By Nick Severino
A while back we put together an internal task-force to make sure that at SIGMA, we adhere to email best practices for our clients. We recently shared some information on our blog about best practices for including plain text emails. As we navigated through the review process of best practices for email, we found that even communicating about campaigns internally and with our clients required some standardization of terminology around email marketing campaigns.
With that finding, we pulled together a standardized glossary of email marketing terms to share across our organization so that when any dialogue was going on about email marketing, the conversing parties were always on the same page. We thought you might find it useful to see our list of standard definitions to see, perhaps, if your organization is or is not always talking about the same things.
Here is our alphabetical list of terms:
Active Data Records – The total number of records available for mailing after all suppressions have been discounted.
Banned Email Address – Any address found within a universal suppression list maintained in-house, on a client master list, or by an email marketing vendor.
Bounce Backs – A specific designation that indicates that mailing to a specific email address resulted in notification that mail was not deliverable to the specified address at the time of deployment. Often a reason is given for a bounce back, which will define the bounce back as either a Soft Bounce or Hard Bounce.
Hard Bounce – Any bounce back received after deployment that is identified as permanently undeliverable.
Soft Bounce – Any email address that was undeliverable at the time of deployment that is identified as possibly only temporarily unavailable.
Soft Bounce Frequency Suppression – In many instances, either at an organizational or on a client-by-client basis, email marketers may choose to set a limit on the number of times, or a timeframe during which, a targeted address can bounce. Once that limit is exceeded, the recipient address becomes suppressed from future mailings. The reason for such suppression is to remove seemingly dead-end addresses that are negatively impacting metrics and deliverability.
Bounce Categorization – In many instances, it is up to the email marketing organization to define which bounce reasons should be qualified as hard bounce reasons as opposed to soft. Typically, only bad-domain (not a valid address between the @ and suffix, such as .com/.org/.edu) or bad-mailbox (not a valid address before the @) will be defaulted as a hard bounce; however, more conservative mailers may choose to define additional reasons to be considered final, or hard bounce reasons.
Clicks – Those recipients who have visited any of the URL links embedded within your email, whether they are within the HTML or text version in your email. Typically, this is tracked by the email marketing vendor by using a ‘masked’ URL, or an alias; when a recipient clicks through on a link, it passes through the alias URL to be counted and is then redirected to the destination URL you have specified. Unless specified otherwise, the Clicks tally will represent Unique Clicks.
Cumulative Clicks – This is the total number of click occurrences in your email; if any recipient ‘clicks’ multiple links, or clicks a single link multiple times, each and every click event will be counted toward the tally.
Unique Clicks – This is the total number of unique recipients who have clicked any URL within your email, counted as a single time per recipient who has clicked, regardless of their click frequency.
Positive Clicks – This is the total of those who have clicked any URL that is not an opt-out link.
Form Submissions – Total number of audience members who have submitted a form or survey associated with your email campaign.
Inactive Records – Any record designated as no longer active for mailing in the system. These may be suppressions, opt- outs, bounces, or manually deactivated records; it is a very generic designation.
Likes – This is the total number of recipients who have clicked to ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’ your brand presence on any of a number of social network messages through a social network sharing tool, either built into the email marketing platform or integrated through an additional tool.
Opens – Those recipients who have opened an HTML version of your email. Opens are tracked using a 1px by 1px tracking image. When the recipient’s email client calls that clear tracking pixel image from the server, the recipient is flagged as having opened the email. If not specified otherwise, the Opens tally will represent Unique Opens.
Cumulative Opens – This is the total number of times your email content has been flagged as open; if any recipient ‘opens’ the email more than once, each open event is counted within the Cumulative count.
Unique Opens – The total number of recipients who have opened your email; if any recipient ‘opens’ the email more than once, they are counted as a single unique open regardless.
Opt-Out/Unsubscribe – A request received from the owner of an email address to be removed from all future email campaigns. The request can be made any of several ways – forms, direct replies, by mail, or by flagging the email as spam with the recipient's email client. All emails must provide clear and easy ways for recipients to remove themselves from mailing lists, and all opt-out requests must be honored within 10 business days to remain CAN-SPAM compliant.
Opt-Out – Feedback Loop – Any record opted out from your mailing list because information was received through an ISP feedback loop indicating that that specific recipient has flagged your email as a SPAM message.
Opt-Out – Form – Opt-outs received through a standard form used to collect opt-out requests or subscription preferences.
Opt-Out – Reply – Opt-outs received as a direct reply to an email and requesting to be removed from future mailings. Often the reply request is done in the subject line or with a single word in the reply mail. Most major email marketing service providers maintain a feature that will parse through replies automatically and comb for opt-out keywords (“unsubscribe”, “remove”, “opt-out” and many more), appending any it finds to your opt-out suppression list.
Reads – This is the total number of recipients who have had any trackable activity within your email that indicates they have read your content. This metric combines opens and clicks to provide a more complete tally of recipients interacting with your email.
Received – The total number of emails sent for delivery minus bounce backs received.
Sent – The total number of emails sent for delivery during deployment.
Shares – This is the total number of recipients who have shared the content of your message through a social network using sharing tools, either built into the email marketing platform or integrated through an additional tool like AddThis.
Spam Complaints – Total number of audience members who have reported your email campaign as spam with their email client or ISP. Spam complaints damage your sender reputation and may disrupt deliverability to specific ISPs after reaching certain thresholds of spam complaints from your audience. Several ISPs will block emails from a sender for a specified time frame (usually 24 hours) if spam complaints surpass a percentage, often only a fraction of 1%.
Suppression List – Any list of data records to be removed from the final mailing list for any reason, ranging from opt-outs or hard bounces to current customers or other records to be removed at the client's request.
Did we leave any standard terms out that you use when communicating about email marketing?