understanding terms email marketing basics

Jumping into email marketing is one of the best steps you can take in connecting personally with your readership. Email marketing consistently leads to higher sales numbers than any other form of marketing. Jumping into this early allows your list the time necessary to grow.

As with any new system, however, there is a learning curve it can feel like you need a bachelor's degree in marketing or business to understand. Let’s go over the most important terms you’ll see bouncing around in email marketing systems (such as Brevo, Intuit Mailchimp, Constant Contact, MailerLite, or any of the other options out there).



Because of the nature of this glossary, some terms will inevitably be used in the descriptions of other terms. Those terms will be bolded so you can find the definition when you need them.

General Email Marketing Terms:

Contacts or Audience: These are the people who, at one point, signed up to be on your email list. This number includes everyone who has ever signed up—even if they eventually unsubscribed. Essentially, these are the people who are receiving your marketing campaigns.

Segments, Tags, Lists: Depending on which system you use these will serve different purposes, but the main idea behind any of these is that they organize your audience into identifiable chunks. This lets you customize the email marketing you send them. For example, you might separate your audience into “Event Attendee” and “eBook Lover.” Whenever you have news that specifically relates to eBooks, then, you can send out a campaign that will only go to your “eBook lover” segment. Or, if you have events coming up in your area, you can email previous event attendees through the segment or tag to offer them an incentive to come see you again. This is even more beneficial if you have multiple lead magnets and you want to know where your audience came from, as you can assign these tags through different forms, which then, using automations, send out different automatic emails. More on that in a moment. The key thing here is that you can keep track of what your audience is most interested in and meet them where they are by using these tags.

Landing Pages: A specific page, separate from your website, that guides a visitor through a product or offer. Many times these pages also hold sign up forms. As an example, if you had a lead magnet offering a first chapter preview of your book, the landing page would explain the offer. “Sign up to receive a sneak peek at the first chapter of my upcoming book, [Insert Title Here].” The goal of these pages, most of the time, is to shepherd the visitor toward what you want them to do—in this case, fill out the Sign-Up Form to subscribe to your email list.

Lead Magnets: These free or cheap items are designed to entice people to sign up for your email list. They generate email leads, potential customers you can follow up with, by providing something of value in exchange for an email subscription. These can be educational, entertaining, a promotional offer, or anything else you wish to offer your new subscribers.

Forms, Sign-Up Forms: These forms are how you streamline the ability for new contacts to join your audience. By creating a simple form, you allow your new subscribers to easily provide their contact information. These can be as simple as asking for an email address only, or can be as complex as asking for birthdays, mailing addresses, specific areas of interest, or more. These automatically add your new subscribers to the correct list and can also ensure that subscribers are tagged correctly so that a lead magnet is sent out in response to their subscription.

Campaigns: Any marketing piece you create through this system is a campaign. When you create a landing page, an automation, or send an email, you do so by creating a campaign. 

Automations: These create a simple process to ensure your audience is communicated with promptly while you go about your day. If someone signs up in the middle of the night, you don’t want to wait to greet them or welcome them to your list until you’re awake the next morning. Sending an automated welcome email when they sign up through an automation system ensures your audience is promptly welcomed, gets what they signed up for, and they have a chance to unsubscribe quickly if they signed up by mistake.

Understanding Your Campaign Analytics:

Analytics: After you send or publish a campaign, the system you use will collect information about the people who interact with the campaign and how they chose to interact. This data can be passed to you through analytics. These analytics are as follows:

Delivered: The number of emails that successfully made it to your audience member’s inboxes.

Opens: The total number of times your email was opened by the recipients, including repeated opens by the same user.

Unique Opens: The number of people who opened your email.

Bounced: Occasionally, when an email is sent, for any number of reasons it does not reach the recipient’s inbox. These emails “bounce” and do not reach the subscriber.

Clicks: If you have included links in your campaign, this tracks how many times those links were clicked. A high click rate means you presented your information well and encouraged action from your audience.

If you’re looking for more advice like this, we have a master list of all our blog posts on marketing books. Check it out: 

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