Marketing automation can be a daunting subject even for the most experienced marketers.

With so many technical terms that seem to change at the drop of a hat, it’s often too easy to become overwhelmed when it comes to knowing which terms matter.

However, with the increase in demand for automation and personalisation in email marketing, it’s almost expected that marketers to stay ahead of the game are well versed in marketing automation even if they’re not the one implementing it.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of 20 essential marketing automation terms that you need to know to ensure you’re setting yourself up for success when it comes to email marketing.

We’re going to cover some of the most known terms as well as some of the newest terms to emerge in easy to understand, non-technical language that everyone can understand.

Let’s dive in!

Marketing Automation Terms

Bounce Rate

Kicking things off in our list of essential marketing automation is none other than bounce rate.

A high bounce rate can not only have a major impact on the success of your campaigns, but it can also lead to your account and domain being flagged for suspicious activity.

A high bounce rate not only indicates that your list quality is poor but also that you’re not taking the necessary steps to attract and maintain a high-quality list of subscribers that you can convert into paying customers.

Regularly reviewing and cleaning your subscriber list will not only reduce your bounce rate but also lead to an increase in campaign performance.

Buyer Persona

Not every customer is the same and depending upon what products and services you are selling you may have multiple buyer personas to market to.

A buyer persona is a fictional character that represents a specific demographic within your target audience.

Generally speaking, a buyer persona will provide you and your team with an overview of their age, location, interests, goals and challenges to provide you with an accurate profile of who and how you need to target within your marketing campaigns.

Call to Action

A call to action is exactly that.

It’s your hook that not only is designed to get your audience’s attention but also get them to take action within your marketing campaign.

This can come in the form of a link, a button or a banner and designed to stand out and make them complete the designed action you want them to take. 

Whether it’s visiting a blog, downloading an eBook or making a purchase on your website your call to action must be eye-catching and enticing for your target audience.


A campaign can refer to an overall marketing campaign your brand is looking to launch or an individual once-off email campaign targeting an existing audience.

Some example once-off email marketing campaign that you can run include:

  • Black Friday Campaigns
  • Re-Engagement Campaigns
  • Abandoned Cart Campaigns

For best results, your campaigns should be highly targeted, relevant and well designed.

Click-Through Rate

Another marketing automation term that often leaves people baffled is click-through rate.

While this may sound technical, it doesn’t have to be. Click-through rate is simply the total amount of people whole clicked a link within your email marketing campaign.

Depending upon what type of campaign you are running, you may have one or many links so it’s important to study how each link performed as a whole to get a clear understanding of how your audience responds to the different calls to actions within the same campaign.

Conversion Rate

Working hand in hand with click-through rate is conversion rate.

Your conversion rate shows how many people converted within a specific email campaign.

This will also depend greatly upon how you measure and track conversions within your email marketing campaigns and website as even the best marketers may not be able to track where every conversion comes from, however, having a good understanding is essential to know whether your campaign is a winner or not.


When it comes to CRM platforms, we’re not referring to dated spreadsheets that were revolutionary in the 90s.

With technology playing a major part in sales and marketing for most businesses the importance of having a reliable, easy to use CRM platform is essential to your growth.

And while solutions such as HubSpot and Salesforce, there are plenty of affordable CRM platforms available on the market that will support a growing business that won’t cost a fortune or require a science degree to operate.

We recommend taking a moment to explore the best options available for your industry and even take some time to try them out before making a final decision.

Drip Email Marketing

Often considered as one of the primary forms of marketing automation is drip email marketing.

So what is the difference between drip email marketing and traditional marketing?

Drip email marketing is often a series of time or action-based emails delivered over a couple of days or weeks. 

These campaigns are often designed to automatically nurture, qualify and convert subscribers through your sales funnel while providing value at each engagement. 

When configured correctly, you can also be notified when your most engaged subscribers complete a specific action within your campaign so that you can reach out to them personally.

Inbound Marketing

Working hand in hand with marketing automation is inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing is a methodology first coined in 2005 by HubSpot and while it has continued to evolve ever since the principles remain unchanged.

While outbound marketing is the process of targeting users who are not aware of your brand or service, inbound marketing is based on targeting those who are actively searching for your product or service and are therefore more likely to convert.

Lead Nurturing

Next up in our list of essential marketing automation tools is lead nurturing.

While this is often a familiar term with most marketers and business owners we thought we’d include it as there is often some confusion in terms of its true definition.

Lead nurturing is the process of regularly engaging with and providing them with value-based content and advice that is relevant to their current situation. 

Now we’re not saying that you should continue to hassle them till they make a purchase or unsubscribe, however, continuing to keep your brand front and centre during the buying process is essential to not only building trust within your brand but also converting more subscribers.

Lead Score

While it is common for most smaller businesses to know each of their customers and leads by heart, as your business grows, you will no doubt start to lose track of this.

Lead score is a term applied to each subscriber based upon their likeness and readiness to buy.

This score can be determined by several factors, however, it is often designed to provide your sales team with a score out of 100 on how likely the lead is to buy so that you know which ones to follow up with and when.

Life cycle

Depending upon the product or service you are selling your customers will generally pass through what’s called a sales lifecycle which covers the different stages within their buyer’s journey from first engaging with your brand to satisfied customers.

