The digital marketing world is full of industry-specific terms. It's important to understand what these terms mean for the purpose of clear communication with clients, senior managers, and other members of your marketing team. Even experts in the field may need an occasional reminder.
For these and other reasons, we've compiled a glossary of 30 key digital marketing terms you need to know.
Also known as "split testing," this is a research method that enables marketers to determine the best option from two choices. For example, a company may launch two distinct landing pages during the same advertising campaign in order to see which one converts the greater number of leads into customers.
In marketing, an algorithm typically refers to a search engine algorithm, although it may also refer to social media algorithms, CRM algorithms, etc. An algorithm is a set of rules, parameters, and calculations designed to solve a problem or deliver a result. For instance, Google's search algorithm prioritizes results that are most relevant to the user's query and that are considered trustworthy and authoritative sources.
Marketing analytics involve the processes and tools used to track, collect, and analyze marketing data in order to guide future decisions.
A backlink is an incoming link to a website from another website. Backlinks are important in search engine marketing because the more backlinks that a website has, the more likely that Google will view that site as "authoritative" and rank it higher on its results pages.
A banner ad is a large advertisement on a website that either stretches across the top or down the side of the screen. Banner ads are delivered by an ad server and are often generated for select consumers because of data gathered from cookies.
A web page's bounce rate is the ratio of visitors that leave the site after exploring only one page versus the total number of visitors. Issues that may negatively impact your bounce rate include slow page load times, poor formatting and style choice, and difficult in-site navigation features.
Call To Action (CTA)
A call to action is a piece of content or set of words specifically designed to encourage consumers to take a specific action. Common CTAs include buttons with hyperlinked text that reads "Contact Us," "Download Now," "Request a Free Quote," etc. A call to action is one of the most important features contained within pieces of marketing content.
A click is when a consumer interacts with an ad or other target such as a link using their mouse or fingers.
In digital marketing, the click-through rate is a percentage of the number of visitors to a web page (or recipients of a marketing email) who click on a specific target versus the total number of visitors/recipients. For instance, if 100 individuals visit an HVAC contractor's home page and two of those visitors click on the "Request a Free Quote" button, then the click-through rate for the button would be 2%.
Content marketing is a type of marketing that involves generating and sharing online material designed to stimulate interest in a brand without explicitly promoting the brand or its products. Examples of content marketing include blogs, listicles, how-to articles, white papers, eGuides, video tutorials, podcasts, and infographics.
A conversion is when a visitor takes some desired action such as entering an email address or buying a product.
In digital marketing, a conversion rate is a formula that advertisers use to compare the total number of unique visitors to a website with the number of unique visitors that take some desired action. The conversion rate formula can be stated as follows: Conversion Rate = Number of Unique Visitors who take the desired action / Total Number of Unique Visitors.
Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
Cost per acquisition is a metric that measures the aggregate cost to acquire a new customer for each marketing campaign or channel. The formula for cost per acquisition can be expressed as: Total Campaign Cost / Conversions = Cost Per Acquisition. For example, if a marketing campaign cost a total of $10,000 to execute, and yielded 500 new customers, then the cost per acquisition would be $20.
Cost Per Click (CPC)
Cost per click is an online ad revenue model in which websites or platforms charge advertisers based on the number of visitors that click on an ad. Cost per click is sometimes expressed as pay per click (PPC). Examples of CPC platforms include Google Ads and Facebook Ads.
Cost Per Thousand Views (CPM)
Cost per thousand views (often referred to as CPM since "mille" is French and Italian for 1,000) is an alternative to the CPC model. Advertisers that pay marketing platforms via CPM only pay when their ads can be seen.
CPM is also used by marketers as a "benchmarking metric" to express the relative cost of an advertising campaign.
In digital marketing, frequency refers to how often an ad appears to a single user in a predefined time frame. This metric is usually expressed in terms of hours. For instance, if a user sees the same ad four times in one day, then the frequency would be 4/24 (4 times per 24 hours). Some marketing experts recommend a frequency cap of 3/24 since overexposure to a particular ad can generate annoyance within the consumer base and limit the ad's effectiveness.
Geo-fencing is a marketing technique in which advertisers target consumers based on their location in real-time relative to a radius (or "fence") around a specific area. Geo-fencing is typically made possible when consumers opt into location-based services on their mobile device.
A geo-conversion is when a consumer takes a desired action as a direct result of location-based marketing, such as geo-fencing.
An impression is when a digital ad renders on a user's screen, regardless of whether the user initiated the action or not. It's important to note that a marketing impression does not mean that a user actually sees or engages with an advertisement. Instead, impressions are defined by how many times a user may potentially see the advertisement in question.
In relation to search engine marketing (SEM), impression share is a metric that measures the percentage of impressions that your ads actually receive versus the total number of impressions that they could obtain. The formula is: Impressions / Total Eligible Impressions = Impression Share.
Impression share is helpful in understanding whether you could reach more consumers by increasing your bids or overall marketing budget.
In search engine optimization (SEO), a keyword is a word or phrase that users input into a search engine. Content marketers typically optimize their content around specific keywords in order to compete for relevant search traffic.
A landing page is the web page to which users are redirected after clicking on a hyperlink from an ad, search engine result, or promotion. It is a standalone page with a single focus or goal such as getting a visitor’s email address.
Metadata is data about data. In digital marketing terms, metadata includes meta tags, which function as SEO-friendly titles for content, and meta descriptions, which are located under most search result listings in Google and often provide a brief summary of the associated web page's content.
Mobile marketing is a methodology in which advertisers use multiple channels to reach and engage consumers via their mobile devices. Mobile marketing may include mobile optimization for web pages, email and SMS marketing, geo-fencing, and social media marketing.
Market reach is a measure of how many consumers an advertiser could potentially reach with a particular marketing medium. In digital marketing terms, this refers to the number of unique users reached in a marketing campaign, instead of the total number of impressions delivered.
Retargeting is a digital marketing strategy in which companies target visitors that previously bounced from their site with ads on other websites. Visitors are tagged by a “pixel” which allows marketers to repeatedly expose them to retargeting ads through ad platforms.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Traditionally, search engine marketing (SEM) involves all of the tools, techniques, and processes designed to attract search engine users to a company's site. SEM incorporates several marketing methods, such as SEO, keyword research and analysis, CPC/PPC marketing, and strategic content creation. In modern terminology, SEM only refers to paid search ads.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization is a digital marketing strategy that focuses on achieving a high ranking in search engine results pages (SERP) through the generation of highly relevant and authoritative content. For example, SEO-driven content often revolves around a focus keyword that the company wants to rank high for on Google.
Social Media Marketing (SMM)
Social media marketing is the use of social media platforms to promote a certain brand or product. SMM often involves the use of paid advertising platforms, such as Facebook Ads.
A viewthrough rate is a metric that measures the number of post-impression responses to an ad, often in terms of website visits. Viewthroughs are different from click-throughs, since the viewthrough rate measures the number of website visitors that independently navigate to the site, as opposed to clicking on a link embedded within the ad.