103 Marketing Buzzwords to Know in 2021 [And Beyond]

It can be frustrating to try to "unpack" what your colleagues are talking about from week to week. Find out which to use (or ditch!)

Marketing Buzzwords Glossary

When I first started working in marketing, I had no idea what the hell anyone was talking about half the time. To me, a funnel was a fried carnival cake, and growth hacking was what Mark McGwire did to hit all of those home runs.

But to do my job, I had to learn all of the marketing buzzwords that people use in this industry. I had to familiarize myself with terms like bounce rate, flywheel, and long-tail. Although some of them sound silly, they describe processes, metrics, and strategies that digital marketers use.

And the list of buzzwords grows every year.

As the landscape changes, the industry’s vocabulary changes along with it. New words are introduced, others fall out of fashion, and it’s our job as marketers to keep up with them.

This glossary page is going to get you up to date on the marketing buzzwords of 2020. We’ll discuss the basic terms you need to know, the ones that will become more common over the next decade, and those that people tend to misuse.

Plus, we’ll share a few that you should stop using, either because they’re worn out or because there’s a newer, more relevant alternative.

Let’s get into it.

We’ve broken this glossary into these seven sections:

1. Basic Industry Terms You Should Know
2. Buzzwords for Types of Marketing
3. Does It Mean What You Think It Means?
4. Relevant Marketing Buzzwords
5. Buzzwords to Watch in the Coming Decade
6. Marketing Acronyms to Know
7. Buzzwords to Know But Avoid

Note: This page is long. If you came here looking for a specific word and don’t feel like scrolling, do a quick Ctrl+F (on a PC) or Command+F search (on a Mac) to jump to it.


Basic Industry Terms You Should Know

Certain marketing buzzwords carry lasting value.

The terms in this section have been around for a while, in some cases decades, but are still relevant.

Analytics

In the context of marketing, the term analytics refers to a combination of two things:

  • The processes used to track and analyze the success of a marketing campaign.
  • The technology employed in tracking and analyzing the campaign.

For example, you might use Google Analytics to learn about the people who visit your website.

By simply including a Google Analytics tracking code on your site, you can find out who is visiting, where they live, their gender, age, and how they came to your site (organic search, social media link, etc.). It also shows you how many visitors convert into customers.

This information lets you see if you are reaching your target audience and where you need to improve your marketing efforts.

Brand Identity

Your brand identity consists of all the visual elements that distinguish your business from every other business. It includes everything from your logo and website to the graphics on your ad banners. It even includes the pictures you post on your social media profiles.

Anything that influences the public’s perception of your company is a component of your brand identity. All of these things impact the way that potential customers view and feel about your brand.

It’s important to note (as 99designs does in this article) that the terms brand and brand identity mean different things, though they’re often confused.

Your brand is all of your company’s intangible qualities — its mission, values, and “voice” — while your brand identity is the visual elements used to communicate those qualities.

Related: What Is Brand Marketing?

Bounce Rate

This term refers to the percentage of people who leave your website without clicking past the first page.

It’s an important metric to know, especially if your business depends on people clicking through to another page. If you run an online store, for example, and people are never clicking past your homepage, you’ll need to figure out why.

There are many explanations for a high bounce rate.

For instance, people might leave your site because:

  • It loads too slow
  • They’re overwhelmed by too many pictures and videos
  • You’re targeting the wrong keywords — in which case you’re attracting the wrong audience

Either way, your bounce rate can help you identify issues with your website. Once you identify the problems, you can improve them.

Related: learn how to cut bounce rates in half with pattern interrupts

Clickbait

Clickbait is a type of hyperlink text that uses dirty tricks to encourage users to click. Usually, the link elicits an emotional response to earn the click, but the content inside doesn’t deliver what it promises.

If you’ve ever seen a headline like You Won’t BELIEVE What Happens Next… or This One Weird Secret, then you’re familiar with clickbait.

Marketers can use clickbait and still be authentic and provide value. Top ten posts and other titles that elicit interest or emotion are often called clickbait, but they don’t have the same negative qualities as true clickbait.

Convert/Conversion

A marketing conversion occurs when you get someone to do what you want them to do. It’s typically used in sales (i.e., converting a potential customer into a buyer), but that’s not the only context for this term.

If you want to build your email list, then every sign-up you get is a conversion. If you want your website visitors to fill out a survey, then every completed survey is a conversion. Even if you’re just trying to get potential customers to call you for a free consultation, then every scheduled call is a conversion.

Although the ultimate goal of any business is to generate revenue, that’s not the only metric for success. Smaller conversions happen along the way, and you can use them to track the progress of your marketing efforts.

Customer Experience (CX)

Customer experience is your customers’ perception of their experience with your brand.

When we talk about CX, we’re talking about how customers feel throughout their entire interaction with your business — from the moment they start researching your product, throughout the buying process, and even after they’ve purchased it.

If you’re looking to optimize your customer experience, you should do things like:

  • Organize your website to make it easier for customers to learn about your product.
  • Send a welcome email to every new customer, along with a contact address in case they have questions.
  • Hire additional customer support employees so that customers don’t have to wait on the phone for troubleshooting help.

