When it comes to email marketing, lots of terms — and letters — can create confusion, especially if you’re not familiar with them. Here’s an easy guide to clearing up any terms you might not know.


While “e-mail” and “email marketing” are often used interchangeably, there’s a difference. “E-mail” is just the method of communication — be it email, text message, or social media post. “Email marketing” is the practice of using email to effectively communicate with customers and engage them into buying your product or service. Sometimes, entrepreneurs can get so focused on the technology that goes into their product that they forget to look at the basics — like their target audience and the content they’re using.


Customer relationship management (CRM) is the process of understanding, analyzing, and acting on customer data so you can improve and maintain customer loyalty and engagement.

In general, CRM is used to track and manage a company’s relationships with customers. However, some businesses are successfully using CRM to track and analyze marketing campaigns, lead generation, and more.


Double-opt-in marketing programs, or “dMPs,” allow businesses to send messages to existing customers and then, separately, to a targeted group of people who have chosen to receive such messages. With a dMP, consumers need to click two boxes to get a message — or they can hide the message with the click of a single button.


Direct purchase/validation (DPV) is a methodology used by e-commerce businesses that want to make sure their products can actually be purchased online before they get overconfident and start sending out too many unsold goods.

Why is this important? It can be difficult for a business to track the success of a marketing campaign if they’ve never actually taken the time to validate that someone, real person or robot, actually bought their product. By validating a conversion, e-commerce businesses can determine the true effectiveness of their campaigns and tweak their strategies as needed.


Monetizing a relationship is the practice of exploiting a business relationship for financial gain. If you’ve ever shopped online, you may have seen ads that ask you to “enter the code” found under the product to get a special discount. When a business turns a simple relationship into a cash-making machine, it’s called “machine retailing.”

For example, let’s say you have a business relationship with a coffee company. You’ve enjoyed their coffee, so when you see an offer for a free cup, you might enter the code “coffee lover” into the special offer to get the coffee for free. As a coffee lover, you’re now monetizing a simple relationship to make money online — a strategy called “affiliate marketing.”


“Life time value” (LTV) is the amount of money a customer is worth to your business, based on the length of their relationship with you. Customer lifetime value is one of the measurement standards adopted by the marketing industry to determine the worth of a customer. Similar to monetizing a relationship, turning a one-time customer into a lifelong advocate of your product is an effective strategy for increasing revenue and building brand loyalty.

In the coffee example above, the LTV of the “coffee lover” is one cup of coffee. In other words, for every cup of coffee the “coffee lover” buys, you receive credit — and you can expect to receive some financial benefit, as well.


Return on investment (ROI) is the amount of money you’re earning (or will earn) after paying for the cost of a marketing and sales strategy, divided by the amount you initially invested in that strategy.

In the coffee example above, if you’re earning 5% back on every cup purchased by a “coffee lover,” your return on investment would be 40% — not too bad for a little effort expended to gain a valuable customer!


Social proof is the behavior —both conscious and unconscious—of others around you when you make a purchase decision. If you’ve ever shopped online, you may have seen people mention products on social media platforms like Twitter before you even made it to the website. Because of this, the products that gain the most social proof are the most likely to be purchased.

In the coffee example above, if you follow the Twitter accounts of people who regularly tweet about coffee, you’ll see that they’re usually offering great deals on their favorite brands. When you see these kinds of offers on social media, you’re more likely to click on them, as others have before you. This is how social proof works — by creating a subconscious sense of trust in the minds of the audience.

Of course, a highly relevant and engaging Twitter account will not only gain you social proof but could also potentially lead you to a purchase decision. If you’d like to learn more, here are a few resources that can help you navigate the world of email marketing.

Related reading

While this article focuses on the basics of email marketing, you might also be interested in some of the more advanced strategies and technologies used by professionals. Here are some other helpful articles from the Dummies team:

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