TECH TERMS 101: 16 Email Deliverability Terms Every Marketer Should Know

Eva Maria Schmidt
March 18, 2019

Whether you’re just getting started in martech or an industry professional – there will always come a time when you’re in a meeting, joining a new group, or tackling a new project where all the jargon and acronyms leave you feeling like you’re in a fog.

To prep for those moments, learn this list of terms you should know when it comes to talking about email deliverability:

  1. Blacklists are real-time databases maintained by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) which list the IP addresses or domains suspected of sending spam email.

  2. Bounce Rates refer to the percentage of email messages that fail to reach recipient inboxes. There are two types: a soft bounce, which means the email address is temporarily unavailable (e.g. recipient mailbox is full, or server is down), and a hard bounce, which means the email address is permanently unreachable (e.g. the recipient mailbox is non-existent, perhaps due to a typo).

  3. CAN-SPAM is a legal act that defines the boundaries for the commercial use of email. Most importantly, it includes the consumer’s right to opt-out or unsubscribe from messaging at any time.

  4. Complaints, also known as spam reports, refer to the activity of reporting spam to authorities. The number of complaints can seriously harm your domain sender reputation and result in potential blacklisting.

  5. Delivery Rates refers to the percentage of emails which have been successfully received by the gateway servers of your subscriber’s ISPs and not returned as hard or soft bounces. Please note that delivered rates do not imply delivery to the inbox.

  6. DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) is an email authentication method that is intended to prevent forged sender addresses in emails.

  7. Domain Reputation refers to the record of sender behavior logged by a specific domain name (as opposed to IP address).

  8. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was a regulation that came into effect on May 25, 2018. Simply put, the GDPR regulates data protection for individuals within the European Union. It details enhanced rules for marketing participation and consumer consent.

  9. Inbox Placement Rates measure the percentage of sent email that actually lands in the subscribers’ inbox.

  10. IP Reputation refers to the record of sender behavior determined by tracking traffic sent from a specific IP address (as opposed to domain address).

  11. List Hygiene refers to practices conducive to maintaining email lists with valid addresses, e.g. by deleting hard bounces, non-respondents, and opt-outs.

  12. Sender Scores denote a measure of sender reputation, calculated on a scale from 0 to 100. IP addresses with Sender Scores below 70 points are likely to see all sent emails filtered/blocked; above 70 points, and individual emails/campaigns are filtered.

  13. Spam is essentially unsolicited email, also known as “junk” email. These messages are often sent in bulk and with malicious intent.

  14. Spam Traps are put in place by ESPs after receiving continuous hard bounces to an invalid email address. ESPs can turn that invalid address into what is called a “spam trap”, so they can report senders who target the “dead” address as spammers. You can avoid spam traps with good list hygiene.

  15. SPF (Sender Policy Framework) refers to the official Domain Name Server (DNS) record indicating an IP address or domain has permission to send your email. Emails missing SPF authentication will be blocked categorically.

  16. Unsubscribes refer to the number of subscribers who choose to opt-out of an email list.