At popular request (*waves hi to requesters*), I’m briefly going to walk through some of the jargon that you’ll hear in the email marketing world.  Then, I’m going to explain to what is important about each piece of jargon.   Ihate jargon as much as the next person, but but since these come up in my website critiques as a side discussion, I wanted to address this stuff. It’s important.

In alphabetical order…

Autoresponder:  This is where you automatically send new subscribers a series of emails spaced over a number of days, weeks, or months.  While this can be used effectively, its often overused.  Go sparingly on the email bombardment please 🙂

Bounce:  This is when your mailer sends an email to a subscriber and the email address bounces back.  This is inevitable so don’t worry much about it – sometimes I scan through them to see if there is something obvious, like someone made a typo, but I only do this on the welcome email bounces.  Otherwise, I just ignore it – it’s usually low.

Click Through Rate:  This is the number of times someone clicks on a link in your email.  I’m assuming most of you will have links that click through to a blog post or a sales page, so I prefer just to check analytics the following days after a campaign to see traffic levels.  The problem is that people can click your link more than once, or forward to a friend who then clicks, driving this figure up higher.  Or – someone clicks the “read this edition online” email, and then uses the links online thereafter.

Double Opt In:  This is where someone signs up to your list (that is the opt-in part) and then the system sends them an email where they have to click in order to confirm they wanted to be on the list (that’s the double part).  We use this on the TOP newsletter.  The reason you would use this is to avoid any complains or problems down the road with your list, plus it also reinforces with people the relationship on subscribing (and makes them go and unmark you as spam if that happens).  Contrary to popular belief, I know of no one who has had problems with people clicking on the confirmation email.  And just so you also know, people will still complain and mark you as spam after double opt-in.

Forward to a Friend:  Pretty self explanatory; some email programs have a widget or button that allows one of your listeners to click and send the newsletter to a friend.  They can, oddly enough, also hit the forward button. 🙂

Open Rate:  This is the percentage of people on your list who actually opened your email.  This is the holy grail of figures for some people, but the problem with it is that it is hard to judge; most programs use a hidden JPG image to count this, or other complicated mechanisms, but often email programs like Gmail or Thunderbird don’t render these items because they think they’re spam.  And other readers might have opened it then promptly hit delete. So, read these with a heft of caution.  Industry standard for open rates is low, around 20%, though if you have a high quality list (like we do) you can get around 60%.

Personalization: With this technique, any information the new subscribers give when signing up can be used in the email.  We use this on the TOP mailing list for your first name – so you give that upon signup, and then in the emails we can say “Hi Joe” – it’s just a little more personable and friendly.  The more fields you require for signup, the less signups you’ll have – and crazy personalization doesn’t get you much, so less is more here.  Skip it if you’re not ready.

Split Test:  In some programs, once you have enough subscribers, you can do a split test, which is to send two different emails to two halves of the list, and compare which one does better.  This is usually done to test email subject lines (and subsequently, open rates) but you can also do it for content too.  I wouldn’t advise getting into this level of testing unless you have well over a couple of thousand subscribers, and are ready to do the dirty work.

Subscriber:  A name and email address who has signed up to your list.  So, the total number of subscribers is the size of your list.  Bigger is better, naturally, but never sacrifice quality for quantity.  It’s always better to have a few people who are interested than a bunch of people not really interested.

Welcome Email:  This is the email that confirms someone’s subscription.  I highly recommend this – customise it with a special offer perhaps, or a preview of what’s coming, just to get your new subscriber trained that you think they are special and they should open all your future emails.

Closing Thought

Whew.  There are more, but those are the ones that are most important.  If you hadn’t noticed, I prefaced nearly every one of these email marketing jargon words with a comment about accuracy (or the lack thereof).  Email does not have good statistics, so I find two other pieces of objective measurement work well:

  • Ask someone after they buy, how they found out about the offer.  Was it from an email?
  • Periodically ask random people from your list for feedback.  What do they say?  Does your email kind of suck?

Otherwise, to be honest, you can forget the rest of this stuff.  But everyone tends to focus on it, and in a general sense, it does give you a feeling for how you’re doing.  Just don’t obsess over numbers that aren’t entirely accurate.

Let me know how else I can help.

Flickr Photo CC esparta