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24 Marketing Terms and Buzzwords You Should Finally Learn

April 7, 2016 Stephanie Fisher

The next time you're talking with your VP of Marketing, or your digital agency, about inbound marketing please feel free to refer to this guide.

Our industry can sometimes be among the worst buzzword-packed fields out there. Sometimes it feels like there's a gnome running a marketing word salad generator and forcing people to start using his evil creations.

"Now, my pretties, this week we're all going to start 'reinventing mission-critical networks.'"

Some of the marketing phrases on my list have been around for awhile and some are newcomers. I wanted to provide a comprehensive list for those of you who may be new to the game, or for those who've been scratching their heads every time the boss talks about snackable content.


Inbound Marketing

1. Conversion

Once you have successfully attracted people to your website, you want to convert them into a lead. Website visitor fills out a form > their information gets into your database > voila...1 conversion. Conversion rates are an important metric, because if you have a really solid conversion rate then you know you're doing something right.

2. Lead Nurturing / Drip Campaign

This term refers to the process of nurturing your relationship with a potential buyer from the moment they enter the process. Even if the prospect isn't ready to buy, you're offering helpful information and developing ties that will make them come to you when it's time for them to commit. 

3. Marketing Qualified Lead 

When a prospect comes to you, expressing interest in what you're offering, and you're able to convert this prospect into a lead that fits the standards defined by the marketing department, it's considered a marketing qualified lead, or MQL. This interest can be expressed by attending a webinar or seminar hosted by your company, downloading an informative e-book you offer on your website, or subscribing to your email list. Once the marketing department determines that this lead has potential, boom! Your sales department can take it from there.

4. Buyer Persona

Essentially, a buyer persona is a mock-up of your ideal buyer. What are their likes and dislikes, their concerns, the things that drive their decision-making? It's an in-depth look into the mind of a prospective buyer, and it can help shape your marketing and sales, who promise to use this information for good, not evil. 

5. Marketing Automation

There are many different processes involved with marketing, and marketing automation uses software and web-based platforms to perform tasks that once would have been done manually. It's WAY more efficient, allowing marketers to nurture prospects in a more personalized and effective manner than ever before. Campaign management, customer segmentation, and data integration are just a few of the processes handled through marketing automation. 


The F in TOFU stands for funnel, and the funnel in question refers to the sales funnel. The top of the funnel (TOFU), which is the largest part, is where you're trying to draw a wide audience, through blog articles or other items of more general interest.
Next, you can entice them with calls-to-action to the MOFU, or the middle of the funnel. From there, the content becomes more specific, positioning you as the solution for the lead's needs.
Hopefully, the lead will then filter to the BOFU, or the bottom of the funnel, where you can speak one-on-one to the solutions you can offer the lead, hopefully turning the lead into a customer. 

Email Marketing


7. List Segmentation

An effective form of email list management, list segmentation involves breaking up your email list into smaller lists based on previously determined criteria, and then tailoring your content based on the individuals in each list. If, say, you've got a group of customers who purchased tea pots in the past, you can send them a coupon for a discount on fancy tea cozies. Your content is more effective if it's targeted.

8. Bounce Rate 

Have you ever visited a website, glanced at it, and left without visiting a second page on the site? Congrats! You've contributed to that site's bounce rate! Basically, the bounce rate is designed to let you know if you're attracting the people you want to attract, and if you're consistently giving them what they're looking for. 

9. Hard Bounce 

This simply means that an email is undeliverable for permanent reasons, such as false email domain, a fake address, or the server's refusal to accept any more emails. Generally, you're not getting anything through to an address that is hard bounced, so you should consider that address dead to you and move on with your life. 

10. Soft Bounce

A soft bounce, on the other hand, is a more temporary delivery problem. The address is valid, but there's another issue, like the inbox is full or the server is down. Typically, if your email is soft-bounced, the email provider will try again for a couple of days. However, if you notice that an address is consistently being soft-bounced, you should put on your detective hat and investigate. 


Introduced in 2003, CAN-SPAM was the Federal Trade Commission's method of taming the wild west of commercial email.  It regulates all email from businesses, and failure to comply can result in hefty financial penalties, so it would probably be a good idea to read up on it

12. Open Rate

This is a metric that measures how many people on your email list actually open the carefully-crafted content you've slaved over. It's a calculation that's expressed as a percentage, and the higher the percentage, the more people are reading your emails. That's a good thing.

13. Opt-in / Opt-out

Choice is a beautiful thing, and you should give your potential customers the choice of whether or not they receive communication from you. It's just good manners. If they opt-in, they're interested in hearing what you've got to say, and if they opt-out, well, better luck next time. 



14. CRM 

Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, is software designed to assist businesses in managing customer data as well as overseeing customer interaction. It's a vital resource for sales, as it's a repository for business information, it automates sales, and it manages the relationships between the business and its employees, vendors, and parnters.  We use HubSpot Sales and love how it integrates with Marketing. Other recognizable brands are Salesforce and NetSuite.

