The phpList Glossary

We have collected some of the most common terms when it comes to Email Marketing.

The industry is as innovative as it can be and always comes up with new terms to learn even for the experts, nonetheless, we believe these concepts might be useful to read and understand.

We will continue working on adding more terms in order to deliver definitions for some of the most popular terms in Email Marketing.



Is the promotion of a product, brand or service to a viewership in order to attract interest, sales, and engagement.


A company, organization, third-party controlled by a larger one.

phpList is affiliate friendly and we would be happy to hear from you at


The administrator, to whom the guides are written, is the system user that manages the instance of phpList. The Admin is responsible for subscriber management, capturing statistics, sending the campaigns, etc.


An API is a set of definitions and protocols for building and integrating application software. API stands for Application Programming Interface.


Serve to provide additional subscriber data. Attributes can be mandatory (or not) and can have default values (or not).


Automation helps with processes where minimal human assistance is required. At phpList powerful segmentation and intelligent scheduling helps you get the best out of your email marketing campaigns.


Part of an email service. It helps with sending out pre-scheduled messages to your contact lists. You schedule your campaigns based on the frequency you want, you also decide about the order.



When subscribers get blacklisted it means that they will not receive any future campaigns. Subscribers can be manually blacklisted e.g when they unsubscribe, they can be manually blacklisted by the account manager or they can be automatically blacklisted by phpList system when campaigns sent to them bounce without interruption many times.


A campaign message that is returned because it could not be delivered for a number of reasons: The mailbox of the recipient might be full, the email address might no longer be valid or temporarily disabled, the email address might be misspelled, etc. A bounce is not the same as an out-of-office reply.

Bulk Email

Large scale email marketing sends in which the same content goes to a large group of people.


A term used to describe marketing for products and services where main customers are other businesses.


Used to describe marketing campaigns whose targets are individual consumers.


A point of reference by which something can be compared



A “Comma (or character) Separated Value” file format with the usual extension of .csv. CSV files are mostly used to import and export important information to your database and from your database. For instance, you can import or export customer data or order data. The default delimiter in phpList is set to “Tab” to give users the possibility of using comma as a normal character in their files.

Campaign Message

A campaign message is a single email message event sent to the members of one or more lists. It is delivered to subscribers. Sending a campaign message is the central feature within phpList. A single campaign message, which contains the content entered by an admin, can only be sent to any subscriber once.


While the campaign message refers to the content and the message itself, the campaign refers to the overall process for creating and sending a campaign message.


Used to organize lists into different groups. From a subscriber perspective, categories are not important, since they are never visible to the subscriber. From an admin perspective, they help manage lists.

Call to action

In marketing- Asking the reader to do something. It instructs the audience to provide immediate response e.g, “Call now”, “Click the link to find out more” or “Swipe Up”

Click Rate

It is a measure that shows how many people clicked on a link or a certain image within a particular email. For instance, if your click rate is 20% it means that twenty people out of one hundred went on and clicked a link within the campaign.


Any information or experiences that you decide to share with your readers.

When it comes to email marketing, some form of content would be Welcome emails, Promotional emails, Newsletters, and Company Announcements, Guides, Blogs, Testimonials and Reviews.


To send an email campaign, you need to have a certain amount of credits so that all your contacts receive your campaigns. The amount of credits you have depends on the plan that you purchase at the beginning and it should meet your email marketing needs.

Custom Domain

phpList is a custom domain ready, service. A custom domain is the own and personal URL of your brand. We strongly advise our customers to have a custom domain. By doing so they give an instant credibility boost to their brand, they help their brand with a positive impact and they are able to create custom email addresses. The Custom Domain feature is part of phpList PLUS accounts.


Dedicated IP

In email marketing, it refers to an IP address from which only you send an email as opposed to shared IPs, used by different senders. At phpList, VPS plans include a dedicated IP that helps deliverability.

Double Opt-In

The recommended method of building an email list requires subscribers to confirm their opt-in by clicking a link in a confirmation email or responding to the confirmation email in some other way.


A sequence of one or more characters used to specify the boundary between separate, independent regions in plain text or other data streams. Found in CSV files, the default delimiter in phpList is “Tab.” Common delimiters are semicolons (;), pipes (|) and tabs (\).

DKIM Signing

DKIM is an email authentication method.

