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Email Marketing Glossary

Common Terms & Definitions

Whether you’re brand new to email campaigns or a seasoned email veteran, keeping up with all of the terminology can be a daunting task. To help you make sense of the most popular email terms, we’ve created a helpful glossary.

Automated Analytics

Automated analytics refers to business processes that capture data and automatically adapt based on the insights provided by this data. Airlines, for example, have been doing this for years with automatic pricing systems that calculate prices instantaneously based on a number of data points, without human intervention.

This offers multiple opportunities for your email strategy, both in terms of your ability to scale your operations quickly and your ability to target customers in real time. Automated analytics allows you to make better product recommendations, send customers to more appropriate landing pages and even determine the right email to send — without ever breaking a sweat.

Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are research-based representations of your ideal customers, and should be the bedrock on which you build any campaign. They are based on real data, such as demographics and behaviors, as well as educated assumptions about the motivations and goals of your prospective customers.

Using buyer personas allows you to create highly targeted, personalized messaging that increases the likelihood prospects will engage with your brand. They also protect you from casting too wide a net and instead help you attract better-quality prospects.

Context Marketing

Once you’ve determined your prospective buyers’ interests and pain points through the creation of buyer personas, you’ll be able to use those personas in tandem with context marketing to deliver the right content, to the right audience, at the right time.

By providing content that is aligned with a prospect’s current stage in the buyer’s journey, and speaks to their specific concerns, you establish your company as a considerate and helpful resource.


Customization and personalization are similar, yet different in very important ways. When a customer tells you which emails he or she wants to receive from you, that’s customization. When a customer changes the setting on your mobile app or updates the preferences in his account, that’s customization.

Customization allows consumers to tell you exactly what they want, so you can interact with them on their own terms.

Data Visualization

One of the greatest data challenges is trying to decipher what it’s telling you. The more data you collect, the harder this becomes. Enter data visualization: the presentation of data in an easy-to-understand graphic format. Pie charts, line graphs, cluster maps and other visual representations help translate complex data families into recognizable patterns and accessible insights.

The beauty of data visualization is that it doesn’t have to be complex to be meaningful. A simple bar chart can tell many stories, allowing you to easily make more informed decisions.

Episodic Content

Hand in hand with storytelling is episodic content, or content that has been divided into a series of multiple parts.

The goal of episodic content is to encourage repeat engagement with your brand and keep your audience invested. The content is presented as more of a narrative with each “chapter” building on the next, urging readers to continue reading. It also allows you to dive deeper into topics than you could with a stand-alone piece (like a single blog post).

First-Party Data

We all know the best email campaigns start with a solid foundation of data. But there are many sources for obtaining data. First-party data describes all the information that your organization has collected about your customers. This might include purchase history, website behavior, customer-defined preferences and more.

Generally, marketers consider first-party data to be extremely valuable because it is (a) proprietary, (b) specific to your existing customers and (c) at your fingertips and ready to be leveraged in creative ways.

Hashed Email

Hashing is a technique for encrypting a piece of data into a unique, 32-character string of letters and numbers. Hashed emails allow you to track data everywhere it travels in the digital world. In this way, hashed email lets you track an email address everywhere it’s used.

In other words, hashed emails allow you to track online behavior everywhere the address has been used to log on to a device or platform — from social media accounts to mobile apps and more. This delivers to you a wealth of insights about your customers, allowing you to serve up the right messages to the right customers at the right time, all while reducing waste and increasing response rates.

Influencer Marketing

In addition to direct interactions with your prospective buyers, you can bolster your brand using a third party’s voice.

Influencer marketing is the practice of using the reach of an online industry authority to improve the visibility of your company. It’s a three-step process:

Step 1 Identify the individuals with a strong influence on your target audience
Step 2 Build a relationship with those individuals
Step 3 Ask the influencer to share the value of your products or services through their blog, social networks and elsewhere.

This approach helps boost your brand’s reputation in new audiences since the influencer’s followers will trust his or her vote of confidence.

Mobile-First Marketing

Mobile-first marketing is about recognizing that a large percentage of your prospects’ browsing will be via their mobile device and then planning your marketing strategy accordingly.

