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In today's digital world, there are a lot of terms and acronyms to be familiar with. So we put together a glossary of over 40 digital marketing terms.

JB Blog 40 Digital Marketing Terms to Know

In today’s digital marketing world, there are a lot of terms and acronyms to be familiar with. PPC, CPA, CTR, MQLs, lead nurturing, hard bounces… The list of jargon is enough to make anyone’s head spin.

That’s why we put together our glossary of over 40 digital marketing terms that we believe any marketer – from just starting out as an intern to being the head of a marketing department – should know. While the sheer volume of digital marketing terms is much longer, these are the key terms that we believe are used the most in day-to-day digital marketing tasks and deliver the most value to marketers.

Our digital glossary below covers the term, definition, and why it’s important for developing and deploying your marketing strategies.

A/B Testing

A/B Testing is a marketing technique that is also known as split testing. A/B tests run two different versions of the same thing to determine which one performs better. It can be used in a variety of formats with the most common ones being emails, landing pages, and calls-to-action.

For example, you could send a different version of an email subject line to your customers to determine which copy performs better. If one email has a significantly higher open rate, then that subject line would be the winner of the A/B test.

This is especially important for refining your copy and messaging to your leads and customers. Continually testing what resonates with your audience will help improve nearly all of your marketing metrics.


Automation is a broad term that encompasses various types of software that help automate repetitive tasks. A common example of this is email workflows. Think of when you purchase a product and receive a confirmation or thank you email right after; that part of the company’s sales process is automated.

Automation is also commonly used in lead nurturing. It can be used to send a series of emails to help get a customer interested in or familiar with your product, or you could automate part of your CRM to help remind your sales team of important dates for follow-up.

No matter which parts of your sales or marketing process you automate, it can help save you and your team ample time to reinvest in other strategies and marketing techniques.


Backlinks are one of the most important parts of search engine optimization, also known as SEO. A backlink is when someone is linked back to one of your webpages from their website.

The more quality backlinks your company has, the higher your relevance and importance is in the eyes of search engines. It’s basically your peers telling Google, “Hey, this page has a ton of useful information that we want to tell our audience about.” While this is only one part of a robust SEO strategy, it’s a piece of the puzzle that can have a positive impact on the amount of traffic your website receives.


Blogging scaled

Blogging is writing articles and/or stories for your website. Blogs usually consist of words, pictures, graphics, and sometimes videos. Blogging for your business usually has the end goal of attracting new leads and providing current customers with valuable content.

Creating a blog that’s full of relevant and trustworthy information is another part of a great SEO and digital marketing strategy. By producing valuable content for your visitors and customers alike, you will help position your company as a trusted thought leader in your space, which will continuously result in more people visiting your website.

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the ratio of people who land on a webpage compared to who leaves that page without traveling around your website. High bounce rates are typically frowned upon since it means your visitors don’t stay on your website for long. Low bounce rates show that your visitors find value or entertainment in what you have on your website – enough so they travel to a few different pages before leaving.

Evaluating your bounce rates will tell you whether or not you need to update your website copy or user experience. According to SEMRush, a bounce rate between 20-40% is excellent, 41-55% is average, and 56-70% is considered high.

Call-to-Action (CTA)

In its most basic definition, calls-to-action are just what they sound like – they invite the visitor to take action to do something specific. This can be through submitting a form, signing up for your newsletter, or downloading a whitepaper.

CTAs are instrumental in capturing lead information. Without them, your visitors will be able to access your content ungated, which puts your company in a position where you don’t have their contact information to remarket to them.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

This is the ratio of people who have viewed an asset of yours, like an ad or a CTA, compared to those who actually clicked through to the ad or to the next page. High click-through rates show that an ad is effective at attracting visitors, and low click-through rates are evidence of the opposite.

Evaluating your CTRs will help you determine which ads might need a little more attention than others. It can also help you continuously refine and optimize your copy and creative so that your ads are always fresh and resonate with your customers.

Clicks-to-Open Rate

Clicks-to-open rate is a term commonly used in email marketing that refers to the number of unique clicks from an email divided by the number of the unique emails opened. This metric helps marketers determine which design and copy resonated most with their email list since the clicks are only from people who actually viewed that email.

While you can also use other email metrics, like open rate and click rate, clicks-to-open rate gets a little more granular since the pool of data is limited to only those who have opened the email – instead of all contacts it was successfully delivered to.

Content Management System (CMS)

A content management system is software that helps users create, manage, and edit content on a website without needing to know how to actually code that website. They come with an easy to use interface so users can control just about any piece of their website easily.

A content management system is key to developing a robust SEO plan since companies are able to directly affect the content and page layout. One of the biggest CMS options is WordPress, which has numerous website templates for use. There are others out there as well, so if your company is in search of a CMS, you’ll have some good options at your fingertips.

