Your Ultimate Cheat Sheet of Common Marketing Terms
There’s nothing worse than being part of a conversation you don’t fully understand. When it comes to discussions about marketing, you can easily find yourself on the outside looking in. SEO, ROI and B2B all sound like gibberish to you—and terms like these are becoming increasingly common as digital marketing has proven itself to be an important part of the business landscape.
Don’t stay stuck wondering what everyone is talking about! We rounded up a list of the most common marketing terms being used today. Brush up on these definitions to stay relevant in the world of marketing and add your own two cents to the conversation.
36 Must-know marketing terms
Use this list to get a crash course in common marketing terms and acronyms so you can talk the talk and confidently navigate those business conversations.
1. A/B tests
Marketers run experiments called A/B tests to determine which marketing tactic yields the best results. For example, a digital marketer may conduct an A/B test that will serve up two different versions of a webpage—typically the current page versus a new iteration—to users to determine which performs better. This is a simple scientific approach for comparing the effectiveness of a control group versus a variation.
In marketing, analytics refers to the process of analyzing data to determine the return on investment of a particular marketing activity. Marketers may also use the term analytics to talk about the dashboard or system they use to review and track this data.
This acronym is shorthand for business-to-business marketing. B2B companies are those that market their products or services to other businesses.
This acronym stands for business-to-consumer marketing. B2C companies sell their products or services directly to the end consumer.
A blog is a website (or section of a website) that’s frequently updated with new content. Marketers use blogging to attract new customers and bring awareness to their brand.
6. Bounce rate
A bounce rate is a metric that shows the percentage of website visitors who left the site after viewing only one page. A high bounce rate isn’t necessarily bad in all contexts, but in some cases it serves as a sign for marketers that they need to adjust their website so visitors stay and view more of the site.
A brand is the way a company is perceived and experienced by potential customers. Pieces of a brand include its logo and other design elements, the voice it uses when interacting with customers and the target customers it’s known for serving.
8. Buyer persona
Buyer personas are the imaginary people marketers target when they design ads or create content like website copy. Although buyer personas aren’t real people, they are created based on data from actual consumers. These personas are then used to inform the audience, tactics and tone of the messages delivered.
9. Call to action (CTA)
A call to action is a prompt that encourages website visitors to take a certain action, such as subscribing to an email newsletter or submitting a contact form. CTAs are used to guide potential customers through the next step in a sales funnel.
A campaign is a set of marketing activities designed to achieve a specific goal, like increasing sales for a certain product or spreading awareness of a new product feature.
11. Case study
Case studies are a type of content that showcases a company’s work with a past customer, usually with a focus on statistics that prove the company achieved the desired results.
12. Click-through rate (CTR)
A click-through rate is a metric that measures how many people click an ad after seeing it.
Content is any piece of information that’s created to be viewed by an audience. This could include blog posts, email newsletters, social media posts, videos or even print brochures.
14. Content management system (CMS)
Content management systems are a type of web publishing tool designed to manage the digital content marketers create for the web. These typically offer an easy-to-use interface for editing the layout or other elements of a webpage.
15. Content marketing
This marketing method focuses on creating relevant, consistent content to attract new leads and turn them into customers. Blog posts, email newsletters, vlogs and podcasts can all be pieces of a content marketing strategy.
16. Conversion rate
A conversion rate is a metric that measures how many users took a certain action, like filling out a form or clicking on a specific link. Typically this is tied to actions leading to a purchase, but the goal action can vary.
17. Email marketing
Email marketing is content sent via email to current or potential customers who subscribed to a marketing email list. Check your inbox—you’ve seen countless examples.
Engagement refers to the connection and relationship marketers build over time with their customers. In digital marketing, engagement can sometimes be measured as actions a visitor takes, such as clicking a link or commenting on a social media post.
19. Inbound marketing
This marketing method uses strategies like content marketing and social media marketing to attract new customers. Rather than pursuing customers with a hard sell, inbound marketers forge connections with people by meeting them where they’re at in the purchase process. Ideally, this approach draws them in to learn more about the brand. For example, a grill manufacturer writing an article comparing the pros and cons of gas grills versus charcoal grills. This provides helpful information about a topic people commonly ask the brand about and may lead to more direct sales questions, e.g., “Which gas grill should I purchase?”
Infographics are a type of content that presents statistics and other information in an easy-to-read, well-designed image.
Keywords are words or short phrases that users enter into a search engine to find the information they’re looking for.
22. Key performance indicator (KPI)
Key performance indicators are specific metrics that show whether a company is meeting its marketing goals.
23. Landing page
A landing page is a static, stand-alone website page that includes a strong call to action as part of a marketing campaign.
Leads are potential buyers who have engaged with a brand in the past and are likely to make a purchase in the future.
25. Lead magnet
A lead magnet is an incentive, such as a coupon code or a free ebook download that potential customers receive in exchange for their contact information.
Metrics are measurable indicators that tell marketers how well their campaigns are performing. Common metrics include click-through rate, cost per lead, bounce rate and conversion rate.
27. Outbound marketing
This traditional type of marketing seeks to get the attention of potential buyers by interrupting them in their daily lives using techniques like cold calls or direct mail campaigns.
28. Public relations (PR)
Public relations involves managing the spread of information about a company. PR professionals work to spread positive news about their brand and minimize the impact of negative news.
29. Return on investment (ROI)
Every marketing campaign requires an initial investment of time and/or money. Return on investment is a metric that measures whether a campaign earned enough money to be worth the initial cost.
30. Sales funnel
A sales funnel refers to the buying journey new leads take before they make a purchase. The sales funnel includes several steps, from learning that a brands exists to becoming a loyal customer.
31. Search engine optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization is the process of using keywords and other strategies to increase the likelihood that a certain webpage will be shown on a list of online search results.
32. Social media marketing
This digital marketing method uses social media channels to introduce potential customers to a brand and to gradually build a connection through regular interaction.
33. Social proof
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon in which people are more likely to trust or purchase from a brand if they’ve heard positive reviews from their friends or peers.
Testimonials are a type of social proof in which past customers make a positive statement about their experience with a brand.
35. User experience (UX)
User experience refers to the design process of making a website (or app) easy for visitors to understand and navigate.
Vlogs are “video blogs” that are regularly released as part of a brand’s content marketing strategy.
Marketing terms decoded
Now that you’re familiar with this list of marketing terms, you won’t feel out of the loop the next time you run into marketing jargon!
Now that you know the basics, you might be interested in learning more about what the marketing world has to offer. Dig deeper into this business specialty with our article “Deciphering 7 Different Types of Marketing: Which One Is Right for You?“
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was originally published in 2015. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2019.