As with any field, email marketing has its own terminology. Here is a list of the more common email marketing terms and what they mean.


A/B Split

Also called a split, this refers to two or more mailings sent to portions of the same recipient database, although not the same recipients. The content of the mailings is identical except for several key features that you want to measure, such as a change in the subject line or content. You simply pick the percentage of recipients for each split, and Symphonie will keep track of the recipients that have received each version.  Once you have determined the more effective version, it is easy to send the "winning" version to all the remaining recipients.  It’s called an A/B split to signify the two separate mailings (A and B), however, you can use more than two mailings, although many more is not recommended. For more information visit our A/B Splits Feature page.

Above the fold”

The top portion of the email content that appears in the preview pane. The term is borrowed from the newspaper industry. Since only the top half of a newspaper can be seen when the paper is folded, this is where the editors put the most enticing articles and headlines; literally “above the fold.” Similarly, the most attention-grabbing headlines should appear in the top part of an email message. If the top portion of content for an email is images that are often blocked by the ISP, or is nothing but instructions of how to whitelist or view in a web page, the recipient may lack incentive to look further at the contents.


Application Programming Interface (API). A standard term for a mechanism that allows to different computers to talk to each other. Symphonie provides an API so you can automate the addition of new recipients from your website, for example. For more information, visit our Symphonie Integration page.


Anything that is attached as a file to a mailing, including PDFs, product brochures and other similar files.  A Symphonie document is not an attachment.  While Symphonie supports the ability to include attachments to mailings and documents, many anti-spam gateways will block emails that include attachments, as this is a way that many viruses are spread.  In today's environment, it is better to provide a link in the content back to the attachment data than to send it as an attachment to the email.


The process of verifying that a sender is authorized to send "as" that domain.  In today's Internet environment, many unscrupulous people attempt to take advantage of the good name of a company to spread their vile, pretending to be sending "from" Bank of America or Ebay, for example.  The authentication technologies (SPF/Sender ID/DomainKeys/DKIM) provide a mechanism to block these unauthorized emails.


An email that is sent out in response to another email.  An out-of-office email that is sent automatically to inform the sender of your schedule is an example of an autoresponder.  Most autoresponders have been replaced with triggered email, which offers more options and versatility. (See Triggered Email.)



A block of lines or boxes that, when scanned with a phone or a POS yields information. Often used for pricing and for coupons. (See also, UPC Code, DataMatrix, Code 128, or QR Code.) For more information, visit our Dynamic Barcode Feature page.


A list of senders, IP addresses or domains that have been identified as sources of Spam or other forms of unwanted email by the owners of the blacklist.  There are many different blacklist providers, each of which uses different criteria to determine who should appear on the blacklist.  Some blacklist providers consider almost any email sent by a commercial entity to be spam, while others have more lenient policies.  Some of the big ISPs lower your Reputation score if you appear on one of several big blacklists, but most ISPs primarily rely on their own metrics to determine what email to accept, so the blacklists are mostly used by businesses or individuals that manage their own mail servers.


Historically, the term "bounce" referred to an email that was sent back to the sender to indicate that the delivery did not take place.  In some cases, a mail server may choose to initially accept an email, but then later send back an email to the sender to say the delivery was not accepted.  Today many people say that any delivery failure is a "bounce", so they can talk about a "bounce rate" to indicate the percentage of email that failed to be delivered, for any reason.  Symphonie does not use the term "bounce" or "bounce rate" to indicate any failure to deliver email to avoid any confusion with the historic definition of a bounced email.



Short for “Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act,” the CAN-SPAM Act was a piece of legislation passed in 2003 that set guidelines for what constitutes acceptable email practices. Violations of the CAN-SPAM Act come with harsh penalties.  Complying with CAN-SPAM generally involves adding a physical mailing address to the bottom of the email, ensuring there is an unsubscribe link, and making sure the subject line is not deceptive.  There are more conditions in the CAN-SPAM act, but most ethical marketers will comply with these as best practices anyway.


A collection of mailings grouped together for comparison. In Symphonie a campaign is designed to operate in a similar way to other marketing campaigns, where content is created to advocate a particular message, and is sent out of a limited time period.  For example, a retailer might have a Valentine's Day campaign that involves print ads, banner, radio spots, and a series of four email messages.  These four emails can be given a "campaign" name to associate them together for reporting purposes.  In some ESPs every email sent is called a campaign, but in Symphonie every promotional email is a "mailing", and a campaign is collection of mailings.


