20 Top Digital Marketing Terms and Definitions

If you’re new to digital marketing, you may wonder what a few terms mean. As in any industry, jargon and abbreviations exist and can sound like a foreign language to outsiders. In this article, I'll define 20 of the top digital marketing terms you need to know. But first, let’s get the basics out of the way.

20 Top Digital Marketing Terms and Definitions

What is digital marketing?

In the past, marketers reached their audience through channels like newspapers, magazines, television, radio, live events, and billboards. While those channels are still used, an ever-increasing number are turning to the internet to reach their audience.

Table of Contents

Successful marketing campaigns have always hinged on being in the right place at the right time. Now, that place is the internet. Digital marketing encompasses every form of online marketing, such as:

There’s a lot more to know about digital marketing, so let’s dive into the digital marketing terms and definitions.


1). Lead Generation | Lead Magnets | Lead Nurturing

Technically these are three different digital marketing terms. However, lead generation, lead magnets, and lead nurturing are closely related.

Lead generation, as the name implies, refers to the process of creating leads for your business. This can be achieved through a wide variety of marketing tactics and channels.

One way to generate leads is through a lead magnet. A lead magnet is a content offer, such as a free eBook, template, email course, or swipe file that can entice your customers into completing a form on your website. Here’s an example of a lead magnet from Digital Marketer where they’re offering a free social media swipe file.

Once a prospect converts on a lead magnet, you now have their contact information in your CRM or marketing automation software. From there, you can nurture that lead. Lead nurturing is when you send information, resources, or offers to leads with the goal of converting them into a customer. When a prospect first learns of your brand, they’re often not ready to make a purchasing decision. They still have questions and maybe evaluating vendors.

You can use lead nurturing to guide them through the buyer’s journey and alleviate concerns, answer questions, promote your benefits, and entice them with additional offers. This process of creating valuable, useful content that attracts buyers is often referred to as content marketing.


2). Cost-per-impression (CPI)

Let’s break this down. First, an ad impression is when a digital advertisement is found and loaded from its source and then displayed on a web page to a viewer. Oftentimes, impressions are referred to as an “ad view.”

When you run an advertisement, you often want to know how many times your ad was displayed compared to the cost. Measuring the cost per the display number is the CPI. However, CPI doesn’t depend on a user clicking on the ad, but only the impression (display) of the ad.

CPI differs from cost-per-reach (CPR), CPR is calculated based on the number of individuals seeing the ad.


3). Conversion

Before we dive into the next few terms, let’s define conversion. It’s pretty simple. A conversion is when a person takes the desired action. On your website, a conversion may be when a visitor completes a request for a quote or a contact us form and submits it.

Or when discussing pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, conversion refers to them clicking on your ad and taking your next desired step. It could be to register for a webinar, subscribe to your blog, or purchase your product.


4). Click-through-rate (CTR)

Click-through-rate (CTR) is calculated differently based on the channel you are using and it’s usually associated with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, social media marketing, and email marketing.

For instance, in PPC advertising and social media advertising, CTR is a term used to measure the percentage of impressions that resulted in a click. The formula to calculate your CTR is shown in the figure below. Total measured clicks divided by total measured impressions. Then multiplied by 100 to convert to a percentage.

The main reason businesses engage in email marketing is to nurture subscribers, leads, and existing customers. To achieve this, businesses develop email marketing campaigns that contain links to recent blog articles, new product offerings, or news updates.

CTR refers to the number of subscribers who have clicked on a link in your email marketing campaign.

This metric works together with the open rate (the rate at which your email is opened by subscribers) because there is no clicking through to your site without opening the email.


5). Engagement Rate

The term engagement rate is usually associated with social media marketing, but it can also be used to discuss blog or content engagement. It refers to how often users interact with your brand and its digital channels. How many comments did you get on that social media post? How many people shared your blog post? How many likes did your YouTube video receive?

Notably, a high engagement rate often means you have high-quality content, which is good for SEO. Search engines measure content quality by how many people view and interact with the content.


6). Retargeting or Remarketing

Although you may not realize it, retargeting is very common. There is a 90% chance you see it every day.

Have you ever searched for an item in an online store, only for you to leave that website and see the same item on another website you visit? That is remarketing or retargeting. Businesses use this advanced technique to display relevant advertisements to people who visited their website but didn’t complete a purchase.

Since they have shown interest in your brand or even a specific product, you can run retargeted ads to display relevant ads wherever they might be, such as on other websites they frequent and even social media pages and blogs they read.

For example, a person is researching new toaster ovens and visited a specific product page. Later, when they visit a cooking blog, they are shown an ad featuring that specific toaster oven.

