Liz Wilcox’s Email Marketing Glossary for Beginners

Trying to figure out email marketing terms? But it’s making everything even more confusing?  Wondering where the  quick and easy email marketing glossary is located? Here it is, baby boo. I hope this saves you some time and helps you finally get those emails out so you can start  turning your followers into friends in the inbox.

A/B Testing or Split Testing

Okay. This only sounds complicated. It’s actually pretty simple. 

Split testing is when marketers (that’s you!) send out two different versions of an email campaign at the same time with slight variations between them. Split testing can be done with subject lines, body text, images, or any combination of these things. 

(Although new email marketers should just start with a/b testing the subject line of the email.)

Full explanation if you’re still struggling:

You send out two versions of the same message – one version has your original content; the other version has the change you want to test. Your email service provider will then measure how many people open and click through each version. 

After, you take that information to decide if the changes are effective. This effects how you will send your next email. 

The coolest part? Split testing doesn’t just apply to email marketing – it works in other areas too! Like website design and social media campaigns. So don’t just think email when someone mentions split tests because it goes way beyond that!


Just like it sounds, my friend. 

Email automation is a way to send emails to people without having to write them all out manually. It works like this: you create an email template and set up rules within your email service provider that determine when it sends out and to whom. (<—me trying to be grammatically fancy and use the word ‘whom’)

Whenever someone meets the criteria you have set, they will automatically receive a personalized email from you! This makes it easier and faster for you to stay in touch with your customers and keep them informed about what you are up to. 

The best example, and the only one you really should have set up as a beginner, is your welcome sequence. This should be set up as an automation for all of your email opt-in forms. 


This one’s like a robot for your inbox – it sends out automated messages based on triggers that you set in advance. Pretty cool stuff! 

For example, if you are going out of town for a week and you won’t be in your inbox? Set a rule up to send out the autoresponder saying something like “Hey! I’m out of town and won’t see this for the next 7 days. If it’s an emergency…oh well!” 

jk. jk. 

Bounce Rate

Remember that Elvis song Return to Sender?

Every once in a while, you might send a letter or package through actual snail mail. And for whatever reason, it’s unable to be delivered. So it gets sent back to you. 

That’s the same as a bounce rate. 

This is simply a metric that measures how many emails are returned (to whatever internet gods servers are sending your emails)  because they couldn’t be delivered successfully. 

Why can’t emails be delivered?

  • someone had mistyped their address
  • their inbox was full
  • their server was down
  • mailbox was full
  • or some other wild “who can understand the internet?” reason 

Knowing your bounce rate helps you understand how well your list-building efforts are going and also identify any issues with delivery infrastructure.


Don’t stress about bounce rate right now. Remember, you’re just starting out. So just keep emailing. That’s the most important thing.


Broadcasts are the same thing as newsletters. It’s a one-off email sent to your email list. Or a segment of your email list. AKA: You can send an email to a large group of people at once.

I’m a Newsletter Girly myself, and almost never use the word broadcast. But note that your email service provider might be a Broadcast Boi. (see below.)

Broadcast button in convertkit screenshot


Campaigns are a series of emails. They’re usually used when you’re trying to sell something or figure something out about your email list.

For example:

I can have a sales campaign where I’m sending emails about a certain product to people who have indicated interest previously.

But I can also have a re-engagement campaign with the objection of trying to get as many people on the list as possible to click on something over the next 30 days. 

You can set them up as sequences in your email service provider. That would turn it into an automation within your ESP.

Call-to-action (CTA)

Just like it’s called. A call to action is a phrase that encourages someone to do something, such as “Read my latest blog post on Medium” or “Join my $9/month newsletter template membership!”. 

Typically, when you write something with a call to action, you will also explain what the person should do and why they should do it. 

For example, if you have a website and want people to join your mailing list, you could write something like this: “I share my best tips inside my newsletter. Sign up for our mailing list right now to get those!”

Click Through Rate (CTR)

Basically, it measures how many of those who opened your message actually followed through and clicked on a link or button in that email. That means if you got 100 people to open an email but only 15 of them clicked links inside then your CTR would be 15%.

The higher the CTR, the better as it shows what percentage of readers were interested enough to take action. If someone clicks a link within an email they are much more likely to convert into a customer than someone who just reads it without taking any other actions. So having a high CTR is really important when measuring success with email campaigns.

It also helps marketers understand what kind of content resonates best with their audience so they can focus on creating similar messages going forward. As well as identify where changes need to be made and tweak future emails accordingly – this makes sure they get better results each time they send out a campaign.


Are your emails actually getting sent? That’s deliverability.

More textbook definition: Deliverability is the process of making sure that the emails you send out are getting to the right people. It involves testing email designs, making sure emails aren’t mistakenly marked as spam, and other techniques to make sure your messages reach their intended targets. Good deliverability helps communicate effectively with customers and potential customers!

SIDE NOTE: as a beginner, don’t get hung up on this. Seriously.

Drip Campaign

This is also called an email sequence.

A drip campaign is a type of email marketing strategy that sends automated emails over a set period of time. With this kind of campaign, you can send emails to customers based on their interactions with your business.


