security risk where an email server allows an outside user to relay email to other email servers. Spammers abuse open relays to obscure the source of their messages.

Reverse DNS or Invese DNS
The DNS system is sent an IP address, and the domain name is returned. Reverse DNS is used to log incoming traffic by domain name for statistical purposes. It is also used to prevent spam by determining if the e-mail message is coming from the domain name indicated in the message header. Reverse DNS is only an option and not mandatory in a DNS server. Reverse DNS is a popular method for catching spammers who use invalid IP addresses. If a spam filter or program can't match the IP address to the domain name, it can reject the email.

Rich Media
Creative that includes video, animation, or sound. Rich-media emails often collect high open and click rates but require more bandwidth and are less compatible with different email clients than text or regular HTML email-format messages. 

Seed emails
Email addresses placed on a list to evaluate the sending service; see what messages are being sent to the list, to track delivery rate, to evaluate the delivered message. Seeds may also be placed on Web sites and elsewhere on the Internet to track spammers' harvesting activities.

The ability to select a subset of the list according to attributes of the recipients like demographics or previous open history.

A segment of a list determined by any number of attributes, such as source of name, job title, purchasing history and so on. CPM list renters pay an additional fee per thousand names for each select on top of the base list price.

Selective Unsubscribe
An unsubscribe that allows a consumer to selectively determine which email newsletters they wish stop receiving.

Sender ID
The new anti-spam standard being proposed by the major email providers. It combines two existing protocols - Sender Policy Framework and CallerID. SenderID authenticates email senders and blocks email forgeries and faked addresses.

Sent emails
Number of email names transmitted in a single broadcast. Does not reflect how many were delivered or opened by recipients.

An infrastructure computer which stores, distributes, and relays email from one server to another in a network.

Shared server
An email server used by more than one company or sender. Shared servers are cheaper since the cost to the broadcast vendor is spread among several users. In addition to reduce robustness, senders sharing a server risk being blacklisted if one of the other users infringes CAN-SPAM standards with the server's shared IP address. See Dedicated server.

Signature file or sig file
A tagline or short block of text at the end of an e-mail message. Usually 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.

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, the most common protocol for sending email messages between email servers.

Snail mail
postal mail.

Soft Bounce
A soft bounce is the failed delivery of an e-mail due to a nonpermanent reason, such as mailbox full or unavailable server. Mail servers are configured to retry sending emails a number of times on receiving soft-bounce responses.

Solo mailing
A one-time broadcast to an email list, separate from regular newsletters or promotions, and often including a message from an outside advertiser or a special promotion from the list owner.

Email messages sent to someone who has not opt-in or given permission to the sender. Also known as "unsolicited commercial e-mail" (UCE), "unsolicited bulk e-mail" (UBE), "gray mail" and just plain "junk mail," the term is both a noun (the e-mail message) and a verb (to send it). Spam is used to advertise products or to broadcast some political or social commentary.

Spamhaus Block List
A freely available and up to date blacklist created by, it is available at Spamhaus Block List. The SBL is a real time database of IP addresses of verified spam sources (including spammers, spam gangs and spam support services), maintained by the Spamhaus Project team and supplied as a free service to help email administrators better manage incoming email streams.

Sponsorship Swap
An agreement between email list owners, publishers or advertisers to sponsor each other's mailings or newsletters for free. See ad swap.

The practice of changing the sender's name in an email message so that it looks as if it came from another address.

Split Testing
Also known as a A/B split. When the list is divided into two parts, each of which is tested with a variation of the message.

Subject Line
The title of the e-mail communication. The first line read by email recipients. The most important part of the email campaign copy; is the biggest influence on mailing open rates. Split testing is recommended to determine the best copy

The process of joining a mailing list, either through an email command, by filling out a Web form, or offline by filling out a form or requesting to be added verbally. Same as opt-in.

The person who has requested to join a mailing list. A list has both subscribers, who receive the message from the sender, and pass-alongs.

Suppression file
A Do Not Email list that you run against any lists you plan on sending mail to prior to the send. Required by CAN-SPAM.

Targeted messages is the right message to the right recipient at the right time. A target audience or group selected because of their interest. Targeting is very important for an e-mail marketer because targeted and relevant e-mail campaigns, yield a higher response and result in fewer un-subscribes.

A message, or part of a message, designed to arouse curiosity and interest, but without revealing too much detail in itself. You can use appropriate teaser copy in the subject line to encourage prospects or customers to read the email.

Thank-you or acknowledgement page
Web page that appears after user has submitted an order or a form online. May be a receipt.

Collecting and evaluating the statistics from which one can measure the effectiveness of an e-mail or an e-mail campaign.

Transactional email
A creative format where the recipient can enter a transaction in the body of the email itself without clicking to a web page first. Transactions may be answering a survey, or purchasing something.

Unique click
A unique click is a single click by a single user. When unique clicks are measured, it is an aggregate number of how many times that URL was clicked by individual users. Related to the unique users metric for web servers.

Unsolicited Commercial E-mail (UCE)
Also known as Spam. Commercial e-mail sent without the recipient's express permission.

To remove oneself from an email list, either via an emailed command to the list server or by filling in a Web form.

Universal Resource Locator (URL)
The address that defines the route to a website, page or any other resource on the Internet. URLs are typed into a Web browser to access Web pages and files, and URLs are embedded within the pages themselves as hypertext links. The URL contains the protocol prefix, port number, domain name, sub-directory names and file name.

Video e-mail
An email message that includes a video file, either inserted into the message body, accessible through a hotlink to a Web site or accompanying it in an attachment (least desirable because many ISPs block executable attachments to avoid viruses).

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. E-mail has made this type of marketing very prevalent. The aim of such campaigns is to motivate recipients to forward the message on to their contacts.

Welcome message
Message sent automatically to new list members as soon as their email addresses are added successfully.

Whitelist or Whitelisting
Opposite of blacklisting. Lists of sites with which ISP have built good relationships, and allow emails from. Advance-authorized list of email addresses, held by an ISP, subscriber or other email service provider, from whom email messages are delivered regardless of spam filters.

A piece of malicious code, often delivered via an executable attachment in email or over a computer network.


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