Dictionary of Marketing Terms In The Digital Age


# – This symbol represents a tag for categorization on Twitter. See “hashtag.”

301 Redirect – Code meaning “moved permanently,” used to point browsers, spiders, etc. to the correct location of a missing or renamed URL. Pages marked with such a code will automatically redirect to another URL.

404 Error – “File not found” code for a Web page that displays when a user attempts to access a URL that has been moved, renamed or no longer exists. Used as a template for missing or deleted pages, designing a custom “404 page” in a user-friendly way can help people stay engaged with your site even when a given page turns up blank.


Actionable Audience Profile - You can connect all the data in the world, but to make it useful, it needs to be actionable. Marketers need actionable profiles for both anonymous channels -- such as advertising -- and known channels, such as email, mobile and social. The main difference is that while both profiles leverage relevant attributes, behaviors and preferences, anonymous targeting generally preserves key aspects of user privacy depending on the country.

Annual Contract Value (ACV) - Relates to two things, your overall contract value is how much, on average, your annual value of a given contract type across all customers of the period, sums up to be worth. Along with this, on a per-customer basis both over periods of measurement and conceptually, you have how much these contracts are worth incidentally. So, what this actually is, is not that confusing, and it’s clear why you need this sort of metric.

Application Programming Interface(API)- A set of routines, protocols and tools for building software and applications. A good API makes it easier to develop a program by providing all the building blocks, which are then put together by the programmer.

Average Revenue Per Account(ARPA) - (sometimes known as Average Revenue per User or per Unit), usually abbreviated to ARPA, is a measure of the revenue generated per account, typically per year or month. Average revenue per account allows for the analysis of a company's revenue generation and growth at the per-unit level, which can help investors to identify which products are high or low revenue-generators.

Average Revenue Per Unit(ARPU) - see above

Agile - Agile methodology is an alternative to traditional project management, typically used in tech development. It helps teams respond to unpredictability through incremental, iterative work cadences, known as sprints. Agile methodologies are an alternative to waterfall, or traditional sequential development.

Ad Tech - The term “ad tech,” which is short for advertising technology, broadly refers to different types of analytics and digital tools used in the context of advertising. Discussions about ad tech typically revolve around the extensive and complex systems used to direct advertising to individuals and specific target audiences.

A/B Testing - This is the process of comparing two variations of a single variable to determine which performs best in order to help improve marketing efforts. Primarily, this is done in email marketing (with variations in the subject line or copy), calls-to-action (variations in colors or verbiage), and landing pages (variations in content).

Abandonment Rate – See “bounce rate.” In marketing, abandonment rate is a term associated with the use of virtual shopping carts. Also known as "shopping cart abandonment". Although shoppers in brick and mortar stores rarely abandon their carts, abandonment of virtual shopping carts is quite common. Marketers can count how many of the shopping carts used in a specified period result in completed sales versus how many are abandoned. The abandonment rate is the ratio of the number of abandoned shopping carts to the number of initiated transaction

Account Based Marketing(ABM) - A strategic approach to business marketing in which an organization considers and communicates with individual prospect or customer accounts as markets of one. It parallels the movement in business-to-consumer marketing away from mass marketing where organizations try to sell individual products to as many new prospects as possible to 1:1 marketing where they concentrate on selling as many products as possible to one customer at a time. Possibly the most impactful change to sales and marketing since the advent of the telephone?

Account Scoring - Account scoring is different from traditional lead scoring in that it addresses the reality of complex, multi-stakeholder B-to-B buying centers. In complex B-to-B buying processes, it’s rare for a single individual to make a purchase decision. There are often various roles involved, all with different needs and perspectives. Account-based scoring takes this into account, providing additional account intelligence and identifying opportunities that traditional lead scoring approaches neglect.

Acquisition – The point in time when a visitor to a website becomes a qualified lead or customer.

Acquisition Cost or Cost Per Acquisition(CPA) - A method of advertising whereby the advertiser only pays when an advert delivers an acquisition. Moreover, CPA is very effective for an advertiser to pay because they only pay when the advertising has met its purpose

Addressable Market –or Total Addressable market (TAM), or Total Available Market, is the total market demand for a product or service calculated in annual revenue or unit sales if 100% of available market is achieved. Serviceable Available Market (SAM), is the portion of TAM targeted and served by your products or services.

AdSense – or Google AdSense is a pay-per-click advertisement application, which is available to bloggers and Web publishers as a way to generate revenue from the traffic on their sites. The owner of the site selects which ads they will host, and AdSense pays the owner each time an ad is clicked.

AdWords – The pay-per-click (PPC) search-engine marketing (SEM) program provided by Google.

Aggregator – An Internet-based tool or application, which collects and curates content (often provided via RSS feeds) from many different websites and displays it in one central location. Google Reader is one popular example of an aggregator.

Algorithm – Mathematical rules and calculations a search engine uses to determine the rankings of the sites it has indexed. Every search engine has its own unique, proprietary algorithm that gets updated on a regular basis. Google’s famously has more than 200 major components.

ALT Attribute – A line of text used to describe the content associated with a non-text based file, typically an image. A traditionally strong correlation exists between use of keywords in these attributes and high rankings for the pages that contain them.

Analytics - Sometimes referred to as the “eyes” of inbound marketing, analytics is essentially the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data. When referred to in the context of Account Based Marketing (AMB), it’s looking at the data of one’s marketing initiatives, analyzing the trends, and developing actionable insights to make better informed marketing decisions.

Anchor Text – The non-URL text that is displayed in a hyperlink. For example, in this hyperlink to Fathom’s website, “Fathom’s website” is the anchor text. Careful use of anchor text can produce both reader and SEO benefits.

Append - Appending refers to the process of adding additional information to an existing database containing such data as name, phone number, physical address, etc.

Attribution - In our measurement-focused marketing world cross-channel attribution is a hot topic. Briefly, this is the science of using advanced analytics to allocate proportional credit to each marketing touch point across all online and off-line channels, leading to a desired customer action.

