The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Terms

June 8, 2020
13 min

Welcome to your ultimate guide to marketing acronyms, concepts, and trends. Marketing and advertising terms are constantly evolving as technology brings us new ways to reach prospects, deliver content, and automate our efforts. In this guide, you’ll find definitions and examples for everything from APIs to behavioral targeting, and more. You’ll want to bookmark this one—trust us.

360º Customer View

The aggregation of various touch points with a customer that provides a well-rounded view of activity with the aim of providing a “complete” view of a customer.


A/B Testing, Split Testing, Bucket Testing

A method of comparing two versions of a piece of digital content to see which performs better. Common applications are email subject lines, email content, landing page design, and web page layout.

Account, Company

In sales and marketing, we commonly call the companies we work with “accounts.” Account-level data includes information about the company such as address, number of employees, website address, etc.

Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

An account-based marketing strategy (a subset of B2B marketing) focuses on creating personalized campaign content with the intent to convert specific target accounts into customers.

AI, Artificial Intelligence

The ability for computer or software systems to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence. AI is not automation. Instead, it is a computer’s ability to make decisions.


A process or set of rules that is followed to calculate a mathematical problem or perform problem-solving operations. Computers typically execute algorithms, which are most well known for their use in search engines.


The discovery, interpretation, and communication of meaningful patters and actionable information from data. Common data sources in marketing are CRM’s, websites, application user data, and social media data.


An Application Programming Interface (API) is a programming interface that allows two software components or programs to interact.

For example, your CRM may have API integrations to tools like your email marketing program, the API is what allows the programs to interact and pass data.


B2B (Business to Business)

A transaction between two businesses. For example, if your business sells to veterinary businesses, then you sell B2B.

B2C (Business to Customer)

A business sells directly to the end user. For example, if you sell directly to pet owners, then you sell B2C.

Behavioral Targeting

Targeting prospects online based on their previous online activities (eg, article views by topic, videos watched, other content engagement).

Bottom-of-Funnel, The “Purchase” Stage

A prospect at the bottom of the funnel has gone through the nurturing stages of buying and is now in the “buying” stage. For example, bottom-of-funnel stages can include “quote,” “proposal/ price review,” “negotiation,” or “demonstration.”


The technology behind digital currency (bitcoin, and other cryptocurrency). Essentially it is a public digital ledger that records online transactions.


An online journal or collection of posts typically included as part of a website. Popular platforms include WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, and Wix.

Bounce Rate

A single-page website session. A user “bounces” when they enter a website and exit after the first page view. Average bounce rates are 41%-55%.


The name, term, design, and/or symbol of a product, business unit, or company. Branding encompasses the entire buying experience and is the essential identity associated with a product or company.

Buyer Persona

A semi-fictional representation of a target buyer that includes demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals.



The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM) is a compliance law that governs the sending of mass commercial emails in the United States.


Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation is an email compliance law that governs the sending of mass commercial emails in Canada. It’s often regarded as the toughest anti-spam law in the world.


An automated computer program that requests or responds to conversation with human users over the internet. Companies frequently use chatbots on Facebook and other websites to answer common questions or to generate leads.


A form of false advertising that uses enticing content or headlines on the internet to stimulate clicks. Clickbait is typically deceptive and sensationalized. For example, a clickbait ad could promise “this one weird trick will help you lose weight” but link you to a page that fails to deliver on the promise. You can learn more about clickbait here.

Content Management System (CMS)

Typically, a CMS is a cloud-based software you can use to create and manage content, usually for a website. Common content management systems include WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento, Wix, Squarespace, Blogger, and Shopify.

Cold Calling

An unsolicited contact, via phone or in person, with the intent to sell a product.


Assets utilized for content marketing that provide value to the end-user, such as infographics, articles, white papers, webinars, e-books, and online courses.

Contextual Marketing

Targeted advertising that serves prospects ads based on their previous browsing history.


Cost Per Action or Cost Per Acquisition is an online marketing strategy that allows the advertiser to pay per action to keep financial risk low. The action could be a sale or completion of another high-value goal.