The goal is to remind the customers that they were once interested in this product.


7). Facebook Relevancy Score and Google Quality Score

Most ad platforms use a metric to measure the quality of ads shown on their network. Google Ads uses the term “Quality Score,” and Facebook uses the metric “Relevance Score.”

They mean the same thing and measure the creativity, quality, and relevancy of your advertisement. Why does this matter?

When your ads have high-quality scores, they’re displayed at a lower cost and to more people.

Google and Facebook want to ensure that they’re not spamming their users with poor quality, irrelevant ads. They use the quality and relevancy score to give advertisers with great ads, more visibility at a lower cost.

Here’s a snapshot of a Facebook Ad Relevance Score:

Your quality and relevance score can change over time, and it’s important to monitor.

Remember, if you have relatively high relevancy or quality score, your ads will be shown before your competitors and it will cost less to do so. So, make sure that you’re developing advertisements that align with your target buyer.


8). Marketing Automation

You’ve likely heard a lot of talk about artificial intelligence, big data, predictive analytics, and the ways different technologies are transforming marketing. Marketing automation software uses these new technologies to automate marketing tasks. For instance, it can help you segment contacts by behavior, send automated emails according to specific triggers, schedule social media posts, and analyze data from disparate sources.

Marketing automation providers like HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot, Act On, and Mailchimp offer varying levels of automation capabilities.

If you’re looking to augment your team and do more with less, you may want to consider investing in this software. They can help you reduce repetitive tasks and streamline your marketing program.


9). Call-to-action (CTA)

This one is pretty straight forward. Call-to-actions refer to the action you want a viewer to take. This includes clicking a link, subscribing, making a purchase, following a social media channel, or any other action your business requires.

They appear in email campaigns, websites and landing pages, social media posts, PPC advertisements, etc. Your marketing campaigns should have goals and typically the CTA is the action you want viewers to take to achieve your goal.

In the example below, Credible uses an orange call-to-action button to encourage visitors to learn more about their program and the savings that they can receive.

Capturing the viewer’s attention and compelling them to take action is the main goal of a CTA. Here are a few tips to increase your click-through-rates:

  • Grab their attention by using contrasting colors.
  • Use strong verbs that describe the exact action you want users to take (e.g., buy, order, subscribe).
  • Tap into users’ emotions and incorporate words that appeal to their goals and fears and evoke a strong response.
  • Add urgency by using words like “now, one day only, don’t miss out.”


10). Buyer Persona

To develop effective marketing strategies, you need to know your ideal buyer inside and out. Once you do, you can develop highly personalized campaigns that resonate with your audience.

A buyer persona helps with that. It should include both demographic and behavioral information. An analysis of existing customers can tell you demographic information like age, job role, years in the position, income status, education, and much more.

To understand how they make purchasing decisions, you need to talk to existing customers or people that represent your ideal customer. Through open-ended, qualitative interviews, you can learn more about their behaviors like what motivates them, possible barriers, decision criteria, and how they measure success.

You’ll also be able to ask them detailed questions about how they found information related to the product you’re selling. Did they ask friends? Evaluate vendors at an event? Visit specific web sites?

Here’s an example of a buyer persona:

Once you have this information, you’ll be able to develop highly effective campaigns tailored to your target audience.


11). Pixel

To track your customers’ behavior on your website or gather your customer’s analytics or data, you use a pixel.

This pixel is a line of code installed on your website, landing page, or email to track users’ behavior. They typically can’t detect it, as it is a graphic with dimensions of 1×1 pixels that is usually transparent or the color of the webpage’s background.

When you run an advertising campaign on Facebook, for example, you’re given a pixel to add to your landing page. This pixel can be accessed from your Facebook Business Settings, as in the example below:

Once installed, it tells you a lot of information about their activity, like what they clicked, what pages they viewed, or how long they spent on your website.

With this information, you can evaluate your campaign’s performance and refine subsequent campaigns.

If you are unfamiliar with coding (HTML), you really shouldn’t worry about how your pixel looks. You should be more concerned about how to paste the code in the right place. Content management systems, like WordPress, typically have plugins that make it easy to add the pixel to your website.


12). ‘Thank You’ Page

‘Thank you’ pages are shown after a user takes an action on your website. It can be shown when they complete an order, subscribe to a webinar, or download an eBook.

“Thank you” pages should include useful information and answer any questions the customer has. In the example below, Crate&Barrel tells the customer what their order number is and provides the option to print a receipt.

Take your “thank you” pages to the next level by including CTAs to related products or content.

For example, say they just purchased a cookbook of classic Italian recipes. The landing page could include embedded or linked videos that demonstrate how to make a few of the recipes. This adds value, engages the customer, and strengthens the brand relationship.


13). Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s a common marketing term used by online marketers, marketing agencies, and website owners.

Having a website doesn’t do you any good if people don’t visit it. So, how do you attract their attention? You need to appear in the first page of the search engine results.

Search engine optimization is all about following rules or guidelines to improve the quality of your website. These rules emanate from the fact that search engines use certain factors to determine if the content is worth displaying.

And because there are, more often than not, numerous results for every search query, search engines rank these results according to specific factors.

To rank high on the search engine result page, you need to properly optimize your website. This includes proper site structure, optimizing for speed, using keywords in the appropriate places, and building credible backlinks.


14). A/B Testing or Split Testing

An A/B or split test is done to test different marketing strategies to measure which is more effective at motivating potential customers to take a specific action. The action could be to sign up to a newsletter/email list, download a white paper, install a mobile app, or purchase a product.

An A/B test involves presenting different variations to different groups and measuring the response to each campaign.

Take a look at this illustration. Let’s say that it represents a landing page for an on-demand webinar recording. During an A/B test, the marketer creates two variations of the same page. Ideally, they’d change one feature of the landing page at a time to test how that impacted conversions.

For example, they could change the button on the submission form from yellow to blue. Or they could test different headlines.

Whichever variation performs better, it would be used in subsequent campaigns.


15). Bounce Rate

The world isn’t perfect, neither is email marketing. Therefore, it is possible that not all emails you send get delivered. This portion of undelivered emails is referred to as a bounce rate. It is the percentage of emails that were not delivered in your campaign.

There are two types of bounces:

  • Hard bounce
  • Soft bounce

Note: The term bounce rate can also refer to your website, not just email marketing. When users visit a page on your website and leave without visiting more pages, it’s referred to as the bounce rate in Google Analytics.


16). Hard Bounce

Emails that can’t be delivered due to a permanent reason are referred to as hard bounces. This means that there is no chance the email can be delivered. There are several reasons this happens:

  • The recipient’s email does not exist (perhaps it contains a typo or the person leaves the company and their email was retired).
  • The domain name doesn’t exist.
  • The email recipient server completely blocks delivery.

This is where buying an email list can hurt you. Those lists are often full of old emails and defunct domains.


17). Soft Bounce

A soft bounce occurs when an email experiences a temporary delivery issue. This means that your sent email was delivered but bounced back because the:

  • User’s inbox is full.
  • User’s email server being down at the time of delivery.

Some email providers will attempt to deliver to these emails several more times before they give up. If the soft bounces continue, eventually they will mark the email address as a hard bounce and remove the email address from your subscriber list.


18). Abandonment Rate

There are two different definitions for this term.

The first one refers to the number of users who leave a web page without spending enough time on the page or without clicking on another page within the same site. This is also called the ‘bounce rate’.

The second definition refers to the ratio of people who have completed purchases to the number of those who opted not to complete purchases.

This chart shows the abandonment rates in retail; which is differs between industries.

For example, if you run an eCommerce clothing website and a customer adds a shirt to her cart but never completes the order, you can calculate the shopping cart abandonment rate.


19). AdSense or Google AdSense

One way to make money from your website is through Google AdSense.

This advertising system run by Google is available to anyone who owns a website, and who would like to monetize it by allowing Google to post advertisements on designated pages, sections, or all the pages of their website.

The ads are called “AdSense slots.” The ads could be text-based or banner ads. Website owners who monetize with Google AdSense ads are referred to as publishers.

Here’s an example of Google AdSense ads for Qatar Airways displaying on a publisher’s website:


20). Affiliate Marketing

One of the ways businesses promote their products and services is through affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing involves employing other companies or people to promote your products or services and paying them commissions on sales made.

Essentially, an affiliate is someone who promotes products or services for businesses in order to earn a percentage (from 3% – 70% in most cases), also referred to as commissions. Moreniche explains how affiliate marketing works in this infographic:

One of the ways an affiliate operates is by reviewing the product or service that they are promoting and linking this information to the advertiser’s page.

When visitors read the content, click on the link, and make a purchase, the affiliate gets a commission from the sale.


Now You Know the Basics

I hope you’ve been able to add a few new digital marketing terms to your vocabulary.

When you’re just diving into digital marketing, some of these can be confusing. Now that you know their applications and meaning, you’re ready to take the next step in growing your business.

If you need help refining your digital marketing strategy, reach out to us. We’ll help you ignite growth with data-driven search engine marketing strategies. 

Get Started

Ready to Grow?

Great partnerships start with great discoveries. We start with your business goals and budget, and then help you find the right digital marketing strategy to fuel growth.

Fill out the form to get started!

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.