A Quick Glossary of Marketing Jargon

Ah, marketers. They use more acronyms than a basic training drill sergeant, and their jargon changes more frequently than New England weather.

Have you ever sat down with an agency and wondered after your call, “What the heck are they talking about? SEO? KPI? CRM?!” Well, we’ve got the solution for you – a glossary of terms, so to speak. Here, we’ll cover some common terms and phrases in marketing, including what WE talk about as marketing professionals ourselves. May you come out of it appreciating our affinity for shortening sentence fragments into small clusters of letters and talking about Google Analytics all the time.

Marketing Speak for Newcomers – A Glossary of Terms

Content Marketing:

(n): An offshoot of inbound marketing, content marketing is the process of creating—you guessed it— content, in order to attract prospects and drive interest and engagement. But it’s not about the sell; rather, content marketing is meant to educate your prospects in your industry and help them better understand or resolve common problems they’re experiencing. Types of content that could be produced include blog articles, white papers, videos, social posts, eBooks, webinars, etc., etc., etc.


(v): You’ll sometimes hear the word “copy” floating around – that’s just another word for content in a text-based format. Therefore, “copywriting” is the act of creating this type of content, usually for businesses.

CPI: Cost Per Impression

(n): CPI is the expense incurred each time a potential customer views an ad you’ve taken out on a webpage. This would be charged by the website publisher, who might request a certain amount per viewership of the ad. Keep in mind – views are not the same as clicks (like PPC). An impression occurs when a user who fits a certain buyer persona has the potential to view your ad, such as when it is displayed in a sidebar on a website they’re visiting.

CPM: Cost Per Mille (Cost Per Thousand)

(n): This is very similar to CPI, except this is the measurement of the estimated cost of the advertisement based on 1,000 views or impressions (mille is Latin for 1,000). For example, if a website publisher charges $1.00 CPM, that means you pay $1.00 every time views for that advertisement hit 1,000.

CRM: Customer Relationship Management

(n): The practice of managing and analyzing customer interactions and data throughout their lifecycle in your system. This can be done through the use of tools and measurement technologies to help you improve your business relationships with your customers, examples of which you can find here.

CTA: Call-to-Action

(n): A CTA is exactly that – a Call-to-Action. Typically, it would take the shape of a module you might put on your home page or at the bottom of your blog post, and its sole purpose is to invoke an immediate response. Some CTA phrases you’re probably already familiar with include “Call now for a free consultation!” or “Find out more!” and are usually accompanied by the option to click a button to view more content or a link that will take you to a landing page with a form.


(n): Drip refers to a style of campaign or communication strategy that sends pre-written emails, messages, or content to a set of customers over a certain amount of time. This could be part of a re-engagement campaign, a welcome series, or a way to keep current customers engaged.

Gated Content:

(n): There will come a time in your content making experience where you’ll find that sometimes people need to be a little bit more intrigued in order to read your stuff. That’s where gated content comes in – it’s just content that requires a reader to obtain access through something like a form. Content that’s behind a form could range from white papers and eBooks all the way to on-demand webinars and infographics. These forms also help because they indicate to you which prospects are interested enough in what you’ve got to give you their email.

Going “Live”:

(v): This one’s fairly obvious. Going live happens when you’re ready to launch your website, landing page, blog post, etc. so that it will begin to rank in search engines and be available for use by the public.

Hamburger Menu:

(n): Sounds delicious, but the marketing version is slightly less savory. A hamburger menu is the three-stacked-lines graphic representing the navigation that appears on your mobile screen when you’re on a website. Who knew that even had a name?

While this entry might seem random in our glossary, it highlights one super important part of creating a website – making sure it’s responsive. In 2016, mobile Internet use surpassed desktop use for the first time in history, which means you’re not serving your market if your website can’t be viewed and easily navigated on a phone.

Inbound Marketing:

(n): No, it’s not marketing to marketers. It’s marketing to educate, delight and inform even before the sale. Inbound marketing is the process of attracting leads with (really good, not just excessive) content creation, social media strategy and SEO. Inbound’s antonym would be cold calling (an example of outbound marketing), and we all know how effective THAT is.


(n): A keyword is a key word (revolutionary, I know) or phrase that helps people find your web page via a search engine. This requires a bit of research – checking Google Analytics for keyword search volume and competitive data, however, is the best place to start. The most optimal keywords will have a relatively high search volume and a relatively low difficulty score, so make sure you’re picking keywords wisely.

KPI: Key Performance Indicator

(n): A measurable value that indicates and demonstrates how effectively a company is hitting their primary business objectives. This is a multi-level concept – you don’t just measure success at one level of your sales funnel – and your keys should be laid out before you even have a chance to measure them. This means setting goals!

There are plenty of tools to help you measure KPIs – and they usually work in conjunction with your goals. Those tools might measure SEO, marketing progress, sales statistics, etc. Check out some examples here.

