50 Marketing Definitions You Should Know

Today, there are a ton of marketing terms (some are more commonly used in their acronym form) and phrases floating around. As a digital marketing agency, we deal with a lot of these daily. But, for someone who isn’t in marketing, which terms are important to know? And what do they really mean.

Below we list 50 marketing terms to know for 2023, including what they mean and the value they provide.

And if you’re a marketer, this is a perfect reference page for refreshing your brain, or to help explain things to leadership when doing reports.

We’ll start with the big ones first.

1. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the process of getting free (organic) or natural search results in a search engine. The goal of SEO is to ensure more people see your website and brand more often than competitors, and that your brand ranks top-of-page whenever possible for as many relevant keywords as it can. SEO is essentially the process of improving the quality of your website traffic and the quantity by optimizing your website content. Specifically, this relates to landing page copy (H1, H2, H3, paragraph copy, URL structure, etc.). 

2. PPC (Pay-Per-Click)

PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click. You are probably familiar with as the ads you see appear at the top of any Google search results page. PPC ads are usually text-based, but some now offer visuals as well. PPC ads are focused on driving traffic to a website based on a set of audience targeting parameters. PPC is a tried-and-true advertising channel for many businesses, now it’s often that you need a PPC Specialist to run PPC successfully.

3. Keyword

In marketing, a keyword is a term used to describe a word or group of words that a prospective customer may use to perform a search online. Keywords are short- or long-tail (multiple words in a phrase), and are used in SEO efforts, content marketing strategies, social media, PPC and more. You will likely have a list of brand and non-brand keywords that month-over-month, you’re hoping to improve rankings (what Google results page you appear on for that searched keyword term) for both paid and organic traffic.

4. Lead

A lead is any individual person or business (organization) that has an expressed interest in purchasing your product or serve. A lead is usually captured by clicking on an ad or submitting an email address for a newsletter or piece of downloadable content.

5. CTA (Call to Action)

You have likely seen CTAs in a variety of forms. Buttons on emails or landing pages. Hyperlinked text. Even animated images with action-focused text. A call to action, most often referred to by its acronym, is a short and simple prompt for a user to take a specific action. Usually CTAs are direct, action-focused, and no more than maybe four words if in a button. Some are longer, but usually a short and simple CTA wins.

6. Customer Journey

A customer journey is the entire map of interactions a user may have with your brand and product or service. In this map, you can see the indirect and direct pathways a customer may take. Customer journeys are essential to map out to develop an optimized marketing strategy and adjust based on business goals, budget, and as products or services (or you actual customers) evolve.

7. Omnichannel

This word gets slapped on to a few different things but is most often associated with omni-channel strategy. In marketing this means taking a view of your customer journey that accounts for multiple offline and online touch points and channels. Today, most all marketing strategies are omnichannel as consumers behave this way naturally. Instinct leads us to explore multiple sources for verifying a potential product or service before purchase. A consumer may find you on Google, research you on Instagram, then shop off a recent news article they just saw featuring a new product you launched (or they went to coffee with a friend and decided to purchase the same purse after).

8. Organic (Traffic, Reach, etc.)

This is the “golden goose” of marketing. Organic traffic, organic reach, organic leads, organic conversions. Anything “organic” means you didn’t have to spend a dime for it and are reaping the rewards. Organic traffic is likely the most critical to any business, as it shows SEO performance growth and improvement. Organic leads and conversions are next up as they show the industry appetite for your brand and product/service.

9. Impressions

Want to know how many people are being served your ad or content? Look at your impressions numbers. Impressions tell you how many times your ad or content is served up. Impressions are usually tracked daily, weekly, and monthly. Impressions are really good to know, especially when evaluating total actions on an ad. If you’re ratio of clicks or engagements to impressions is low, it’s likely time to change tactics.

10. Reach

Today, reach is a bit of a vanity metric, only because it’s great to have more people see your brand, but if no action is happening, then does it really matter that you reach 1 million people? Where reach comes into play is brand awareness. Reach is just the total number of people your brand or content is getting in front of (per day, per week, etc.). 

11. Conversions

While the specific list of conversions a person or business has is unique, a conversion is the point at which a person performs a desired action. Conversions can be offline or online and include things like call a TFN, click a CTA button, opt-in for email, click “start checkout” or view a key asset.

12. CTR (Click-Through-Rate)

The CTR is usually a percentage and tells you the percentage of people who have clicked on your ad from the total number of people who have seen or been served your ad. Making sure your CTR is at or above industry and channel standard for your business is key. If it’s too low, it’s not worth your spend.

