An A-Z Dictionary of Marketing Terms and Definitions

photo of a glasses held in front of an open book
photo of a glasses held in front of an open book

Digital marketers move fast to keep pace with the digital marketing channels they are managing, and to help them do so, they’ve developed a language of their own. From CPA to CMO, CTR to CTO, it’s easy to get your marketing terms or definitions mixed up. You may think someone is speaking about email marketing but they could very well be chatting out their paid advertising strategy. 

We built this glossary of the most important digital marketing and social media marketing terms and definitions to help you keep it all straight during your next team huddle. The keywords, terms and definitions stretch across a variety of digital marketing channels as well as traditional marketing channels. 

What are marketing terms and why are they important?

Whether you are new to marketing or a veteran, understanding the jargon can be a little confusing. With a multitude of acronyms, like CPC or words like newsjacking, it’s crucial to understand what everything means to make the best-informed decisions. Here are the terms and statistics you must know. 

General Terms

  1. Digital marketing: A comprehensive and loose term that refers to marketing that utilizes various digital channels to build brand awareness and ultimately generate customers. Fifty percent of companies surveyed by Smart Insights and TFM&A say they use it but lack a defined strategy.
  2. Brand positioning: The way you differentiate yourself from your competitors and how consumers identify and connect with your brand. It’s comprised of the key qualities and values that are synonymous with your company. It can be conveyed through tone of voice, visual design, and how you represent your brand online. 
  3. Brand awareness: This is the degree to which consumers recognize your brand. It’s a key step in promoting your brand and a big part in your social media strategy.
  4. Demand generation: The use of paid, owned and earned channels to produce awareness and interest in a company's offerings through the use of technology.
  5. Sales enablement: Sales enablement is a combination of coaching, tools and content to help your sales team be more efficient and effective. Your sales team needs to be properly enabled to carry out a successful sales strategy. 
  6. Account-based marketing (ABM): According to Optimizely, ABM is a business marketing strategy that concentrates resources on a set of target accounts within a market. It uses personalized campaigns designed to engage each account, basing the marketing message on the specific attributes and needs of the account.
  7. Lead nurturing: Lead nurturing is the process of educating and building trust with your prospects in order to guide them through the buyer’s journey. The ultimate goal of lead nurturing is to provide your prospects with a unique experience that keeps them coming back for more — and eventually converts them into customers.
  8. Closed-loop marketing: The use of analytics and data throughout a customer’s lifecycle to improve marketing and sales strategies. To “close the loop”, marketing and sales teams unify their reporting and strategies to generate higher ROI. Considering 69 percent of CEOs believe they are wasting money marketing initiatives, according to Forbes, the majority of marketers have adopted closed-loop marketing in one form or another.
  9. Content marketing: Similar to inbound marketing, content marketing is the use and distribution of content that provides valuable information to help a company grow and retain website visitors and customers. Altimeter cites that 70 percent of marketers do not have a consistent or integrated content strategy.
  10. Contextual marketing: Contextual marketing refers to any advertising or tailored marketing messages that are based on the user’s demographic or behavioral data. When in-house marketers are able to quantify ROI and use a personalized website, they see a 19 percent increase in sales (Monetate/eConsultancy).To deliver contextually relevant information, you need to understand the psychographics of your buyer personas to know how to speak to them and what content will resonate with them.
  11. Word-of-mouth marketing (WOM): Word-of-mouth marketing (or word-of-mouth advertising) are the actions taken by a business to motivate others to spontaneously talk about their products, services, or brand. Word-of-mouth marketing also refers to the actions of those who are sharing their experiences and recommending others on your behalf. And these days, 64% of marketing executives believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing.
  12. Email marketing: The use of email and email performance benchmarks to reach prospects, customers and evangelists. Email marketing leads are rated as high quality by 40 percent of B2B marketers (Software Advice Survey).
  13. Inbound marketing: A marketing strategy that builds interesting and valuable content to attract the attention of people to your company. Tactics include blogging, social media, and SEO. 
  14. Marketing automation: The use of software and technology to streamline various marketing channels and make them automated. Over 50 percent of top-performing companies have adopted marketing automation (Forrester).
  15. Marketing channel: A way of moving products or services from the producer to the consumer. Marketing channels can be direct, indirect, or a combination of both. For example, a company may rely on distributors to sell its product but also use a company website to drive sales directly. According to a survey from 2014, 48 percent of marketers say search-optimized websites are the most effective channel for distributing their product or service (Statista).
  16. Native advertising: The placement of a brand, product, or service where the ad appears in the same context of the user interface. It’s almost like an ad in disguise because the marketing content blends with the content on the third-party application. A study published on Adweek found that 57 percent of millennials are OK with sponsored content, which is really another term for native advertising, but only if it is interesting.
  17. Search engine marketing: A marketing tactic that works to grow a website’s online presence through traffic from search engines. Nearly 100 percent (93 percent to be exact) of online experiences start with search engines (ImForza).

