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Email Campaign Terminology Explained

Before you can begin to interpret whether an email campaign has been successful or not it is necessary to understand what terms like "Hard Bounce", "Soft Bounce", "Opt In", "Opt Out" etc mean.

The A-Z Glossary Of Email Campaign

Blocklist
A list of IP addresses suspected of sending SPAM

Bounces
Emails that are returned to you, as a result of an error such as the email address not being valid, the recipient’s inbox being full etc.

Click Through Rate (CTR)
This indicates how many times a link on an email has been clicked.

Double Opt-In
This is a process where a user signs up for a service and then, having received an email etc, is then required to confirm their subscription.

Hard Bounce
This is when an email is returned to you without it ever reaching the recipient. In cases like this is important to read the return message, as it will be returned with a message like "user unknown" or "host unknown". A hard bounce most often occurs because there is a problem with the recipient’s email address (misspelled etc.). You should unsubscribe hard bounces unless the error is obvious or easily corrected.

Open Rate
This indicates how many people have opened the email. The open rate will vary depending on the nature of the email and often the subject line, as discussed last week in How To Write A Striking, Captivating, Enticing Email Campaign Subject Line.

Opt-In
This is an action undertaken by the recipient where they choose to receive emails from you: they choose to add their email address to your email list for future campaigns.

Opt-Out
This is an action undertaken by the recipient where they choose to remove their email address from your email list, therefore unsubscribing from future campaigns.

Permission-Based
This is when people give their permission to be kept informed and to receive information from you. This happens as the result of recipients choosing to opt-in and being included in future campaigns.

Phishing
Something to beware of - this is where you receive an email which appears to be from a genuine trusted source but actually is someone trying to obtain sensitive confidential details from you.  Usually the scenario is somethign similar to the following:

  • You receive an email claiming to be from your bank, for example
  • It leads you to a page which looks identical to your banks website
  • You are then asked to disclose pin numbers, account numbers etc
    • Banks have a policy where they will not ask you for all your secuirty details in one go.  They will ask for the 1st 2nd and 4th number of say a 6 digit number to make it as hard as possible for anybody to obtain the whole 6 digit number.

Soft Bounce
This is when an email you sent reaches its recipient as a result of it being forwarded by a systems administrator, redirecting all 'wrongly' delivered emails.

Spoofing
This is where the sender changes the display name of their email address so that it looks like it came from someone else: for example in the Phishing example above, the scammer sending out the original email, intended to trap the receipient, would 'spoof' by changing the disply name to the name of a bank.

Unique Opens
This is different to the open rate as it is disregards someone opening an email if their have already being registered as having opened it.  This gives you a greater indication as to how many individual people have opened your email as opposed to the open rate which tells you how many times your email has been opened regardless of who carried out the action.

Whitelist
A 'Whitelist' or safe sender list is a list of addresses that a user has deemed as being allowed to send him/her emails. Sometimes emails get branded as SPAM and delivered into 'Junk Mail' folders as a result of the content of the email, as discussed three weeks ago in How To Deal With Email SPAM Filters.  This can be prevented by adding the sender's email address to your 'Whitelist', safe sender list.

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