As the world continues moving toward digital connectedness, it only makes sense that aspects of business would as well. Marketing is far from the exception, with over half of all advertising efforts now being made online. In fact, total digital advertising in 2021 had a spend close to $436 billion. However, offline advertising efforts were a meager $196 billion in comparison. So, with such a major shift toward online advertising and lead generation, it pays to be familiar with important digital marketing terms. We’ve chosen thirty-four that we think you need to know before diving into the world of online advertising.
Important Digital Marketing Terms to Recognize
1. Above the Fold
This is the most important part of every webpage, because it’s what you see immediately when it loads without having to scroll down or over. The content visible will vary depending on the device and screen size in use (i.e., mobile, tablet, desktop monitor). So, always make sure to test new landing pages for all potential scenarios. It is common to pay a premium when advertising in this region, since the ad is guaranteed to be seen by all visitors.
2. Backlinks/Inbound Links
In short, the more high quality links point to your site, the better. So, as long as they are from reputable sites, they should help boost your site’s rankings in search results. Ultimately, backlinks are links from other websites pointing to any page on your site. Search engines use them to judge a site’s credibility. If a site links to you, then reasonable, it effectively vouches for your authority on a particular subject. Therefore, link building is an incredibly important part of search engine optimization (SEO). How many links, the quality of the sites linking to you, and how they link to you are all noteworthy factors.
3. Bounce Rate
Keeping it low is the name of the game. This is the percentage of people who visit your website but leave without visiting any other page.
4. Buyer Persona
In the interest of fairness, this isn’t solely one of the listed digital marketing terms, since marketers of all types use buyer personas. Essentially, they are the fictional depiction of your target customers that serve as valuable reference points for various marketing strategies. Marketing professionals take considerations from buyer goals, industry research, customer data, demographics, and natural human behaviors when forming personas. Ultimately, you end up with a multitude of customer types and can better design your site’s user-experience to expedite the conversion objective.
This simply refers to a user clicking on an ad or search engine result.
6. Click Through Rate (CTR)
The number of clicks divided by the number of impressions. Click through rate is one of the more common digital marketing terms, indicating a measurement of ad effectiveness. This rate tells you how many times people are actually clicking on your ad out of the number of times it’s shown. There is a ton of information gatherable from this metric when inspected at granular levels which, in turn, helps optimize your ad spend.
7. Conversion Rate
This statistic, or metric, tells you the percentage at which people are converting. However, the definition of a “conversion” depends upon your goals and measurements. It could mean a sign-up for free information, a completed survey, a purchase, or almost anything else dependent on user interaction.
Think of these like special tracking devices. Not only do these tracking devices show where someone has gone, but they also track everything that person has done. Furthermore, they are visible to everyone who wants to know. Sounds a little creepy, but cookies also provide direct benefits to web-surfers. For example, they remember passwords and bring you offers based on past and recent behaviors and interests.
9. Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
An online advertising cost structure where you pay per an agreed upon actionable event. For example, this might include a lead, registration or sale.
10. Cost Per Click (CPC)
This is a great metric to measure ad effectiveness. CPC is the amount you pay for every click an ad gets. You just divide the amount spent on an ad by the number of clicks it receives. CPC allows you to compare ad performance across a multitude of conditions such as demographics (i.e., male/female) or medium (i.e., Facebook/Twitter).
11. Cost Per Impression (CPM)
This is one step back from cost per click. Essentially, this digital marketing term refers to how much you’re paying for every view or impression an ad gets. This is a measure of awareness, and the associated ads need to be treated as such. The classic “Marketing Rule of 7” states that a prospective customer needs to see your brand or product on average at least seven times before they’re ready to trust you and make a purchase. Awareness campaigns are different from click campaigns because the goal is to get your name out there. Contrastingly, click campaigns are about getting people to click an ad. This is comparable to billboards you see on the side of the highway. You can’t interact with them, but you’re now aware of the business and their services.
12. Drip Marketing
Marketing communications that are written an advance of delivery, and then sent to prospective or current customers at pre-determined intervals in their buyer journey. The “drip” moniker of this online marketing strategy was devised by the way the messages are crafted and sent. Typically, these email messages are sent one at a time about a specific product or service. And usually, there is a pre-determined amount of time between the next email being sent.
This is the ability to reach potential clients according to their location. The major search engines now all offer the ability to geo-target searches in their pay-per-click campaigns with IP addresses. Geo-targeting allows advertisers to specify which markets they do and don’t want to reach.
This symbol (#) is used on social media as a way to group tweets or pictures by category or phrase. The “#” is placed directly in front of the text. Strategic utilization of these can be very effective in getting content to go viral with minimal investment.
15. Header Tags
Think of these as the names of chapters and sections in a book. They stand out to the human eye due to their larger and bolder font. Header tags aid search engines in combing through content like large bold font helps users skim information in a book. All of the header tags should be used according to their relevance, with more prominent titles utilizing <h1>, subheaders using <h2>, and so on.
Often blue and underlined, hyperlinks, commonly called “links” for short, allow you to navigate to other pages on the web. These are also what you click on search engine results pages to proceed to various web domains. Hyperlinks keep text clean by giving you the ability to hide a long and often unreadable URL by attaching the URL to a single word or group of words relevant to the webpage being promoted.
