Baby steps: Email Marketing Concepts for beginners

In light of the imminent birth of our future monarch, we’re dedicating this post to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, just in case they ever decide to take on email marketing.

We know that the wealth of information surrounding email marketing can be overwhelming, and can even be off putting to those who have no previous experience in this industry.

This post will cover the basic email marketing concepts and terminology you will come to know and love and your email marketing journey progress.

Here’s the information that you need and take baby steps towards your goals. Of course, these 10 points are just the top of the iceberg when it comes to email marketing, but these basics should help you get going.

1. Open rate

This means how many people have opened your email that you sent. This figure is usually presented in percentage format. For example, if you sent 100 emails, and 50 people opened it, your open rate is 50%.

This figure is not always accurate. An open is counted when a contact downloads the images. A contact can still read the email without viewing the images, and so this figure can sometimes be flawed.

2. Click through rates

This term refers to how many people clicked a part of the email, out of the total number of opens. This measurement is important as it will tell you how many people interacted with the email, and landed on your website or on your designated landing page.

3. Deliverability

Email deliverability means the number of emails from your send that actually made it into the inbox, as opposed to landing in the junk folder. Different domains have different deliverability strength depending on their reputation. See more on deliverability here.

4. Personalisation

This is when you use a contact’s data to personalise the email content. For example, you may know their first name and you can use this to head the email. Emails with personalisation uysually have higher rates of engagement that those without.

5. Email list hygiene/Cleaning email list

This refers to the process of keeping your email list clean. If your contact list is made up of bad email address, such as misspelt emails or old accounts, then your deliverability rate can be compromised, and you may be classified as a spam sender (which you do not want).

6. CAN SPAM/ Data Protection Act 1998

There are laws surrounding email marketing, and they differ slightly in the US and the UK. See this article on the main differences of the law. You must follow the law to avoid a large fine or even imprisonment. IN the UK the main points to take note of are including an Unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email, and making sure your contact has opted in to marketing communication.

7. Opt in/Double opt in

This refers to how your contacts signed up to receive your emails. An opt in means that the contact has given you their email address in order to receive correspondence. A double opt in means that users have given you permission twice, usually via a confirmation link in an email.

8. Unsubscribe/Opt out

This means that the contacts can choose to stop receiving emails from you at any time. This is the law in the UK and the US and an easy to follow link MUST be included in every email you send.

9. HTML email or Plain text email

These are the two types of email that you can send. A HTML email is made up of colours, tables and graphics. These emails are the most common in the email marketing world and the most visually striking. A plain text is just simply text, as though you are sending an email through Outlook to your friend. A plain text emails must be sent at the same time as your HTML just in case the contact cannot view the HTML version.

10. Bounces

When an email cannot be delivered, they are referred to as bounces: soft and hard. A soft bounce occurs when an inbox is temporarily unavailable, such as the inbox is full. A hard bounce is more permanent, and usually occurs when the email address no longer exists. This can help you understand how many emails in your list are bad, or if your email list needs to be cleaned.


Of course there are many more email marketing terms to understand, but understanding these concepts will allow you to take baby steps before beginning your campaigns.

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