Planning & Developing Terms

  1. Buyer’s journey: The process a prospective customer goes through to reach your product or service, consider it and evaluate it. It involves three critical stages: Awareness, consideration and decision. Your sales team will work closely in each stage to personalize the message to add value to a potential buyer. 
  2. Buyer persona: As defined by HubSpot, “A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.” A specific persona will help you determine where to focus your efforts. Using a buyer/marketing persona makes 2 to 5 times more effective and easier to use by ideal users.
  3. Editorial calendar: Helps marketers to plan development, publish and distribute the content of various types. An editorial calendar helps marketers to carry out their overall content marketing strategy. 
  4. Content mapping: Allows marketers to be more personalized and timely in delivering content by mapping existing and required content needed for each buyer persona and buyer’s journey. Its intentions are to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time, 
  5. SMART Goals: A common goal-setting framework used in marketing. The acronym “SMART” stands for specific, measurable, achievable, results-oriented, and timely. It establishes a strong foundation for success. 

Paid Channel Terms

  1. Bid: The total amount that you will pay for a keyword on paid search for top placement. Insurance industry keywords have been found to be the most expensive keywords (WordStream).
  2. Call extensions/ click-to-call: A feature of paid search ads that includes the business phone number on the add. With click-to-call, the user can click the phone number to make the call.
  3. Clicks: The total number of users who actually click the ad or paid search result. 95% of ad clicks on mobile devices go to Google Ads’ campaigns (Source).
  4. Cost-per-click (CPC): The amount of money paid for each click-through to the company’s website that an advertisement generates on search engines or other publication websites. The average cost-per-click on the AdWords search network is between $1 and $2 (WordStream).
  5. Cost-per-conversions (CPA): This term, in relation to paid Facebook and Twitter ads, is the amount of money paid per converted event. The term, as it relates to Adwords, is the total cost of generating clicks or impressions divided by the total amount of conversions.
  6. Cost-per-impression (CPI): The amount of money paid for each view of an advertisement rather than paying per click. This method of tracking ROI is most relevant to paid social promotions since Google AdWords calculates based on cost-per-thousand. CPM helps to determine other calculations for ads such as CPC (cost per click) and the CTR (click-through rate). Facebook advertising costs is $7.19 per 1000 impressions
  7. Cost-per-thousand (CPM): A tracking metric only relevant to the Google AdWords display network, cost-per-thousand is the amount of money paid per thousand impressions with the maximum being a set bid. If a website publisher charges $2.00 CPM, that means an advertiser must pay $2.00 for every 1,000 impressions of its ad.
  8. Display ads: A digital marketing advertising method that uses rich media and graphic advertising through banners, videos, images, flash, and audio. Display advertising is used in paid search.
  9. Display network: The display network is a channel on Google Ads that uses a collection of partner websites to present text and banner ads based on filtering partner sites relevant to the company, the user’s keywords and searches or past engagement with the company. Display Network sites reach over 90% of Internet users worldwide (Source).
  10. Impressions: The total number of internet users who see your ad, no matter if it was clicked or not. The pricing is generally established per 1,000 impressions. In other words, you pay a set amount for your ad to appear 1,000 times on the site for various users (Source).
  11. Paid Search: A form of advertising where search engines, like Google, or allow advertisers to show their ads on the search engine result pages (SERP). Paid search works on a pay-per-click basis, meaning you only pay when someone clicks your ad for a given keyword.
  12. Paid media: This is an umbrella term for any media attention that is paid for and includes marketing tactics such as social media ads, paid content promotion, pay per click, television ads, radio ads and direct mail. 68% of marketers stated that paid advertising is "very important" or "extremely important" to their overall marketing strategy (HubSpot, 2020).
  13. Remarketing: This is used to present targeted ads to website visitors or existing customers around the internet when they aren’t actively looking for your company. Retargeting on Google Display Network Reaches More than 90% of All Internet Users. Everywhere (Source).
  14. View-through conversion: The number of visitors who saw a Google Adwords ad and did not click, but later visited the landing page. The reporting data can be used to understand which sites work well for display-oriented placement-targeted campaigns. Another benefit is you can optimize your campaign performance based on how users are responding to your display ads, even if they don't click. Thus, the view-through conversion rate provides a more accurate measure of ad effectiveness.