The number of times a page displays your ad. Note that this is not the same as people actually seeing your ad. Choosing ad placement and having an understanding of the site’s traffic are particularly important when paying on a cost per 1,000 impressions basis.
18. Inbound Marketing
Marketing services and strategies that successfully cause prospective customers to navigate to a website on their own accord. Usually, this might be due to the consistent creation of engaging content through blogs, infographics, videos, and other media.
19. Influencer Marketing
Think celebrity endorsement. However, the celebrity in this case can be anyone from a TV star to a micro-blogger with 5,000 followers. Influencers speak to your target demographic. This creates trust within a community much like you recommending the guy that does your landscaping to your neighbor.
20. Internal Linking
Placing hyperlinks on a page to other pages within the same site. This helps users find more information, improves site interaction, and enhances your SEO efforts. Furthermore, this is how Googles crawl bots easily navigate your site and know how to index it for search results. So, making sure you have no orphaned pages is essential to visibility online.
21. Landing Page
The first page a person sees when coming to your website from an advertisement. It’s where your traffic “lands”. This page can be any page on your website including your home page. Almost anytime you direct someone to your website from an advertisement, you should send them to a specialized landing page. This allows you to tailor information to meet their needs, which can further increase the page’s conversion rate.
22. Link Building
The process of obtaining hyperlinks (links or backlinks) from one website back to your own. Link building is of critical importance for successful SEO, but can be particularly challenging. Generally, different algorithm updates are to blame. However, it is still important to be thorough in this process, because lazy link building can get you penalized by Google. Earning relevant links from high authority sites can be difficult but will help your site rankings overall.
23. Long-Tail Keywords
Rather than targeting the most common keywords for your industry, you can instead focus on more niche terms. Usually, these include longer phrases, but they are often easier to rank for in search engines. Also called long-tail keywords, these amount for up to 60% of a site’s traffic. With the advent of Siri and other intelligent assistants, people are performing more spoken line searches. For example, something like, “Where can I find a good restaurant near me?” Alternatively, when typed out, a search might appear something like, “Restaurants near me”. The former might not get as many hits, but at least you can rest assured that the hits it does get are quality. And moreover, the keyword is much easier to rank for than the latter.
24. Meta Tags
These allow you to highlight important keywords related to your site in a way that matters to search engines but that your visitors typically don’t see. They play an important role in search engine optimization.
This type of registration requires a person submitting information to specifically request to be contacted or added to a list. Opt-ins typically lower lead flow rates and raise cost per acquisition from internet marketing campaigns. But it also might produce higher percentages of quality leads.
26. Paid Search
One of several digital marketing terms referring to the same idea, paid search also involves paid placement, pay per click, and sometimes search engine marketing. Paid search marketing allows advertisers to pay for a listing within search engine results pages for specific keywords or phrases. For example, in Google, you’ll often see these results at the top of the page before organic search results. Search networks are often set up in an auction environment where keywords and phrases are associated with a pay-per-click fee. It can be mind-boggling how complex paid search strategies can get as you learn more about your target demographics.
27. Pay Per Click (PPC)
This is exactly what it sounds like – you only pay when someone clicks your ad. This is the most expensive means of advertising, because it guarantees traffic to a specific landing page. Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and other search engines employ PPC. This cost structure is also used for social media advertising platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
This is how well a particular web page or site is listed in the search engine results. Either state in terms of page ranking, like the first page of search results or exact ranking, like first or twelfth. This is a great gauge to determine how your site is performing with regard to specific keywords describing your product or service.
When someone performs an action, they have a cookie placed on their browser. Then, as they go on visiting other sites around the web, your ad appears in front of them. But only so long as that site accepts ads from the ad network you use for retargeting. This is a form of marketing automation available through most ad networks and platforms.
30. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is potentially one of the most important digital marketing terms to know. It refers to structuring your website in a manner that enhances ranking in search engine results pages (SERPS). Search engine optimization is typically difficult to do on your own, especially given the increasing complexity and differences among search engines. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to do well. Two important factors that rank highly in all major search engines are link popularity and relevant content.
31. Social Media
A type of online media where information is uploaded primarily through user submission. Web surfers no longer simply consume content but actively publish it themselves. Many different forms of social media exist, including establish formats like forums and blogs. However, newer formats are also popular, such as Wikis, podcasts, social networking, image and video sharing, and even virtual reality.
Words or phrases used to describe and categorize individual blog posts, videos or pictures. Correctly using tags organizes content for users and can help with visibility through SEO and social media optimization.
Uniform Resource Locator. These are the letters and symbols that make up the address of specific webpages. For example, VTR Learning’s URL is https://vtrpro.com/.
34. Viral Marketing
A newer method of internet marketing that attempts to make advertisements so interesting that viewers pass them along to others free of charge.
Continue Exploring Digital Marketing Terms
Of course, there are many other important digital marketing terms one needs to recognize if they’re going to break into online advertising. But the thirty-four we’ve presented should help lay a foundation for understanding that can make a difference for newcomers. If you’re still looking for more information, be sure to check out our full marketing course. Members of HRCI and SHRM can even earn recertification credit upon completion.
Article written by Vaughn Pourchot
Last updated February 21, 2023