Avatar – A graphical representation of a real person, often seen in user profiles for online forums, social networks or chat/instant-message services. Avatars can be two-dimensional images, representing the author of a blog or microblog; or they can be three-dimensional figures, occupying space in a virtual world, such as Second Life.


Big Data - High-volume, high-velocity and/or high-variety information assets that drive cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing. For businesses who deploy big data, the benefits received include:  actionable, real-time insights, informed decision-making, strong competitive edge and high efficiency.

Blogging - This is short for web log or weblog. An individual or group of people usually maintains a blog. A personal blog or business blog will traditionally include regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material, such as photos and video. Blogging is a core component of inbound marketing as it can accomplish several initiatives simultaneously, such as website traffic growth, thought leadership, and lead generation.

Blogroll – A list of recommended or similar blogs that a blogger lists on his or her own blog as a resource for the audience.

Bottom of the Funnel(BOFU) - The bottom of the funnel refers to a stage of the buying process when they’re leads are about to close as new customers. They’ve identified a problem, have shopped around for possible solutions, and are very close to buying. Typically, next steps for leads at this stage are a call from a sales rep, a demo, or a free consultation (depending on what type of business is attempting to close the lead).

Bounce Rate – Refers to the percentage of a given page’s visitors who exit without visiting another page on the same site. This term is often used in e-commerce in conjunction with merchandise shopping carts. Also known as “abandonment rate.”

Broken Links – Links to pages that no longer exist or have been moved to a different URL without redirection. These links usually serve pages with the “404 error” message (see “404 error”). Incidentally, most search engines provide ways for visitors to report on broken or “dead” links.

Business Intelligence(BI) - is an umbrella term that refers to a variety of software applications used to analyze an organization's raw data into actionable information. BI as a discipline is made up of several related activities, including data mining, online analytical processing, querying and reporting.

Business Intelligence Dashboard – An onscreen data visualization tool that displays the current status of metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) for an enterprise. Dashboards consolidate and arrange numbers, metrics and sometimes performance scorecards on a single screen.

Buyer Intent Network(BIN) – Our Buyer Intent Network tracks the web and sees the content or data points collected each day by digital publishers (typically not resolved) that millions of buyers consume across millions of web pages. Daily, over 1 billion Web Buyer Intent signals are classified by device, domain and Zip+4 location are matched to the product category, keywords and the website and page where content was consumed.

Buying Committee – Refers to all individuals involved in the B2B buying decision at an organization.

Buying Stage - In marketing, six stages through which a consumer passes on way to adopting a good or service: (1) Awareness of its existence, (2) Knowledge of its benefits, (3) Initial interest, (4) Preference over the competing products, (5) Conviction of its suitability to purpose, and finally (6) Purchase. Knowing at which stage the good or service is helps determine which promotional message or medium is most suitable for a marketing campaign.


Call-to-Action - A call-to-action is a text link, button, image, or some type of web link that encourages a website visitor to visit a landing page and become of lead. Some examples of CTAs are “Subscribe Now” or “Download the Whitepaper Today.” These are important for inbound marketers because they’re the “bait” that entices a website visitor to eventually become a lead. So, you can imagine that it’s important to convey a very enticing, valuable offer on a call-to-action to better foster visitor-to-lead conversion.

Cinemagraph -  Stands for part cinema (moving image) and part photograph (static image). While part of the image moves in a subtle, seamless loop, the rest of the image remains still. This merging of static and moving image is disruptive -- sparking interest and deeper investigation by the viewer.

Click-Thru Rate(CTR) – The percentage of people who actually click on a link (e.g.; in an email message or sponsored ad) after seeing it.

Cloaking – A prohibited practice of tricking a search engine into indexing different content than the user actually sees. In essence, it is serving one version of a page to search engines (for intended SEO benefit) and another to humans. Often the content is entirely unrelated to the actual topic/theme of the rest of the site.

Code Halo – Your unique virtual identity created by each digital click, swipe, "like", buy, comment and search. While Code Halos are important to each of us, they are becoming increasingly vital to the success of every business.

Collective Intelligence – Think Seti, Wikipedia or Urban Dictionary. The idea that a community or group of individuals is more efficiently capable of higher thought processes than an individual. Social-media applications of this concept include online communities that provide user-created informative content.

Closed Loop Marketing - The practice of closed loop marketing is being able to execute, track and show how marketing efforts have impacted bottom-line business growth. An example would be tracking a website visitor as they become a lead to the very last touch point when they close as a customer. When done correctly, you’d be able to see just how much of your marketing investment yielded new business growth. One of the biggest business benefits of implementing an inbound marketing strategy and utilizing inbound marketing software is the ability to execute closed loop marketing.

Connected Data - Because marketers have a variety of data sources to contend with, a digital marketing hub must help them connect with the right data that matters. This includes the data marketers own -- such as their CRM, automation or website data -- but also the data they purchase, such as third-party audience data for advertising.

Content - In relation to inbound marketing, content is a piece of information that exists for the purpose of being digested (not literally of course), engaged with, and shared. Content typically comes in the form of a blog, video, social media post, photo, slideshow, or podcast. From website traffic to lead conversion to customer marketing, content plays an indispensable role in a successful inbound marketing strategy.

Context - In Account Based Marketing content may be king, but context is surely queen. Serving up valuable content is important, but ensuring that content is customized for the right audience (contextualized) is equally (if not more) important. As buyers become more in control of what information they digest (again, not literally), it’s important to deliver content that’s contextually relevant.

Content Marketing - The marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

Contextual Link Inventory – An extension of search engines where they place targeted links on websites they deem to have similar audiences.

Conversion – A desired action taken by a website visitor, such as making a purchase, registering for an event, subscribing to an e-newsletter, completing a lead-gen form, downloading a file, etc.

Conversion Cost – See “cost-per-acquisition (CPA).”