15. CTA 

The Call to Action, or CTA, is the appeal to the customer to immediately take action. This action can take the form of downloading a free PDF, signing up for a webinar, or anything that will entice the prospect to further engage with the sales process. A CTA in the wild can be spotted anywhere—emails, blog posts, wherever you're hoping to reach potential customers. Or right here:

16. UI

User Interface, or UI, is focused on the interface with which prospects interact. Working hand in glove with UX, which is defined below, UI focuses on the aesthetics of a user's experience. 


17. UX

User Experience, or UX, is directly related to our old pal, UI.  UX focuses on the enhancement of a customer's satisfaction through the improvement of the usability and ease of use of the product in question. If UI is form, UX is function.

18. SEO

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the process of creating traffic through search engines, preferably in a organic manner, and preferably of a high quality. Bottom line: if you have effective SEO, you'll be getting traffic for free. If used properly, it can be as (if not more) effective than an ad.

19. CTR 

Click-through rate, or CTR, is a metric that establishes how many users are clicking on a specific link. This term can be applied to online advertising as well as email, and it can measure the success of the campaign.  

20. CPC 

Cost per click, or CPC, refers to a certain internet advertising model that pays by the click for a marketing campaign. Whenever a visitor clicks on a link, the advertiser pays a designated amount to the host. 


21. Content Distribution

You've seen the ads on social media, whether it's in the margins of Facebook or popping up in your Twitter feed; these are examples of content distribution, which is a non-traditional method of distributing content to a targeted audience. 

22. Smart Content

Have you ever received an email that seems to be so specifically tailored to you and your needs, you look around for a hidden camera? This marketer is utilizing smart content, which is content personalized to the needs of their customers. It's creepy, but effective. Everyone wants to feel like they're understood, and smart content utilizes that feeling to the marketer's advantage.
Smart content usually relies on marketing automation tools and technology for tailoring messages and content to your audience.

23. Retention Marketing

Basically, retention marketing is making past customers into repeat customers. You're widening your focus to include your existing customers as well as the potential customers. 

24. 10X Content 

This is the idea that the sheer quantity of content available on the internet requires you to create content that is ten times better than the average in order to stand out. This brief video gives you a good jumping off point if you're interested in creating 10x content yourself. 

25. Newsjacking 

Newsjacking happens when you capitalize on a news story to boost your sales and marketing. We've got an in-depth post explaining what it is and how do do it here, and it's definitely worth a read! 

26. Storytelling

Once upon a time, marketers made their brands more interesting by providing an interesting identity for their products and services through creating interesting, authentic, and creative stories about them. Okay, marketers do that now, too. It's called storytelling, and it helps consumers forge personal connections with brands. 
Or, you could just use hashtags and string together a bunch of buzzwords: #SecretSauce #Storytelling

27. Scale 

This doesn't refer to the device that strikes fear into the heart of dieters everywhere, but instead it has to do with the ability of a concept or business to take something that works on a small scale and size it up until it works on a larger scale. When someone asks you, "Does it scale?", you won't have the same look that deer have when faced with a set of headlights.

28. Snackable

When someone refers to "snackable content", don't look around for chips and salsa. This means that it's content created to be consumed in small, bite-sized pieces. It's engaging, and easily digestible. And delicious. And now i'm hungry. 

Social Media Marketing


29. Custom Audience

A custom audience is an audience created by targeting your existing customers on Facebook and creating personalized ad  experiences directed to them, based on the data you've collected in the past. 

30. Lookalike audience

Like a custom audience, a lookalike audience is a group on Facebook, but this group consists of people who are not customers but share traits with your custom audience. 

31. Organic Facebook Reach

This has nothing to do with the state of your fruits and veggies. This term refers to the number of people who view your post on Facebook organically, not through a paid ad. 

32. Conversation

A conversation in the context of marketing means engaging with your customers (and prospective customers) on social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.  When brands have a back-and-forth with their "fans", it's engaging and creates a sense of familiarity that's appealing to customers. 



33. Metadata

Metadata is the information that marketers use to glean content and meaning fromsomething. Then, the content creators use this information to fine-tune the connections they use as they create related content.  

34. Longtail Keyword

This might sound like something zoological, but it's really just a super targeted search phrase containing three (or more) words. It starts with a more generic search word, like blanket, and then evolves into a more targeted search, such as purple fuzzy blanket.  A very specific search term like this will bring prospective customers to your site when they're honing in on what they're really serious about buying.
Hopefully, this list will help you be ready next time your boss asks you to put a CTA at the end of your 10x content. You've got this! 
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Stephanie Fisher

Stephanie Fisher

Steph leads our client delivery team and is obsessed with delivering quality work, creating an efficiency machine, and mastering the tools and disciplines to achieve success for our heroes. At home, she loves listening to true crime podcasts, playing with her daughters and two pugs, and singing in a local rock band with her husband.

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