Email marketing is full of tension. Like many aspects of running your own business it requires you to wear many hats and use different business skills. To get your email marketing working you will need:

– some marketing skills to understand what you should be putting in your emails.

– some technical skills to get the systems all set up and running smoothly

– some data analysis skills to work out what’s working well and what’s not so popular.

– some of your big person pants to be brave enough to send out your emails to the big wide world for anyone to critique!

In this series of posts I’m going to help you with the technical skills so that you have one less thing to worry about and I’ll give you a few marketing tips along the way to help you get more from your email list.

In the beginning…

Before we get into the nitty gritty of how these things work, I want to make sure we are speaking the same language so I’ve put a glossary together. I’ve written in below in the ‘need to know’ order for reading it through but you can also see it here in alphabetical order if you prefer [link to alphabetical version]

Disclaimer: this is not an exhaustive list of every term related to email marketing. That would be horrific to read unless perhaps you have needed help getting to sleep. It is meant to be an overview of the terms you need to understand to get your email marketing up and running in a clear and easy way. Let’s go…


The basics

Email Marketing Software Company

The company that sends bulk marketing emails on behalf of your business. There are lots of companies that do this including Mailchimp, Constant Contact, MailerLite, ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, Hubspot and more! I’ll be talking about the pros and cons of some of these later on. These Email Marketing Companies send the emails from their servers but looking like they came from you.

Email Service Provider (ESP)

Companies that provide email services to individuals. Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, iCloud and more are ESPs that provide individual email addresses. The ESPs that provide free email (sometimes called webmail) use their domain as part of the email address i.e.  Handy hint: Sometimes Email Marketing Services sending in bulk are also referred to as ESPs. This can be confusing so ask for clarification if you think this might be happening.

Domain based email

A domain is a web address (mine is and the domain based email will be the recipients name @ the domain (my domain based email is You need a domain based email to give you the best chance of getting your email past the spam filters and into your subscribers inboxes. The free email addresses provided by ESPs are not easily traceable and therefore are often used by spammers so some Email Marketing Companies won’t let you use them for sending email.


Giant computer that are used by the email marketing companies to send emails.

IP Address

Every server has its own ID code called an IP (Internet Protocol). This is used by spam filters to work out which servers send useful email vs spam.

Setting up the Email Marketing Properly

Sender Policy Framework

When you use an email marketing company to send your emails, the emails are sent from their servers rather than your usual email server. This can cause the spam filters to get nervous as it could be someone impersonating you (think foreign businessman offering to share his fortune!) By adding your email marketing companies IP address to a list of approved senders for your email address the email filters are given some assurance that it is the real you sending the email and are more likely to deliver to the inbox.

DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)

This is another nifty anti spam technique which validates your email as being legitimately from you. It involves a secret key being added to the header of your emails (only the email filters see this not your subscribers). The email filters check your DNS records where you’ve added a public key and if they are a match then they can be pretty sure the email is from you.

The legal bit!

Data Protection

Data protection laws set out what you are allowed to do with personal data, which generally includes email addresses. The rules are set by country and when you are emailing subscribers you need to abide by the rules for that country. This means that if you have even one subscriber from the US then you need to understand their regulations, likewise for subscribers in the EU you need to understand GDPR.

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)

Laws that govern what is and is not legal with regard to personal data use for subscribers within the EU. These rules are very important to understand when using email marketing in your business. You can find out more at the Information Commissioner’s Office here:


CAN-SPAM – Short for ‘Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003,’ This is the US equivalent of the GDPR, covering what how you can legally marketing to subscribers in the US.  You can find out more about it here:

Privacy Policy

A document that details how you will manage the personal data you hold for your subscribers (and usually also your clients and suppliers). This should be made available on your website and referenced when people are signing up to your email list.

Getting the email marketing set up


A subscriber is someone who has requested that you send them emails and has been added to one or more of your email lists. Some email marketing companies count each person on each list as a subscriber (1 person on 3 different lists would be counted as 3 subscribers). This isn’t a problem with a small list but as it grows this way of counting can quickly get expensive.

Email List

A list of people who have signed up to receive your emails. You may have more than one list if you send different things to different groups of people or offer freebies in return for an email address.


A way of grouping subscribers to allow you to send more targeted emails to them based on their interests or behaviour.


Another way of marking subscribers so you can personalise the emails you send. You could tag everyone who purchases a particular product or service. Not all providers use tags as well as lists.

Segments / Segmentation

A way of creating a more sophisticated groups of your subscribers by adding together two or more aspects. I.e. subscribers who 1. Have bought a specific package from you AND 2. Have clicked to view a link in the last email you sent.