Conversion Rate – This is the percentage of visitors to a site or ad who actually take a further action, like buying a product or filling out a survey. For example, if your primary goal is to collect survey data through your site, and 20 people visit it, but only 5 people complete the survey, you have a conversion rate of 25%.

Cost-Per-Acquisition(CPA) – Represents the ratio of the total cost of a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign to the total number of leads or customers, often called “CPA” or “conversion cost.”

Cost-Per-Click(CPC) – A method of paying for targeted traffic. For a fee, sites like Google or Facebook direct traffic to your site. You agree to pay a set amount for every click.

Conversion Path - A conversion path is a series of website-based events that facilitate lead capture. In its most basic form, a conversion path will consist of a call-to-action (typically a button that describes an offer) that leads to a landing page with a lead capture form, which redirects to a thank you page where a content offer resides. In exchange for his or her contact information, a website visitor obtains a content offer to better help them through the buying process.

Crawler – An automatic function of some search engines that index a page, and then visit subsequent pages that the initial page links to. As the cycle continues over time, search engine crawlers or “bots”/“spiders” can index a massive number of pages very quickly.

Crowdsourcing – In the context of social media, this is a process used by many social bookmarking sites where individuals are allowed to vote on news stories and articles to determine their value and relevancy within the site. Related to other social media concepts such as collaboration and collective intelligence, it can also be a research tool. Due to its significant popularity, this new word famously has entered Standard English dictionaries in recent years.

Customer Journey - The complete sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with your company and brand. Instead of looking at just a part of a transaction or experience, the customer journey documents the full experience of being a customer.

Customer Lifetime Value(CLV) - In marketing, customer lifetime value is a prediction of the net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer.

Customer Valuation - Allocating value to each customer allows companies to determine how much money and other resources they want to invest in that particular person or group. Doing so is a critical step for organizations, and probably the first research they should engage in when it comes to customer analytics.

CPA – An abbreviation for “cost-per-acquisition.”

CPC – An abbreviation for “cost-per-click.”

CPM – This is the “cost-per-thousand” views of an advertisement. Often, advertisers agree to pay a certain amount for every 1,000 customers who see their ad, regardless of conversion rates or click-thrus. The “M” in “CPM” is derived from the Latin word for 1,000 (mille).

Customer Relationship Management(CRM) - Refers to practices, strategies and technologies that companies use to manage and analyze customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle with the goal of improving business relationships with customers, assisting in customer retention and driving sales growth. CRM systems (e.g.; Salesforce) are designed to compile information on customers across different channels -- or points of contact between the customer and the company -- which could include the company's website, telephone, live chat, direct mail, marketing materials and social media. CRM systems can also give customer-facing staff detailed information on customers' personal information, purchase history, buying preferences and concerns.

CTR – An abbreviation for “click-thru rate.”


Desktop as a Service(DaaS) - A cloud service in which the back-end of a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is hosted by a cloud service provider.

Dashboard – Any area of administrative control for operating applications, especially social media settings, blogging software, and user profiles for websites that offer multiple customization options.

Directory – An index of websites where the listings are compiled by hand, rather than by a crawler. Whether general or niche-oriented, the best of these sites are structured, reviewed and regularly updated by humans with transparent editorial guidelines.

Data Cleansing, Data Cleaning or Data Scrubbing - the process of detecting and correcting (or removing) corrupt or inaccurate records from a record set, table, or database. Used mainly in databases, the term refers to identifying incomplete, incorrect, inaccurate, irrelevant, etc. parts of the data and then replacing, modifying, or deleting this dirty data or coarse data.[1] Data cleansing may be performed interactively with data wrangling tools, or as batch processing through scripting.

Data De-Duplication (De-dupe) - a specialized data compression technique for eliminating duplicate copies of repeating data. Related and somewhat synonymous terms are intelligent (data) compression and single-instance (data) storage. This technique is used to improve storage utilization and can also be applied to network data transfers to reduce the number of bytes that must be sent. In the de-duplication process, unique chunks of data, or byte patterns, are identified and stored during a process of analysis. As the analysis continues, other chunks are compared to the stored copy and whenever a match occurs, the redundant chunk is replaced with a small reference that points to the stored chunk. Given that the same byte pattern may occur dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of times (the match frequency is dependent on the chunk size), the amount of data that must be stored or transferred can be greatly reduced.

Data Management Platform(DMP), also called a unified data management platform (UDMP) is a centralized computing system for collecting, integrating and managing large sets of structured and unstructured data from disparate sources.

Dev Ops - (development and operations) is an enterprise software development phrase used to mean a type of agile relationship between Development and IT Operations. The goal of DevOps is to change and improve the relationship by advocating better communication and collaboration between the two business units.

Digital Marketing Hub - A digital marketing hub provides marketers and applications with standardized access to audience profile data, content, workflow elements, messaging and common analytic functions for orchestrating and optimizing multichannel campaigns, conversations, experiences, and data collection across online and offline channels, both manually and programmatically.

DNS – Stands alternately for “Domain Name Service,” “Domain Name Server,” and “Domain Name System”: the DNS is a name service which allows letters (and numbers) that constitute domain names to be used to identify computers instead of numerical IP addresses.

Doorway Page – A low-content page traditionally created expressly for the purpose of ranking on a search engine. Usually very keyword-heavy and user-hostile, most search engines now frown on these pages.

Demand Side Platform(DSP) - A system that allows buyers of digital advertising inventory to manage multiple ad exchange and data exchange accounts through one interface.

Digital Experience Management (DAM) - This is about the moment of truth, and the mechanics and content required to engage customers properly. Here, content marketing collaboration and content management is critical. In addition, especially in consumer environment, eCommerce capabilities are key.

Dynamic Content - In the vein of context (above), dynamic content is a way to display different types of website content based on the type of user viewing it. User data is captured based on past website interactions (think form field submissions and website activity). With the example of a restaurant, dynamic content would help you display a kale smoothie promotion to a vegetarian rather than a special on a 32 ox. T-Bone steak special.