CPA Formula: Total Ad Spend / Total Attribute Conversions


Cost Per Click is the price that an advertiser pays for each click in a pay-per-click marketing campaign (see PPC). Search engine marketing employs a cost-per-click strategy whereby the advertiser only pays for clicks.


Cost Per Impression is typically quoted in terms of 1,000 impressions and refers to the number of times your digital ad is served to an audience.

CPI Formula: Advertising Cost / Number of Impressions


Customer Relationship Management (CRM) isa software system that tracks prospect and customer interactions to support sales opportunity tracking and marketing ROI monitoring. Popular platforms include, HubSpot, Freshsales, and Insightly.


A Call to Action (CTA) is an instruction to the target audience designed to stimulate action. For example, “get more information,” “call today,” “schedule a demo,” “subscribe,” or “follow us.”


Click Through Rate (CTR) is the percentage of people who viewed a piece of digital content (eg, email, landing page, advertisement) that clicked.

CTR Formula: (Total measured clicks/Total measured impressions) x 100

Customer Journey

The entire pathway of touch points that a prospect experiences on their way to becoming a customer.



Domain Authority (DA) isa ranking determined by search engines that assesses the relevance of a website based on a specific subject.

The calculation is complex and includes factors such as linking root domains and number of total links. You may see people talk about “back link strategy.” This is typically related to an attempt to strengthen DA.

Demographic Targeting

Behavioral advertising that targets an audience based on demographic information (eg, age, job title, gender, geography).

Dynamic Content, Adaptive Content

Website content that changes based on the behavior of the target audience to provide the most targeted message to each visitor.


Earned Media

Publicity exposure through non-paid efforts, often used when discussing public relations. For example, a zoo animal is treated with your product and gets national news exposure without your company paying for the placement.

E-book, Electronic Book

Refers to the publication of a book designed for digital consumption. You can see an example here.

E-commerce, Electronic Commerce

The buying and selling of goods over the internet.


Refers to the act of participating with content, either via a like, share, comment, or other means of active content consumption. This is one of the most important marketing metrics for social media and digital marketing.

Evergreen Content

Content that is always relevant and does not become quickly dated. It is often utilized in long-term automated marketing engagement sequences.


Focus Group

The gathering of a diverse group of people in your target market, assembled with the intent to gain market feedback.

Form, Web Form, Lead Capture

A digital web page that allows the user to enter information to gain access to a piece of content, or to submit an inbound inquiry. Marketers often place a piece of content “behind a form” so that the prospect must provide their contact information to access the content.


A pricing strategy wherein a (typically digital) product is offered for free but a charge is incurred to unlock additional features. The name is a portmanteau of “Free” + “Premium.” For example, you can use MailChimp for free until you send a certain number of emails. Then you must pay to send more email.



The application of game concepts (eg, scoring, status, competition) to encourage engagement or active use.  Some CRMs show a “leaderboard” or provide top performers with “badges” to encourage competition.

Gated Content

Content that resides behind a form or opt-in membership and requires the visitor to enter their information to gain access. Provides advanced tracking capability for the company collecting the visitor information.


General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) isa law that governs the collection and processing of personal information of individuals who live in the European Union. The regulation came into full effect in May 2018.


Handle, Username, “@”

Your username, particularly on social media. A handle enables others to “mention” you in a post and hyperlink back to your user profile.

Hard Bounce

An email that is undeliverable and is returned to the sender because the recipient’s email address is invalid.


A hashtag (#) is placed before keywords related to a specific topic. For example, #vetmed or #technicianweek. When users search the social channel for the topic, relevant posts with the included hashtag appear. The hashtag also acts as a hyperlink to related content on the social channel.


Inbound Marketing, Pull Marketing

A marketing strategy that draws customers in through content marketing, social media marketing, and other pull techniques. The goal of inbound marketing is to provide valuable content and a customer experience that produces inbound requests.

Influencer Marketing

Leverages the followings of key trusted industry leaders and experts. This strategy is often leveraged through social media campaigns, live event appearances, and educational offerings. Influencer marketing can come in the form of testimonials, product placements, and subtle product references.


A visual graphic intended to convey data, information, or a complex concept in a visual format. The name is a portmanteau of information + graphics.


An Insertion Order (IO) is a purchase order between a media company and an advertiser detailing the media buy.



