Delving deeper into any new aspect of the marketing world can be as intimidating as trying to navigate a foreign language learning atmosphere. After all, the more involved you are in the industry, it seems the thicker other marketing professionals lay on the jargon.

In order to give you a quick boost of email marketing fluency, here are the top 10 email marketing terms everyone should know. After reading this post, you’ll be shooting the breeze with the most literate of the email marketers out there.

1. Email Service Provider (ESP)

EPS is an acronym that stands for email service provider. An email service provider is a software service that helps email marketers send out email marketing campaigns to their subscribers.
An ESP should host email marketing services for an unlimited amount of clients and businesses around the world. The best email service providers should include the ability to:

Now, next time someone refers to “ESP” in your marketing meeting, you won’t be looking around the room wondering if someone can read your mind.

2. Marketing automation

Marketing automation can have several nuances in the marketing world. When it comes to email, marketing automation refers to the process of an email marketing software sending email campaigns to your customers and prospects based on a set of triggers you have pre-defined.

For example, Sephora uses marketing automation to send special offers to customers who reach VIP status once they have spent $200.


Other triggers can include things like when a subscriber opts in to a specific list, an anniversary date, a purchase, when a subscriber spends a certain amount of money, and more.

Marketing automation is increasing in popularity, because it gives email marketers the chance to reach more customers in a more efficient and personal manner.

3. Dynamic content

Dynamic content is content that can be displayed and triggered based on subscriber’s data.

For example, email marketers can use gender to determine which type of content to display. A popular clothing retailer can segment data to display their men’s spring collection to male subscribers and their women’s spring collection to female subscribers.

Experts suggest that in this world of high tech software and data, it’s not enough to just display content. Now, you can use dynamic content that personalizes the marketing experience to help drive more sales.

4. Multivariate testing

Multivariate testing is a method of testing different variables in an email to find what works best. Different audiences respond better to different images, colors, copy, font, offers, etc., so marketers will use this to see which combination is ideal in leading to the end goal.

It’s important not to confuse multivariate testing with A/B testing. A/B testing is a tactic for testing only one variable, while multivariate testing involves several variables.

To paint a clearer picture, a multivariate test might involve one test email with a clean and bold hero image and only one call to action. The other test email may be a more complex design with two CTA and no hero image. As you can see, there are several variables on the table here. The tester would use these two samples to determine which is more effective at driving click through rate.

5. Transactional email

A transactional email is an automated email that is triggered by a purchase. Transactional emails are significant to the email marketer because they are actually opened 8x more than the traditional marketing messages.

With a good ESP, you should be able to easily edit, create, and optimize all your transactional emails. This can include an automatic thank you email after a purchase, a follow-up discount code after a purchase, purchase receipts, and even cart abandonment emails.

6. Click-through rate

Click-through rate (CTR) is a metric that measures how many people clicked on an image, hyperlink, or CTA in an email.

Measuring the CTR is a great way to determine how effective a particular email is. Of course, click-through rates can vary, but an indication that an email is performing well would be a click-through rate of between the range of 20-30%. If your click-through rates are falling below this range, it’s a good indication that you may need to switch things up a bit and even conduct some tests to determine what would be more enticing to your subscribers.

Remember, an ESP should provide reporting so you can monitor your click-through rates of each of your campaigns.

7. Personalization

Marketing these days is all about personalization, and email marketing is no exception. Email personalization is where you customize the content based on the subscriber’s data. This could include name, interests, desires, birthdays, and more.

Personalization is a vital part of email marketing, because when emails are personalized, it’s proven to increase opens rates and drive revenue by as much as 760%.

It’s also worth it to note that when a subject line includes the subscriber’s first name, it can increase open rates by 20%.

8. Email deliverability

Thankfully, the term email deliverability isn’t total Chinese, and it’s a bit easier to put two and two together with this term. Email deliverability is simply the ability to deliver an email to a subscriber’s inbox.

What’s really important with email deliverability, however, is to find a reliable ESP with a good reputation and high deliverability rates. Email marketers will use email deliverability to gauge the likelihood of their emails reaching the subscribers inboxes as opposed to running into issues like throttling, bounces, spam problems, bulking, ISPs, and more.

Things that can hurt email deliverability include:

  • Sending from a free domain (gmail, yahoo, hotmail, etc.) rather than a business name
  • Using single opt-ins as opposed to double-optins
  • Writing spammy subject lines
  • Making unsubscribing difficult so people mark you as SPAM rather than unsubscribing
  • Using URL shorteners
  • Sending too many images
  • Not testing email load times
  • Not being mobile responsive

Therefore, it’s important that your ESP makes avoiding these pitfalls easy.

9. Hard bounce

A hard bounce is when an email is returned to a sender for permanent reasons. This includes things like delivering to an invalid email address for one of the following reasons:

  • Incorrect domain name
  • Sending to an email address that isn’t real
  • Recipient is unknown

It’s important to monitor hard bounces and to get rid of invalid email addresses as soon as possible, because having a high volume of hard bounces can affect your deliverability rates. This can also set off spam filters and email providers could potentially put a red flag on your address.

When looking for an ESP, opt for a provider that automatically removes hard bounces from your subscriber lists for you. That way, you won’t have to worry about being penalized.

10. Soft bounce

A soft bounce, on the other hand, is an email that failed to deliver because of temporary reasons. These soft bounces will occur when a file is too big or a recipient’s inbox is full.

These soft bounces are not nearly as problematic as hard bounces. And, usually an ESP will try and deliver these soft bounces again.

If you do notice that the emails are continuing to bounce over the course of the next few days, contact your ESP for further details.

Wrap up

Hopefully, this comprehensive guide gives you a headstart on becoming fluent in email marketing speak. If you want to continue your studies, please reference this detailed glossary of email marketing terms at your convenience.