13. CPC (Cost-per-click OR Cost-per-conversion)

CPC can have two meanings. Cost per click or cost per conversion. Both are critical in any paid media or advertising campaign. This tells you how much money you are spending for a single click or conversion. And be careful too, because cost-per-click can spend your money fast (especially if you are getting charged for clicks on ad vs website visit clicks).

14. Buyer Persona

A buyer persona is a somewhat fictional representation of your ideal customers. A buyer persona includes things like demographic, psychographic, behavioral data points, and even include things like job titles ore key responsibilities. The goal of buyer personas is to better understand who your decision makers are and how they behave so you can adapt content and digital experiences to this.

15. Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

A bit different from Buyer Persona, an ICP or Ideal Customer Profile is a hypothetical description of your ideal customer. Your ideal customer is a person or business that will reap the most benefit from your product or solution, and they typically offer your company the faster and more successful sales cycles. Often ICPs are used for targeting lists in paid media.

16. CPL (Cost Per Lead)

This is amount of money it costs per lead acquired. Usually this is a paid media term and helps to evaluate the cost-effectiveness and value of a lead generation campaign.

17. KPI (Key Performance Indicator)

For any marketing tactic, it’s important to assign a results indicator, which is what a KPI is. KPIs help you track progress towards marketing goals and identify where to make adjustments to optimize strategy, content, creative, or delivery.


This term is not necessarily commonly used but it is a popular acronym for business and marketing leaders. AAARRR stands for Awareness, Acquisition, Activation, Revenue, Retention, and Referral. These are categories within a business or marketing strategy from which to develop smaller strategies, initiatives, content, messaging and assign budgets.

Different Marketing Types, Tactics and Strategies

19. Growth Marketing

Growth marketing is the scientific strategy for marketers where you conduct experiments to optimize and improve results. Growth marketing efforts are usually designed to improve the results of a specific metric (or categories of metrics) overall or in a certain market. Growth marketing is usually broken out into smaller strategies that improve AAARRR (Awareness, Acquisition, Activation, Revenue, Retention, Referral). 

20. Demand Generation

For both B2B and B2C business, demand generation is critical. This is a data-driven marketing strategy that is focused on driving awareness and interest in your products or services, with the ultimate goal of developing a loyal customer base. Demand generation marketing is focused on lead capture, lead nurture, and pipeline acceleration.

21. Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing is the process of educating, informing, and building trust with your prospective customers to help encourage (guide) them through the buyer’s journey. Lead nurturing efforts  help to provide a personalized, unique brand experience that keeps prospects coming back to engage, and eventually converts them into customers. Some lead nurture campaigns are short while others are long. Today though, many are omni-channel.

22. Brand Awareness

This is the extend to which people can recognize recall your brand and what it means/sells/does. Essentially brand awareness is about how many people recognize your brand and how many recall what it does or provides. Many brands do awareness campaigns to drive upper funnel growth and optimize low-funnel lead conversions.

23. Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a customer-centric strategy that is focused on driving inbound traffic for either engagement or conversion purposes. Inbound marketing strategies usually include tactics like social media, blogging, email and SEO. Inbound marketing helps to drive new customers and engage existing ones long-term to retain a loyal customer base who continually invests in your brand over time.

24. Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

ABM marketing is not for everyone, but when done properly, it can be a highly effective approach to hitting your ICPs hard and seeing big results. Account-based marketing is an alternative to the traditional wide-net approach. With ABM, you have a list of targeted accounts from your ICP list and work to develop unique ways to engage and activate them. This often means developing ABM strategies and content designed to fuel this group into taking action on your site, engaging with your brand via social, or improving conversion and lead rates to drive more revenue. 

25. Social Media Marketing

Also known as SMM or e-marketing, or sometimes digital marketing, though any social media marketer will tell you that last one is inaccurate and where a lot of misunderstandings begin. Social media marketing is the use of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok and others to promote a product or service, build an engaged audience, drive brand awareness, capture leads and even handle customer service. SMM has evolved faster than any other marketing type primarily because social is still so new and rapidly evolves (with changes emerging nearly every month/quarter).

26. Content Marketing

Content marketing is the bread and butter of any website, social media presence…honestly your entire marketing strategy. The phrase “content is king” is not only common place but extremely accurate. With content marketing, you’re focused on the creation and sharing of materials in various formats both online and offline. Usually content marketing is an online-focused initiative, but content marketing includes things like blogs, social media posts and Reels, videos, webinars, articles, podcasts, PDFs, white papers and other media. Anything that can be read, watched, listened to or consumed is content.