With more and more businesses offering subscription-based products (think SaaS products like Slack, or even subscription services like Netflix), companies have started to focus more on customer experience. After all, if you want customers to resubscribe at the end of their term, you have to ensure that their experience is positive.

Deliverables

In marketing, we use the term deliverable to describe the tangible product that we provide to our clients in exchange for their payment.

If you’re a freelance video editor doing a one-time project for a client, the deliverable might just be a single, edited video.

If you work in content marketing, a simple monthly deliverable package might look something like this:

  • Four 2,000-word blog articles for their website
  • Two 1,000-word guest blogs published on another site
  • A monthly report on the traffic generated by your blogs
  • A keyword research report that outlines the keywords you’re targeting
  • An editorial calendar that outlines future blogs

Deliverables give your customers a way to track what they’re getting for their money. It also gives them a way to compare your services to your competitors’ services.

Digital Marketing Strategy

Your digital marketing strategy is your “plan of attack” for reaching potential customers online.

When building a digital marketing strategy, you have to figure out:

  • Who your ideal customer is
  • Which online platforms they spend their time using
  • What type of content you have to create to get their attention
  • How you’re going to convert them into customers

There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for online marketing. Depending on your business and audience, your strategy might involve blogging, social media posts, video content, infographics, and any number of other mediums.

A solid digital strategy also involves tracking metrics and reviewing analytics. By collecting data and reviewing it throughout the campaign, you’ll be able to tell what’s working, what’s failing, and how you need to shift your strategy moving forward.

Want to learn more about digital marketing strategies? Read this: Building a Strategic Marketing Plan for 2020 [And Beyond]

E-Commerce

If you’ve ever bought something on Amazon, sold something on eBay, or even paid for a subscription service like Blue Apron or Birchbox, you’ve participated in e-commerce.

This term refers to the practice of buying and selling things online.

According to the U.S. Census, consumers spent more than $209.5 billion online during 2020, and that number is only growing. In other words, e-commerce is here to stay!

Gated Content

To get better-qualified leads, marketers and sales teams will often offer a free resource to customers in exchange for either a piece of contact info or an opportunity to chat with the prospect.

Examples of gated content include:

  • White papers
  • Case studies
  • Online courses
  • Video tutorials

If you do it right, the content is valuable enough to your prospects that they’re willing to exchange their contact info for it.

Gated content is a helpful marketing strategy because it allows you to establish relationships with the prospects you want. Instead of broadcasting content out to the world and hoping it finds the right audience, you’re able to bring customers to you.

Infographic

Reading data can be tedious and confusing. Infographics solve this problem by presenting the information in a visually appealing way, so it’s easier to read and understand.

While all infographics are different, many include bright colors, fun illustrations, and eye-catching designs. These elements make the content of the infographic more digestible.

For example, here’s a snippet of an infographic from the folks over at SerpWatch. The entire image (which you can view here) is titled 7 Trends You Must Know for a Successful Digital Marketing Campaign, but this section discusses the importance of keyword rankings for SEO:

SEO rankings infographic

If these statistics were presented as text bullets or in paragraph form, a lot of people might overlook them. When presented in a graphic format, this information is more likely to grab peoples’ attention.

Long-Form and Short-Form Content

Long-form content refers to posts and articles that are more than 1000 words (2000-3000 on average).

Short-form content should have a target word count of 300–600 words.

While TLDR (too long; didn’t read) is a trending response to many posts, long-form content is more likely to rank well, be shared, and bring visitors back to your site.

At the same time, short content does have its merits, especially on social media, where it’s hard to hold peoples’ attention for very long. Facebook posts, for example, tend to see the most engagement if they’re under 80 characters.

Marketing Efforts

Your marketing efforts are the time, money, and attention you put toward promoting your brand. They help you grow your audience, build a reputation, and create a demand for your products and services.

Depending on what you sell and who your audience is, your marketing efforts might involve traditional ads (i.e., television, radio, billboards). Or, you might keep it all online with social media and content marketing.

Hiring people is an important component of your marketing efforts. After all, you need talent to promote your brand. So if you hire content writers to write blogs for you, or a web developer to build your website, that’s a marketing effort.

Metric

Your marketing metrics are the units you use to track the progress of a campaign or project. The number of comments on your Instagram posts is one metric. Website traffic is another metric.

Essentially, it’s a way to record how the public reacts to your content over time.

It’s important to note that metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) are different.

Metrics are pure data, while KPIs are used to track performance in relation to a specific goal.

So if your goal is to increase a client’s website traffic by 200% through organic searches, then the organic click rate is a KPI. You can still track Instagram followers and comments, as they might be useful for future campaigns, but they don’t need to graduate from metric to KPI just yet.

Mobile Optimization

Your website doesn’t look the same on a desktop computer as it does on a smartphone or tablet. After all, the dimensions of the screen are completely different. So if you only have a desktop version of your site online, it’ll look wonky when someone tries to view it on a mobile device.

People use desktops and mobile devices differently, too. You can’t tap your desktop screen with your finger, and you can’t right-click on a cellphone.

Therefore, you need a responsive website that detects the user’s device and adjusts itself accordingly.

The process of creating responsive sites is known as mobile optimization.

As of 2021, 3.8 billion people own a smartphone. That’s nearly half of the world’s population!

