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Marketing terms and definitions for beginners [Ultimate guide]

November 17, 2023 | Jimit Mehta

Marketing is full of jargon ─ terms specific to an industry or domain ─ so we compiled the most important terminology and synonyms here for beginners and gurus in marketing alike because new terms pop up every day.


Glossary

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  Y  X  Z

A

Above the fold

The top visible part of a website or a landing page is referred to as above the fold. Top-of-the-fold is a synonym for above the fold. Other parts of a web page that are not visible without a scroll are referred to as below the fold.

It's important to optimize this part of the page because it's the first thing a visitor sees on a page. Optimizing the above fold reduces bounce rate and helps with page conversion rates.

A/B testing

A/B testing is a synonym for split testing. It's the process of testing two versions of a website or landing page at the same time to find which version converts the best. A/B testing can also be applied to email marketing campaigns and other things where it's important to find out which version is better.

Two different versions of a page are shown to different visitors on a page and the goal is to gather conversions. The test is over when it reaches statistical significance and then the better version can be shown to all visitors.

Account-based marketing (ABM)

Account-based marketing is a subcategory of strategic marketing that aims to acquire target accounts that fit a company's Ideal Customer Profile criteria. ABM differs from other marketing activities in that target accounts are individually targeted instead of targeting a broader audience just based on firmographic criteria alone.

1 to 1 personalization or 1:1 personalization is the same as account-based marketing.

ABM has been shown to have a higher return on investment (ROI) compared to any other marketing initiative.

More in-depth about what is ABM and how you can use it to reach target accounts.

Affiliate marketing

In affiliate marketing, affiliates are rewarded based on new customers the affiliate is able to bring to a business. Typically, the affiliate is rewarded a share of the revenue that they brought.

The affiliate model scales well and requires little effort from a company's side to organize it. Both B2C and B2B companies use this commission-based model as it allows others to sell your product on your behalf.

Annual contract value (ACV)

Annual contract value is calculated on a 12-month basis. Sometimes businesses make multi-year deals which is why it's better to calculate the contract value on an annual basis to compare the value of contracts.

ACV is similarly helpful if a business has made contracts that have a duration of less than a year and it's important to normalize their value. While understanding marketing terms can help you improve your marketing strategies, conducting a contract compliance audit is equally important to ensure that your business is adhering to the terms and conditions of its contracts. This process can help identify any potential issues or non-compliance, allowing you to address them promptly and maintain good relationships with your clients and partners.

Annual recurring revenue (ARR)

ARR is a measure of revenue a business generates in 12 months from a customer. It's a similar metric to MRR but counted on a 12-month time period. ARR is heavily related to the SaaS business model where customers are charged on a recurring basis.

Shorter and longer contracts can also be normalized to an annual basis and represented as ARR as long as the revenue is recurring.

Read a more detailed article on recurring revenue here.

Average order value (AOV)

Average order value is a term used in e-commerce to represent what is the average value of a typical customer purchase. AOV can be calculated by taking the sum of all sold products of all customers and dividing it by the number of customers who have bought something.

Companies typically try to increase AOV by using upsell and cross-sell tactics.

 

B

B2B

B2B is a short form for Business-to-Business. It refers to businesses that sell to other businesses. Companies operating in B2B traditionally use very different marketing tactics than B2C companies, for example, webinars.

B2C

B2C companies target consumers as their customers. They employ very different marketing and sales strategies to B2B companies that have long sales cycles.

B2B2C

B2B2C companies sell to both businesses and consumers. Companies belonging in this category are for example certain productivity tools such as Trello.

Banner blindness

Banner blindness is a common term in marketing used to describe a customer's learned ability to not look at advertisement banners, ie ads. The customer's trained eyes gloss over ads causing said blindness.

The key causes of banner blindness are too many ads and irrelevant ads. Perhaps with better ad personalization and targeting this can be fixed in the future.

Behavioral segmentation

Behavioral segmentation refers to customer segmentation that is done on the basis of customer behavior. Behavior such as what content a person consumed and what application features a person engaged with can be used to segment customers. With enough data, patterns of behavior start to emerge which is critical for good segmentation.

More on segmentation here and here.

