Updated: September 29, 2022
Email marketing is more critical than ever, since more than 77% of us indicate we’d rather get marketing messages by email. The next closest runner up—direct mail—was preferred by only 9 percent of those surveyed.
That’s why as a digital marketer, you need to know the ABCs of email marketing to stay ahead of the competition—and in your customers’ inboxes!
But sometimes, all those letters can get a bit overwhelming, particularly if you’re just beginning to work with email marketing.
We’ve sorted through the most important terms you need to know to get you on your way to understanding and developing an email campaign that works.
Three letters to make your email better
If you’ve ever read through a how-to guide on email or digital marketing, your head might get a bit spinny after a sentence or two stuffed full of three-letter acronyms.
Imagine not knowing how the SEO in your CTA language can affect customers’ CTR for increased ROI. But don’t worry about having FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) because you’re not quite sure what all these acronyms mean.
This post will give you the tools you need to decode these acronyms and put them to work for you in your very next email flow.
Let’s start with the 7 most common email acronyms you need to be aware of when learning about, planning, or executing your next email marketing campaign.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
1. CTA (Call to Action)
The call-to-action is the part of your email where you ask the recipient of your email to do something. This could be to click a button, subscribe to a newsletter, or even make a purchase.
If you need some examples of great language to use to inspire a particular action, check out these lists.
For visual learners, the screenshot, below, from Birchbox is a great example of a call-to-action with simple language and buttons that jump right out at you.
This clean, easy-to-follow design makes it super simple for the customer to take the next step.
2. CTR (Click-Through Rate)
The CTR is the number, usually calculated as a percentage, of your audience that takes advantage of your CTA and keeps your email campaign rolling.
To determine what your CTR is, you’ll divide the number of clicks that your CTA received by the total number of emails you’ve sent.
In other words, if you send 500 emails with a CTA asking recipients to click “Subscribe” and 50 people do it, then you have a CTR of 10 percent. And that is pretty darn good, according to these statistics from OptinMonster.
Look at that—your example CTR is way at the top. Good job!
3. CPC (Cost Per Click)
Okay, so now you’ve formulated a CTA that gives you a great CTR. But how much are you spending to get the job done?
To answer that question, you need to know your CPC.
CPC, in a nutshell, is the amount you’re spending to get just one of those coveted clicks on your email once it hits the customer’s inbox.
Knowing this number can help you determine whether or not your campaign is cost-effective.
To calculate CPC, calculate the total cost of your campaign and divide it by your CTR, or the number of clicks received.
As an example, if you got 50 clicks from your 500 emails, and it cost you $100 to set up and launch that campaign, then your CPC is $2.
In other words, you paid $2 to get each of those customers to take the action you wished them to take. Depending on the value of that action, $2 could be good or not-so-good.
For standard calculations, a five-to-one ratio is pretty decent.
Without muddying the waters too much, here’s a great way to think about CPC.
If the product you sell costs $300 and you get one out of every 100 email recipients to click through to a sale, then you’d want to see a CPC rate of $0.60.
Here’s a chart to help you visualize.
It’s not difficult once you’re aware of the formula.
4. BTF (Below the Fold)
Wait a minute—emails don’t have folds, do they?
Yes, they do.
Well, virtual ones, anyway.
In email marketing, the term “below the fold” refers to any material that is below the bottom of the page once it’s finished loading.
Your target customer would have to scroll down to reach the BTF material, so you’ll want to keep your most important—and attention-grabbing—details ATF (above the fold).
In email marketing, one of these important details is your subject line.
With 85% of emails reviewed by subject line before being opened, a knock-out subject line is critical.
5. COI (Confirmed Opt-in)
When a visitor to your website clicks on a request to subscribe to one of your lists, they might receive an email containing a unique link.
They must click this link to confirm that they actually do want to receive emails from you. If they don’t click the link, their sign-up will be incomplete, and they won’t show up on your email list.
This example, this is how this might look from the website end of things.
When the customer checks that box, he or she gets a confirmation email. If they don’t check the box, no email is sent and they won’t appear on WordPress’ newsletter list.
6. CX/UX (Customer Experience/User Experience)
Everything your customer comes into contact with on your website or in an email contributes to their experience with you and your brand.
As defined by KPMG, customer experience boils down to these six criteria:
Time and effort
But, you say, how can I improve these details in an email?
Believe it or not, it’s easy.
Let’s go through some simple examples.
This can be as easy as using mail-merge to ensure that your email tags each list member by name.
So, your customers get an email saying, “Dear Joe,” rather than “Dear Customer.”
Time and Effort
Don’t make your customers wonder if their order was taken. Let them know for sure with an email confirmation.
It’s important to be clear about what your customers expect and go out of your way to meet or exceed these criteria.
For example, not having to search all over for the “Unsubscribe” option is important to most customers. Put this option somewhere that the recipient will easily see.
Rather than deterring customers, a prominent “Unsubscribe” link can help build goodwill and keep subscribers happy—and on your list.
Customers love when brands do more than just sell something. They love brands with values they actively promote.
Here’s an example from Starbucks.
It’s important to keep customer frustration to a minimum.
One example is allowing people to receive a “back in stock” email when an item they want is available for purchase.
Here’s a great example from Saks Fifth Avenue from Pinterest.
Finally, customers like to feel needed and wanted—but not in a pushy or sales-y way. This ad does a great job of re-engaging dropped customers without being “in your face.”
Here’s a great example from Birchbox.
7. ROI (Return on Investment)
To calculate the profit realized on any investment, you should take your return (profit) on the investment and subtract your overall cost.
However, ROI is represented as a percentage figure, so you’ll need to calculate something called a “percentage gain.”
To do this, you take your net gain (profit) and divide by your overall cost, as shown below.
Now, that can get you started tracking the success of various campaigns, but what you really need to know is that email marketing, done right, is the pinnacle of ROI.
According to Forbes, email’s excellent ROI is due in part to the fact that permission, which must be specifically given before emailing a customer, works better than reach — in-your-face marketing.
Plus, email allows you to follow the customer on their purchasing journey, holding their hand and guiding them every step of the way — an advantage over standard marketing techniques.
Now that we’ve sorted all the letters for you, you’ll be able to follow—and use—any email marketing tutorial or guide you come across.
Most importantly, you’ll be able to track your own campaigns with an understanding of what calculations you’re striving for and what things to do to get your emails opened, read, and acted upon.
The sooner you start trying out what you’ve learned, the faster you’ll end up in that sweet spot available for any well-run email marketing campaign: ROI heaven.