Across every stage of your customer journey, content is the key.

27. Drip Marketing

Drip marketing is a classic communications strategy that is designed to send a limited number of emails to specific audiences based on a schedule or a certain identified set of actions. Drip campaigns are usually automated, lead or sales focused, and easy to optimize based off changes in audience behaviors or products/services. Drip marketing is now possible to also apply to text messages as well with SMS marketing automation.

28. Email Marketing

A form of direct marketing (and digital marketing), email marketing is a powerful channel to leverage to help promote your products, events, services or thought leadership. Email is an easy way to develop stronger customer relationships and nurture leads. It’s also a fun way to improve customer retention rates and drive brand loyalty. Email marketing can consist of real-time and automated emails, newsletters, and more.

29. Conversational Marketing

Conversational marketing is really about engaging and communicating with your customers and audience. Hence the use of conversational in the name. This marketing type is about how to get building real relationships with buyers and prospective customers through authentic experiences and engaging conversations. Conversational marketing is usually an approach to help fast-track people through a sales funnel or drive brand engagement. Chatbots and social media are typical channels for this.

Tools, Processes and Operations Terms

30. Tech Stack (software stack)

Your tech stack or software stack is the total number of the individual tools and software solutions you need to perform your marketing tasks. This includes things like PR monitoring SaaS solutions, social publishing tools and content management systems.

31. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Software

CRM software is commonplace today and a necessity for any brand with a large customer base. CRM software can help automate and simplify the sales side of things while creating insights and connections for marketing. Salesforce and HubSpot are good examples of CRM software.

CRM software can help create individual lead contacts, track interactions by marketing and sales, assign custom characteristics, tags and help to identify users for automatic email sends. 

32. CMS (Content Management System)

CMS software is a software solution that allows marketing teams to do everything from design, create, host, edit, manage and track website content. Some CMS solutions offer unique features and integrations with CRM software or shopping tools as well. HubSpot is both a CMS and CRM solution, while WordPress is a common CMS option.

33. Marketing Automation

Marketing automation can mean a few things in marketing. It can refer to a software that simplifies and automates marketing tasks such as nurturing leads, lead identification, or send automatically triggered emails or targeted content. Marketing automation refers to both a solution and process around driving greater efficiencies and ROI, while garnering more key insights and behaviors that identify further optimization opportunities.

34. Workflows

While not a formal marketing term, workflows refer to the mapped mini journeys a user will travel based on a set of actions, behaviors or assigned traits. Workflows in HubSpot for example can be created from scratch to automate the delivery of a confirmation email with a link to a PDF after someone fills out a form, and then auto-transfer the contact to the Sales team for direct outreach after 12 hours. Workflows are an easy automation tactic to leverage within a CMS or CMR system depending on your tool and its offered features.

Sales Funnel Terms in Marketing

35. Top of the Funnel (Upper Funnel)

The upper funnel, or top of the funnel, is the audience group which you are building to drive awareness and engagement around your brand. The top funnel customer base is the one which you hope to take a percentage of to funnel them from prospect to customer (bottom funnel) and eventually retention (loyal referrers of your brand).

36. Mid-Funnel

The mid-funnel is the audience group that has taken either a conversion or lead-generation action that indicates their desire to purchase from your brand. In the mid-funnel, this group is ready to be educated, engaged with and informed. They are likely not all ready to shop immediately, so mid-funnel marketing is heavily about lead nurture and helping to guide customers to the next step.

37. Bottom of the Funnel

Finally, the bottom of the sales funnel is the customer group. These individuals are the ones who started as top-funnel individuals learning about your brand, passed through the mid-funnel engagement and information stage, and are now in the close-the-deal/ready-to-shop phase. Bottom of the funnel individuals are your higher value customers. In this stage, a purchase is the only goal that matters.

38. Lifecycle Stages

There are six lifecycle stages within the buyer’s journey that you can attribute to a potential customer. Many CRM systems like HubSpot use these to help teams identify where prospects are at and what next-touch interaction they need. Lifecycle stage assignations are key when integrating marketing and sales efforts (especially if you have a HubSpot + Salesforce connection). The six stages include: subscriber, lead, marketing qualified lead (MQL, sales qualified lead (SQL), opportunity, and customer.

39. Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

Leads can come from anywhere. A marketing qualified lead, or MQL, is one that is driven into your sales funnel from any marketing-driven initiative. This could mean the website, social media, PPC or a white paper. Usually MQLs are coming in from organic search and traffic, direct traffic (email mostly), paid social or other paid media (display, banner, search, etc.).

40. Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

A sales qualified lead, or SQL, on the other hand is developed by the sales team from the beginning. Usually SQLs originate from cold outreach or from in-person industry events. A referral to a new customer by an existing one is also considered an SQL.

Bonus Terms to Know

41. Multi-Touch Revenue Attribution

For the data and money focused, multi-touch revenue attribution is key. This is the process of organizing and capturing all the interactions that along the purchase decision pathway within the company. The goal of this process is to help teams understand how marketing is contributing to the bottom line. Not only does this help attribute credit where credit is due, but it also helps marketing teams to identify poor performing tactics and identify areas of focus for each quarter or annual budget changes.

42. Customer Retention

Any brand worth its salt doesn’t just capture customer sone time, but it works hard to retain them. Customer retention is often a strategy with unique content, focused channels, and developed based on audience behaviors with content, purchases, and customer service. Customer retention is an ongoing effort that is developed and optimized across marketing and customer service to deliver exceptional customer success and happiness experiences that make customers want to come back. It’s also about strategically serving personalized content up that relates to recent past purchases or customer information (e.g., a 10% off code for your birthday to shop new spring clothes).

43. GTM Strategy (Go-to-market Strategy)

A GTM strategy is usually something a brand has specific to a product or product line. A go-to-market strategy is a detailed plan specifying you will present a product’s unique value prop to your target audiences and the industry. GTM strategies are marketing’s version of product launches and usually include a pre-launch, launch and immediate post-launch phase with adjusted content, paid, and social efforts. The end goal is always to get as much attention and conversion (and revenue) around the product after initial launch as possible.

44. Brand Positioning

Brand positioning refers to the ways you make yourself stand out in the crowd. From your tone of voice, visual design style, color palette, logo, to how you represent yourself through  your leaders, events, charities, and public statements. Brand positioning is about your unique brand personality and reputation, and how you compare and rank against competitors.

45. Share of Voice

Share of voice is often a PR term, but many in social and content marketing are looking at this metric more often. While we feel this is often a vanity metric, and more often than not, difficult (and many times inaccurate) to track, share of voice data can help you get an estimated understanding of how much of the conversation you drive, own, are part of, are talked about, or missing from. For brands trying to make an impact or get the attention of a consumer base who cares about multiple topics, share of voice may be pivotal when looking to improve in select areas for awareness or engagement.

46. A/B Testing

Also known as split testing, A/B testing is a common marketing and creative design testing style. Usually with A/B testing, marketers are looking to identify winners for creative, ad format, ad objective, copy or messaging, CTAs, or even budget. A/B tests can run for two weeks, two months or longer. Typically though, it’s about a two-week timespan to see clear results.

47. Influencer Marketing

With the rise of Instagram and TikTok has come influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is when popular social media or digital leaders (trend setters, celebrities, athletes) promote your brand either due to a paid sponsorship or of their own volition to their follower base. Influencer marketing can be extremely successful when done properly (ideally by creatin a product/service/brand that is so wonderful and fun, that they can’t help but talk about it, which in turns get others talking, until the brand explodes on line). Brands like Gym Shark made a genius move and over the lats few years, their fan base has become their marketing influencer bench, and it’s about 90% of their entire content and social strategy.

48. DM (Direct Message)

Ever heard the term “DM her?” or “Just slide into their DMs?” Well that comes from direct message (DM), which is a private message sent between two social media users that can only be seen by the sender and recipient. Instagram is a fun example. Its messages feature not only has private messaging, but it allows you to filter users into different inboxes, as well as control how long media content can live in a chat or be viewed by the recipient. It also has read receipts, which are both anxiety inducing and wonderful all at once.

49. Engagement Rate

For content or social, an engagement rate is a metric that tells you how much interaction a post or video (or other content) has earned in relation to the total number of people who have viewed your post. Today, a good engagement rate is anywhere from 1-4% (depends on the social platform), and the higher your rate the better and more valuable your content is to the audience you served to. 

50. Hashtag

It’s not new, but the hashtag is more evolved than ever. Hashtags are essentially a word or phrase preceded by an # sign and with no spaces between words. Consider hashtags a unique keyword format that specifically works in social channels to help organize content or find posts on a single subject or trending topic or event. Hashtags are often used by the social platforms themselves to help organize content and used by brands to help become part of a conversation, get their content seen by new viewers, and to centralize conversations around key events or topics.

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