Email Marketing Features (Explained in Simple Terms)

Robert BrandlInka Wibowo

By Robert & Inka

The world of email marketing can be confusing at times. Here you’ll find some more details on the terms and features we reference in our reviews.

Criteria Comment
Newsletter creation
Editor This section is about the user interface you interact with when composing your emails. Generally speaking, there are two terms you should know:

Drag & drop editor: This type of tool lets you drag blocks of content (such as images or text elements) into the editor. The idea is that you can complete your newsletter layout by clicking, dragging, and dropping.

WYSIWYG: What you see is what you get. This is what you call an editor with an interface that looks and works somewhat like Word. You do not need HTML skills to use it.

Email types Single campaign: A classic (broadcast) email that promotes a single topic, or a multi-topic newsletter.

Timed campaign: An email sent at a specific point in time (e.g. birthday emails).

Auto-responder: After opting in, a potential customer will automatically receive a pre-determined set of e-mails (e.g. course material).

A/B testing: You can test variables in different locations or content (e.g. varying subject lines or banners) and compare the results.

RSS campaigns: There are two ways of doing this. Either the email tool automatically “pulls” new articles (from blogs, for instance) into the email. Or an email campaign might only send an email when there’s something new to share.

Follow-up campaigns: An email sent as a result of previous actions (e.g. clicking on a specific link) is called a follow-up email. These types of campaigns begin to enter marketing automation territory (see below).

Templates A template is a pre-configured design based on a few constant elements (e.g. a company logo and a footer). Having an email or newsletter template that’s easy to customize and flexible is a great benefit.

Nowadays, responsive templates have become standard issue. Their designs automatically adjust to fit the size of the screen they're being displayed on, from monitors to mobile devices. We have a list of over 700 responsive email templates that can be downloaded and used with any newsletter service.

Marketing automation Using email automation you can set up predefined workflows that use conditional logic. For example, if a recipient clicks a specific link in campaign A, it will automatically trigger campaign B after three days.

The more advanced email services will even let you set up goals, like purchases, that you can use in your conditions. Read more here.

Traditionally, automation features like this were only available in expensive CRM systems. Today newsletter services like Active Campaign provide them at affordable prices.

Opt-in & Opt-out process Single opt-in: After registering, the recipient receives a confirmation email, letting them know that they will receive emails from now on. There is no need for further action. The issue with this is that in theory anyone can subscribe you to a newsletter as there is no additional confirmation necessary.

Double opt-in: The recipient receives a confirmation email with a link inside. They must click on this link in order to actually join the mailing list. This is the most common method.

From a legal perspective, we recommend using double opt-in. This gives you a way of proving that the recipient actually agreed to receive emails from you. All of the tools we have tested include a double opt-in process and many of them even require you to provide proof of an opt-in before you are allowed to upload an external list.

Additional features
Spam and design testing Spam filters: It’s important to have spam filters on both the server side and the client side. Email providers such as Yahoo or Gmail, for instance, use server-side spam filters.

Client-side filters such as Norton are installed on the recipient’s computer. That’s why you might, for example, have one Gmail user who never gets your email, and another has no issues getting your email whatsoever. You can never be absolutely certain. Find out some of the reasons why emails go to spam and how to avoid spam filters here.

Email design: Completely unlike websites, you’ll have to delve into some truly ancient code if you want to send an HTML email. Why, you ask? Because many email clients such as Outlook won’t display the newsletter correctly. This has prompted many email tools to offer design testing features, which let you see how your email will be displayed in the most popular clients.

Bounce management (emails that can't be delivered) A bounced email is an email that can’t be delivered, either because the recipient’s inbox is full (known as a soft bounce), or because the email address is invalid (hard bounce). The third type are block bounces, which can be caused by company spam firewalls.

If you have too many invalid email addresses in your list, you risk your emails being listed as spam – after all, spammers are known for trying to send emails to lists full of invalid addresses.

Blacklist Your blacklist contains the emails that have opted out, e.g. addresses from an older email system. Some tools can blacklist entire domains, too (such as your competitors).
Social media integration The possibilities are almost endless – a Like button for Facebook, social sharing features for LinkedIn, a Tweeting button, and much more.
Newsletter archive Your best option is an automatically generated archive that doesn’t require active maintaining. Potential subscribers can use it to see whether your newsletter has anything of interest for them. Another benefit is that an archive can be indexed by search engines, which gives you an additional presence.
For experts
Authentication There are several types of authentication: SPF (Sender Policy Framework), Sender ID, Domain Keys, and DKIM. These methods all cause the sender of an email to be listed in the domain settings as an authorized sender. For more information, check this article.
Using your own domain name In order to track the links listed in a newsletter, the email system needs to create new redirect URLs. For the sake of consistency (and respectability), we prefer services that allow you to include your own company’s (sub) domain.
Different levels of account access This refers to rights management for administrators and editors who use the email tool. We’re happy to report that some newsletter tools offer an additional layer of security by implementing what’s known as two-factor verification. In order to login you will have to enter a code that you get from a smartphone app or via text message.
Landing page creation A landing page is a special web page that email campaigns use to offer additional content. GetResponse, for instance, offers such a feature. This might be a simple information page, or it could include a registration feature as well.

Some email marketing tools even offer landing pages for free. In case landing pages are not offered by your company’s website provider, you might want to take a look at some of the website builders we have tested.

Should you have any other questions, you can send us a message.

The authors

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Robert Brandl

Founder and CEO

Hello! I'm Robert, an email marketing expert with over 15 years of experience. After honing my skills at an agency by serving major corporations, I founded EmailTooltester as a passion project to help small and medium-sized businesses. Connect with me on LinkedIn where I regularly share my best email marketing knowledge.

Inka Wibowo

Senior Content Manager

Hi, I'm Inka! I spent the earlier part of my career in agency land, helping businesses of all sizes get their email marketing campaigns up and running. Now, at EmailTooltester, I'm using my experience to help businesses like yours find the best email marketing services for your needs.

Learn more about us

Our Methodology

This article has been written and researched following our EmailTooltester methodology.

Our Methodology