19 Email Marketing Terms That You Need To Understand

Words have power – perhaps nowhere more so than in emails. Ok, *perhaps* that is a step too far. However, understanding the jargon around email marketing can be a simple and powerful way to up your email game.

Email is the oldest form of digital marketing, and if you’re using it there is no reason to not understand how it works. Quickly learn about these email marketing terms and make your life easier, and your emails better.


19 Email Marketing Terms That You Need To Understand



‘Opt-in’ or ‘Opting in’ means requiring a user to make an active, positive choice to increase their interaction with a website or other media.

‘Opting in’ can therefore often refer to an (unticked) tick box that when selected allows that user to receive further content to their inbox or can even refer to a button that gives consent to downloading cookies onto a browser.

For instance: GDPR guidelines introduced by the EU in 2018 turned good practice into law by requiring websites to ask for clear, concise consent from website users by ‘requiring positive opt-in’ without any pre-ticked boxes or default consent.

In email marketing, there are two different kinds of opt-ins.

Single Opt-in:

Usually, an (unticked) tick box on a website asking a user to subscribe. It doesn’t require any further confirmation from the user, making it a fast way for site and list owners to grow their email list but also increases the likelihood of incorrect email addresses, inactive users and a higher unsubscribe rate.

Double Opt-in:

After a single opt-in has been selected by a user, a second opt-in is sent, usually via an email that then requires confirmation.

Most email marketing now requires a double opt-in for the sake of keeping a ‘clean’ or good quality list of interested subscribers with confirmed email addresses.




This is the name for a person or group of people who have voluntarily decided to become notified of updates from a specific source of content. Amongst other things, users can subscribe to YouTube channels to become notified of new content there, or to a mailing list in order to receive emails from a particular source.

Subscribers are the life-blood of many forms of marketing as they constitute an actively interested list of possible consumers. Proper management of a subscriber list can sometimes, therefore, make or break the success of a campaign.


Inactive Subscribers

In email marketing, the term ‘Inactive Subscriber’ refers to someone who has chosen to continue to subscribe to your content but isn’t opening, clicking or interacting with it further.

If you have a lot of inactive subscribers it can mean that your content isn’t quite interesting enough to your consumers or it may just be time to tempt them back through a re-engagement campaign specifically tailored to get them excited about your brand again.



When someone unsubscribes from something, it means they have decided they no longer want to receive content that they had previously subscribed to.


Unsubscribe Link

All email marketing is required to have a working Unsubscribe link contained within it. An unsubscribe link allows subscribers to change their mind and to stop receiving content they had previously agreed to.

Without this link, marketing emails may be breaching EU law and GDPR.


Unsubscribe Rate

For an email marketing list, the unsubscribe rate means the percentage of your users who are choosing to unsubscribe. The lower the rate, the better quality your list is.



Email list segmentation refers to breaking up an email list of subscribers into different sections. Segmentation allows list administrators to tailor their content to specific user needs, increasing the likelihood of their receiving content the content that they would like to see.

It generally falls into two categories, which can be used separately or together in order to create the most highly targeted campaign possible:

Behavioural segmentation

This is usually based on user activity on your site or purchase activity. For instance, you could use it to target your customers who always open your emails but never click a link, or who have an abandoned cart in their account on your site (if you have permission to email them).

Demographic segmentation

This is based on user data that they may have given you during sign-up. It might refer to their geographic area, for example, allowing you to tell them about an event or sale near their location.


Open rate

In email marketing, an Open Rate means the percentage of users who receive and then open your emails. The higher the percentage, the better your list.


Lead Magnet

A lead magnet is an incentive offered to users, often in exchange for their data or their subscription to a marketing list. It is usually (but not always) digital content that is given immediately and for free in order to increase consumer interaction.


Role-based Address

A role-based address is an email address that uses a job title rather than the name of an individual and can often refer to a shared inbox.

Many email addresses contain by default or necessity the name of the person it is being sent to. This is classified as personal information and therefore communications with these addresses by marketers need to be specifically consented to by the owner of the address.

Role-based addresses require less strict controls as they refer to a job title rather than a particular individual and don’t contain personal information.



A bounce occurs when an email cannot be delivered and is returned to the sender (usually through an error email). There are two types of bounces:


Hard bounces refer to when the email address or the domain name don’t exist. They can also occur when the recipient’s email server has blocked delivery.


Soft bounces refer to what are usually temporary issues – the recipient email inbox is full, the email itself was too large etc.


Bounce Rate

The percentage of emails which are sent but not being received by the sender due to bounces. The higher the bounce rate, the worse your list.



Spam refers to unsolicited emails but also can be used to describe emails that use deceptive headers, From names, reply-to addresses, or subject line. Emails that have been requested can be classified as spam by email servers, so make sure not to write emails that sound like a scam!