It allows the receiver to check that an email claimed to have come from a specific domain was indeed authorized by the owner of that domain


Email Campaign

The use of email to promote products or services. As of 2020, there are approximately 306.4 billion emails sent per day, making email marketing one of the most powerful tools in the marketing world. Another interesting statistic that gets to show the power of email, is that 99% of consumers check their email every day.

Email Filter

A technique used to block email based on the sender, subject line, or content of an email.


A stoppage put on a campaign message so it is not sent before a predetermined time and date set by the administrator. It is a capability used when sending campaigns. By default, the embargo is set to today at 0:00, meaning the campaigns are sent immediately after the queue is processed. It is important to note that the embargo has an effect on the time the sending of a message starts and not the time that the messages actually arrive in a subscriber’s inbox.


Foreign Key

If you use another (‘foreign’) database system to maintain your users’ list and want to synchronize that database with phpList’s users’ database, you can use the ‘foreign key’ field.


The front-end of phpList refers to all the pages viewable by the public (such as subscribe page, preferences page, etc.), as opposed to the administrators (such as attributes, send a message, etc.).


Resending an email message delivered to one email address to a possibly different email address(es).


It appears in your recipient’s mailbox as the visible “From” name. At phpList, there is no limit on how often you can change your “From” address.



The GDPR is a regulation in EU law which includes legal requirements for how the data of people in the EU is handled, including the kind of data collected by installations of phpList. The laws affect all entities which handle such data regardless of where they are based. In addition, the EU’s directive on electronic privacy contains rules on the use of email for the purposes of direct marketing. phpList is GDPR ready.


The email you opted in to receive but do not really want. You have not unsubscribed from and would not mark as spam.


Hard Bounce

A hard bounce is the failed delivery of an email due to a permanent reason like a non-existent, invalid, or blocked email address.

HTML Email

Sending HTML email makes it possible to get creative with the design of your emails.


Every e-mail on the internet is composed of two very important parts, the Header, and the Body message of the e-mail. The Header provides details of the network path between two email servers, the mail sender and the mail receiver. Your email client of choice will usually hide the full header or it may only provide data such as From, To, Date and Subject.



Is an Internet Standard Protocol that is used by email clients to retrieved messages from mail servers.

IP address

It is a numerical label assigned to each device connected to a computer network that uses Internet Protocol.


Internet Service Provider.



It is an image file format. It can also be defined as a method of lossy compression for digital images.


Landing Page

It is a single web page that appears immediately in response to clicking to a certain search result, marketing promotion or marketing email.


Is the list of email addresses to which you send your message.

List Segmentation

The process of separating your contacts into lists based on their interests or some type of shared characteristics. At phpList, this is made possible via the segmentation functionality. It is one of the most required features of our service and is part of our PLUS plans.


Mailto Link

When you click a Mailto link, you are immediately redirected to an editor that is used to compose an email. There is no need to copy and then paste the email address.


Marketing refers to the actions a company undertakes to promote the selling of its products or services.

Mail Transfer Agent-MTA

It is software that transfers electronic mail messages from one computer to another using SMTP.


Mail Exchange Record.



Using the data you have about your customers to segment them into smaller groups and then target them.


Open Rate

The percentage of the total number of subscribers who opened an email campaign.


When we say that a subscriber has opted-in, it means that the subscriber has willingly chosen to receive your newsletters, communications or promotions.


The actions that someone takes in order to stop receiving email communications.



It is an act of getting consent from a subscriber to send them commercial email marketing messages.


It is a fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information as usernames, passwords, and credit card details by disguising oneself as a trustworthy entity in electronic communication. It is an illegal action forbidden by most email marketing services including phpList. We take strict measures against phishing attempts.

Plain Text

Text in an email message that includes no formatting code.


A placeholder is a specific type of format where the text inside changes continually as the content is processed.

In Email Marketing, the format of a placeholder is like this {{PlaceholderName}


Post Office Protocol, which an email client uses to send to or receive messages from an email server.


Whom to contact at a Web site, ISP or other sites to request information, get help with delivery or register complaints.

Privacy policy

A clear description of how your company uses the email addresses and other information it gathers via opt-in requests for newsletters, company information or third-party offers or other functions. At phpList data privacy is very important and you can find more about it here

Private List

A private list will help you to funnel or to control your users into more specialized lists. Here users aren’t able to choose to subscribe to a private list on their own.