Email - In its most basic sense, email stands for “Electronic Mail.” It’s a core component of inbound marketing because it’s a direct connection to a contact’s inbox. However, with great power comes great responsibility, meaning it’s important for inbound marketers to not abuse the email relationship with a contact. It is now far too easy for a contact to click “unsubscribe” after gaining their hard earned trust in your communication.

Email 2.0 - Email in the world of social media and mobile. It is delivering what your subscribers want, when they want it, in the formats they use.


Flash – Refers to a form of video software developed by Adobe Macromedia that creates vector-based graphic animations that occupy small file sizes. Often thought of as a dinosaur that has been replaced by html and other formats.

Forum – An area on a website (or an entire website) dedicated to user conversation through written comments and message boards, often related to customer support or fan engagement.

Frames – Often called an IFrame (Inline Frame) is an HTML document embedded inside another HTML document on a website. The IFrame HTML element is often used to insert content from another source, such as an advertisement, into a Web page.

Funnel or Lead Velocity - The speed or the time it takes for a generated contact to become sales-qualified lead and conversions rates (the percentage of leads that convert through various points in the customer acquisition funnel).


Gateway Page – also known as Doorway Pages are web pages that are created for spamdexing. This is for spamming the index of a search engine by inserting results for particular phrases with the purpose of sending visitors to a different page. They are also known as bridge pages, portal pages, jump pages, gateway pages, entry pages and by other names. Doorway pages that redirect visitors without their knowledge use some form of cloaking. This usually falls under Black Hat SEO and we do not recommend going here.

Graphical User Interface(GUI) - pronounced /ˈɡuːi/ ("gooey") is a type of interface that allows users to interact with electronic devices through graphical icons and visual indicators such as secondary notation, as opposed to text-based interfaces, typed command labels or text navigation.GUI

Graphical Search Inventory(GSI) – Images and banner ads that are tied to particular search terms on a search engine. They are then displayed to the user after a related search term is entered.

Groups – Micro-communities within a social networking site for individuals who share a particular interest. LinkedIn groups are a particularly notable example of this phenomenon.


Hashtag – A symbol (#) placed directly in front of a word or words to tag a post on Twitter. It is often used to group tweets by popular categories of interest and to help users follow discussion topics.

Heuristics – Quick methods often involved in problem solving, such as gut instinct, educated guesses or “common sense”

High Consideration Purchases – Purchases that are expensive (above discretionary budget), emotional (sheer size of commitment), complex (usually many interdependent variables that need to be accounted for), unfamiliar and are not typically made alone (requiring much research and validation from multiple entities).

HTML - This is short for Hypertext Markup Language, a language used to write web pages. Most HTML elements are written with a start tag <...> and an end tag </...>, with content in between. HTML is the foundation that the majority of webpages are built on.

H-Tags (H1, H2, etc.) – Also known as “header tags,” these page elements represent different levels of headings in HTML. From the largest (H1) to the smallest (H6), these define the titles/headings and sub-headings of Web copy. For SEO and reader benefits, headers should contain keywords wherever possible.

Hyperlink – or “link” for short, a hyperlink is a word or phrase which is clickable and takes the visitor to another Web page. This page can be within the same site or on a completely different site. Instead of a full URL string, a word or phrase is typically displayed in the body copy for the linked page (see “anchor text”), which can bring both reader and SEO benefits.


iFrames – Also known as simply “frames,” these HTML tag devices allow 2 or more websites to be displayed simultaneously on the same page. Facebook now allows companies to create customized tabs for its fan pages using iFrames, a process which developers find much easier than using the previous “FBML,” or Facebook markup language.

Impression – An instance of an organic search-engine listing or sponsored ad being served on a particular Web page or an image being viewed in display advertising. In paid search, “cost-per-impression” is a common metric.

Index – The actual collection of data and websites obtained by a search engine, also known as “search index.”

Inbound Link – A link from another website directed to yours, also known as a “backlink.” Related marketing areas that focus on inbound links include link popularity, social media and online PR, all of which explore ways to collect quality links from other websites.

Inbound Marketing - Instead of the old outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists, and praying for leads, inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.

Industrial Waste Data - the billions of data points collected each day by digital publishers that are not typically resolved - before we came along anyway.

Intelligent Orchestration - Potentially the heart of a digital marketing hub is the orchestration layer. Here, a marketing team has one canvas to orchestrate experiences across paid, owned and earned channels. With this orchestration canvas, a marketer should be able to utilize all the behavioral data at their disposal.

IP Address – This series of numbers and periods represents the unique numeric address for each Internet user.

ISP Address - The unique string of numbers separated by periods that identifies each computer using the Internet Protocol to communicate over a network.


Javascript Mix - Javascript is a scripting language that allows website administrators to apply various effects or changes to the content of their website as users browse it. An example of Javascript being used is for website tracking -- website admins will place Javascript code on their website to track data on the visitors browsing the website.


Keyword - Sometimes referred to as “keyword phrases,” keywords are the topics that webpages get indexed for in search results by engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Picking keywords that you’ll optimize a webpage for is a two-part effort -- first, you’ll want to ensure the keyword has significant search volume and is not too difficult to rank for. Then, you’ll want to ensure it aligns with your target audience. After deciding the appropriate keywords you want to rank for, you’ll then need to optimize the appropriate pages on your website using both on-page and off-page tactics.

Keyword Density – The proportion of keywords to the total number of words in the face copy of a website.

Keyword Proximity – The relative placement of keywords in prominent areas of a Web page, including the distance between keywords in the visible text.

Keyword Stemming – The practice adopted by search engines to group search results not only by exact keyword matches, but also by variations of keywords in semantic groups, such as singular-plural, related suffixes, and synonyms.


Landing Page - A landing page is a website page containing a form that is used for lead generation. This page revolves around a marketing offer, such as an ebook or a webinar, and serves to capture visitor information in exchange for the valuable offer. Landing pages are the gatekeepers of the conversion path and are what separates a website visitor from becoming a lead. A smart inbound marketer will create landing pages that appeal to different personae (plural for persona) at various stages of the buying process.