Content Marketing Terms

  1. Blog: As a noun, a blog is a web page that is written to inform and educate readers. For many companies, it has become a source of business from digital channels. Marketers who make blogging a priority are 13X more likely to have positive ROI (HubSpot).
  2. Call-to-action (CTA): A message in the form of text-only or as a banner image that instructs the reader to take the next step. Calls-to-action is a critical part of your content marketing because they help convert all that site traffic you're driving through content creation into actual contacts in your database. A personalized CTA converts 42 percent better than a general CTA (HubSpot).
  3. Clickthrough rate: According to HubSpot, a clickthrough rate (CTR) is one of the metrics that show how engaged readers are with your content. Did they click on the CTA at the end of the blog post? Did that visitor turn into a lead? Did they even open the post? This data can inform how you approach content creation, giving insight into which content types and subject matters are most appealing to your readers -- and even what type of copy they enjoy reading.
  4. Conversion path: The path a user takes to convert into a lead or customer from the time they are referred to your website to the actual conversion on a landing page. Once again, there isn’t much data around this topic, so I thought I’d share that it’s estimated that at any given time 7 percent of the world’s population is drunk (are you a part of that 7 percent as you read this?).
  5. Dynamic Content: This is a way to display different messaging on your website based on the information you already know about the visitor.
  6. Ebook: A long-form type of content that goes in-depth on a specific topic. Marketers use Ebooks to generate leads and is generally a gated asset. Sixty percent of business decision-makers say company content helps them make a better product decision (Content Marketing Institute).
  7. Evergreen content: Content that will remain relevant today and in the future to your readers. Evergreen content is a content marketer’s best friend because of the high SEO value provided. One case study published on MoZ showed that an evergreen piece of content helped was able to grow social shares of that article from 127 in the first year to 631 social shares a year later (MoZ).
  8. Infographic: A visual representation of content, data, or insights. It is a popular content format because it relays complex information in an easy to read format.  
  9. Keywords: Keywords are what search engine user inputs when looking for information. Keywords are important for content marketers because the keywords your target audience is typing into search engines are typically good topics to create content about. Spend some time carefully, and analytically, picking keywords (both short and long-tail) to optimize your content and website pages. Keywords also play a big role in your SEO strategy. 
  10. Landing page:  A web page that is designed to help convert a website visitor into a lead or customer. Although they are considered the least popular type of signup form, they have the highest conversion rate (23%) (HubSpot)
  11. Newsjacking: Newsjacking refers to the practice of capitalizing on the popularity of a news story to amplify the impact of a piece of content. Next time you come across a big news story that has a tie-in to your industry, see if you can find a way to cover it with your own helpful, relevant spin. (HubSpot)
  12. Podcast: A series or single recording of an audio file that can be downloaded online and is a very popular marketing channel. In 2019, over half of all Americans listened to a podcast, with over 30% tuning in to podcasts on at least a monthly basis. With Meltwater’s new podcast integration, we are adding over 3,000 new podcasts to the platform every day, from over a dozen languages Podcasts now reach over 100 million Americans every month. (Edison Research, 2020) (HubSpot)
  13. Visual content: This refers to any type of content to easily attract your audience. For example, infographics, stat cards, or videos. 
  14. Webinar: In a webinar, participants are able to share visuals or presentations online. It is a real-time conversation on a specific topic and is the most popular channel used by marketers to generate leads. Webinars can be as short as 45 minutes or as long as a two-day series. Webinars are also a great opportunity to for marketers to invest in influencer marketing. 