Signifies a recipient read at least a portion of the content and clicked a link that took them to a specific page on your web site. Clickthroughs are highly desirable metrics, since they indicate recipients are not only interested in your message, they act on their interest.  In Symphonie every unique clickthrough is recorded for every promotional or transactional email, so you can know exactly which links are interesting to that reader.


A broad term for software, storage, or services that are Internet based instead of installed locally. (See also Hosted.) For more information, visit our Hosted Products page.

Code 128

A barcode consisting of vertical bars of varying width. Unlike the UPC code, which can only contain numbers, Code 128 can contain full alphanumeric information. They are commonly used for tracking purposes. For more information, visit our Dynamic Barcode Feature page.


An email sent to a recipient that lets them confirm the fact they have asked to opt into one or more of your email marketing efforts. Implements the "double-opt-in" logic to ensure recipients truly want your email.  In Symphonie, confirmations are documents that can be sent automatically to email addresses when the recipient is added to the system, or they can be generated manually, for example, when you enter a new recipient manually and you want to confirm that they want to be part of your data. You are not required by law to send a confirmation; however, it is a good mechanism to ensure that every person in your recipient list does want to receive your email.

Content Blocks

Pre-designed blocks of content for dynamic insertion in emails.  Content blocks are literally a block of content that is designed to be conditionally substituted into the content based on rules defined in the dynamic content section.  Content blocks can, themselves, have dynamic substitutions, but cannot include other content blocks.


The point at which a recipient takes action on an email's call-to-action. Usually in reference to purchases.



A type of barcode, usually square, consisting of black blocks. A DataMatrix code can contain up to 2,335 alphanumeric characters, and is readable in very small sizes at varying contrasts. It is used by the Department of Defense and the electronics industry. (See also QR Code.) For more information, visit our Dynamic Barcode Feature page.


The term that is used to describe the process of getting mail to be accepted by a receiving mail server.  Many different factors influence the deliverability metric, such as the number of unknown users, the text-to-image ratio, the Reputation score created by the ISP, and more.  Goolara provides deliverability consulting to help clients get more of their mail delivered. For more information on deliverability services with Symphonie, visit our Services page.


Any pertinent facts about an individual in your recipient database that can help you select your recipients for use in mailings and campaigns. Gender, age and location are key demographics that you can use to target your mailings to the people who are most likely to respond to your efforts.  In Symphonie, each email address has just one set of demographics associated with them, whereas in some other implementations it is possible to have different values for the same demographic for each list that is created.  This can lead to challenging data problems, such as a recipient being marked as male on one list, and female on another.


Abbreviation for “DomainKeys Identified Mail.” An email authentication method that helps ensure the "from" address of the email authorized the sending of that email.  Required for feedback loops for some ISPs.


Abbreviation for “Domain Name System.” The system used to convert IP addresses into more easily remembered domain names. (See also Domain and IP Address.)


A stored piece of content designed to be sent to one, or a small group of recipients based on some external event. That event could be signing up for the newsletter on a website, downloading a product, or two weeks before their birthday. Documents and mailings are similar – they just vary in how they get triggered to be sent to recipients.


An Internet address that identifies a specific service or company. For instance:


An email authentication method used to verify the domain of an email sender.  DKIM is the next version of this protocol. (See also DKIM)


Double opt-in

The process by which a recipient who has asked to subscribe must respond positively to a follow-up confirmation email asking them to confirm their interest in receiving future email.  It is a mechanism to ensure that the email address provided by the sign-up process is valid and belongs to the recipient requesting to receive email.  In Symphonie a recipient who has not confirmed the double opt-in process is not sent any further email.

Drip Campaign

The automatic process of sending out emails at intervals to maintain customer engagement. The intervals can either be timed or based on other factors such as a recipient's response rate. (See also Recency.)

Dynamic Content

An operation that changes content in an email based on specified conditions and the recipient's demographics. For instance, the fact that the recipient is a sports enthusiast might cause the email to insert a paragraph about a sale on sporting goods. (See also Mail Merge Tag.)  In Symphonie, dynamic content can look at many factors together, such as a recipient's demographics, their opens, clicks, and offline events such as whitepaper downloads or shopping cart abandonments.


Email Blast

The sending of large amounts of email at one time. Sometimes used to referred to unsegmented mailings, or mailings that contain no dynamic content.