Lead Flows:

(n): The type of lead flow we’re talking about here is a tool that you can use to sustain website traffic and easily convert a visitor into a prospect right on the page (they don’t need to visit that resource’s unique landing page). An example of a lead flow might be when a user begins reading a blog post on your site and halfway through the content there’s a pop-up form highlighting another relevant offer.

Lead Generation (“lead gen”):

(n): the process of identifying possible customers, attracting them, and converting them. It can be done any number of ways, but first steps usually involve creating things like buyer personas and conducting in-depth research.

Lead Nurturing:

(v): Lead nurturing is the process of creating and sustaining relationships with your customers and leads at every stage of the sales funnel. For example, a lead nurturing campaign might include a welcome email series, newsletters, etc. The key is that lead nurturing doesn’t have a time limit – you should always be paying attention to your buyers’ needs.


(n): Okay, we get a lot of mix ups on this one – even from our own team! – so here it goes: an offer is a piece of content that a reader can learn from or use to their advantage. That might mean a white paper, eBook, trial, webinar, slideshow, consultations, what have you. It’s NOT a landing page or a “Get 10% off your next purchase!”

Partner Marketing:

(n): Partner marketing has many names, but it essentially boils down to the idea of two organizations coming together to increase reach and engagement with a marketing program that’s designed to meet both of their goals. It’s collaborative marketing for people with two products that could coexist or work together as one package.

PPC: Pay-Per-Click

(adj): A PPC ad is one that you might take out on a social site – LinkedIn or Facebook, for example – or a search engine (which is the most popular place to put a PPC ad). Every time that ad is clicked, your company pays for it. It’s basically the opposite of organic – you’re essentially buying visits to your website. But don’t knock it ‘til you try it – this could earn you a lot of qualified, ready-to-buy traffic as long as you have the budget for it.


(n): Remarketing is the process of reconnecting with previous visitors of your website. It allows you to position targeted ads to a defined audience (one that has previously visited your site) as they browse other pages on the Internet.

ROI: Return on Investment

(n): As a business owner, this one should be familiar to you. Mathematically speaking, ROI = (net profit/cost of investment) x 100. It’s a percentage used to help make financial decisions, and a formula you should be on top of, regardless of your hatred of algebra in high school.

Also consider, however, that ROI calculations don’t take time into consideration within their formula – so make sure you have a time frame for that +15% (or whatever) return in mind.


(n): A term created by our partners at HubSpot, Smarketing refers to aligning sales and marketing. This is a critical aspect of Customer Success – making sure that multiple parties in your business are coming together and are updated with each others’ goings on. This will allow your message, brand and goals to remain consistent throughout your sales process, and allow you to perform things like closed-loop reporting.

Smart Content:

(n): Smart content is targeted content. It’s website content that changes based on the past interactions or preferences of the website user – or their geographic location, device, etc. Those users could be leads who have already downloaded a certain type of content on your site, customers who have a deeper understanding of your service, prospects in a foreign country, etc. – it’s more relevant and personalized. This content can be customized to your audience via your CRM system.

SEO: Search Engine Optimization

(n): The process of developing web pages, digital content and online imagery so that they show up in browser searches – preferably towards the top of the first page. It’s a culmination of a whole bunch of factors (some of which are defined in this post). For an in-depth look at those factors, check out this awesome infographic by Search Engine Land.


(adj): Top-of-the-funnel (alternatively, top-of-funnel, top funnel, TOFU or TOTF to keep in the acronym spirit) marketing refers to the process of getting your brand or business out there. Unlike its brother, bottom-of-the-funnel marketing, TOFU describes a less direct effort to engage prospects who are in the Awareness Stage of the buying cycle and who are not yet familiar with your brand. Prospects who are at the top of your funnel aren’t looking for a solution yet, so top-of-the-funnel content is primarily educational (it doesn’t tout your product or service) – and it’s designed to help users with an industry-specific issue they’ve encountered.

  • Antonym: Bottom-of-the-funnel 
    (adj): Here’s where you start to direct your efforts more specifically. The bottom of the funnel (BOFU, BOTF) is the point where your hopefully soon-to-be customer will make a purchase. This is where you can leverage free trials, assessments, incentives and consultations. BOFU content is all about getting personal and personalized.


(n): An automated marketing tool that you can trigger based on a lead’s interactions with your site and content. So if someone downloads a piece of gated content, you can put them into a workflow that will trigger any number of things, like specific emails or personalized CTAs if they continue interacting with your site. Your workflow can be designed for several things – to send an email based on the number of times someone has engaged with your site, or based on what they downloaded, etc.

And there you have it. Just a few key marketing terms to get you started. There’s a whole bunch more out there to know (and more to learn on the terms here) – if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out!

Free Download: Top 10 Marketing Mistakes Even the Smartest Companies Make

Madeleine LaPlante-Dube | Content Marketer
About the Author
Madeleine LaPlante-Dube, Content Marketer

Madeleine LaPlante-Dube loves to write about emerging trends in content – video, podcasting and interactive webpages. When she’s not crafting compelling content and scheduling savvy social, she’s creeping on the outliers in the industry – seeing how leaders are doing things differently and figuring out how she can help readers learn from them.