Social Media Terms

  1. Social media marketing: The use of social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube to grow traffic to a website or grow brand awareness. People spend 2 hours and 23 minutes daily on social media browsing and messaging (GlobalWebIndex). Additionally, 98.55% of people use at least four social media channels daily (GoodFirms).
  2. Facebook: Social networking site that allows users to connect and stay in touch with friends and family. Facebook users spend 38 minutes per day using the platform. (SocialPilot)
  3. Followers: On social media sites, someone who opts in to receive your updates. The most followed brand on Instagram is Nike with 96.9 million followers.
  4. Hashtags: A keyword or phrase on social media that begins with a hash (#) or pound sign. While a statistic on hashtags was hard to come by, one of the most popular and longest-running hashtags of all time is #followfriday. This hashtag was used to give a shout out to those worthy of following. Anyone else remembers the days of the #followfriday hashtag?
  5. Instagram: A social networking platform geared around sharing images and short videos. U.S. marketers spend 31% of their Instagram ad budget on Stories and the rest 69% for newsfeed. (SocialPilot)
  6. Likes: Basically, it is a thumbs up on Facebook. McDonald's Facebook page has 80 million likes.
  7. LinkedIn: A social networking site designed for business professionals to connect, collaborate and share information. There are 303 million monthly active users on LinkedIn. (99 Firms) and HubSpot found that traffic from LinkedIn generated the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate at 2.74%, almost 277% higher than Facebook and Twitter. (HubSpot)
  8. Pinterest: A social networking site that allows users to pin and share images and other rich media to a board. Eighty-five percent of Pinterest usage happens on a mobile device (Sprout Social).
  9. Twitter: A network for information that is limited to 280, a high number compared to the original 140 character messages. An average of 9,000 tweets are sent every second (Internet Live Stats).
  10. YouTube: A social networking and search engine site for videos. YouTube is the second-largest search engine globally. (HubSpot)
  11. Reach: The exposure a brand gets across social media platforms. This is the total number of people actively following a brand through various platforms. 
  12. Retweet: A forwarded or reposted tweet.Tweets with images receive 18% more click-throughs, 89% more likes, and 150% more retweets. (SocialPilot)