Conversion Rate

A conversion rate is the number of conversions divided by the number of visitors. For example, if you consider a conversion as someone buying your product, that’s what you would be tracking. If 500 people see your product page and 100 people purchase that product, your conversion rate would be 20%.

Your conversion rate is determined on whatever goal you’d like to achieve. Maybe it’s form fills, product purchases, or e-book downloads. It’s ultimately up to the business on what counts as a conversion for them. Keeping an eye on your conversion rate can help you gauge the success of your various campaigns and if your landing page is conducive to encouraging conversions.

Cost-Per-Click (CPC)

Cost-per-click is part of an online advertising model that charges the advertiser whenever someone clicks on their ad – even if the visitor then abandons the webpage immediately. The type of marketing CPC models are linked to is called pay-per-click advertising.

One of the most well-known cost-per-click advertising avenues is Google Ads. These are the ads that are the top 3-4 search results you’ll see after submitting a query on Google. Having a low CPC is what you want to aim for, as that means you’re getting the most clicks for your budget.

Cost-Per-Impression (CPI) or Cost-Per-Thousand (CPM)

Cost-per-impression is another advertising model that charges the advertiser based on how many impressions their ad has received, regardless if their ad is clicked on or not. This is the amount an advertiser will pay for 1,000 impressions on their ad.

Depending on your business model, you might prefer a CPC or a CPI approach. There’s no right or wrong way to advertise, it just depends on your company’s goals and advertising budget.

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

Customer acquisition cost is the total amount of money spent in order to acquire a customer. It is calculated by dividing the total marketing costs by the number of customers. This is a key metric for marketers because it measures the effectiveness of campaigns and how they fluctuate overtime. It can also help you determine which campaigns aren’t worth the money you’re spending on them, or if they need to be reworked to lower your CAC cost.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

Customer lifetime value is the predicted amount of money a customer is modeled to spend over the lifetime of their relationship with your business. This can also encompass money they bring into your company, whether that be through word of mouth or referrals.

A high CLV indicates you’re targeting the right people that are loyal to your brand. Since it costs less to keep customers than to gain new ones, this is an important metric to keep top of mind.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

A CRM is where you store all your contacts, along with where they’re at in your funnel and what stage the assigned salesperson is at with working that lead or opportunity. Most CRMs can record calls, emails, and meetings all in one place. They can even be set up in a way to remind your sales team to reach out to their lead at certain time intervals or milestones.

Having a CRM that works for your line of business can greatly help streamline your sales process. It nurtures both new lead relationships and existing customers.

Customer Segmentation

Customer segmentation is a common marketing practice of dividing your customer base into smaller segments based on some common attribute. These can be categorized by age, location, income, or other variables that would be valuable knowledge for your business.

Determining when and how to best segment your list can deliver more results as it can help you target your messages more precisely. This will put more tailored ads or emails in front of those who will resonate with them the most, thus getting more bang for your marketing buck.

Double Opt-In

As the digital world becomes more privacy-focused, more companies are switching to double opt-in, a method of communication consent. When someone subscribes to receive emails, they will receive an additional email asking them a second time to confirm they want to receive communications from your business.

Not only can this help protect your company with evolving privacy laws, it can also help you keep your unsubscribe rates low by only having those who have double-opted in on your email lists receiving your emails. You’ll know the people you’re sending them to are those who are actually interested in your business and what you have to offer.

Hard Bounce

In email marketing, a hard bounce is when an email is permanently undeliverable to an email address. This can happen for a number of reasons, like the email address doesn’t exist or the email server has blocked emails from your business.

Hard bounces let you gauge the health of your email lists and server. Too many hard bounces can harm your email server status. To avoid this, we recommend keeping your email lists up-to-date and healthy by pruning through the hard bounces you’re receiving and removing them from future email communications.


Impressions tell you how many times your ad has been viewed. This includes repeats as well as new views. This is a sheer volume metric as it doesn’t directly correlate 1:1 with how many clicks you’ve received.

If you’ve received a lot of impressions but have a low click rate, that indicates your ad isn’t resonating with your target audience. You can further optimize your ad to increase your click rate with the same amount of impressions.

Key Performance Indicator (KPI)

A key performance indicator is a clear and measurable goal you set to evaluate the success of a marketing campaign, an employee, or another item that needs to meet specific objectives.

Setting lofty but achievable KPIs can let you gauge the health of your business and make critical decisions based on how well you’re performing in accordance with those KPIs.


Keyword scaled

A keyword is a word or a group of words a user inputs into a search engine to trigger a results page. Knowing what keywords your target customer is searching for can help inform your SEO strategies.