A word closely associated with a brand, product, or service that a marketer wishes to be found for. Commonly used in search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search strategies.


A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a measurable variable that is indicative of the performance of a campaign, business unit, or company. For example, the number of Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) may be an important KPI for a webinar campaign.


Landing Page

Also called a stand-alone page or splash page, a landing page is a page on a website designed for a specific marketing campaign. These pages typically contain a campaign-specific form for campaign metric tracking. A landing page can be on a website’s main site or it can be entirely separate through a marketing automation system.

Lead, Prospect

A potential customer who has indicated some level of interest in the product or service you are selling. Leads often have a rating of hot, warm, or cold.

Lead Generation

Adding new leads to the sales pipeline through inbound and outbound efforts.

Lead Magnet

A piece of high-value content (eg, e-book, webinar) designed to attract prospects and convert them to a lead. This content is typically placed behind a form.

Lead Nurturing

A sequence, often automated, designed to provide a lead with additional content needed to progress them to the next stage of the sales process.

Lead Grading

Leverages demographic information to determine prospects who should be high quality and qualified to buy. A grade is an indicator of the quality of a lead. Grades are represented as letters: A, B, C, D.

Lead Scoring

Represents the amount of activity a lead has engaged in and is quantified as a numeric score. Leads get points for activities such as email opens, landing page visits, form submissions, and social media interaction.

Grading and Scoring… What’s The Difference? 

A grade is a ranking of the quality of a lead. It should indicate how qualified they are to buy. A score is a quantitative measure of the amount of lead activity. Scores are typically calculated by assigning points for each activity a prospect engages in (eg, emails opened, web pages visited, forms filled out). 

Live Streaming

Live online video transmission of an event. These events are simultaneously broadcasted and recorded. Popular live-streaming platforms include YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch.


A Learning Management System (LMS) is a web-based platform that enables users to consume educational content for CE credits. These platforms collect registrations, host course content, execute quizzes, and deliver CE certificates upon successful completion.

Long-Form Content

Written content that is over 4,000 words or video content that is longer than 10 minutes. Examples include webinars, white papers, and live-stream videos.

Lookalike Audience

An audience developed through an algorithm that resembles another group. Commonly used to assemble a new target audience that “looks” like a company’s current customers.

Lifecycle Stages, Pipeline

A method of visualizing a prospect’s progression through the sales pipeline from the initial touch to a closed-won or closed-lost opportunity. Commonly visualized through a CRM tool.


Marketing Automation

A technology platform that automatically manages marketing processes and campaigns seamlessly across multiple channels. Popular platforms include HubSpot, Pardot, ActiveCampaign, Marketo, and GetResponse.


A secondary site, or smaller site that functions within a larger website ecosystem. Microsites often adopt their own identities that differ from their primary site.


Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) is income that recurs each month. Subscription services follow this model.


Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) are free online distance learning courses that allow many participants to engage regardless of geography. These courses sometimes mimic a college course.


A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)is a lead who has interacted with a brand in a way that indicates an interest level that makes them more likely to become a customer. MQLs are typically entered into a nurturing sequence with the intent to turn them into Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs).


When a brand is linked to a message, typically on social media, and tagged using their username, which hyperlinks to the brand’s social page.



The Net Promoter Score (NPS)measures customer experience and customer loyalty. Ultimately, it defines customers on a scale from 0 – 10 in terms of promoters, passive customers, or detractors from your brand.

Native Advertising, Sponsored Content

Advertising messages that are designed to look like a piece of standard media within either a print or digital publication or email. These ads visually match the flow and look and feel of the publication to blend in with the rest of the content. They include a disclaimer, like “sponsored content” or a “paid advertisement.”

News Feed

Typically refers to a social media feed that is comprised of updates from individuals and brands that the user follows. News feed can also refer to the electronic transmission of any news.


Open Rate

The percentage of people who open your email, calculated by dividing the number of opens by the number of successfully delivered emails.

Opportunity, Deal

An active sales opportunity that is being worked through a sales pipeline.


A multi-channel sales approach that provides customers with a retail experience that integrates across all shopping experiences, both digital and physical.

Opt Out, Unsubscribe

An election to no longer participate in email communications. This can come in the form of an opt-out or a SPAM complaint.

