Newsletter Terminology

The newsletter revolution has introduced a whole new set of newsletter terms and acronyms. This guide explains some of the most important newsletter-related terms.


The technology that allows your e-newsletter to reach subscribers. For e-newsletters, the back-end typically refers to servers, which are the computers that send packets of digital information to subscribers’ e-mail inboxes that then reassemble to appear as the e-newsletter. E-newsletter editors rarely have responsibility for or access to back-end technology, but it is helpful to be aware of its function.


Bounce refers to newsletters that were not successfully delivered to some subscribers. This usually occurs because a subscriber’s e-mail address has been recorded incorrectly (it might include a typo) or no longer exists.


Pull Quote

A pull quote is a small quote taken from article and enlarged to catch reader’s attention.


The masthead is the section of a newsletter design, typically found on the second page (but could be on any page) that lists the name of the publisher and other pertinent data. May include staff names, contributors, subscription information, addresses, logo, etc.


Call to Action (CTA)

Often referred to as a ‘CTA,’ a call-to-action is used to prompt an immediate response or sale based on the goals of the website or business. Common call-to-action strategies include, “Buy now!” or, “Visit today!” The call-to-action may also include a “special, limited time offer,” in order to further the customer’s sense of urgency.

Message Testing

Message testing (A/B) testing-Splitting your subscriber list up into smaller groups and sending slightly different versions of the e-newsletter to each group to see which version performs better. For example, you could split your list in half and use different Subject lines in each of the two e-newsletter versions you send. One subject line could tout an upcoming event and the other could tease a news item. Then examine the open rates and other metrics to determine which subject line led to better performance numbers. Gaining this kind of insight helps you begin to hone in on what interests your readers the most.


The nameplate is the banner on front of newsletter; contains publication name, logo, subtitle, volume, issue and date.


The body of the newsletter is the bulk of the text excluding the headlines and decorative text elements. It’s the articles that make up the newsletter content.

Open Rates

Open rate is the number of subscribers who opened the e-newsletter once it appeared in their inbox. Using this metric to measure the success of an e-newsletter is a hotly debated topic. That’s because many e-mail programs, such as Outlook, have preview panes where you can view what’s in an e-mail message and click the links inside it without ever actually opening it. Still, open rates can give you some insight into reader behavior: If the open rate is high, that probably means that readers want to look at it full size, either because they find the design appealing or the design is too wide to fit completely in the preview pane.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Click-through rate (CTR), or email click rate, is the measure of how many people clicked on a hyperlink, CTA, or image within a particular email. It can be calculated by taking the total number of clicks an email receives, and dividing that number by the total number of delivered messages.



A whitelist is a list of “from” e-mail addresses that a mail server or Internet service provider, such as Comcast or AOL, will accept as incoming mail because the sender’s message has a low probability of being spam. Most e-mail programs, such as Hotmail and Yahoo, give the e-mail recipient the option to keep their own form of whitelist by giving them the option to mark your e-newsletter as ―not spam or―not junk.

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