In other words, optimizing for mobile devices is growing increasingly more important. If you want visitors to stay on your site without bouncing immediately, you’ll need to optimize it for them.

Prospect

When we know that someone is interested in our product, but we haven’t yet converted them into a customer, we call them a prospect.

Prospects fulfill all three of these criteria:

  • They fall into your target market
  • They fit your vision of an ideal customer
  • They have shown interest in your brand

For example, they might have downloaded your white paper or filled out a survey on your website. If they fall into your target demographic, you might move them into the next level of your sales funnel and reach out with a personalized email.

Ultimately, this term helps you to figure out who to focus your marketing efforts on. If you know that someone is likely interested in your product, it makes more sense to pursue them over other leads who may not be interested at all.

Scaling

When a business grows, its overhead often comes along for the ride. But it doesn’t have to.

Scaling is when you increase the ROI of your marketing efforts without spending more money. As opposed to growth, which involves spending a lot more to make a lot more, scaling is a smarter, more practical way to market your products.

For example, you could hire twenty new marketing employees hoping that they’ll increase your revenue by 1000% in the next year. That added revenue is then mostly spent on the twenty new hires. You could instead hire one new person to your marketing team with the goal of increasing revenue by 100% in the next year. Your growth (one new person and doubled sales) is lower, but your profit ratio is higher. You scaled your business.

Although you may miss out on the opportunity to join the Fortune 500 in the next twelve months (which honestly, it probably wouldn’t have worked out that way), you’ll keep both costs and risk low.

Target Audience

Your target audience is the group that you hope to reach with your marketing efforts. They’re the people you think will be most likely to spend money on your product or service.

When determining your target audience, you should consider basic demographic factors, such as age, gender, income, and geographical location. However, you should also consider their interests, career, and buying habits.

Identifying your target audience is crucial in marketing because it helps you figure out where to focus your marketing efforts.

Once you know who you want to buy your product, you can figure out where to reach them and how to communicate with them.

White Paper

A white paper is a long-form report that usually presents a common problem and then offers a solution. That solution is usually a product or service created by the organization that wrote the paper.

White papers are often offered as gated content to procure leads. That said, many organizations do offer white papers as an altruistic way to make life easier for their customers and prospects.

Organizations might also create a white paper to contribute to the conversations in their industry, establish themselves as thought leaders, and make beneficial connections.


Buzzwords for Types of Marketing

Marketing is a big field. It encompasses a lot of different activities, processes, and strategies.

Even under the umbrella of “digital marketing,” there are several subsections and types of marketing.

Affiliate Marketing

In an affiliate marketing campaign, a company pays a publisher (most often a blog) to promote their products. In exchange, the publisher receives a commission for each click, sale, or sign-up.

So, let’s imagine that you’re a blogger who writes about food and cooking. To earn money, you can link out to products and ingredients that you use in the kitchen. Each time someone clicks the link and buys the product, you’ll earn a commission.

There are a lot of affiliate marketing companies out there that connect publishers with companies who have products to promote. These companies manage the partnership and make sure that both sides get what they want out of the deal. However, some companies set up their own affiliate programs without the help of a third party.

Learn how to boost the search rankings of your affiliate blogs in our Affiliate Marketing SEO Guide!

Affinity Marketing

Affinity marketing, also known as co-branding, is a type of marketing in which two brands partner to promote each other’s products.

By partnering with another company on an affinity marketing campaign, you can get your brand name in front of a new audience and build trust with your partner’s customer base.

You’ve probably seen hundreds of examples of affinity marketing.

For instance, if you have your favorite football team’s logo on your credit card, that’s an example of co-branding. Your credit card company might even reward you for buying certain products, staying at specific hotel chains, or flying on certain airlines; this is also an example.

Affinity partnerships also happen on a local level. You might partner with a local non-profit group, offering discounts to their members. This relationship would benefit you by bringing in new customers, and benefit them by incentivizing the local community to become members.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is about using words, photos, and videos to get (and keep) peoples’ attention, especially potential customers.

Usually, the content is given away for free, which companies do in hopes that they’ll attract customers and see ROI down the road.

For example, if you have a blog on your company’s website, that’s an example of content marketing. Your blog can help you increase your organic search value, attract new customers, and keep your current ones engaged.

Ultimately, content marketing can drive sales and make the time and money you put into it worthwhile.

The key to content marketing is quality. Instead of flooding the internet with a ton of mediocre blogs, it’s about publishing exceptional content that provides real value to your audience.

Want help with your content marketing strategy?

Let’s hop on a call!

Direct Marketing

Most marketing techniques involve some kind of middleman. If you take out targeted search ads, you have to go through Google or another search engine. And if you rent billboard space on the side of the highway, you must go through an advertising company to get your message out.

Direct marketing allows you to get your message directly to the viewer without having to work with a third party.

Email marketing, for instance, is a direct marketing technique that requires only an email account and a list of leads. Cold-calling and door-to-door marketing, although they’re a bit outdated, are also examples of direct marketing.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is exactly what it sounds like: using email to promote your products and services. It’s one of the oldest digital marketing techniques (maybe the oldest), yet it’s still quite effective.

As Campaign Monitor points out, you’re 6x more likely to get a click from an email than a tweet!

Email marketing takes many forms. Among other things, companies use email to send out coupons, stay in touch with existing customers, and reach out to prospects who downloaded their gated content.

