When a friend and I were catching up last week about work, I mentioned that I was writing a blog post about online marketing. She smiled and nodded her head for a moment that felt like an eternity before she finally squared up to ask, “So…what actually is online marketing?”

I began by listing where marketing can live on the Internet, like Google, Facebook, and personal websites. Then I explained how businesses can promote themselves on these platforms—through email marketing, Facebook ads, content marketing, and the list goes on. Despite my best efforts to provide a crash course in Marketing 101, my friend kept nodding with an absent-minded stare.

At this point, I realized that marketing terms can be extremely confusing to those outside of and new to the industry. “Digital marketing” in itself is an umbrella term used to describe any type of online marketing, like social media marketing, email marketing, search engine optimization, and PPC. In order to help my friend and everyone who doesn’t know the difference between “DA” and “PA,” we’ve organized common digital marketing terms into several categories such as social media marketing, search engine marketing, and email marketing. Take note that these terms may apply to more than one category.

Social Media Marketing (SMM) Terms

CPA – Cost Per Acquisition

This metric represents how much it costs to acquire one customer. It’s incredibly important because it tells you how much you’re spending per conversion. Calculate your CPA by dividing the total cost of your campaign by the number of conversions. If the CPA that you calculate more expensive than your product price, you should consider reworking your marketing campaign.

CPI – Cost Per Impression + Reach

The CPI metric measures how many times your ad appears on a site. It is similar to the marketing term “reach.” Some people confuse the terms “reach” and “impression” even though they have very different meanings. “Reach” is the measurement of how many unique viewers see your content. “Impressions” measure how many times your ad or content was displayed on someone’s feed. The person doesn’t have to engage with the post for it to count as an impression. Additionally, one person could generate multiple impressions for a single piece of content.

CTR – Click-Through Rate

A click-through rate measures how many times users clicked on an ad. To calculate your CTR, take the total number of clicks your ad received and divide it by the number of impressions (the number of times it was displayed). Then, convert that number into a percentage. Keep an eye out, you’ll see this term again in our email marketing section!

CTAs – Call to Action

A good call to action is arguably the most important part of any social media post or ad. In fact, when you couple an effective CTA with quality content that scales with a media spot, your traffic rate is five times better than standard ads. A CTA is usually a short phrase and/or button that grabs your customer’s attention and asks them to do things like click, read, purchase a product, or provide an email. A call to action can be used in social media ads, email campaigns, and on your website. CTAs should be eye-catching—big and bold with a short, effective description of next steps, like, “Sign Up,” “Read More,” or “Add to Cart.”

A CTA is also a crucial part of your website, which should tell readers who you are, why they should choose you over a competitor, and what you want them to do next. CTAs help with the last part. They’re important when it comes to video content, too. If your awesome video ad catches someone’s eye on Facebook, you need to tell that viewer how to take action so it benefits your business.

KPI – Key Performance Indicator

KPIs are an amazing way for brands to measure the success of marketing campaigns. A KPI can be any metric that translates into a success story for your business or marketing goals, such as click-through rate, engagement rate, bounce rate, etc.

A/B Split Testing

In order to A/B split test, create two-to-three similar ads that run simultaneously and see which one performs best. Change up the ads slightly by switching up the image or copy. When you’re done the split test, go all in on the ad that performs the best with your potential buyers. You should always split test to make sure you’re putting your ad dollars where they count. Doing so will also help you better understand what kind of content resonates with your audience more.

B2B and B2C

Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C) are two terms that describe who businesses interact with and who their audience is. Your social media and overall business strategy will vary depending on whether you’re targeting other businesses or consumers.

Buyer Persona

A buyer persona is something that sales and marketing teams develop based on their own research to create a tactile idea of what your target audience(s) look like. Straight-up demographics aren’t enough—teams must consider psychographics like career, interests, personality, home life, pain points, goals, fears, and magazine subscriptions as well. This way, you’ll know which solutions to offer and how to advertise these solutions directly to your potential buyer.




This is a snippet of code that is inserted onto your website to gather analytics and data on your customers as they move through your content. Pixels can be used to retarget customers through Facebook as well. Don’t stress if you aren’t familiar with HTML. All you really need to worry about is copying a snippet of code and pasting it in the correct place on your website. Many apps and social networks provide great tutorials on how to do this.

Thank You Page

This term pertains to e-commerce businesses specifically. If you navigate your customer to a Thank You page after they make a purchase, it will show you where your customers are coming from. This makes it very easy to track your conversions (aka, ROI). If you can’t add a Thank You page after your checkout page, you can add it after your contact form.

Engagement Rate

Engagement rates measure how much your users are interacting with your brand through your blog, Facebook posts, tweets, and photos on Instagram. Comments, shares, and likes can all contribute to an engagement rate. Typically, the higher your engagement rate, the better your content is—which helps SEO! If search engines see that users are interacting with your blog pages on your website, you will be viewed as a quality source.

Remarketing + Programmatic

Have you ever looked at a shirt from Nordstrom or Shein and then, minutes later, an ad pops up for that same product on Facebook? This freaky occurrence is called remarketing, and it’s a tactic used to redirect customers who did make purchases back to your site. The thought process here is that a user is probably interested in a product if they already looked at it, and they’ll probably buy it if they see the product again in the wild.