Carefully selecting keywords to focus content on based off of search volume and keyword difficulty is one piece of the SEO mix that helps your company rank higher in search engines.

Landing Page

This is the first page someone sees after they click on an ad. Essentially, it’s the page they will first land on. It has very specific content related to the ad that it’s linked to.

Landing pages are typically designed to be simpler than regular website pages. It usually has a form right at the top to make conversions and lead capture as easy as possible.

Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing is the process of “warming up” or developing your relationship with a lead. It can entail a series of emails, phone calls, or a combination of both. This doesn’t stop once a lead becomes a sale, though. If you want to increase a customer’s lifetime value, continuing your lead nurturing into the customer stage will help increase your CLT.

Having a good lead nurturing process will help ensure all the leads in your funnel are being vetted and warmed up properly. In some way, you’ve probably paid for those leads, so making sure they aren’t being forgotten about will help to maximize your ROI and lower your CAC.

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQLs)

This is a potential customer that’s engaged with your company in some form, but isn’t ready to talk to a sales person. Since they haven’t been vetted by the sales team themselves, MQLs are technically higher in the funnel than sales qualified leads (SQLs) and will need more nurturing to turn them into SQLs.

Identifying which leads are MQLs versus SQLs will help you determine what communications and nurture process is best for them. Being higher in the funnel, an MQL might need more time or more education about your product than an SQL.

Off-Page Optimization

Off-page optimization is part of SEO, or search engine optimization. Off-page refers to aspects of your website like building your backlink profile and guest blogging. This type of optimization is not directly controlled by the company. Rather, it’s how your content is received by your audience. Good on-page optimization (see below) will help result in impactful off-page optimization.

On-Page Optimization

In contrast to off-page optimization, on-page optimization is parts of your website that you can control. These are things like page load speeds, alt-text on photos, headlines and header tags, to name a few elements.

A good SEO strategy includes both on-page and off-page improvements to ensure your website isn’t being dinged for any fixable reason in the eyes of search engines.

Open Rate

This is another email marketing metric. An open rate tells you how many people opened your email out of all of those who were sent it. According to Mailchimp, the average email open rate across all industries is 21.33%. They also provide more industry-specific metrics so you can determine where your company’s open rates fall.

High open rates indicate a healthy and engaged email list. It can also inform you if your email subject lines are effective – since that’s the first thing a customer reads and entices them to open your email. Low open rates mean there’s some room for optimization on perhaps both your email lists and subject lines.

Opt-in or Subscribe

We’ve discussed the double opt-in, but at the core of email subscriptions is a regular opt-in. This is where a lead or visitor visits your website and fills out a form where they acknowledge they’ll receive email communications from your company. There’s no secondary email where they have to confirm again whether or not they want to hear from you.

A single opt-in or subscribe option is still what the majority of email marketers use. With a single opt-in, your lists will be larger but they run the risk of being lower-quality. Depending on your business model, you might prefer a double opt-in or single opt-in strategy.

Opt-out or Unsubscribe

You’ve probably reached the point where you had to unsubscribe from a company’s emails. While not fun, it happens to every email marketer at some point. Unsubscribing from email communications prevents future emails from being sent to that person. Users can typically select different types of emails they would like to unsubscribe from, rather than all emails.

Low unsubscribe rates are a good sign your messages are resonating with your base and that they are engaged with your company. A high unsubscribe rate indicates your emails are potentially too frequent, not what your audience is looking for, or your email list is unhealthy.

Organic Traffic

Organic Traffic

Organic traffic encompasses all of your website visitors who reach your site through non-paid search engine results. These organic search results usually start around position 5 on Google, with the top 4 spots going to ads.

A decent amount of organic traffic compared to other avenues indicates your website has healthy SEO. While paid traffic is also a good avenue to pursue, having a site that performs well organically can be a great boon to businesses and their wallets.

Paid Traffic

In contrast to organic traffic, paid traffic is what it sounds like – you pay in some way (whether it’s pay-per-click or per impression) to have that visitor reach your site. While there’s no one “right” way to have visitors reach your site, paid traffic obviously comes with a bigger price tag.

Robust marketing plans typically use a combination of paid and organic traffic strategies to complement each other and drive more traffic to their sites.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

Pay-per-click is a model of web-based advertising where the advertiser is charged a certain rate whenever someone clicks on their ad. The most common PPC platform is Google Ads. These ads show at the very top of search engine results, even above the organic results.

Implementing a PPC strategy can help increase the visitors to your website. The key is to determine what your company is willing to pay to drive someone to your website since PPC avenues can get pricey quickly.

Persona (or Ideal Buyer)

A persona is a semi-fictional depiction of your ideal customers. Companies typically have multiple personas developed around groups of similar people they’d like to target.