Nowadays, email marketing is easier than ever, too. With tools like ActiveCampaign, Zoho Campaigns, and MailChimp, almost anyone can create, manage, and track high-level email campaigns.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a method where you pay notable personalities to promote your brand and products. This typically happens on social media and often involves “micro-influencers” with a few hundred thousand followers or less.

It works particularly well for niche brands that want to reach a hyper-specific audience. For example, a makeup company might work with a well-known YouTuber who publishes makeup tutorial videos. The company gets its products directly in front of the audience most likely to buy them.

Unlike traditional ads (which people tend to ignore), influencers are trusted by their audiences. Therefore, working with influencers increases the chances that your target audience will actually see your ads.

Pay-Per-Click Marketing

Pay-per-click marketing involves buying ads on a website or search engine and then paying a fee whenever someone clicks the ad.

It’s a great marketing technique for people who want to get their URL in a high-visibility spot as fast as possible. Through Google Ads, for instance, you can list your ad on the first page of Google searches for your chosen keywords.

However, the viability of pay-per-click ads seems to be in decline. An article from HubSpot shows that 80% of searchers ignore paid ads because they prefer organic links.

Performance Marketing

Performance marketing is not exactly a marketing technique, but more of a pay structure that some marketers use for billing. In a performance-based marketing campaign, you pay a marketer for the results that they generate, instead of paying them a flat fee for their services.

Affiliate marketing is an example of performance marketing. Instead of paying a monthly fee to publishers, you only pay for clicks, sales, or whichever metric you’ve agreed upon.

Because you’re only paying for results, it can be a cost-effective marketing tactic. However, some marketers are hesitant to enter into performance-based agreements because they’re risky.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is a great way to reach your customers where they’re already spending time: on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms.

This type of marketing involves posting text, images, videos, and other sharable content. Depending on your campaign, it may also include sharing promo codes or discounts, or paying for sponsored ads to increase your visibility.

When it’s done right, social media marketing can be highly effective. It not only helps to raise brand awareness and boost your reputation, but it can also drive traffic to your website. Plus, it gives your customers and prospects a way to engage with your brand directly, which improves the customer experience.


Does It Mean What You Think It Means?

There are a lot of marketing buzzwords that people totally get wrong.

Before you start incorporating these terms into your vocabulary (or continue using them), make sure you have the correct definition.

Artificial Intelligence

When we hear the words artificial intelligence, it’s hard not to picture the human-like robots from movies like Ex-Machina, Ghost in the Shell, and Blade Runner.

But, AI doesn’t always look like a human being (at least not the kind we use in marketing).

The term artificial intelligence describes the ability of computers to make decisions and do things that would normally require a human.

Many marketing apps and platforms take advantage of this type of technology. Marketers use AI to predict trends, buy programmatic ads, and even to develop dynamic pricing programs.

Big Data

Collectively, human beings generate an incomprehensible amount of data (1.7MB per second, per person).

The cumulative sum of all this information is what we call big data.

This term is so popular because big data presents an enormous opportunity for almost every industry. But it’s a particularly rich resource for marketers. After all, that data can teach us a lot about consumer buying patterns.

A common misunderstanding about big data is that access to it automatically generates sales. This is not the case. Data must be analyzed, and that analysis must be used to develop future campaigns that must then be tested.

Black Hat / White Hat

The terms black hat and white hat are used in many fields. Taken from old cowboy movies, where the bad characters would wear black hats and the good characters would wear white, these terms usually describe a right and wrong way of doing things.

In the content marketing industry, we use these terms with regard to SEO.

White hat SEO aims to earn engagement by providing relevant, high-quality content.

Black hat SEO, on the other hand, aims to generate clicks by deceiving search engine algorithms.

Some common black hat techniques include:

  • Buying and selling links
  • Spamming forums with links
  • Stuffing keywords onto a page just for the sake of including them
  • Redirecting visitors to a new page that they didn’t click on

There are many other black hat SEO techniques beyond these. Using any of them can result in a search penalty, which will drive your site down in the search pages.

Google has gotten pretty good at recognizing them, too. So if you want to avoid a penalty and keep traffic coming into your site, focus on creating strong content and stop trying to trick the search engine.

Brand Activation

Brand activation is the process of engaging directly with customers and prospects to give “life” to the brand name. This can increase brand awareness, but it can also help you build trust with your clients and potential clients.

A lot of times, people think that brand activation is about putting on big, spectacular marketing events. Although there is merit in event-based marketing, you don’t always need those things to activate your brand.

Sometimes, simply sending a personalized email to your customer or having a real person answer the phone when they call for troubleshooting help is enough to activate your brand.

Brand Awareness

If the general public knows about your company and the products you offer, you’re said to have high brand awareness. Disney, Coca-Cola, and Starbucks all have high brand awareness, as most people recognize these products.

If very few people know about your company, even those who work in your industry, you have some work to do. You need to build awareness around your brand.

Keep in mind, however, that not all brand awareness is good. If you have a reputation for providing a high-quality product or service, then brand awareness is positive. But, you can also earn a reputation for being a bad brand, which is obviously not good.

Content marketing tactics like blogging and social media can help you build awareness around your brand. But, it’s up to you to provide the best possible product if you want a good reputation.