Below the fold

Below the fold refers to the lower part of a website or landing page which is not visible when a visitor first lands on a page. Everything below top-of-the-fold is considered below the fold.

Large images and other slow-loading assets should be included here so they don't affect the initial load time of a page which contributes to SEO.

Bottom of funnel

Bottom-of-the-funnel is the closest stage to conversion. It's when your customer has passed the consideration stage and is in the act of buying your product.

Bounce rate

Bounce rate is a key website analytics metric that tells that a visitor didn't complete any action on a page before leaving. If a visitor leaves without engaging with a page, Google interprets that so that the search did not match the search result well enough and this page should have a lower page ranking

To lower bounce rate, it's important to optimize the above-the-fold of a website and to improve the relevancy of a page to the visitor with personalized content.

Brand awareness

Brand awareness is a metric that tells how many people in a certain customer segment acknowledge the existence of a company, what is their value proposition, and what is their positioning.

It also measures how memorable and recognizable a brand is to customers and potential customers.

Brand experience

Brand experience is a wide concept that includes the perception a customer has about a company based on all the interactions a customer has had with that business.

It's important to be deliberate about your brand so that as many customers as possible have the same perception about your company as possible.

Brand engagement

Brand engagement means interactions that customers participate in with your brand regardless of the channel. An example of brand engagement is when consumers interact with content a company shares on social media. Engagement creates emotional attachments to a brand leading to improved customer loyalty and brand experience. A good way to create more brand engagement is to grow more followers on social media sites who then engage with your content. Engagement is calculated by taking the amount of people that interact with your content and dividing it by the amount of people the content reached.

Brand positioning

Positioning describes how a brand wants to be positioned and compared in relation to its direct competitors.

Good positioning is important so that customers can distinguish how the value propositions of companies are different. However, in some industries, it's not easy to create a differentiable offering so it becomes more important to position a brand differently in the mind of a customer.

An example of a simple positioning would be whether a brand is perceived to be cheap or expensive.

Buyer persona

Buyer personas are a way to create better customer understanding by creating fictitious people personas and assigning the demographic and physical characteristics that might lead them to buy.

Personas is a heavily outdated concept, replaced by other methods such as jobs-to-be-done. Its controversy lies in the fact that personas are often not rooted in reality and have characteristics that could apply to very different types of buyers, therefore, making them useless for marketing.

 

C

Call to action (CTA)

Call-to-action is an actionable next step that a customer is encouraged to take on a website, landing page, or email. It can be a button or a link that when pressed counts as a conversion, but it can also be a more complex action such as filling a form.

It's important to only include a single CTA to avoid customer decision fatigue and to personalize CTAs to each visitor in order to maximize conversions.

Read more about guiding customers to the right sales funnel with personalized CTAs.

Case study

A piece of study conducted with a customer to describe how they reached results using your product. A case study also describes the customer's context and the situation at length so that other customers can evaluate if the same applies to them and whether they could achieve the same results.

It's important to create multiple case studies about customers with different backgrounds in order to cover as large a customer base as possible.

Channel marketing

In channel marketing, a third party sells your product on your behalf. It's an effective way to scale sales without much additional effort.

The 3rd party should sell the products in a different market or a different channel to avoid channel conflict where both companies are competing for the same customers.

Channel marketing vs affiliate marketing: Channel marketing differs from affiliate marketing in that affiliate marketing is commission-based whereas in channel sales the 3rd party might purchase and resell the products with a higher profit. 

Click-through rate (CTR)

Click-through rate is calculated by taking the number of impressions and dividing it by the number of clicks an ad has collected. CTR is a key metric in ads to show how interesting the audience the ad is shown to finds the copy and imagery, and whether it should be improved.

Community-led growth (CLG)

Community-led growth is a growth model where leads are invited to participate in a community to learn and discuss a topic before they become actual customers. Member involvement is a critical part of CLG but if it's successful CLG is very effective in creating new revenue.

Community-led growth vs product-led growth: In CLG the growth driver is the community while in PLG product is the growth driver.

Company data

Company data is a synonym for firmographics data.

Content distribution

It's not enough to create content in order to get people to read it. Good content distribution is important so that people find the content in the right channels when it's timely and relevant.