Products or services with a low-risk factor in terms of price or quality will often have a shorter life cycle than products that cost more or are dependent upon results.

Being able to understand your sales life cycle and buyer’s journey not only ensures you have a clear understanding of your ideal customer but also allows you to have a consistently full sales pipeline to grow your business.

Open Rate

Open rate is another pretty self-explanatory term but may often get misconstrued.

Open rate refers to the overall percentage of delivered emails within a campaign that your subscribers opened. 

Now in terms of being able to achieve a high open-rate, there are some best practices you can follow to ensure your campaigns receive the best open rates possible.

  • Sending high quality, relevant emails
  • Personalising and/or split testing the subject line
  • Ensuring you maintain a list of high-quality subscribers

Ensuring your emails receive the best possible open rate not only results in it being seen by the highest number of subscribers but also means your audience are happy to receive your emails.


Next in our list of essential marketing automation terms is opt-in.

This term is more a legal term as it relates to the condition that a subscriber within your list has legally opted in to receive email marketing content from your business and that you haven’t purchased their contact details (or obtained them through other methods).

This will differ depending on where you and your subscribers are based, however, a general rule of thumb is that all email marketing platforms require your subscribers to have opted in through means of a lead capture form for them to be contacted.


Possibly one of the most important and powerful features when it comes to marketing automation is personalisation.

So what exactly is personalisation? Well with the help of marketing automation, you can create highly personalised email campaigns on just about any level.

  • Subject lines
  • Email copy
  • Dynamic content
  • Re-engagement
  • Behaviour-based campaigns
  • Loyalty based campaigns

The list is endless!

Best of all, you can do this at a scale no matter how big your subscriber list is ensuring a personalised experience every time. 

Sales Pipeline

While this is often a very familiar term within the business world, knowing how it relates to your marketing can mean the difference between a successful campaign or not.

A sales pipeline is pretty much a visual representation of where leads are within your sales pipeline so that your team knows which ones to follow up with and not.

But being able to create a well-defined sales pipeline that is linked in with your marketing not only reduces the workload of your sales team, but it also allows you to provide a seamless user experience for your subscribers, leads and customers.

With the help of marketing automation, you can automatically trigger tailored email campaigns based whenever a lead changes stages within your sales pipeline. 

All that’s left to do is for your term to follow up with them when the time is right. Pretty nifty right?


Another somewhat technical term most non-marketers will often get lost on is segmentation.

Segmentation is the process dividing your subscribers into more specific segments based upon any number of criteria, some of which are:

  • Demographic
  • Geographic
  • Behavioural

By doing so, it not only helps you build a much more accurate profile on your subscribers but it allows you to create hyper-targeted email marketing campaigns.

Split Testing

Ever wondered if a green button performs better than a blue one? Or if your subscribers respond better to image-based emails instead of text-based emails.

Wonder no more!

Split testing allows you to test variables within your email marketing campaigns based upon any number of variables to see which ones perform better and generate the best conversion rate.

Some common split tests you can run on your email marketing campaigns include:

  • Subject line
  • Call to action
  • Price specific offers
  • Time-specific offers

Once you’ve found the winning formula, don’t be afraid to keep testing different variables, however, don’t overdo it.


While this one doesn’t require much explanation we thought we’d include it as no marketing automation terms list would be complete without it 😉

A subscriber is someone who has subscribed to receive email marketing content from you.

This doesn’t include lists you have obtained through data scraping, list building or other activities and some marketing automation platforms will even verify your leads if you are importing them from an external list to ensure you obtained them legally.


Tags are used to provide additional information on your subscribers.

Tags can be used for several different reasons including:

  • Representing an action they have taken on your website
  • Representing how they became a subscriber
  • Representing the stage they are within your sales pipeline

For some examples on how you can use tagging to better manage your subscribers, feel free to check out this comprehensive guide to tagging for some real-life examples and more.

It pays to take a minute to think about what you want to get out of tagging and then plan and document your tagging system so that everyone in your team has a clear understanding of their intention and how they should be used to avoid any confusion.

Tracking Code

A tracking code is a piece of code installed within your website.

This allows you to track specific actions completed by your subscribers so that you can better understand how they are interacting within your website and then send personalised campaigns based upon the actions they take.

Bear in mind that to work 100% subscribers need to have opted in for cookie tracking, however, if used correctly this can help in providing you with tangible data on how your subscribers and customers interact with your brand so that you can create a better experience for them.


Last but not least in our list of essential marketing automation terms is Workflow.

A workflow provides you with a visual representation of the design, steps and processes within any marketing automation campaign. 

Most marketing automation platforms now provide you with a built-in visual builder feature so that you can have a more visual experience when planning and building your automations and depending upon the type automation you are building you may need to plan this.

And there you have it, 20 essential marketing automation terms every marketer should learn ensuring they can get the most out of their email marketing campaigns.

Ready to Up Your Email Marketing Game?

Feel free to check out our best marketing automation platforms guide which provides a detailed breakdown of the leading platforms available on the market so that you can make the right decision for your business.

Which term do you find most insightful and why? Let us know in the comments.

Happy automating!