  • subscribing to your mailing list → welcome sequence
  • or making a purchase →  onboarding sequence
  • clicking to learn more about a specific topic →  nurture campaign

Drip campaigns help businesses nurture relationships and increase engagement with their customers.

These are awesome, but just start with a welcome sequence and go from there.

Email Service Provider (ESP)

An email service provider or ESP is a type of software that helps businesses send emails to their customers. It allows businesses to customize emails, manage contact lists, track engagement rates, and more. It’s an essential tool for businesses who want to reach their customers in a reliable way.

Some popular ones for creators are ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign, Flodesk, and Aweber.

Open Rate

This is a big one. Open rate is the percentage of people who opened your email outta the total number sent. It’s an important metric because it tells you how many peeps actually read what you had to say.

Of course, email open rates are no longer wholly accurate. BUTTTT…they are still consistent. 

Meaning if one week your email open rate is 50% and the next week, it’s 40%…you likely have a 10% decrease in readership. (Even though it might not actually be 50% to 40%.)

That’s why I still advocate for you to look at this metric and try to improve it. 

There are lots of factors that affect this rate. Subject lines and sender names can go a long way in determining whether someone opens your email or not – make sure they’re creative yet informative. 

As you get better at emails, then move into thinking about when you send emails: if your target audience has different work hours than you do then it might be better to adjust accordingly.

At the end of the day, getting folks to open your message is half the battle. Once they’ve got their eyes on that content, it’s up to you to keep them interested and engaged.


This term is used as a verb and a noun:

(Noun) The deliverable or promise that you’re offering in exchange for permission to email them. Sometimes called a Lead Magnet or Freebie.

(Verb) Permission given by a subscriber to you to send them emails.

Opt-In List

AKA: Your consent-based email list.

You only want people that opt into your email list to be on your email list. Don’t buy lists and don’t just add people without their permission. Email works so well because it’s consent based, baby!

So basically your email opt-in list is a collection of people who have given permission for you to send them emails. This means that the folks in your opt-in list are already interested in what you’ve got going on – which makes sense because they said ‘yes’ to whatever opt-in/lead magnet/freebie you offered.

Remember, by building an engaged opt-in list, you’re creating a group of email subscribers who actually look forward to hearing from you. That is the key to email marketing that works!

So respect those boundaries and always follow best practices by only adding people who have explicitly opted in. 

Letting someone know where they can go to subscribe should be easy too; having a link or form front and center will help with those signups while also making things super simple.

Scrubbing or Cleaning an Email List

A healthy email list is one that makes money! So make sure your email list is in tip top shape by scrubbing (or cleaning) it. 

Scrubbing or cleaning an email list is the process of removing invalid email addresses and unengaged subscribers from a list. Remember, email is consent based, right? So if someone is no longer engaging in your email list…they have essentially taken away that consent. We don’t want to send emails to those people anymore. So “scrub them” from your list by removing them from your email service provider.

This helps keep the list clean and accurate, so businesses like yours can focus on sending emails to real customers. It also helps with deliverability, ensuring that emails reach their intended targets, every time!


Digital gurus love to throw out email marketing lingo. Including the word “segmentation.”

I always say segmentation is a 2.0 strategy. If it freaks you out and stops you from emailing anything out…then don’t do it until you have a firm grip on the basics of email marketing. 

That said, here’s a basic breakdown of the term:

Segmentation is all about breaking your email list into different segments (get it?) or groups so you can tailor your content and improve results.

It can be broken into 3 categories:

  • Demographics – Age, gender, location and job title 
  • Behavioral – Open/click rate behavior and purchasing history 
  • Interest-based – Products or services that a customer has expressed an interest in

This helps subscribers only see relevant content. Which should increase your open rates, click rates, and results across the board, allowing you to better understand your target audience. 

And optimize future campaigns based on the data you receive from such targeted, specific email newsletters and campaigns.

Transactional Email

The most boring (but essential) emails out there. 

Transactional emails are sent when someone buys something online or signs up for a service. Ya know, like your “here’s your receipt” email or the “your package is on its way” email. 

They are usually sent to let people know about their account activity or transaction. 

Stand out from your competitors by customizing these emails within the software to be personal, on brand, and maybe even a little fun.


It sounds scarier than it is! But remember, email works so freaking well because it’s consent based.

An unsubscribe is a way to tell a company to stop sending you emails–it’s a way for the consumer to take back marketing consent. This is a good thing because we only want to send to people that want to hear from us. 

Not only is it the right thing to do, it helps increase our conversions.
Which will make us feel better about the emails we send.
Which will result in us sending more emails.
Which will result in more money. 

(I think you get the point right? Unsubscribing is a good thing.)

There should always be an unsubscribe link at the bottom of every email.


There are a lot of email marketing terms, with a lot of different definitions. But having a basic understanding of them means you get to start off on the right foot when it comes to sending emails. 

Don’t let this long list fool you, either! You don’t have to implement everything you’ve learned today. Just get started with an opt-in connected to an autoresponder welcome sequence and move from there. 

You got this, my email marketing friend! I believe in your ability to email market so freaking much.

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