Companies can distribute content on social media and other channels. It's always important to understand in which channels potential customers could find your content.

Content intelligence

Content intelligence is a process of creating insights about the patterns customers consume your content and how it contributes to sales.

Content intelligence coupled with content recommendation can be used to recommend the best articles to read next for customers. It is a form of personalized marketing.

Content lifecycle management (CLM)

Content lifecycle management includes planning, creating, optimizing, distributing, measuring, preserving, deleting, and repurposing content over its entire life. Some content is not evergreen and therefore loses its purpose after a certain time. Such content would be mainly viral content.

Content management system (CMS)

A content management system is a central hub for all content of a company. Content is planned, created, optimized, distributed from the CMS to customers.

CMS vs headless CMS: A headless CMS doesn't connect the content at all with a frontend, ie. the part where readers can actually read the content, whereas a CMS does. 

Content marketing

Content marketing is the process of generating interest, inbound traffic, and revenue via content that is published on a website or other platforms. Blogs, videos, podcasts, and webinars are all different forms of content that are used for marketing purposes.

It's part of demand generation and different from paid marketing and social selling.

Content personalization

Content personalization is the process of showing different and personalized content to each customer on a website, landing page, or email. Content personalization takes into account the background of the reader to make the content as relevant as possible based on different factors such as behavior, firmographics, or other unique characteristics.

Read more on what is content personalization here.

How to personalize content based on channel, industry, company size.

Content strategy

Content strategy is the process of creating a strategy on how to win customers using content. A good content strategy includes picking important keywords, resourcing content creation, planning distribution, and planning SEO.

A great content strategy also includes how to utilize modern approaches to create personalized content.

Conversational marketing

Conversational marketing utilizes chatbots and customer support chat bubbles for marketing on a website with the aim to create a dialogue with a customer. These chats can engage visitors and customers at the right time based on visitor behavior and background context.

For example, it's common to trigger a conversational marketing outreach when a visitor has spent 10 seconds on a pricing page to ask if they need help with understanding the pricing.

Conversion

When a user performs a key action or does the intended CTA on a website, it counts as a conversion. Some conversions generate leads, eg. if a lead submits their information on a form, some drive wanted behavior such as pricing page visits.

Any action a user takes can be considered as a conversion if a marketer has so determined. Not all conversion events are equally useful in trying to generate more revenue for a business.

Conversions are a key concept in A/B testing.

Conversion platform

Conversion platforms aim to improve lead conversion in different channels such as websites or email. It's a high-level term that includes other tools such as chatbot software, website personalization tools, and others that aim to raise conversion rates.

A/B testing is common in most conversion platforms.

Conversion rate

Conversion rate is calculated by dividing the sum of all conversions by the sum of all sessions that could have led to a conversion.

Sum of all conversions / Sum of sessions that could have included a conversion.

On a website, there might be 1000 monthly visitors and only 100 of those visitors signup for the product. That gives a conversion rate of 100/1000 = 10%.

Conversion rate optimization (CRO)

Conversion rate optimization is the process of planning improvement projects, improving conversion rates by different means, and measuring the improvement. Conversion rates can be optimized using A/B testing, personalization, or other tools.

An improved conversion rate is validated with A/B testing when the test has reached statistical significance.

Read about the best tools to improve website conversion rates.

Copywriting

Copywriting is the process of creating copy. Copy is a sales-y text that aims to convert a potential customer immediately. Key characteristics of copy are simple word choices and well-spaced paragraphs to maximize comprehension.

Cost per lead (CPL)

Cost-per-lead is calculated by taking the sum of all monetary resources spent to acquire the leads and dividing it by the sum of leads acquired.

CPL = Money spent / leads acquired

CPL metrics are unique to different channels and to different customer segments.

Customer acquisition cost (CAC)

Customer acquisition cost is calculated by dividing the sum of acquisition costs by the number of customers that were acquired. An acquired customer is usually one that has started paying for a product but can sometimes also include freemium signups as well.

CAC = Total acquisition costs / customers acquired

CAC is one key SaaS metric.

Customer churn

Customer churn is a measure of how many customers have unsubscribed from or didn't return to use your product. You calculat


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