With mobile-first marketing, opportunities for engagement are designed around mobile as the primary medium prospective customers use to interact with your brand. The objective is to ensure the mobile experience is as rewarding as the desktop experience and has just as many easily navigable conversion paths.

If your emails aren’t optimized for mobile, your prospects will become frustrated and won’t feel encouraged to connect.


Most likely, your customers interact with your company through a number of channels. They might shop at a brick-and-mortar store, subscribe to your email newsletter, receive coupons in the mail and even follow you on Facebook or Twitter.

Multi-channel marketing strives to maximize the performance of each of these channels. After all, each channel represents a new opportunity to engage with your customers and drive desired outcomes.


Many marketers use the terms “multi-channel” and “omni-channel” interchangeably, which is not quite accurate. Where a multi-channel approach focuses on the channel, an omni-channel approach puts the customer at the center of everything.

The intention with omni-channel marketing is to create a consistent and seamless customer experience regardless of the specific channel. It’s an “outside-in” approach that requires viewing the entire customer journey from the perspective of the customer, and using those insights to make the journey as effortless and productive as possible.


Personalization is driven entirely by you and your ability to put your data into action. It’s the tactics you use to tailor your messaging and campaigns to a specific customer. This might be as simple as using the customer’s name in the body of an email or as complex as providing product recommendations based on past purchase or browsing history.

Personalization highlights the relationship that you have built with a customer, which in turn leads the customer to trust you more and more willingly engage with your brand.

Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics is all about finding the insights contained within the diverse data you collect. By carefully analyzing this data, you can identify patterns and trends that can act as signals to forecast what a customer is likely to do in the future.

Armed with these predictions, you can create messaging and campaigns designed to proactively steer your customers toward the outcomes you desire. These insights can also help you to more narrowly define customer segments and therefore improve the way you target these segments. Predictive analytics can even help you decide where to focus your marketing spend for optimal results.

Smart (Dynamic) Content

Smart content is online content that dynamically updates based on the visitor observing it. It fits perfectly into the strategy of context marketing since it is personalized and highly relevant.

Smart content helps you move prospective customers through the sales funnel by taking into account their previous interactions with your brand, and then serving them the content that is most appropriate for their current stage in the buyer’s journey.

Spam Traps

Spam traps is a term that often strikes fear in the heart of marketers around the world. That’s because emailing a spam trap can damage your sender reputation, but they’re not always possible to avoid. They come in two forms:

Recycled spam traps are often accounts that were once active, but have been unused for so long that the ISP reclaimed them.

Pure spam traps are addresses that were created with the sole purpose of catching spammers.


It’s not enough to make your content relevant—it must also be compelling. Marketing content with an element of storytelling feels more authentic and valuable to a customer than sales copy.

One easy way to tell a relevant and compelling story is with a case study. Reach out to some of your current clients and learn the story of how they came to be satisfied customers. It’s likely their path to purchase will touch on many of the same issues prospective buyers face, and when buyers read it, they’ll feel more connected to your brand.

Third-Party Data

Although first-party data is critical to learning about your customers, you may decide you need to learn a little more about your audience — or you may wish to reach a completely new audience. This is where third-party data comes in.

Third-party data is information purchased from a data aggregator. While this information is commercially available to anyone — including your competitors — the sheer amount of information that can be purchased makes this data source extremely valuable. Third-party data can provide important insights into audience demographics, hobbies/personal interests, social media behavior and more.

Triggered Emails

Triggered emails are automated messages that are generated based on a user’s specific behavior—for example, registration, subscription renewal or account milestones. They can help keep the conversation going and show customers that you’re interested in how they’re interacting with your company.

Triggered emails can be a marketer’s best friend since they satisfy two of the three requirements for effective context marketing: speaking to the right audience at the right time. Marketers can satisfy the third requirement, delivering the right content, by offering something relevant and meaningful to the user.

User-Generated Content

Content marketing can’t exist without content. But rather than capitalizing only on content you’ve created, take advantage of user-generated content, which is exactly what it sounds like: content your users have created.

The core concept is to benefit from your established customer base. After all, your existing customers can be the best advocates for your brand.