Analytics & Reporting

  1. Click-through rate (CTR): The percentage of people who click an element or link in an email, ad, or web page. A high CTR is a good indication that users find your ads helpful and relevant. You can use CTR to gauge which ads and keywords are successful for you and which need to be improved. The more your keywords and ads relate to each other and to your business, the more likely a user is to click on your ad after searching on your keyword phrase.
  2. Bounce rate: A term found in Google Analytics, which is defined by Google as, “Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).” According to SEMrush, bounce rate is the 4th most important ranking factor on SERPs.
  3. Direct traffic: Traffic that comes directly to your website, which means the user types your website URL directly into their browser and does not come from a referral link; blog, social media, or third-party websites. 
  4. Entrances: A tracking metric on Google Analytics for the total number of website visitors who entered on a specific page. 
  5. Exit percentage: A tracking metric on Google Analytics for the percentage of people who exit your website through a particular page. It is different from the bounce rate because the exit rate calculates those who may have entered on any website page but excited on that particular page. There is no statistic to share here, but instead a tip. Exit percentage can be a good indicator of where website visitors drop off your site, so track and analyze your pages with the highest exit rates to optimize.
  6. Lead-to-customer rate: The percentage of leads that convert into a customer. 74% of companies say converting leads into customers is their top priority (Hubspot)
  7. Marketing analytics: The measurement and analysis of marketing activities to help improve performance. Google Analytics is the top SEO tool used by marketers. (HubSpot, 2020
  8. Open rate: The number of people that open an email campaign compared to the total number of recipients. At 30.5% in 2020, government emails dominate email open rates globally. (HubSpot, 2020
  9. Organic search traffic: Traffic that comes from a search engine, which means that the user typed in a search query and clicked on your website in the search results. The majority of companies (67%) use organic traffic to measure their content success. (HubSpot, 2020
  10. Referral traffic: Traffic that comes from a referring website outside of the company’s website domain and subdomains, like a blog or social media. If the New York Times writes an article about your company and links to your website, this is considered referral traffic. Referral traffic can help to improve your website’s overall search engine rankings when referral links are quality links. With UTM tracking, it’s also possible to determine which sites and social profiles are generating the most traffic for your website.
  11. Sources: The various avenues that bring website visitors, leads and customers to a company. A source can be online and from sources such as organic search or email marketing, but it can also come from an offline event such as a trade show or cold call. Today, mobile traffic accounts for almost 50 percent of total traffic for U.S. retailers (Statista).
  12. Submission rate: The percentage of people who fill out a form on a landing page relative to the total people who view the page. 
  13. Visitor-to-lead rate: The percentage of website visitors that complete a target action. Typically, a web form is completed to turn a visitor into a lead. The top 10 percent of HubSpot customers achieve a 2.20 percent visit-to-lead conversion rate (HubSpot).

Technical Terms

  1. API: An application programming interface (API) is a set of rules or protocols developers must use when working with a service or application. 
  2. CMS: A content management system (CMS) is an application that allows marketers to edit, manage and publish content. WordPress CMS is used for 24.7 percent of all websites (W3Techs).
  3. CSS: Cascading style sheets (CSS) describes a code language that describes how HTML should be visually displayed. 
  4. Domain name: An identification that helps an entity or organization be found on the Internet. It’s somewhat like a physical address on the Internet. The first quarter of 2020 closed with 366.8 million domain name registrations across all top-level domains (TLDs), an increase of 4.5 million domain name registrations, or 1.2 percent, compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.1,2 Domain name registrations have grown by 14.9 million, or 4.2 percent, year over year. (Source)
  5. ISP: An ISP stands for Internet Service Provider. It is a company that provides access to the internet. There are around 2,000 ISP businesses (IBISWorld).
  6. Javascript: According to Mozilla, javascript is “a cross-platform, object-oriented scripting language.” Javascript is used by over 90 percent of websites (W3Techs).
  7. Registrar: In the Internet world, a registrar refers to the domain name registrar that manages Internet domains. An example would be GoDaddy. Another domain name registrar, Namecheap, cites they have over 3.000,000 domains.
  8. Site map: A list of crawlable website pages that helps search engines organize site content.
  9. SSL: Secure sockets layer (SSL) is a security technology that encrypts links between the server and browser to keep data passed between the two private. Websites that are secure will have the HTTPs instead of HTTP. 36.4 percent of websites monitored by W3Techs do not use SSL.
  10. UX: The user experience (UX) is a combination of interactions with a product, website or app a user goes through, which may lead to positive or negative emotions and attitudes. If you utilize UX design to satisfy enough people to boost your customer retention by as little as 5%, you will be rewarded with a profit increase of at least 25% (Source)
  11. Wireframe: A set of lines and images used to plan website structure and functionality. Although there isn’t a statistic readily available on a quantifiable benefit of using wireframes, they do help to save time and minimize revisions in the website design process.