Let’s collect some subscribers 😊

Signup Form

The form that a new subscriber completes to request to be added to your email list. This can either sit on a page on your website or be hosted (provided) by your Email Service Provider. The signup form should clearly state what you are going to do with the email address being provided and link to your Privacy Policy for more details.

Double Opt In

Requiring new subscribers to confirm their desire to be on your list by clicking a link in an email you send them. If they don’t click the link they don’t get added to your list (or sent the freebie or whatever it is they were signing up to do.)

Single Opt In

A new subscriber signs up simply by entering their email into your signup form. No confirmation that they own the address is required. This means that anyone could enter any address to your list leading to higher spam complaints and making it hard to prove that the owner of the email address gave their permission to be on your list.

Freebie / Lead magnet

As we are now being asked for our email address left, right and centre, people are getting a bit more hesitant about just signing up or a newsletter. To get round this you can something away as an incentive in return for the email address. This could be a report, a mini training, an audio or video or a discount voucher. Something that is sufficiently compelling that someone is happy to share their email in exchange for the freebie. 

Landing Page

This is a special website page that acts as a sales page either for something you are selling or for your freebie that you are offering in return for a subscriber’s email address.

Automation / Sequence / Autoresponder / Drip Marketing

A series of prewritten emails that are sent out at predetermined intervals when the automation is triggered. E.g. a welcome sequence that is triggered when a new subscriber confirms their email address to help them get to know you. The more sophisticated tools will enable you to move subscribers from one list to another using an automation. It’s very nifty!


An event that causes an automation to start. This can be a new addition to a list, a date, a change of value for a field related to a subscriber or a click of a link in an email. You’ve probably seen this when you’ve clicked to look at a sales page then an hour later had a ‘Got any questions’ email which seemed rather spookily timed!

Nurture Sequence

A series of emails that are designed to ‘nurture’ a new subscriber and help them see the value you offer and move them closer to making a purchase. Also known as welcome sequences and drip marketing.

Broadcasts or Campaigns

The name for a one off email sent to your list. This is what you would use to send a newsletter.

Subject Line

The subject line is what appears in the inbox when the email is delivered. This is important for catching your subscribers’ attention to encourage them to open the email and for getting your email through the spam filters. Try to avoid the word FREE in your subject. More on this later.

Email Template

An email design you can use each time you send an email to save you time. Typically this would include your logo, social media links and contact details as well as being set up with a font and colours that complement your brand. Pre-made templates are offered by most email marketing companies but if you use them make sure they fit the style of your business.

Physical Address

You are required by law to add a physical address at the bottom of all marketing emails. If you are not comfortable using a home office address you can rent addresses via shared offices or accountants.

Dynamic Content

A snazzy way of changing the content of an email based on who is receiving it.  Subscribers in one group (perhaps warmer leads) could get a more forceful call to action than colder leads in a different group who see more value based information. Cool eh?

Split Testing

A feature of some email marketing software tools that enable testing of 2 different options for the same email (i.e. 2 different Subjects for the email) to see which gets a better Open Rate.


When you’ve written your campaign or broadcast you can send it immediately or you can schedule it to go out at a time that will put it top of inbox when your subscribers are likely to be checking their email. You can even schedule emails to go out while you are on your holiday. I like doing this as it makes me feel very smug!

You’ve sent it… now what?

Email Filters / Spam Filters

These are filters provided by email service providers (ESP) that look at each email that received and decide whether it’s spam or legitimate. Some ESPs also filter into a promotions folder for non-spam, non personal emails. This is where using a domain based email, DKIM and SPF and a reputable Email Marketing Company will all pay off. Emails that the filters deem to be really dodgy won’t even get to the spam folder.

Open rate

The number of people who open an email you send usually shown as a percentage of the number of people you sent the email to. A typical open rate is around 20% and may decrease as your list size gets bigger.

Click through rate

The number of people who click on a link in the email you sent. The average click through rate is around 2.5%.

Unsubscribe rate

The number of people who unsubscribe to your email list, usually shown as a percentage of the number that received the email.


Emails that have not been delivered to the recipient. There are 2 types of bounce:

Hard Bounce

The email you are trying to send to no longer exists, delete the person from your lists.

Soft Bounce

The email box you sent to is not currently accepting email. This is often because they are full but could also be due to a technical glitch. Give them a couple of chances then delete if the emails are still bouncing.

Have I missed anything? 

If you would like a copy of the glossary as a pdf then you can click here to download it.


Do you want to be in my gang?

Join my mailing list to get notified of new blogs, offers, top tips and tricks?
Skip to content