Essential Marketing Definitions for Non-Marketers [2021]

A dictionary sits open on a tabletop.

Published May 19, 2021

Marketing terms can be daunting for business owners and leaders who don’t have to wrangle with these on a daily basis. And that’s ok– we probably don’t know the technical terms from your industry. But knowing some of the basics can make it easier to communicate clearly with your internal marketing team, work with a marketing agency or freelancer. 

While we try to stay away from marketing jargon as much as possible, we’ve collected the digital marketing terms and acronyms we most often need to define or clarify in the context of our regular client work. Please enjoy our “marketing dictionary”!

Blog: A short article on a specific topic; or a collection of short articles that exist on a single website. Often used to establish industry expertise, provide relevant information to a target audience, and use keywords to improve SEO performance.

Call-to-action: A short word or phrase that tells your audience what to do next. Frequently appears in a button format. Examples: Read More, Learn More, Buy Now, Register Today.

Case study: A detailed report and analysis of a successful project or outcome generated for a specific client of a business. Most often used in B2B content.

Click-through-rate: The number of times someone clicked on a link in your digital marketing. Frequently applies to email marketing. 

Cost-per-click: A digital advertising metric that averages out how much ad buy was required to generate a single click from your chosen audience.

Cost-per-result: A digital advertising metric specifically used by Facebook Ads that assesses the effectiveness of multiple results (clicks, reach, etc) against your total campaign cost.

Creative: Any of the visual or multimedia elements in marketing materials. Most commonly includes graphics, images, photography, video, or audio.

Digital marketing: The use of and strategy related to marketing materials that exist in a digital format, or on a digital platform.

Domain: The website address, or URL, of a website. Owning the address does not guarantee that your website is hosted. 

E-commerce: Buying and selling goods and/or services online. Often referred to in conjunction with websites, as in “does this website support e-commerce?”

Earned media: A non-paid mention in a media publication or show. Examples include an article in a national newspaper, or an appearance on a local news channel.

Email bulk sender: A marketing tool that allows the sending of branded, formatted, personalized emails to a large number of recipients. Also allows the management of email subscriber lists. Examples include: Mailchimp, MyEmma, ConstantContact. [does not imply endorsement]. 

Google Analytics: A free tool by Google that provides in-depth metrics about a website’s traffic. Useful in assessing some important marketing metrics.

Graphic designer: a marketing professional who designs and handles visual elements.

Hosting (for website): The digital storage of a website on a server. Websites are made up of a number of files, and hosting determines where those files live. While some companies own their own servers, many businesses choose to use a hosting service for their website. Website hosting does not mean the site has been built or created– it is merely the space to put a site that has been created.

Kerning: the spacing between two letters. Often referenced in relation to font use in graphic design.

Marketing funnel: A sequence of marketing messages/interactions, usually automated, designed to bring a prospective customer from first touch to final purchase. Sometimes also referred to in other similar metaphors: marketing flywheel, marketing pipeline. 

Marketing generalist: Someone with broad experience in multiple branches of marketing, but not necessarily deep expertise in each. This person often works in marketing strategy or marketing project management. 

Organic social: Any social media posting that is free; not a paid/ad placement on a social media platform. 

Search engine optimization, or SEO: The practice of using keywords in website text content to make it easier for a search engine to find a website in relation to specific search terms.

Social media marketing: Any promotional business/organization posting that occurs on a social media platform [Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, TikTok, Clubhouse, Snapchat, etc]. 

Stock photography: A broad collection of photographs and illustrations available to be licensed for commercial use. Free stock photography is available from certain sources, sometimes with license restrictions.

Paid social: Any social media content associated with a paid post, promotion, or ad.

Plugin: A tool that allows additional functionality. In marketing, this is usually in reference to a website. WordPress famously has numerous plugin options.

Podcast: A digital audio file that can be downloaded, or listened to online or streaming. Podcasts exist in both short and long formats. Some brands and businesses produce their own podcasts for their audience as a form of content marketing.

Press Release: A short, concise, factual announcement of news by an organization. Typically used by a person in a PR role in the course of reaching out to media that may be interested in that news item. Sometimes also referred to as a news release.

Print marketing: Any marketing materials for use in a tangible print medium. Examples: paper brochures/reports, advertising in print publications.

Website Builder: A tool that allows a person with no coding experience to create a website. Examples include WordPress, Squarespace, Wix [does not imply endorsement]. 

Web developer: A person building the code and/or technical elements of a website. Some developers are also website designers.

Website designer: Person who handles the layout and visual design elements of a website. Some website designers are also developers. In very large or enterprise projects, however, these are likely separate roles, and they may still work with a graphic designer for the creation of some or all of the visual elements.

White paper: A detailed report on a single topic; generally on technical or business topics.

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