Like any field, digital marketing has its own lexicon and lingo. Some of it works its way out into the world at large, but some of it is really only ever tossed about by those in the industry. Here at CREATE180 Design, we strive to keep things clear for layfolk and our clients, but even we sometimes let one of our weird words slip or presume that something we say every day makes sense to someone completely uninvolved in what we do.
So, to atone, we offer this glossary of digital marketing terms. If you’re learning your way around the wonderful world of web-based branding and marketing, or if you work with an in-house team or agency, it’s helpful to be acquainted with these words and phrases.
Read on and talk like a pro! Or at least know what the pros are babbling on about.
Glossary of Digital Marketing Terms
A/B testing: A comparison of the results of two options for one variable. For example, you can send the same email content with two different subject lines to see which one gets opened more; or, you might create a call-to-action with two different buttons to see which one gets clicked more.
Analytics: Data for any online initiative, be it a website, social media page, digital ad campaign, etc. It tracks and reports user behaviors to show results—but more importantly, to provide insights that help improve future results.
Anchor text: Text that’s hyperlinked to another web page or another section on the same page. Generally, it’s best to hyperlink anchor text of at least three words and that uses a keyword for the content or page it leads to.
Backlinks: Links on other websites that direct to a page on your website. These can help boost a page’s search engine rankings, particularly when the backlinks come from well-ranking, reputable websites and when the link is in the form of anchor text using keywords for the page they direct to.
Blogging: Regularly publishing content in a centralized location on your website. The content isn’t primarily sales-oriented, though; this isn’t a form of advertising. It’s for sharing things of value to your target audience to build brand authority and trust, relationships, and the on-site user experience.
Bounce rate: The percentage of website visitors who don’t click on anything or navigate to another page from the page they arrive on. Read about some common reasons for a high bounce rate and some effective ways to lower your bounce rate and better engage site visitors.
Buyer persona: An in-depth fictional profile of your brand’s ideal consumer. It should be detailed and based on customer research. The purpose is to help hone your marketing to speak as directly and compellingly as possible to your target market. Read more about developing a buyer persona.
Buyer’s journey: The process by which a consumer becomes aware of a problem or need, researches potential solutions, and purchases one. Digital marketing stresses the importance of reaching out to people at all stages. Read more about the stages of the buyer’s journey.
Call-to-action (CTA): Any type of link that represents an action you want a user to take. It may be a button, hyperlinked text, image link, etc. It can represent all sorts of actions, like going to a landing page, subscribing to a newsletter, downloading some information, sharing a page on social media, or purchasing something. Read more about CTAs.
CAN-SPAM: A piece of legislation (the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act) that sets rules for emails sent for business and marketing purposes. Read more about the CAN-SPAM act and how to stay in compliance with your email marketing. Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) is Canada’s equivalent.
Clickthrough rate (CTR): The percentage of users who click on a call-to-action. It’s found by dividing the total number of clicks on a CTA by the total number of people exposed to it (e.g., the total number of page views or the total number of people who open an email).
Content management system (CMS): A behind-the-scenes platform for editing, updating, and otherwise managing the content on your website. WordPress is the most widely used content management system. Read more about why you want a CMS for your site.
Conversion path: The online steps a person takes from encountering your brand to becoming a lead to converting to an accomplished goal (e.g., a sign-up, download, or sale). It often involves a CTA (perhaps on a social media promotion or digital ad) that directs to a landing page that collects some information and then leads to a thank-you page with another offer.
Conversion rate: Similar to a clickthrough rate, this is the percentage of users who complete a desired action. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process of improving these results, typically using other things you can read about here like analytics and A/B testing.
Cost-per-acquisition (CPA): How much you spend to acquire a lead or customer with a particular ad or strategy.
Cost-per-lead (CPL): How much you spend to acquire a lead with a particular ad or strategy.
Cost-per-thousand (CPM): How much you pay a digital advertising platform for every 1,000 impressions—every 1,000 times an ad is shows to users, that is.
Customer relationship management (CRM): Software that keeps track of a brand’s interaction with its customers or clients. It can record their contact information, contact with them, appointments, customer service interactions, sales, and more.
Duplicate content: Content that appears identically or very similarly on more than one website. This can prompt search engines to penalize websites—especially those that have more recently posted the duplicate content, under the impression that it belongs to the site that posted it first.
Dynamic content: Personalized content or messaging on your website based on things you already know about a specific visitor. For example, you can display particular CTAs to particular people who you can identify and access previously gathered information about.