Lead Nurturing - Sometimes referred to as “drip marketing,” lead nurturing is the practice of developing a series of communications (emails, social media messages, etc.) that seek to qualify a lead, keep it engaged, and gradually push it down the sales funnel. Inbound marketing is all about delivering valuable content to the right audience -- and lead nurturing helps foster this by providing contextually relevant information to a lead during different stages of the buying lifecycle.

Lead Scoring – The B2B marketing process of determining the sales readiness of leads using a pre-determined scoring methodology and ranking them accordingly.

Link Popularity – A measurement of the number and quality of sites that link to a given site, especially as cataloged in a search-engine index.

Listings – A listing is a website’s presence in a search engine or directory, and is not necessarily indicative of its search-engine positioning.

Little Data - The unique data about the customer, the vendor, the location, the interaction, etc.; Big Data is all of the information in the enterprise about everything. To say it a different way, Big Data needs context (or Little Data) in order to be useful.


Marketing Automation - Think of marketing automation as the platform with associated tools and analytics to develop a lead nurturing strategy. If you’ll let me run with an “art” analogy, marketing automation is the paintbrush, watercolors, and blank canvas. Lead nurturing is the artist that makes it all come together.

Marketing Automation Platform(MAP) - Refers to software platforms and technologies designed for marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks. Marketing departments, consultants and part-time marketing employees benefit by specifying criteria and outcomes for tasks and processes which are then interpreted, stored and executed by software, which increases efficiency and reduces human error. Originally focused on email marketing automation, marketing automation refers to a broad range of automation and analytic tools for marketing especially inbound marketing. Marketing Automation platforms are used as a hosted or web-based solution, and no software installation is required by a customer. The use of a marketing automation platform is to streamline sales and marketing organizations by replacing high-touch, repetitive manual processes with automated solutions.

Marketing Asset – A piece of marketing content (e.g. white papers, videos, newsletters, webinars, etc.) used to educate and generate interest for a company’s products or services.

Meme - The pronunciation of this word: (/ˈmiːm/; meet). Rhymes with “gene.” In a broad sense, a meme is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. In terms of inbound marketing, we’ve seen a lot of internet memes that have contributed to many a viral forum post, video, or blog.

Meta-Description Tag – A tag on a Web page located in the heading source code containing a basic description of the page. It helps search engines categorize the page and can potentially inform users who come across the page listing in search results.

Meta-Keywords Tag – In the past, this tag allowed page authors to insert a massive list of keywords related (and occasionally unrelated) to a page in order to game search-engine results. Today, this tag’s potential to influence rankings has diminished to the point where it is widely disregarded by major search engines.

Meta-Search Engine – A search engine that does not compile its own independent results, but rather pulls data from two or more search engines, such as Dogpile.com.

Meta-Tags – Also called meta-data, this information is found in HTML page headers and used to be the bread and butter of SEO marketing tactics. Still used today despite widely perceived diminishing relevance to search-engine rankings, the most common are the “title,” “description,” and “keyword” tags (see below).

Microblog – A social media utility where users can share short status updates and information. Think Twitter which combines aspects of blogs (personalized Web posting) with aspects of social networking sites (making and tracking connections, or “friends”).

Middle of the Funnel(MOFU) - This refers to the stage of the buying journey that a lead enters after identifying a problem. Now he/she is looking to conduct further research to find a solution to the problem. Typical middle of the funnel offers include case studies or product brochures—essentially anything that brings your business into the equation as a solution to the problem the lead is looking to solve. Also, if you want to be cool, you can refer to this stage as “MOFU” for short.

Mirror Site – Duplicate copy of a website already in existence, used to increase response time for high-volume sites.

Mobile Marketing - Promotional activity designed for delivery to cell phones, smart phones and other handheld devices, usually as a component of a multi-channel campaign. Some mobile marketing is similar to advertising delivered over other electronic channels such as text, graphic and voice messages.

Marketing Qualified Lead(MQL) - A marketing qualified lead is a lead judged more likely to become a customer compared to other leads based on lead intelligence, often informed by closed-loop analytics. We collaborate with your sales managers to determine which demographics, activities, and behaviors make for a marketing qualified lead at your company. Based on the definition we create, we can assign point values for various MQL qualifications in order to form the basis of your lead scoring system.


Named Account Marketing - This approach focuses on a specific list of target accounts assigned to sellers and typically includes a blend of existing customers and prospect accounts. The list of accounts per sales rep is usually between 10 and 50, often assigned by geographic territory. Sometimes named-account lists include large accounts, but usually these named accounts are the next tier down in terms of current and potential value. Choose this approach if the sales model delivers business growth from a defined universe of specific accounts. Broad-based demand creation is not as effective, since it doesn’t discriminate between named and non-named accounts. On the other hand, if the named accounts are more of a guideline for sales than a mandate, and any account that presents opportunity will get sales attention and credit, this approach is unnecessary.

Noise - Noisy data is meaningless data. The term has often been used as a synonym for corrupt data. However, its meaning has expanded to include any data that cannot be understood and interpreted correctly by machines, such as unstructured text. Any data that has been received, stored, or changed in such a manner that it cannot be read or used by the program that originally created it can be described as noisy.

Nofollow – “Nofollow” is an append which is coded into the HTML markup of a hyperlink. It is used to prevent a search engine from indexing a link to a particular Web page. Some strategic uses of external “nofollow” are associated with link popularity management, e.g., for site owners that do not want to give full “follow” credit to links posted by users in their forums or blog comments.

Normalize - In data marketing, the process of organizing data to minimize redundancy. Normalization usually involves dividing a database into two or more tables and defining relationships between the tables.


