12 Email Marketing Terms Every Marketer Should Know

12 Email Marketing Terms Every Marketer Should Know

12 Email Marketing Terms Every Marketer Should Know

In the ever-evolving world of email marketing, twelve industry leaders, including CMOs and founders, share their insights on terms that can make a significant difference in your campaigns. From the strategic use of A/B testing for email success to the importance of email list hygiene practices, this article unveils the less-common email marketing knowledge that can set you apart. Discover why these terms matter and how they can enhance your marketing strategy.

  • A/B Testing
  • CAN-SPAM Act
  • Graymail
  • Honeypots
  • Personalization Tokens
  • List Churn
  • Parasite Emails
  • Cost per Mile
  • Bacn
  • Permission Marketing
  • Throttling
  • Email List Hygiene

A/B Testing

A/B testing, or split testing, is becoming a less-used and more obscure email marketing term, given the rise and incorporation of AI, but I believe it’s one more marketers need to know and utilize.

It’s a vital tool for improving and optimizing your email marketing results. Whether you’re testing list segmentation responsiveness, subject line strength, or click-through button text, it’s an excellent tool to test the strength of arguably every part of your email marketing strategy and increase your chances of success.

Robert FoneyRobert Foney
CMO, Healthmetryx , Inc.


The CAN-SPAM Act is a less commonly known yet vital piece of legislation for every marketer to understand. Standing for “Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act,” this U.S. law sets rules for commercial emails, establishing requirements for commercial messages and giving recipients the right to stop any emails from being sent to them.

Understanding this law isn’t just about legal compliance; it’s about respect for your audience’s boundaries and earning their trust. Ignorance of CAN-SPAM can lead to costly fines, but more importantly, it can damage your brand’s reputation.

Understanding CAN-SPAM also allows for more effective email marketing strategies. The law requires all commercial emails to include a clear and noticeable unsubscribe link, allowing recipients to easily opt out of future emails. By giving your audience this choice, you are showing respect for their time and preferences, resulting in a more engaged and loyal subscriber base.

Tristan HarrisTristan Harris
Demand Generation Senior Marketing Manager, Thrive Digital Marketing Agency


One less common email marketing term that warrants more attention is graymail. Not to be confused with spam, graymail refers to legitimate emails that a recipient has opted to receive but doesn’t engage with, either due to lack of interest or overwhelming volume. Graymail can hurt a campaign’s overall performance metrics and deliverability because email providers may begin to categorize these messages as low-value or spammy.

By monitoring and managing graymail, marketers can improve their email performance and ensure their content reaches the inboxes of engaged and interested recipients.

Justin ColeJustin Cole
President and SEO Strategist, Tested Media


A term not many email marketers talk about, but should know, is honeypot. Think of it like a decoy email address that anti-spam groups set up. When a spammer finds and emails this address, they get tagged as a spammer. This is important because if you’re not careful about where you get your email addresses from, you could be at risk. Maybe you got a fake email from a bot, swapped lists with someone, or grabbed emails from websites. That’s where you might accidentally hit a honeypot.

Though honeypots are mainly for catching spammers, they can be used for other stuff too. Sometimes they’re old email accounts that aren’t active anymore. If a spammer sends to these, they get flagged. But honeypots aren’t all about trapping bad guys. They can actually help with security. They’re like lookouts, spotting troublemakers on networks.

Honeypots give email marketers information they can use and act like an early alert system. They come in various types, all aiming to spot and stop problems before your network or systems get hit.

Alan RedondoAlan Redondo
Founder, Ardoz Digital

Personalization Tokens

From my perspective, personalization tokens are a lesser-known email marketing term that deserves more attention. These are dynamic placeholders in emails that automatically insert individualized information, like the recipient’s name or location.

Personalization tokens make emails feel more tailored and engaging. Marketers should use them creatively to boost open rates and click-through rates. When subscribers see their name in the subject line or content, it grabs their attention, fostering a sense of connection and relevance.

Danielle RobertsDanielle Roberts
Co Founder, Boomer Benefits

List Churn

We send emails (as newsletters) to our audience, and the less-common term that most marketers don’t know is List Churn. List churn measures the rate at which subscribers join and leave your email list over time.