While it might sound a bit silly to create a persona, it can actually be instrumental in determining who you should be targeting in your marketing efforts. This can also help you understand your audience more and the intent behind their buying behaviors.


A pixel is a piece of code that’s inserted on your website that tracks certain actions visitors take. There are various metrics a pixel can track depending on which specific one you add to your website, like site traffic, behavior, conversions, among other useful metrics.

With a pixel, you can automatically create audiences based on certain behaviors through the data that pixel gains. This can be particularly useful in elevating your brand’s reach to a larger pool of people that have a high likelihood of resonating with your product.


Remarketing is based on a website visitor’s previous actions and serves targeted ads to them based on what they viewed or clicked on. For example, if you visit a website and click on bed sheets, then you see bed sheets ads on other websites, that first company is remarketing to you.

Implementing remarketing strategies can be useful in staying top of mind with potential customers. There is a classic marketing belief that a consumer has to see or hear an ad 7 times before they’ll take action. While that has probably changed in today’s digital age, remarketing still goes to show that repetition with your customer will help your advertising efforts.

Return on Investment (ROI)

Return on investment is a way to measure how an investment has performed. It is calculated by taking the initial investment minus the total investment, and dividing that by the cost of the investment.

Keeping an eye on ROI is critical to ensuring your marketing efforts are worth it. Knowing what percentage of ROI your business needs to succeed will also inform you on whether or not various marketing endeavors will help your company grow.

Sales Qualified Lead (SQLs)

A sales qualified lead is a lead that’s ready to talk to a member of the sales team. Sometimes leads start off as an SQL if they are ready to talk to a salesperson immediately – they don’t necessarily have to be an MQL first.

Knowing what leads are SQLs and MQLs will help your sales team send the right messages to them at the right time. It will also help you manage your CRM and know where your leads are at in their lifecycle with your business.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search engine marketing is an umbrella term that encompasses the various paid and non-paid digital marketing strategies companies use to appear on search engine results pages (SERPs). Depending on who you talk to, they might consider SEM just through the eyes of paid efforts.

Google Ads is the most widely used paid SEM platform.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization SEO

Search engine optimization is a type of digital marketing that leverages high-ranking organic search results to increase traffic to your website. We’ve already discussed PPC and how it relates to searches, and SEO is the organic counter piece to that.

Developing good SEO for your website focuses on creating new and useful content, updating old content, gathering backlinks to your site, and the overall user experience your visitor has. Continuously improving all of these areas will help your website appear in the top search results spots.

Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

The search engine results page is the page a user will see once they submit a query through a search engine. SERPs include both paid search ads and organic results.

Knowing what websites and pages are at the top of the results page can help you determine how competitive your content is. If your website isn’t in the top search results, you can see what gaps of knowledge those articles have and fill it with a blog post on your website. You’ll be filling a need and portraying your company as an expert on that topic.

Social Listening

Social listening is a way of extracting what people think about your brand or company. Through social listening, you can gauge how your brand is received and the popularity of your products.

Social listening is primarily used through social media channels where there is often an open and public discourse on various products and brands. Utilizing any platforms to get a temperature on your company can help you take in constructive feedback, determine whether or not your brand reputation is what you’d like, and take any necessary actions to improve upon it.

Soft Bounce

In comparison to a hard bounce, a soft bounce isn’t a permanent issue with the email address, and therefore isn’t as detrimental to your email server health. An email could soft bounce for a number of reasons, including the mailbox being full, the server being down, or the email being too large for the inbox.

While not as serious as hard bounces, soft bounces should still be noted in your email marketing strategies as they can negatively affect the data of your email campaigns.


Targeting is setting up specific and unique ads or other forms of marketing to communicate to a pre-selected demographic. Targeting is very similar to list segmentation since you’re targeting someone based on a specific quality or characteristic. Also like list segmentation, targeting can help you match tailored messaging to those who you think will resonate with it most.


A workflow is typically a piece of a company’s overall automation strategy that sets up specific actions and triggers. In our automation definition, we used emails as a great example of how to utilize workflows. There can also be internal workflows as well, though. For instance, you could have a workflow of how to progress a lead through your sales funnel. This could help your team stay on track with specific milestones to reach and how to achieve them.

Digital Marketing Terms for Your Industry

As you can see, there are quite a bit of digital marketing terms to be familiar and comfortable with. Not all of these terms will be equally relevant to every marketer, but having a baseline knowledge of them will help to round out your marketing expertise.

While we didn’t go over every marketing term that exists out there, we hope this article was beneficial in reviewing some of the most commonly used terms. If you’re seeking more information, we invite you to contact Jack & Bean for an in-depth marketing and SEO review.

About the Author: Shannon Leigh

Shannon is addicted to books, running, and poodles.