Offer - This is simply the content that is provided once a lead has filled out a landing page form. Examples of an offer include ebooks, whitepapers, webinars, and kits. Expert inbound marketers design these by channeling their inner Don Corleone. Hopefully, I don’t need to elaborate more on that reference for the punch line.

On-Page Optimization - This type of SEO is based solely on a webpage and the various elements within the HTML (see “H” if you skipped here directly). Ensuring that key pieces of the specific page (content, title tag, URL, and image tags) include the desired keyword will help a page rank for that particular phrase.

Off-Page Optimization - This is the free-spirited cousin of on-page optimization. Off-page SEO refers to incoming links and other outside factors that impact how a webpage is indexed in search results. Factors like linking domains and even social media play a role in off-page optimization. The good news is that it’s powerful; the not so good news is that it’s mostly out of an inbound marketer’s control. The solution? Create useful, remarkable content and chances are people will share and link to it.

Open-Source Software – Computer software with a special license that allows users in the general public to edit and improve the source code. Famously exemplified in the Firefox Web browser and Wikipedia encyclopedia, it is an example of the kind of collaboration that is encouraged under the Web 2.0 ethos. Contrast with closed, propriety software that does not share its codebase beyond an exclusive group of authorized developers.

Organic Listings – Also known as “natural” listings, these are search-engine results that have not been purchased. They are calculated solely by an engine’s algorithm and are based on the merits of the listed pages. Typically, most search engines will display several sponsored ads related to search terms (often separated by background color or otherwise highlighted) before displaying the non-paid listings.

Outbound Link – Any link on a Web page to an external Web page.


Page Rank – A former proprietary method of Google (now disavowed) for measuring the popularity of a Web page. Much-debated in the SEO community, the measurement is believed to be influenced chiefly by the number and quality of inbound and outbound links associated with a given page. Updated infrequently, this rank was indicated as a number between 1 and 10 most commonly displayed in a green bar chart in the Google toolbar add-on for browsers. The SEO community consensus opinion is that the measurement was nothing more than Google’s incomplete assessment of the relative strength of a website.

Paid Listings – Listings sold to advertisers for a fee. Also known as “paid placement.” See “pay-per-click.”

Paid Placement – See “pay-per-click.”

Pareto Principle - (also known as the 80–20 rule, the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Management consultant Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who, while at the University of Lausanne in 1896, published his first paper "Cours d'économie politique." Essentially, Pareto showed that approximately 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population; Pareto developed the principle by observing that 20% of the peapods in his garden contained 80% of the peas. It is a common rule of thumb in business; e.g., "80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients." Mathematically, the 80–20 rule is roughly followed by a power law distribution (also known as a Pareto distribution) for a particular set of parameters, and many natural phenomena have been shown empirically to exhibit such a distribution.

Pay-For-Performance – A paid-search system nearly identical to (and essentially synonymous with) pay-per-click.

Pay-Per-Click(PPC) – This type of paid search marketing involves placing advertisements that run above or besides (and occasionally below) the free search-engine listings on Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. Typically, to get the highest position among these ads, website owners place a per-click bid. It’s not uncommon to participate in a bidding war for coveted top spots. For example, if a website’s listing is among the top 3 advertisements on a page, the same ad appears in the same location on partner websites. Some marketing firms, including Fathom, provide bid management services to get the most value for each search term.

PDF – “Portable Document Format” is a type of file for viewing documents, created by Adobe. PDFs are especially suitable for print-out viewing, so the format is a good choice for sharing high-value collateral like white papers and guides.

Peer-to-peer(P2P) – Refers to any type of interaction between two or more people within a specific social network. Most viral media by definition get their popularity via such P2P sharing. The term is also widely associated with (often illicit) file-sharing networks for music and movies, though not exclusive to that realm.

Persona- Sometimes referred to as a “buyer persona,” a persona is a basic profile of a target consumer. It helps an inbound marketer visualize the ideal prospect, their behavior, demographic profile, and psychographic information. A complete and accurate buyer persona profile can help inbound marketers better define their target audience and make better-informed marketing decisions.

Podcast – A series of audio or video content that can be downloaded and listened to/viewed offline (or a particular episode in that series, e.g. podcast #6 of The Sporkful). A podcast is essentially an asynchronous Internet version of a “broadcast,” but to a very specific audience of willing subscribers. Podcasts are sometimes created to provide stand-alone copies of existing radio or television programming (such as daily/weekly shows), but they may also consist of entirely unique content intended for devoted Web-based subscribers.

Pop-Up Ad – A form of advertisement that automatically opens (or “pops up” in) a new window in a browser to display an ad. Also seen in the form of “pop-under” ads, a slightly less intrusive version. These interruptive approaches to advertising are generally disliked (and therefore ignored) by Internet users. Many browser-based and stand-alone software programs exist to block these ads.

Position – Same as “rank” in reference to search-engine listings.

PPC – An abbreviation for “pay-per-click” as seen above.

Profile – A profile is a personal page within a social network created by a user for sharing with others on the network. The profile provides basic biographical information and often links to the profiles of the user’s friends/connections.

Programmatic - Through programmatic technologies, advertisers can buy ads in real time the way they pick up something on Amazon or bid on eBay. The term covers a wide range of technologies that have begun automating the buying, placement and optimization of advertising, replacing human-based methods like phone calls, faxes and, yes, three-martini lunches. "Programmatic buying is the gluten of advertising," Jimmy Kimmel quipped during ABC's upfront presentation last week. Like gluten, "programmatic" has become a buzzword that many people use but few really understand.

Purchase Intent Trigger(s) - The moment(s) at which a buyer starts or changes how he/she thinks about a purchase. Can be triggered by events, a change in circumstances, a pay raise, a need or an advertising message.


Qualified Lead - A qualified lead is a contact that opted in to receive communication from your company, became educated about your product or service, and is interested in learning more. It does not include your cat (or dog), your relative that “Liked” your Facebook fan page, or someone you just met on Chat Roulette (if that’s still a thing).