Email reader or client

An application that receives and displays email messages on screen. Popular desktop email readers or clients include Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, or Mozilla Thunderbird.  Hosted providers like Yahoo or AOL provide their own browser-based email clients so no desktop, installed software is required.


Abbreviation for Email Service Provider, such as Goolara.



On-site security software designed to prevent attacks or infections of a company's computer network. Firewall devices check everything that goes into or out of a computer network.  Today there are often several kinds of firewalls, such as an anti-spam firewall or anti-virus firewall.


Greylisting (or Graylisting)

An anti-spam technique that has the mail receiving server return a failure code that says the mail should be retried later, with the hope that spammers would not maker further attempts.  It delays legitimate email, wastes bandwidth, and consumes computational resources to process an email that will need to be re-sent, but is used by many of the big ISPs and can be configured for many mail servers as an option.  Most ISPs will not greylist if the sender has established a good Reputation score, so greylisting is an indication that the ISP does not consider the mail to be highly desired by their recipients.


HTML email

Email that uses the same HTML code (Hyper-Text Markup Language) as a web page. An HTML email can contain images, different sizes and colors of text and a colored background. Not all email clients are able to display HTML code, so it is always a good idea to prepare a text version as well. (See also Text Email.)


Software that is accessed via the Internet, rather than on a local server. Also referred to as “cloud-based” or “SaaS.” A hosted system may involve less setup and maintenance effort, but is an on-going cost, unlike an on-premise installation. For more information, visit our Hosted Product page.


IP Address

A numeric address assigned to each device on a network using Internet protocol. IP addresses are binary but are usually converted to decimal numbers for ease of use. For example:


The process of combining an email marketing system with a company's other data sources (such as a CRM).  This is generally done via an API, but may involve exchanging data in other ways.


The process of creating email content, demographics, categories, etc. in the author's native language. An email marketer in Saudi Arabia, for instance, will want to create his email in Arabic for a local market.


Joe Job

A spam technique in which the real sender is disguised to look like the email came from someone else. Usually intended to discredit a person or company.  Authentication protocols (SPF/Sender ID/DomainKeys/DKIM) will help eliminate this kind of mail.




The adjustment of content, language, and other features that must change regionally. The differences between British English and American English are examples of this. (See also Internationalization.)



A single promotional message sent to one or more recipients selected from your recipient database. In Symphonie you can gather multiple mailings together for comparison into a single campaign.  Different than a document, which is used to send a transactional email.

Mail Merge Tag

Logic included in the content of a message that causes replacement with details that are specific to that individual.  For instance, a [-Name-] mail merge tag might be used to insert a recipient's first name in an email, making every email sent by the system unique. (See also Dynamic Content.)


The textual and visual content of a mailing that is displayed in the recipient’s email reader.

Multivariate Testing

The process of sending multiple emails using different combinations of variables to decide which combination yields the best results. It is similar to A/B Testing, but includes more variables and require significantly larger sample groups for optimal results. (See also A/B Split.)




An email marketing system that is installed on a company server, as opposed to one that is accessed via the web (hosted). On-Premise solutions are a popular choice for companies with high-volume email needs, or who require complete local control over their data. For more information, visit our On-Premise Product page.


See On-Premise.

Open detection

The method of detecting when a recipient opens an email message sent to them from Symphonie.  The standard way ESPs detect if someone has opened an email is by putting an image in the content that has a unique name, such that when it is requested, the ESP knows the recipient and the mailing details.  Since this has become a popular way to track if the email has been viewed by recipients, most ISPs now block images by default to avoid exposing the privacy of their email customers.  ESPs report on "open rates", but the numbers are not always accurate, since it may be possible to read an email without enabling images, and sometimes through a preview pane, images will be requested for emails that are never seen by the recipient.  However, reporting an open rate is a common metric used by many email marketers to compare the effectiveness of different email content or to compare against other email marketers as a benchmark.

Opt in/opt out

Subscribing to an email service; unsubscribing from an email service. See Double opt-in.



Email disguised to look like it is from a familiar company in an attempt to get your personal information, such as your banking login or social security number.

POS System

Abbreviation for “Point Of Sale.” These are the checkout systems now used in most stores instead of cash registers. POS Systems work by scanning the barcodes found on each item, and entering that information in the system. Also referred to as POP Systems (“Point Of Purchase”).


