E-mail Lists Key Terms

Learn the important words for e-mail marketing

Marketing through e-mail lists is an excellent way to get your message out to thousands of customers at the push of a button. However, it's very important that you understand all of the rules associated with e-mail marketing because breaking them could have costly legal ramifications. It's a good idea to start with knowledge of the key terms. Spam is illegal, for example, but even if you aren't sending spam, you may need to be whitelisted in order for customers to receive your e-mail.


Spam is the name given to unsolicited e-mails from commercial companies. Most people do not want these e-mails and it's illegal to send them.
Federal Trade Commission. Learn more about what constitutes spam so that you can avoid getting caught sending it.

Single or double opt-in

In order to send e-mails to an individual, you must get that person's permission. This is called an opt-in because the customer opts into your list. With a single opt-in, the customer must only request to be contacted by you once. However, with a double opt-in service, they receive an e-mail that asks them to confirm their subscription.


Most e-mail servers utilize a "spam filter" which moves e-mails that it suspects are commercial to a special folder. Many consumers do not read the e-mail messages that go into this folder. Because of this, it's a good idea to ask customers to whitelist your e-mail address. In whitelisting, the customer tells the e-mail provider that he or she wants to receive e-mails from you, which means that your e-mails will go directly into the customer's e-mail box.

Dedicated server

A dedicated server can help your e-mails reach their destination more quickly. E-mail servers can only send so many messages through at a time. E-mail broadcasting companies may be sending hundreds of thousands of messages for their customers at any time. Because of this, you may want to consider using a service that has a dedicated server. This means that you won't have to wait for your e-mail messages to go through.


Deliverability is the percentage of e-mails that a company actually delivers to their destination. Some e-mails don't make it due to spam blocking or incorrect e-mails. Using an e-mail marketing company typically improves deliverability.

Open rate

The open rate is the number of recipients that actually open your email, which is different from the number of people that receive it. Companies track this by placing a small piece of code inside your email messages.

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