QR or Quick Response Code - A specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) that is readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and smartphone cameras. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded may be text, URL, or other data. It also starts with “Q,” which is a rarity with marketing-related terms.

Query – The term(s) entered into a search engine by the user.


Ranking(s) – The position of a website’s listing(s) in search-engine results pages. The higher a rank for a specific keyword, the more generally visible a page is to search-engine users.

Rapid Inclusion – The indexing of websites in search engines and directories based on a per-page fee. As opposed to free submissions, where indexes are updated every few weeks (or less frequently), rapid indexing occurs every 48-72 hours.

Real Time Buying (RTB) - A means by which advertising inventory is bought and sold on a per-impression basis, via programmatic instantaneous auction, similar to financial markets. With real-time bidding, advertising buyers bid on an impression and, if the bid is won, the buyer’s ad is instantly displayed on the publisher’s site. Real-time bidding lets advertisers manage and optimize ads from multiple ad-networks by granting the user access to a multitude of different networks, allowing them to create and launch advertising campaigns, prioritize networks and allocate percentages of unsold inventory, known as backfill.

Reciprocal Link – A link to a website that is reciprocated in the form of a backlink, often prearranged by sites with mutually benefitting audiences. If abused, e.g., two sites with no topical relation decide to link to each other (and many other sites) exclusively for the sake of linking, penalties from search engines could result. See “link farm.”

Redirect – See “301 redirect.”

Registration – The process of signing up to participate in an online forum, community or social-media network. At minimum, this act usually involves sharing a name and email address in order to set up a username and password.

Responsive Design - This is the practice of developing a website that adapts accordingly to how someone is viewing it. A responsively designed site will be easy to read and navigate, regardless if you’re viewing it on a laptop, tablet device, or smartphone. For all those Transformers fans out there, think of it as Optimus Prime in website form.

Robot – Also known as “bot.” See “crawler.”

Robots.txt – A small text file included on a website that directs a search engine to include/exclude specific pages from its index. It can be submitted manually to search engines to ensure the latest version is followed regardless of the “crawl cycle.”

ROI – An acronym for “return-on-investment.” ROI is the percentage of profit from a given digital marketing activity. For example, if you pay $50 a month for CPC advertising, and it leads to $500 in profit, your ROI would be 1000%.

RSS – “Really simple syndication” is the process by which content such as blog posts or podcasts can be updated regularly and syndicated to subscribers in feeds. RSS feeds enable users to access content updates from various outlets—e.g. their favorite blogs, news sites, and digital audio/video providers—all in one central location.


Sales-Ready Lead (SRL) – A lead that has been qualified by marketing based upon criteria agreed upon by both sales and marketing.

SaaS - Software as a service (pronounced /sæs/ or /sɑːs/) is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. It is sometimes referred to as "on-demand software". SaaS is typically accessed by users using a thin client via a web browser.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - The practice of enhancing where a webpage appears in search results. By adjusting a webpage's on-page SEO elements (see the letter “O”) and influencing off-page SEO factors (again, see the letter “O”), an inbound marketer can improve where a webpage appears in search engine results.

Search Engine – A website that allows users to search the Web for specific information by entering keywords. Can include paid or organic listings of websites and sometimes specific images, products, videos, music, place entries or other enhanced results.

Search-Engine Marketing (SEM) – A phrase sometimes used in contrast with “SEO” to describe paid search activities, SEM may also more generally refer to the broad range of search-marketing activities, either paid or organic.

Search-Engine Optimization (SEO) – The process of using website analysis and copy/design/structural adjustments to ensure both the highest possible positioning on desired search-engine results pages and the best experience for a given site’s users.

Search-Engine Referral – This statistic represents a visitor who arrives at a website after clicking through a search-engine results listing.

Search Term – The precise word or phrase(s) entered into a search engine by a user (also called a “query”).

Seed Nurturing -- The process of building relationships with qualified prospects before you have their contact information.

SERP – An acronym for “search engine results page,” displayed after a query is entered on a search engine.

Share of Wallet(SOW) - A marketing term referring to the amount of the customer's total spending that a business captures in their category of business. In Account Based Marketing, growing SOW is a key objective.

Shopping Search – A specialized type of search or dedicated search engine that indexes groups of products, prices and reviews for side-by-side comparison, especially helpful for shopping online.

Signals - Buying signals are the signals usually sent by the customers or buyers to the sellers. These signals show the intention of buying the product by the customers.

SMarketing - Smarketing is fun phrase used to refer to the practice of aligning Sales and Marketing efforts. In a perfect, utopian business process, marketing would pass off fully qualified leads to the sales team, who would then subsequently close these contacts 100% of the time. The business would grow, and everyone would have cake. But this isn’t the way things work—so it’s important for marketing and sales to align efforts to impact the bottom line the best they can through coordinated communication. Inbound Marketing software provides the opportunity to do so by facilitating data share between both sales and marketing.

Social Media – Refers to all online tools and places that are available for users to generate content and communicate through the Internet. These media include blogs, social networks, file-hosting sites and bookmarking sites, among others.

Social Network – A site or community on the Internet where members can interact with one another and share content. This term is more or less used interchangeably with “social media” in reference to Internet marketing.

Spam – In email marketing, this refers to any message that is deemed by users or email providers to be an unsolicited commercial offer. Also called “junk mail.” “Spam” may also refer to links or comments that are left on blogs, forums and message boards designed exclusively to steer users to a site for commercial gain. This kind of spam, generated by random visitors, is called “link spam” or “comment spam.” In SEO, “spam” can be any Web page that a search engine views as harming the credibility of its results. Examples of these can include doorway pages, link farms, keyword stuffing, cloaking and other duplicitous or otherwise user-hostile practices. The standards for what constitutes SEO spam varies by search engine and current algorithm factors.

Sphinn – A niche social-bookmarking website for online marketers.

Spider – Same as “crawler.”