Canonical Tags

Canonical Tags (or canonicalization) is a digital marketing buzzword that you’ll probably only hear if you work around people who deal with technical SEO.

Search engines only like to show one version of any piece of content. If you have duplicate versions of the same piece of content, search engines will typically only show one version and discard the others.

Canonical tags allow you to tell search engines which version is the primary source of that content so that the authority of all versions of the page is consolidated into that singular page.

For example, if you create three landing pages for three different types of customers, those three landing pages might have near-identical content. Here, you could add a canonical tag to the three pages that tell search engines that Page A is the primary version of the page.

You can identify canonical pages for search engines by including a canonical tag in the page’s HTML. When Google or another search engine reads the tag, it’ll know which page is the “official” version that it should index.

Content Strategy

Your content strategy is a component of your overall digital marketing strategy.

When building a content strategy, you have to figure out:

  • What your is content going to be about
  • What format your content is going to take (blogs, videos, social posts, etc.)
  • Where you’re going to publish your content

When we’re determining what to write about (both for our own website and for our clients’ sites), we do some keyword research to identify what the audience is searching for.

We also look for search terms that we know we can write about really well. After all, our number-one goal is to create really, really good content that actually helps the person who clicks on it.

Once we know what we’re going to write about, we determine what type of article we’re going to write (a short blog, a longer pillar page like the one you’re currently reading, etc.) and where we’re going to publish it.

We aim to publish our articles on sites with a readership who is interested in the topic we’re writing about, but also with enough authority to lend search value to our article.

Doing this accomplishes three things:

  1. Provides valuable information to the reader
  2. Builds site authority for our own site (or our client’s site)
  3. Increases brand awareness for ourselves or our client
To learn more about our strategy, check out Pat’s article on the components of a successful content strategy.

Customer Journey

The customer journey is a tool that helps us understand how customers interact with a brand. When mapping out the customer journey, it helps to ask these questions:

  1. What is the customer’s life like before they discover the product?
  2. Where do they learn about the product?
  3. What convinces them to buy the product?
  4. What happens after they buy the product?

All of these questions can help you to find and reach your ideal customer.

Too often, however, marketers only focus on the first three questions. They identify their prospects’ pain points and figure out how to advertise to them, but they fail to consider the period after the purchase. It’s important to think about this stage, though, as a follow-up strategy can help you to earn repeat business.

Learn more about journey mapping here.

Digital Transformation

When a company talks about “going digital,” they’re talking about undergoing a digital transformation. This term refers to upending all outdated business processes and strategies and replacing them with new, tech-based solutions.

The goal is to optimize workflow, make better use of data, and generally prepare the company for the next century.

In a Tech Pro Research 2018 study, 70% of companies were working on or toward a digital transformation. Digital-Adoption reports as recently as November of 2020 that 91% of companies are engaged in digital. Steps are being taken in every type of department, from manufacturing and operations to sales and HR.

Marketing departments are often at the forefront of their company’s digital transformation. After all, marketers understand how useful data and digital tools are for reaching potential clients and providing an optimized customer experience.

Experiential Marketing

Just like it sounds, experiential marketing is about using experiences for advertising. It often involves events, either in-person or broadcast, that activate a brand in the audience’s eyes and give them a new connection to the company.

Some examples include:

  • Netflix’s 2016 promotion for the release of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, where they transformed 200 diners across the country into pop-up versions of Luke’s Diner, the coffee shop in the show.
  • The Oreo promotion that happened at the SXSW festival in 2014, where visitors had the opportunity to create custom-flavored cookies. People were able to choose from a variety of cookie and cream flavors, and their personalized cookies were “printed” on the spot using 3D printing technology.
  • IKEA’s climbing wall Clermont-Ferrand, France, which was a replica of an apartment, hung vertically in front of the store. Visitors were allowed to strap on a harness, climb the wall, and play amongst the IKEA furniture that decorated it.

Experiential marketing often overlaps with immersive marketing. And like immersive marketing, experiential marketing is a great way to encourage customers and prospects to share photos on social media.

Flywheel

The marketing process doesn’t end when a prospect converts into a customer. Someone at the company (whether it’s the marketing team, a customer success team, or a combination of both) should make sure that converted customers stay happy.

After all, as experts have pointed out, 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from 20% of your existing customers. Whether it’s through repeat business or referrals, your existing customers are very, very valuable.

Flywheel diagrams are a visualization tool we use to understand how existing customers generate more value. Every company’s flywheel looks different, but they all place the customer at the center, like this:

Flywheel diagram

Source: Hubspot

Having the customer at the center is very important, and that’s one way in which the flywheel model differs from a typical marketing funnel (which we’ll discuss below). Instead of placing the customer at the bottom of the pipeline like a funnel diagram, the flywheel acknowledges that the business operates around the customers’ needs.

Funnel

We tend to use the image of a funnel a lot in marketing. It’s a very useful tool for describing various marketing processes.

For example, this funnel describes a general marketing process:

 

What is a funnel

 

 

When someone becomes aware of your brand, they enter the funnel. From there, it’s your job as a marketer to qualify each lead and steer the best-fitting prospects toward conversion.