Organic Reach

Related to SEO, organic reach is achieved without paid advertising placements.


Page View

The number of times a page has been visited. Commonly confused with “visitors” or “hits,” page views are the number of pages that have been browsed on your website.


Point of Contact (POC) is commonly used in sales to note the primary communication contact at an account. POC may also refer to Proof of Concept, which is a demonstration and verification of a concept, often used in product development to determine feasibility before significant resources are spent.


Point of Sale (POS) is the location where a sale takes place. It can be either physical and digital.


A piece of code that allows marketers to evaluate conversion performance and to execute advanced retargeting based upon browsing history. In graphic design, pixel instead refers to the single points that make up a graphic image. You would describe an image’s resolution in the number of pixels, or dots per inch (dpi). Screen resolution is 72 dpi, while standard print resolution is 300 dpi.



Refers to the practice of continually marketing to a personally identifiable target audience who has already engaged with your content to provide a higher level of nurturing, and more targeted messaging. Typically delivered via email, based upon past behavior.

Responsive Design

Also known as mobile optimized design, responsive design refers to the design of a user interface to optimize the user experience across both mobile and desktop devices.


Refers to the practice of serving digital ads to a target audience who has visited your website and been cookied. These ads are typically delivered in the form of banner ads, via off-site display networks, commonly Google or Facebook.


Return on Investment (ROI) is a performance metric that evaluates the efficiency of an investment. Calculated by dividing net profit by total investment.



Software as a Service (SaaS) is a type of software licensing, typically delivered via an online subscription (eg, SalesForce, MailChimp, SurveyMonkey).

Sales Pipeline

A visual representation, typically generated by a CRM tool, of current open opportunities and their stage in the sales process. The pipeline is typically accompanied by metrics such as close date, probability % of the sale, and competitors involved in the deal.


The act of consuming content on two screens at the same time. Commonly a mobile device and one other screen—either a computer or a TV.


Also known as targeting, segmentation refers to the organization of a target audience by behavioral, contextual, or demographic criteria.

Sponsored Content

Content that is either developed by an advertiser or co-developed by an advertiser in conjunction with a media partner. It contains educational content that informs the reader about a concept as well as a related product or service.


Search Engine Marketing (SEM) refers to paid ads through search engine driven advertising platforms. You may also call this paid search or PPC (Pay Per Click).


A Service-Level Agreement (SLA) is a contract between a service provider and a client, typically related to technology, that outlines response times, quality, and availability to serve the client.

Soft Bounce

An email that is returned to the sender because the recipient’s mail server rejects the email, commonly due to the recipient’s email settings. In this case, the email only makes it to the recipient’s email server, at which point it is returned.


A Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) is a lead who has graduated from being an MQL and is ready to be handed off to sales. An SQL has been vetted by marketing and has indicated that they are ready to enter into a sales conversation.


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to increasing the infrastructure, relevance, and quality of content on a website to result in higher organic search results on search engines, typically Google. Popular search engines include Google, Bing, and Yahoo!


Thought Leader

Informed expert in a specific field. Often used in reference to the creation of educational content to demonstrate a brand’s high level of understanding and expertise on a specific topic.


Prospects that are at the upper most (least qualified) stage in the marketing funnel. Top-of-funnel campaigns seek to attract prospects with a piece of content in exchange for their contact information. Upon providing their contact information, they become a top-of-funnel lead. To progress through the funnel, they require nurturing through additional communications.



User Generated Content (UGC)refers to content such as videos, text, audio, or images, generated by a “user” (typically a customer), and shared on social media channels by a brand as the user’s own post.


User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is the final phase of software testing where users try the software out in real-world situations.


User Interface (UI) isthe graphic interface that a user interacts with by which the computer system or software performs functions based upon user inputs.


User Experience (UX) isthe overall experience of how a user interacts with a computer or software application, especially in terms of ease of use.



Word of Mouth (WOM) is the sharing of ideas or brands/products from person to person.


A seminar conducted digitally, typically educational in nature and lasting 15 – 90 minutes. Common platforms for conducting a webinar include Zoom, WebEx, GoToWebinar, ClickMeeting, EasyWebinar, and Adobe Connect.