Sales Qualified Lead(SQL) - Determination of when a lead is ready to be handed of by Marketing to Sales. There is no magic formula or bullet for this. Each company must develop its own formula and, like all things in business, the process constantly evolves.  Determining a marketing qualified lead (MQL) from a sales qualified lead (SQL) takes a partnership between sales and marketing, and determining an MQL vs a SQL is the foundation of the lead hand-off.

Style Sheet – A design template used for defining the layout of multiple pages within a website, most commonly seen in the form of “CSS” (cascading style sheets).

Submission – The process of registering a site with a search engine or Web directory. It does not guarantee inclusion, but can lead to it being reviewed or crawled. It offers no guarantee of ranking. The process can be done manually or by using commercial software packages.

Subscribing – The process of opting in to an email newsletter or adding an RSS feed to an aggregator (e.g. for reading blog updates).


Tag – A keyword (often in a string) which is attached to a blog post, tweet (see “hashtag”), social bookmark or media file. Tags help categorize content by subject.

Technorati – A leading blog search engine that aggregates blog content and scores blogs’ popularity or influence.

Tech Stack - A set of software that provides the infrastructure for a computer. The stacks differ whether installed in a client or a server.

Title Tag – A form of meta-data used by search engines to categorize Web pages by title. Search-engine algorithms traditionally value title tags to determine/categorize page content.

Top of the Funnel(TOFU) - Refers to the very first stage of the buying process. Leads at this stage are just identifying a problem that they have and are looking for more information. As such, an inbound marketer will want to create helpful content that aids leads in identifying this problem and providing next steps toward a solution.


User Interface(UI) - In information technology, (UI) is everything designed into an information device with which a human being may interact -- including display screen, keyboard, mouse, light pen, the appearance of a desktop, illuminated characters, help messages, and how an application program or a Web site invites interaction and responds to it.

Unbranded Web - Those sites that are informational by nature and not promoting a specific company.

Uniform Resource Locator(URL) - This is the address of a piece of information that can be found on the web such as a page, image, or document. URLs are important for on-page SEO, as search engines scour the included text when mining for keywords. If a keyword you’re looking to get indexed for is in the URL, you’ll get brownie points from search engines.

UGC – See “user-generated content.”

Unique Visitor – Also known as “absolute unique visitor,” this statistic represents visitors to a website that are counted once in a given time period despite the possibility of having made multiple visits. Determined by cookies, unique visitors are distinguished from regular visitor counts that would classify two or more visits from the same user as multiple visitors.

Uniform Resource Locator(URL) - This string of letters and numbers separated by periods and slashes is unique for every Internet page. A page’s address must be written in this form in order to be found on the World Wide Web.

User Sitemap – A page containing structured links to every other important page on a particular website grouped by topic or navigational hierarchy. These pages are equally useful for people and search-engine spiders alike, as they provide a categorized look at every page on a website at a glance (with hyperlinks).

User-Generated Content (UGC) - Any piece of content created by a member of a given website’s audience for use on that website and sometimes to be freely distributed on the Web. Wikis (and Wikipedia) are examples of UGC (see below).

User Experience(UX) - User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user's interaction with the company, its services, and its products.


Viral Content - This term is used to describe a piece of content that has become wildly popular across the web through sharing.


Waterfall - The waterfall model is a sequential design process, used in software development processes, in which progress is seen as flowing steadily downwards (like a waterfall) through the phases of conception, initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, production/implementation and maintenance.

Web 2.0 – This complex term covers many dimensions of the contemporary Web, including quick user access to streaming video, audio, images and other popular content. It can be generally used to describe interactive, community-driven content, namely blogs, file-hosting, UGC, and social-networking sites.

Webinar – A Web-based seminar containing audio and video, often in the form of a slide deck.

Webconference – A “virtual” meeting of attendees where audio and visual content (including computer screens or live video feeds) can be shared freely over the Internet, so that attendees can have a close approximation to an in-person meeting despite being in different physical locations. Webconferencing takes advantage of a number of different social tools, including VOIP and instant messaging. GoToMeeting is one popular example of Webconference software.

Web Buyer Intent (WBI) - The indications that a potential buyer is on the Path-to-Purchase based on search activity, frequency and type of information being consumed.

Website - A website is a set of interconnected webpages, usually including a homepage, generally located on the same server, and prepared and maintained as a collection of information by a person, group, or organization. An inbound marketer should structure a website like a dynamic, multi-dimensional entity that can be used to attract relevant website visitors, convert those visitors into leads, and close those leads into customers. Otherwise, it’s just a brochure -- and let’s be honest -- could you really use another brochure?

Wiki – Any page or collection of pages on the Internet or an intranet that can be easily edited by the public or a select group of registered visitors. Wikis are examples of collaboration. See “Wikipedia,” the most famous example of a wiki, below.

Wikipedia – A free, open-source, multilingual encyclopedia consisting of heavily edited and vetted user-generated content on topics of nearly every sort. The largest encyclopedia in the world,

Workflow - A workflow is another way to describe a lead nurturing campaign. It’s a set of triggers and events that move a lead through the nurturing process. A workflow can also serve other purposes, such as adjust contact properties on a lead record based on certain conditions, or adding a contact record to a certain list. Regardless of how you use it, workflows can be a very powerful asset in an inbound marketing strategy.


XML Sitemap - We couldn’t leave “X” out of the party! An XML sitemap is a file you can use to publish lists of links from across your site. Sitemaps do not guarantee all links will be crawled, and being crawled does not guarantee indexing. However, a sitemap is still the best insurance for getting a search engine to learn about your entire site. It’s sort of like saying “Hey, Google — check out this fine website.


Y Not - A popular bar here in Milwaukee … so popular there is also the Y Not 2. I had to have something for Y.


Zip + 4 (aka Zip 9) - An extended ZIP+4 code, introduced in 1983, includes the five digits of the ZIP code, a hyphen, and four additional digits that determine a more specific location within a given ZIP code. The USPS provides a free online lookup tool for ZIP codes. Typically each Zip + 4 address applies to only 8 to 12 rooftops.