Remarketing wouldn’t be possible without programmatic ad buying. This term, programmatic, refers to the use of software to purchase digital advertising as opposed to the traditional ad-buying process, which involves RFPs, human negotiations, and manual insertion orders. In sum, it’s about using machines and AI to buy ads.

Relevancy Score + Quality Score

Facebook will provide you with a relevancy score for your creative and copy in the advertisements when you run campaigns on the platform. It’s a way for them to determine how relevant your advertisement is and how it compares to similar ads. Google essentially does the same thing for your paid search ads by delivering a quality score.

A higher score means that your ads will be shown more frequently than those of your competitors and they’ll cost less money.

Lead Generation + Lead Magnet + Lead Nurturing

These three terms all work together in the marketing funnel. Lead generation is how your business generates leads, or how you grab the attention of your customers. A lead magnet is a small giveaway that your business offers to potential customers in exchange for their email address. Once a potential lead becomes an actual lead, you need to nurture them until they become a customer. Typically, businesses nurture their leads through email marketing, phone calls, or social media retargeting.


If you’re not using social media and website analytics to track your audience’s behavior, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to optimize your channels and marketing funnels. Software like Facebook Insights and Google Analytics display this information comprehensively. Look up some tutorials on these tools to help understand the basics.

Search Engine Optimization Terms

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) + SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Search engine marketing refers to paid search marketing, where businesses pay Google to show their ads in search results. Search engine optimization, or SEO, isn’t a paid Google placement. Instead, businesses earn a free spot in Google search results by having the most relevant content for a given keyword search by having good SEO. The higher your business’s Google placement, the better chance you have of obtaining traffic and clicks. Both SEO and SEM should be fundamental parts of your online marketing strategy.

PPC – Pay-Per-Click Marketing

Pay-Per-Click marketing is when businesses and advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. After you set up your ad campaign through AdWords and establish a daily budget for the campaign, you’ll see your ad quickly rise to the top of Google.

Good ads include two short headlines and a description with a link that goes to your website or another desired landing page. It can include other extensions, like your business’ phone number or links to other pages. Make your SEO and PPC work together to see the best results.

DA – Domain Authority

Domain Authority is a number from one to 100 that is associated with websites by Moz, a marketing analytics company. The higher your website’s DA, the higher it ranks on Google. For example, if your website’s DA is 15, you’re going to have a hard time competing on Google against websites that have DA’s of 50-74 unless you make some changes to your site.

PA – Page Authority

Each page on your website is also ranked. These rankings are just as important as your website’s DA because they can still compete for a high-visibility spot on Google. It’s best to distribute PA across all your pages, not just your homepage.

Bounce Rate

Your website’s bounce rate goes up when a user lands on your site and only views one page. If the number is high, you may need to make adjustments in your keywords, user experience, load time, etc. Google Analytics can show you the individual bounce rates of the pages on your website.

If you can convince your user to click through more pages on your website, your site’s time-spent rate will increase. This activity boosts your site in search rankings. Bounce rate is different when it’s applied to email marketing. Read on to find out how.

Above the Fold

Above the fold is the upper half of your website, aka all the content that can be accessed without scrolling. Your H1 tag (for SEO), and a good call to action should be above the fold. A potential customer should land on your homepage and know everything they need to know. If they don’t, they’ll probably hit the back button and increase the page’s bounce rate.

Email Marketing Terms

List Segmentation

Automating your email marketing can save you time and money without sacrificing the quality of content that your audience receives. You can break up your lists into variables like industry, age, location, new and returning customers, etc. These lists can be used to create automation or to funnel customers into automation.

Segmenting your email lists can heavily contribute to success, but be sure to always have a strategy in place before beginning the process.

Bounce Rate

A bounce rate in the email marketing world is the percentage of emails that were not delivered in your campaign. If your bounce rate is high, there may be an issue with your email or the domain from which you are sending your emails. There are two types of bounces: a hard bounce and a soft bounce. Keep reading to learn the difference.

Hard Bounce

A hard bounce is when an email was never delivered. This usually means the recipient’s email address could be wrong, so make sure you review your list before blasting an email. This is one reason why it’s important to build your email list organically. Gather email addresses from people and get their explicit permission to send them content. Never buy email lists. If enough people block you or report you as spam, your deliverability will plummet and you risk getting kicked off of your email marketing platform.

Soft Bounce

A soft bounce means that your email was delivered but was bounced back because the user’s inbox was full, their email server was down at the time, or the email was too large. Some email APIs will attempt to deliver these emails several times before they give up.

Open Rate vs. Total Opens

There’s a significant difference between open rate and total opens in email marketing. Your open rate tells you how many users opened your email, but it doesn’t tell you how many times each user opened the same email. Total opens account for every time your email has been opened.

CTR – Click Through Rate

Click-through rate is one of the best metrics you can use track the ROI of your email marketing campaigns. The email click-through rate is the ratio of clicks on the links in your campaign emails. Your open rate and your click-through rate work together; if people don’t open your emails, they can’t click through to content on your site!

Now You’re Up to Speed!

Aspects of online marketing can be confusing, but understanding the basics can give you and your team the upper hand on measuring ROI so you can create better content and ads for your audience.


What other terms do you associate with online marketing? Comment below with the term and how you use it!

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