QR Code

A square barcode consisting of black blocks. How many blocks depends on how much information is contained in the QR code. Although they were originally designed for use by the automotive industry, QR codes have become very popular for everything from restaurant menus to coupons. They are often scanned using cell phones. (See also DataMatrix.) For more information, visit our Dynamic Barcode Feature page.



An individual who has an email address and is part of your database.  In Symphonie, recipients can have any number of custom fields associated with their record called Demographics that can then be used for segmentation, dynamic content, mail merging, workflows, etc.


The measure of how recently a recipient received email from you. Recency is used to ensure that you don’t bother your customers with too much email. In Symphonie, when creating a mailing the author decides if this mailing should filter out recipients who have received “too much” mail in the last period of time.


Abbreviation of “Recency, Frequency, and Monetary Value,” a popular set of metrics for determining the value of marketing.



Abbreviation for “Software as a Service.” Often synonymous with hosted and cloud-based. For more information, visit our Hosted Product page.


An abbreviation of “Simple Mail Transfer Protocol.” SMTP is the most common standard on the Internet for delivering email across networks.


The practice of dividing or segmenting your recipient database into groups for targeted mailing. You could segment to send your mailing to all women, everyone over 45, people who live on the West Coast, or all women over 45 who live on the West Coast.  In some ESPs segmentation is mostly done through the "list" mechanism, where the client must determine the recipients for a mailing and upload them to a list.  In Symphonie, there is no need to create multiple lists for segmentation purpose, since the segmentation features are quite robust.  You can segment based on the user's demographics, on which mailings or how often they have opened or clicked, and consider external events like whether they have recently purchased an item from a category.  The segmentation features allow criteria to be combined with integrated "and" and "or" statements to get just the specific recipients you need.

Sender ID

Sender ID is a next version of the SPF authentication technology.  The changes from SPF to Sender ID are not significant, so many people still use only SPF records.  Sender ID is an authentication technology like DomainKeys/DKIM, but uses a different mechanism to determine who is authorized to send email.


Unsolicited email of questionable origin. The term's use for email originates with a Monty Python routine, in which the recitation of choices on a menu eventually are reduced to nothing but the word “Spam” repeated over and over.


Sender Policy Framework, a technology initially created by Microsoft to help authenticate that email sent "from" a domain is actually authorized by that domain.  Required by Microsoft in order to get access to their whitelist and feedback loop mechanisms.  Failure to create SPF records causes Microsoft Outlook to display a message at the top of the mailing that looks something like "Sent from on behalf of", which can be quite confusing to recipients, so it is best to create SPF records whenever possible.


See A/B split.

Suppression List

A list of recipients that contains the names of people who should not receive email from you. In Symphonie, suppression lists can be either global (exclusion from all future mailings) or topical (See Topic).  Once recipients are added to a suppression list in Symphonie, the system will automatically remove them from any future deliveries.  In Symphonie recipients are not added to a suppression list when they unsubscribe.  Instead they are maintained on a different list, so it is clear which recipients have been suppressed by the administrator, and which have been unsubscribed due to the recipient's request.


Text Email

Email that contains only ASCII text. This is the most deliverable form of email, but it is less visually appealing than HTML email. (See also HTML Email.)


A subject area for promotional mailings that a recipient might choose to subscribe to or unsubscribe from.  Ideally marketers give their recipients some options as to the kind of emails they receive - in Symphonie these are called topics.  An unsubscribe from one topic does not stop mail from being sent from other topics in the system, allowing the recipient to choose which kinds of distributions they receive.

Transactional Email

Email that is send out after a specific event or transaction. E-receipts are a common form of transactional email. For more information, visit our Transactional Email Feature page.

Triggered Email

Email that is sent after it is activated either by a date, or certain time span. Birthday emails and shopping cart abandonment queries are examples of triggered email. For more information, visit our Triggered Email Feature page.



The option used to stop receiving email.

UPC Code

A type of barcode consisting of vertical bars of various widths that represent a series of 12 numbers. UPC Codes are commonly used in sales and are compatible with most POS systems. For more information, visit our Dynamic Barcode Feature page.




A list of senders, IP addresses or domains that have been identified as safe sources of email.  A blacklist is a list of IP addresses or senders that you should not accept mail from, and a whitelist is the opposite - a list of senders or IP addresses that you want to bypass filters and accept every time.




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