25 Marketing Terms and Definitions: A Comprehensive Guide

Updated 17 January 2023

Marketing is a constantly evolving field, as new technology offers fresh possibilities. As new options and strategies emerge, the existing marketing vocabulary expands. Whether you're working in a marketing department or teaming up with a marketer, knowing these terms can help you understand marketing plans and strategies. In this article, we list currently used marketing terms, concepts and abbreviations and explain what they mean.

Related: Understanding the 4Ps of Marketing: A Detailed Introduction

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25 common marketing terms

Here are several marketing terms and their definitions:

1. A/B testing

A/B testing, or split testing, is a marketing exercise to test which variation of a campaign performs better. One-half of the audience sees version A of your marketing content, and the other half sees version B. Analysing the results shows a marketing team which direction to take with their advertising campaigns.

Related: A/B Testing Examples (Including Definition and Benefits)

2. B2B

B2B is an abbreviation for business-to-business. A B2B marketing strategy aims to sell products or services to another organisation instead of to the public. For example, a truck factory might provide vehicles to commercial transport companies.

Related: What Is B2B? (With Definition, Skills and B2B Career Paths)

3. B2C

B2C stands for business-to-consumer, which is a retail model in which sales and services take place between the business and consumers directly. B2C is a term frequently used to describe online selling. The growth of the online B2C market prompted many brick-and-mortar retailers to develop an online shopping presence to retain customers.

4. Bounce rate

Bounce rate is the number of visitors that leave a website without taking any action, such as clicking on a link, making a purchase or filling out a form. A high bounce rate may be due to user experience, page layout, content or copywriting. Pages that give users what they're looking for can reduce the bounce rate.

Related: What Do Web Designers Do? (With Salary and Skills)

5. Buyer persona

A buyer persona is a fictional representation of a company's target customer. When creating a persona, marketing teams consider demographics such as age, gender, education and location. They may consider social characteristics such as occupation, interests, family situation and income. They may also factor in psychological characteristics to create a complete picture of the ideal customer.

6. Call to action (CTA)

A CTA is part of an advert, blog post or piece of content that encourages the reader to take a specific action. CTAs can link directly to a purchase page, lead the customer to sign up for a newsletter or direct them to other related content. A CTA can be direct, such as buy now, or more subtle, as in read more.

7. Click-through rate (CTR)

CTR is how many views an advert gets that result in a click. CTR offers a good sign of whether adverts are relevant. A high CTR shows that advertising is connecting with the intended audience. High CTRs tend to have a positive effect on search engines and may cause greater visibility of the post.

8. Content management system (CMS)

A CMS is an application that helps users create and manage a website via a user-friendly interface without coding knowledge. A CMS typically allows multiple users to upload, manage and store digital content. Offering multiple settings for functionality, style and customer management, CMS platforms make it easier for organisations to build and manage their websites.

Related: What Is a Content Management System? (With Benefits)

9. Content marketing

Content marketing is a long-term strategy that aims to build a strong customer relationship with a target audience by producing regular quality content about their interests. This aims to create loyalty and produce an interest in the company's products, which can lead to sales. Content optimised for search engines tends to attract more organic views.

Related: What Do Marketers Do? (With Common Duties and Job Titles)

10. Cross-channel

Cross-channel marketing involves coordinating a customer experience with a brand across all online channels. This can include websites, email, social media accounts, mobile applications and word-of-mouth recommendations. Successful cross-channel promotion creates a cohesive message that makes it easy for customers to recognise and respond to it.

11. Customer journey

A customer's journey is the route they take from their first encounter with a brand to the point when they make a purchase. Journeys typically comprise five steps that include awareness, consideration, purchase, retention and advocacy. Customer journeys tend to be fluid and happen organically.

12. Customer segmentation

Segmenting customers is a sorting process by which customers get divided into groups based on what they have in common, such as behaviours, demographics or preferences. Creating separate groups within a mailing list allows a marketing department to only send information that's relevant to each group of people. This can make marketing efforts more effective and help keep the open rate high.

Related: What Is Market Segmentation? (A Comprehensive Guide)

13. Dark post

A dark post is a sponsored advert used on social media platforms that rarely appears on the advertiser's feed. Dark posts allow for refined audience targeting and only appear in potential customers' feeds. A/B testing is effective in dark posts, as the audiences' responses to different posts show in the analytics.

14. Email marketing

Email marketing is a powerful form of direct marketing to promote services and products to customers digitally via mail-outs. This method of marketing is effective in raising awareness of new products or special offers, building relationships and keeping customers engaged. Mailing lists offer flexible options for automation and segmentation that can be effective for targeting specific audiences.

15. Inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is a strategy to attract customers through valuable content customised to meet their needs or cater to their interests. Content is typically search engine optimised by using keywords, which helps customers find the posts organically. Inbound marketing often leads a customer through a sales funnel to encourage them to take a specific action.

Related: What Are Marketing Trends? (With Some Examples of Trends)

16. Infographic

Infographics present complex data or knowledge in a graphic format. Visual data in a simplified form allows customers to take in the information easily and may improve how much they remember. Infographics in marketing can help build brand awareness and increase lead generation.

17. Key performance indicator (KPI)

KPIs are measurable values to show the success of marketing activities. KPIs offer a way for marketers to measure their progress towards their goals using industry-standard metrics. Typical marketing KPIs include customer acquisition cost (CAC), return on investment (ROI) and conversion rates.

Related: KPI Meaning (With Definitions, Benefits and Types)

18. Lead

A lead is an individual or organisation who's shown interest in a brand's services or product. They may have clicked on an advert or signed up for a newsletter. Marketing efforts typically aim to generate many leads, as they're potential customers.

19. Lead magnet

Lead magnets are free items or services given away in exchange for contact details and permission for further contact. Marketers typically use lead magnets to grow a database of potential customers. Examples of lead magnets include free trials, tutorials, checklists or toolkits.

Related: What Is Lead Generation and What Are Its Benefits?

20. Onboarding

Onboarding is a process to help customers get to know a company's products and feel more comfortable using them by providing support and guidance. Marketing departments learn more about their clients through this process. Successful onboarding can lead to higher customer satisfaction rates and build loyalty to the brand.

21. Outbound marketing

Outbound marketing communicates what a brand offers to the largest audience possible, hoping they become loyal customers. This form of marketing relies on the belief that the more people who see what the company offers, the more potential customers there are likely to make a purchase. Some types of outbound marketing include sending out newsletters, posting adverts on billboards, using cold calls or sending direct mail-outs.

22. Search engine optimisation (SEO)

SEO is a process to improve the visibility of a webpage or website to make an organisation more discoverable in online searches. The aim of SEO techniques is for the content to show near the top of a search engine results page (SERP), which may lead to higher traffic volumes and improved sales. Using industry-standard keywords is an effective example of an SEO strategy.

Related: 12 SEO Careers to Consider (With Salary Information)

23. Unique selling proposition (USP)

A company's USP is what makes it different from similar businesses in the market. A successful USP identifies and states the overlap between what the business does well and what the customers want. Clear USPs give a casual browser an instant understanding of what the business offers and what needs it aims to meet.

24. User experience (UX)

UX describes how a user feels when interacting with a company's online presence. It involves making a website easy to navigate and attractive to look at. A good UX can lead to increased sales, as customers can easily find the products or information they seek.

25. Vlog

A vlog, or video blog, is a marketing strategy that uses video to appeal to the desired audience. Video marketing can raise awareness and create entertaining ways of introducing an audience to products or services. Consumers enjoy watching videos, as they're usually entertaining and provide useful information in a form that's easy to understand.

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