Funnels make nice templates. Depending on your company’s sales and marketing processes, you can impose any number of steps onto a funnel diagram. Your team can use the funnel to keep track of where certain customers are in the pipeline. You can also use it to troubleshoot your marketing process when things aren’t going well.

Gamification

Gamification is a common practice these days, both in marketing and in the broader culture. Essentially, it means using elements of games (scoring, competition, prizes, etc.) to encourage a particular behavior.

For an example of gamification in marketing, look no further than the Monopoly game that McDonald’s has run every year for the past few decades. By turning fast food into a game, McDonald’s increases sales by 5% year after year.

But gamification doesn’t have to involve a literal game. Rewards programs, such as the classic, “Buy 10 cups of coffee, your 11th is free!” promotion, are also examples, as they incentivize people to make purchases in order to a final goal.

You can even gamify your content.

Ideation

Ideation is the formalized process of coming up with new strategies and solutions.

In marketing, the ideation process might result in anything from a single piece of content to an entire ad campaign. A marketing team might even work through an ideation process to develop something like a pitch deck or a mission statement.

Ideation and “brainstorming” are not the same thing. This process is about much more than simply throwing the Koosh ball back and forth while you toss around ideas. When engaging in ideation, the goal is to come up with at least one actionable idea supported by factors like research or data, along with a plan for executing that idea.

Long Tail

In marketing, the term long tail refers to niche consumers and hyper-specific consumer behavior.

The phrase comes from the image of a distribution graph. In these types of graphs, the most popular products and frequent behaviors are located in the top left, while everything else trails off toward the bottom right.

What is a longtail keyword

In content marketing, this term is most often used in the context of long-tail keywords. These are keywords that, although searched less frequently, are still typed into search engines. In other words, someone somewhere is searching for them, even if most content marketers are focusing their efforts on high-volume search terms.

If you can target these keywords and phrases in your content, you may be able to capture the attention of long-tail searchers. According to the folks at Ahrefs, 92% of all keywords get less than ten searches per month, which means that there’s a lot of traffic out there to target by including long-tail keywords.

Related: How to Find a Niche Blog Topic

Marketing Automation

Technology has (and continues to) revolutionize marketing. It provides us with massive amounts of data that we’ve never previously had access to, it’s reduced the risk of human error, and it saves us a lot of time and effort.

Back in the day, marketers used to have to lick 500+ envelopes when sending out mailers. Now, you can reach that many people at the click of a button.

Any technology that makes marketing easier falls under the umbrella of marketing automation. These products help us to develop, implement, track, and analyze our marketing campaigns.

Now, don’t let the automation part fool you. A lot of people take that to mean automatic, as in, “I don’t have to do anything.” That’s not the case.

Marketing will always be a human-centric endeavor. After all, the ultimate goal of it is to build a relationship with each customer. But, marketing automation can make building those relationships a lot easier.

Omnichannel

Omnichannel marketing is about creating a consistent, unified experience for every customer across every channel. It’s about using on and offline tactics in conjunction to accomplish one goal.

For example, you might send a customer a cart abandonment email to remind them to go back to your website, and you might even use retargeting ads on social media as well. This type of integrated, cross-platform advertising is considered omnichannel.

The defining trait of omnichannel marketing is that it starts with the customer. When using omnichannel tactics, you need data to help you reach your customers in the right places at the right times.

People often confuse omnichannel marketing with multichannel marketing. While both tactics employ several channels, multichannel marketing lacks integration.

Instead of using customer data to deliver a personalized message, multichannel marketing bombards the customer with different messages on each channel. The customer might see a billboard, hear a radio ad, and catch a commercial or two, but the company doesn’t know for sure if the people seeing those ads are actually interested in the product.

Organic Reach

Just like with food, organic is good. If your social media content has organic reach, it means that a lot of people see it without you having to pay for them to see it.

Now, just because your social media ads have organic reach doesn’t mean that they’ll translate to profit. After all, people see a lot of content on their feeds, so there’s a good chance they’ll scroll right by your posts.

When we’re talking about website traffic, however, organic is a great thing. Just like with organic reach, it means that people are finding your website content without you having to pay for placement.

And although it doesn’t necessarily translate to conversions, it does mean that people are finding your site through organic searches, which means that search engines recognize your site as containing useful, relevant information. Ultimately, this can lead to more clicks, traffic, and — hopefully — conversions in the future.

Learn how we helped one client increase their organic traffic by 487.1% in our content marketing case study!

Personalization

When we talk about personalization, we’re not just talking about companies including your first name at the beginning of their mailing list emails (although that is an example of personalization). And we’re not just talking about the Coca-Cola campaign where they printed names on the side of every can, so you could buy one with your name (although that is also an example).

No, when we talk about personalization in marketing, we’re referring to the personalization of every aspect of the buyer’s journey, from the time they learn about a company until well after they buy the product. Retargeted ads based on web behavior, custom recommendation lists, and follow-up emails from the founder are all examples of personalized marketing.

Real-Time

The term real-time is widely used in advertising. We talk about real-time analytics, or the practice of analyzing data as it’s generated, and real-time marketing (RTM), or the tactic of creating ads in response to the current moment. There are plenty of other uses, too.