This term is important because it highlights the need to maintain a healthy email list by continually adding engaged subscribers and removing inactive or disinterested ones. High list churn can negatively impact email engagement and deliverability.

Bhavik SarkhediBhavik Sarkhedi
Growth Head and CMO, Content Whale

Parasite Emails

I have been using this term as it relates to parasite SEO. It is when a business pays another, larger company with a bigger subscriber list to include them as part of their email campaign. Normally, you would go with a similar industry so that the business’s offering fits the rest of the email content they are sending.

Jeff MichaelJeff Michael
Ecommerce Business Owner, Supplement Warehouse

Cost per Mile

Cost per Mile (CPM) doesn’t involve the expense of transporting goods or people over a distance—well, not in the email marketing realm, at least. Here, the term refers to the cost of sending a thousand emails. Or, in marketing generally, it stands for the cost of one thousand impressions or views of a particular advertisement.

CPM empowers email marketers to evaluate the cost efficiency of their campaigns on a per-thousand-email basis, providing insights into the overall cost structure. This, in turn, enhances the precision of budget planning and cost estimation, helping allocate resources in a well-informed way.

Moreover, CPM can also be useful for comparing the cost of email campaigns with other advertising channels that use CPM as a pricing model. And these are good reasons for email marketers to know the term and use it as a metric in evaluating their campaigns.

Nina PaczkaNina Paczka
Community Manager, Resume Now


Bacn (pronounced like “bacon”) is a less common but important email marketing term. It refers to non-spam emails that, while not entirely unsolicited, can flood a user’s inbox. The term highlights the challenge of finding the right balance between email frequency and relevance.

Marketers need to understand that such emails are often the result of user interactions with websites, subscriptions, or services. It’s crucial for marketers to focus on delivering content that is not only expected but also relevant and valuable to enhance engagement and prevent irritation among recipients.

By recognizing and addressing Bacn, marketers can refine their strategies, improve audience segmentation, and ensure their emails are seen as welcome content in inboxes, thus building positive relationships and boosting email engagement and deliverability.

Brad FilliponiBrad Filliponi
Co-Founder, BoxBrownie.com

Permission Marketing

The term permission marketing is one that more marketers need to know.

I’ve seen a lot of other terms like “inbound marketing,” “content marketing,” and “social media marketing.” Those are all great terms, but they aren’t the ones that can help you get more conversions out of your email campaigns.

While those other types of marketing might be great for getting more people to your website or social media pages, they don’t necessarily help you convert those visitors into paying customers.

Permission marketing is different because it focuses on giving people who have already expressed interest in your product something they want—and then asking them if they want more.

Looking to increase engagement with your email campaigns? I recommend using permission marketing. It’s easier than ever today because there are so many tools available that make it easy for anyone to set up their own permission-based email list with little effort and even less cost!

Mac SteerMac Steer
Owner and Director, Simify


Throttling is a term in email marketing that’s really important for all email marketers to understand. It’s when you send out emails in large batches, not all at once. This helps ensure more emails actually reach people.

When I use throttling, I send emails in groups over time. This way, it doesn’t overwhelm email servers, and it reduces the chance of emails being marked as spam. It’s important because it helps make sure more people actually see our emails. Sending too many emails at once can cause problems, like bouncing back or getting blocked.

By spreading out the sending, we can monitor how well the emails are performing and make adjustments if needed. This strategy really helps improve the chances of our emails being read, which is key in email marketing.

Precious AbacanPrecious Abacan
Marketing Director, Softlist

Email List Hygiene

Email List Hygiene is a less common but crucial term in email marketing. It refers to regularly cleaning and maintaining your email subscriber list by removing invalid or disengaged addresses. This practice is vital for several reasons.

Keeping a clean list enhances your sender reputation and ensures your emails reach the inbox.

Removing inactive contacts saves money on email marketing services. Cleaning your list leads to higher engagement and open rates as you target a more responsive audience, and it also helps meet GDPR and CAN-SPAM Act requirements by respecting user preferences.

Remember, clean lists provide accurate data for better targeting and content relevance.

Lenna ZitterLenna Zitter
Founder, Magellanic Digital

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