Public List

A public list is a list that you create and have a subscription page set up for so that any users can subscribe themselves to the list.



Where an email message goes after you send it but before the list owner approves it or before the list server gets around to sending it.


Read Email

Not measurable. Only opens and clicks are measurable in any way. You can never know if a recipient simply reads your message.


The process where someone not only opts into your email program but provides some additional information, such as name, address, demographic data or other relevant information, usually by using a Web form.


The email address that receives messages sent from users who click “reply” in their email clients. It can differ from the “from” address which can be an automated or unmonitored email address used only to send messages to a distribution list. “Reply-to” should always be a monitored address.


Rich Site Summary.

RSS solves a problem for people who regularly use the web. This format makes it possible to easily stay informed by retrieving the latest content by the sites one is interested in.



The ability to slice a list into specific pieces determined by various attributes, such as open history or name source.

Sender Policy Framework

A protocol used to eliminate email forgeries. A line of code called an SPF record is placed in a sender’s Domain Name Server information. The incoming mail server can verify a sender by reading the SPF record before allowing a message through.

Sent emails

The number of email names transmitted in a single broadcast. It does not reflect how many were delivered or viewed by recipients.


A program or computer system that stores and distributes email from one mailbox to another, or relays email from one server to another in a network.

Shared server

An email server used by more than one company or sender. Shared servers are less expensive to use because the broadcast vendor can spread the cost over more users. However, senders sharing a server risk having emails blocked by major ISPs if one of the other users does something to get the server’s IP address blacklisted.


Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, the most common protocol for sending email messages between email servers.

Soft bounce

Email sent to an active email address but which is turned away before being delivered. Often, the problem is temporary — the server is down or the recipient’s mailbox is over quota. The email might be held at the recipient’s server and delivered later, or the sender’s email program may attempt to deliver it again.


The popular name for unsolicited commercial email. However, some email recipients define spam as any email they no longer want to receive, even if it comes from a mailing list they joined voluntarily.


The practice of changing the sender’s name in an email message so that it looks as if it came from another address.

Subject line

The subject line appears first in the recipient’s inbox, often next to the sender’s name or email address. It is repeated in the email message’s header information inside the message.


The process of joining a mailing list, either through an email command, by filling out a Web form, or offline by filling out a form or requesting to be added verbally.


The person who has specifically requested to join a mailing list. A list has both subscribers, who receive the message from the sender and pass-along.

Subscribe page

You can recognize it as a subscription form. It is a form located on any page of a website or blog where any user can fill in with their data to receive emails on topics related to their interest.



A necessary step before sending an email campaign or newsletter. Some email clients permit you to send a test email before sending a regular email newsletter or solo mailing, in which you would send one copy of the message to an in-house email address and then review it for formatting or copy errors or improperly formatted links.

Text Newsletter

Plain newsletter with words only, no colors, graphics, fonts or pictures; can be received by anyone who has email.


An email template is a preformatted email that you can use to replace it with your own content so that you can easily write and create emails.

Total Views

An email view is generated when someone opens your email. The total number of users who have opened your email is recorded as a Total View of your campaign.


The practice of regulating how many email messages are sent to one ISP or mail server at a time. Some ISPs bounce email if it receives too many messages from one sending address at a time.



The Web address for a page, always beginning with Http:// (or https:// for a secure page) and followed by www. (or variations, although some URLs are set up not to include this information) and the domain name.

Unique Views

It is a measure that shows the number of unique users that clicked on a tracking link of your campaign e.g if a visitor views three times on link, we have 3 views and one unique view recorded on the server.


To remove oneself from an email list, either via an emailed command to the list server or by filling in a Web form.



A program that determines an email came from the sender listed in the return path or Internet headers; designed to stop email from false senders.


A program or computer code that affects or interferes with a computer’s operating system and gets spread to other computers accidentally or on purpose through email messages, downloads, infected CDs or network messages.



Webmail is an email service that can be accessed via any web browser (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari) when connected to the internet. Through the webmail, any user can access their email as long as they have access to an internet connection and a web browser.


A list of authorized email addresses that allows email messages to be delivered regardless of spam filters.