In regards to real-time marketing, the term is used very loosely. It could mean creating social media ads within a span of minutes (like Oreo did during the 2013 Super Bowl power outage) or reacting to ongoing events (as many companies were forced to during the onset of COVID-19 in early 2020).

In the latter case, marketers created new strategies over the course of a few weeks, whereas Oreo created their Super Bowl ad in a matter of minutes.

When we talk about real-time ad bidding, however, the term is much stricter. Ad buying decisions are made on the spot, usually by a computer program that’s been told when to buy and when to pass.

Repurposing

In marketing, to repurpose a piece of content means using it for several different functions. This allows you to extract as much value from each piece of content as possible.

Here’s what I mean:

Let’s say that you run a podcast, and you publish an hour-long episode every week. That’s great, but you can get much more value out of your podcast content by repurposing it. So, you might write a series of blog posts based on the content of each episode and publish them on your website. This adds keyword value to your site, which can attract organic traffic from people who don’t yet know about your podcast.

This works the opposite way, too:

If you have a series of long-form blogs on your website, you might consider repurposing them to create a series of informative YouTube videos. This gives you a new marketing outlet where you can find a new audience to funnel toward your website.

Keep in mind that repurposing content does not mean to use the same piece of content over and over, as that won’t do much good. Instead, it’s more about reworking your existing content for new audiences and platforms.

Retargeting

Retargeting is an advertising tactic that aims to steer customers back to a website. It’s often used to get prospects who almost converted to convert, especially those who abandoned their shopping cart on a website.

Retargeting ads can be placed on social media, in sidebar ads, or even in emails or text messages. There’s always the risk of annoying a customer (they may have abandoned their cart for a reason), but a lot of people swear by them.

It’s important to remember that retargeted ads are not the same as targeted ads. Whereas targeted advertising uses a wide range of data to identify potential prospects, retargeted ads rely solely on an individual’s browser history.

Thought Leader

Thought leaders are people who are known for having insightful thoughts and expert opinions about their field or industry. Oftentimes, thought leaders are the people who speak at large conferences and have large followings online.

In the marketing industry, there are a lot of thought leaders. Rand Fishkin, for instance, has established himself as a go-to person for thoughts on digital marketing and SEO.

Companies can be thought leaders, too. If you consistently publish strong blog articles, case studies, or podcasts, you can gain a reputation for thought leadership in your industry. This is one of the biggest benefits of content marketing.


Relevant Marketing Buzzwords

There are a handful of marketing terms that everyone’s using right now. If you work in marketing or interact with marketers, you’ll probably hear at least a few of these terms:

Contextual Marketing

Contextual marketing is the practice of using data to create targeted ads for specific customers.

For example:

Have you ever noticed that the ads on your Facebook feed relate directly to your recent Google searches? That’s contextual marketing.

If a company knows that you’re interested in certain products, it only makes sense for them to want your attention. You’re more likely to buy something from them than most other people, so contextual marketing is used to steer you toward their products.

Contextual marketing isn’t just about using search histories to create ads, though. Marketers look at the entire context around their customers’ buying habits.

The context includes factors such as:

  • A buyer’s purchase history
  • Their location
  • Their native language
  • The times when they’re most likely to make purchases
  • Their preferred search engine or social media channel

By collecting and analyzing this data, marketers can increase their conversion rates by targeting the right people on the right channels at the right time.

Earned Media

Earned media is another term for free promotion. It includes any ads, news coverage, backlinks, and shares that you earn through your marketing efforts.

So, let’s say that you wrote a really killer blog article for your website. If a bunch of people share that article on Twitter (without you paying them to), that’s earned media. Or, if other sites in your industry link to your article on their own blogs, that’s also earned media.

Paid ads are not earned media.

As you can imagine, most companies strive to earn media without spending money. Although you’ll have to spend some money to market your brand, earned media can help you increase your return on that initial investment.

Read more about blog backlinks here: What Are Backlinks [And Why Do They Matter]

Growth Hacking

Growth hacking is about using savvy, cost-efficient strategies to develop a repeatable sales process. When it’s done right, growth hacking helps small businesses to scale very quickly while minimizing costs.

In practice, growth hacking includes a lot of different marketing tactics, including:

  • Blogging to establish brand authority
  • Using search engine optimization (SEO) to increase visibility
  • Working with influencers to raise brand awareness
  • Creating an email list to stay in touch with customers and prospects

Hacking growth is a trial-and-error process. It takes some time to figure out. But once marketers can identify which of their tactics is most successful in acquiring and customers, they can repeat those tactics to scale their businesses.

zHyperlocal

When we talk about local marketing, we’re talking about advertising to people in a specific city, town, or county.

Hyperlocal marketing takes that even further by marketing to people in a very specific area, such as a particular neighborhood or street.

You’ve probably seen hyperlocal marketing in action before. Terms like food near me or restaurants in Denver are hyperlocal searches.

According to data published on the HubSpot blog, 92% of searchers pick businesses on the front page of local search results. So, it benefits businesses to take steps to show up as high as possible on that first page.

Hyperlocal marketing involves many different tactics and processes.

If you’re looking to show up higher in local search results, you might do things like:

  • Set up a Google My Business (GMB) account to make it easier for people to find information about your business.
  • Ask customers to leave reviews on Google, Yelp, and other sites to spread the word and boost engagement.
  • Use on-site SEO to increase your website traffic, which can help your site to rank higher in search results.
  • Ensure that your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) is consistent across the internet
  • Add your business to other popular publisher sites like YellowPages, MerchantCircle, etc.