Engagement rate: A major social media metric that tracks how many people interact with a post. Generally, this refers to how many people click on a link, like or favorite the post, or share it with their own connections. Read about some common reasons brands see a low engagement rate on social media.
Evergreen content: Articles, blog posts, or other content that remains relevant for a long time. While topical content can be great for short-term engagement and traffic, a solid foundation of evergreen material is important to building a useful library of content and long-term benefits.
Friction: Areas of your website or digital marketing campaigns where the audience experiences some difficulty that causes them to leave or not click the CTA. It could be wording that confuses them, too much text, off-putting visuals, too long or complicated a web form, confusing navigation, etc.
Impressions: How many times a PPC ad was displayed to users.
Inbound marketing: Marketing that brings the audience to you on their own terms, rather than aggressively taking your message out to them. Most digital marketing is inbound, focused on inviting people to get to know your brand. For example, content that draws someone to your website because they want to read it would be inbound, as opposed to a billboard or commercial that only seeks to interrupt people. Read more about what inbound marketing is and isn’t.
Inbound link: A link on another website that leads to your website.
Infographic: An image combined with flowing minimal text to visually convey an idea (usually breaking down a complex topic or message into a simple, bare-bones, easy-to-follow graphic representation).
Keyword: A word or phrase that represents the purpose of a piece of content or website page. These are terms people would be most likely to use when searching for something. For example, “pizza in downtown Orlando” would be an important keyword phrase for a pizza restaurant in downtown Orlando, and one they’d want to rank highly for in search engine results. “Bbq chicken pizza recipe” would be a keyword phrase for a pizza place’s blog post on how to make a barbecue chicken pizza. The big trick with keywords is getting just the right amount of specificity.
Keyword stuffing: Excessive repetition of a keyword on a web page, done in the hopes of ranking better for it. This doesn’t work, and in fact generally gets the page penalized by search engines.
Landing page: A page on a website that serves one specific purpose, seeking just one action from visitors (e.g., providing contact information or subscribing to a newsletter). This is an essential component of lead generation and lead capture in digital marketing.
Lead nurturing: The relatively nonaggressive process of qualifying leads and remaining engaged with them to gradually nudge them along your sales funnel. An occasional email or social media message is often used for this purpose.
Long-tail keywords: Highly specific keyword phrases that contain at least three or four words. Read more about long-tail keywords and their usefulness in content marketing.
Marketing automation: Marketing contact that launches automatically with the assistance of software and other digital tools. For example, you might automatically send a targeted email to a lead or customer when they take a certain action on your website, or after it’s been a certain amount of time since a customer has purchased from you.
Meta description: The short back-end description of what a web page is about. Typically, this is the descriptive snippet that displays under the page title in search engine results, so it should accurately convey the purpose of the page and be compelling. It should incorporate the page’s main keyword.
Native advertising: Ads that look natural and less obviously promotional on their platform. For example, this could be a promotional article about your brand that looks more or less like the other content on a website or in a magazine.
On-page optimization: Search engine optimization (SEO) practices that are executed behind the scenes in the coding and setup of web design and development.
Off-page optimization: Search engine optimization (SEO) practices that take place beyond the back end, such as acquiring backlinks.
Organic traffic: Visitors who arrive at a web page or website through search engine results, rather than via a paid method like a digital ad. And then this should make it fairly obvious what the term “paid traffic” refers to.
Outbound link: A link on your website that leads to another website.
Pay-per-click (PPC): A type of digital ad where you pay the platform a certain amount each time someone clicks on the ad. This is also used to refer to how much you spend to get one click on an ad or CTA.
Query: What a user types into the search box when performing a search on Google, Bing, Yahoo, or any other search engine, or when using the search feature on a website.
Responsive design: Web design that’s mobile friendly, meaning the website displays nicely and is easily usable for people on a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device. This is of utmost importance today, as web browsing, research, and shopping has largely migrated from desktops and laptops to mobile technology. Read more about responsive web design and why you need it.
Search engine optimization (SEO): The many, varied, and constantly evolving technical and non-technical strategies involved in helping a web page or website rank higher in Google and other search engine results.
Search engine results page (SERP): The ranked list of web pages that come up following a search query on Google, Bing, Yahoo, or any other search engine.
Social proof: Ways of demonstrating your brand’s trustability that rely on what other people think and say about your brand—not what you say about yourself. Examples would include a large and engaged social media following, positive customer reviews, testimonials, and endorsements from experts. Read more about different types of social proof and about using social proof for marketing.
User experience (UX): The overall experience that a customer has with a brand throughout their buyer’s journey and beyond.