Considering that 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information, we’re likely to hear about hyperlocal marketing for years to come.

Immersive

Most marketing happens in two dimensions. We see social media content on our phone screens, blog ads on our computer screens, commercials on TV. Even cross-channel, second-screen marketing campaigns happen across multiple 2-D surfaces.

Immersive marketing brings advertisements into the third dimension. By creating a physical, 3-D space that your audience can visit and interact with, you can invite your audience into the “world” of your brand.

Many companies use brick-and-mortar storefronts as immersive marketing tools. Adidas’s shoebox-shaped pop-up shop at the Primavera music festival in Barcelona is a good example. Although it functioned as a store where the brand sold its sneakers, it was also an immersive marketing experience for visitors.

Plus (and this is one of the benefits of immersive marketing), it also made for great social media photos. Photos from the Adidas event were shared organically among people who found the pictures online, which doubled the campaign’s value.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a type of advertising that revolves around building relationships with prospects and customers. Through content marketing, social media, email, and other channels, inbound marketers focus their efforts on the people who are already likely to buy their product.

This is different from outbound, or traditional marketing. In an outbound campaign, you might hop on the phone and cold call people you think might be interested in your product. If you can get anyone to stay on the phone, you’ll have to sell them on the value and convince them to buy in.

Inbound marketing, however, is about getting those people to come to you. By publishing blogs on your website or recording a podcast about your industry, you’re able to capture the attention of qualified leads.

Related: Lead Generation [The Definitive Guide]

Machine Learning

Data can teach us a lot. In marketing, specifically, it tells us a lot about consumer behavior. By analyzing patterns in customer data, we can learn about why and how people make buying decisions.

But, data analysis is difficult. And the more data you have to analyze, the harder the job becomes.

That’s where machine learning comes in. Machine learning is the process of using computer algorithms to process data and predict future outcomes. Obviously, computers can process far more data than human beings, and they can do it much faster, too.

Almost every industry uses machine learning, from science and engineering to healthcare, retail, and finance.

It’s particularly helpful in marketing, though.

For example, Amazon’s personalized recommendations are possible thanks to machine learning, and they account for almost 35% of the site’s total sales!

Pain Points

The goal of any business is to solve peoples’ problems. Any product or service you offer solves a problem for your customer. The problems that you solve for your customers are their pain points.

In marketing, it’s crucial to identify your customers’ pain points. If you can find all the people who have a specific problem, then tell them, “Hey, I can solve that problem for you,” it’ll be easier for you to grow your business.

The term pain points has been tossed around in marketing agencies for years, but it’s not going away. So if you work in marketing or are thinking about hiring an agency, this is a term you should know.

Transparency

Marketers have a reputation for lying in order to move products. That’s why, according to the American Association of Advertising Agencies, only 4% of consumers believe that marketers practice integrity (yeesh).

That’s why many companies strive to be more open and honest with their customers. These companies are said to have transparency.

To practice transparency in your own marketing efforts, you should:

  • Be honest about the value of your product or service.
  • Clearly communicate your pricing structure before entering a contract.
  • Make it easy for customers to contact you.
  • Take responsibility for your mistakes.

A study from SproutSocial shows that 73% of consumers are willing to pay more for products from transparent companies. So, it’s likely that more brands will start to prioritize this in their marketing in the coming years.


Buzzwords to Watch in the Coming Decade

Like I said in the intro, new marketing terms pop up all the time. Personally, I’d never heard the word geofencing until last year, but now I hear it a few times a week.

If you’re looking to stay ahead of the curve, here are a few buzzwords you’ll want to learn because they’ll probably be around for a while.

Advertainment

The term advertainment describes ads that look more like traditional entertainment than advertisements. They might take the form of a movie, music video, or TV show.

One example is the A&E show Wahlburgers, a scripted-reality show that revolves around actor Mark Wahlburg, his family, and their chain of burger joints. Although the show is clearly a long-form advertisement for the restaurants, it watches similar to Real Housewives and other reality shows.

Advertainment isn’t necessarily a new technique. After all, Hasbro has been making TV shows to sell toys for decades.

But, as companies and marketing agencies look for more strategic ways to reach their audiences, you should expect to see a lot more advertainment in the coming years.

Content Shock

Are you exhausted by all of the content you consume? Like physically exhausted?

Do you ever feel like your brain isn’t equipped to process all of the text, video, and photos you take in every day?

If so, you may be suffering from content shock.

You’re not the only one. Even those of us who make content get overwhelmed by it sometimes.

But as a marketer, content shock is something to be aware of. After all, we have to find ways to cut through all the noise and provide valuable content that helps our audience instead of annoying them.

There are a few ways to market while being sensitive about content shock:

  • Focus on quality instead of quantity: Don’t flood your blog with useless drivel just to put content out.
  • Provide a chance to opt out: If you run an email marketing campaign, make sure that users have the opportunity to unsubscribe. Making this difficult will only turn them off of your brand.
  • Be patient: Effective content marketing takes time. Focus on making informative, engaging content, and eventually, the audience will find it.

Ephemeral content

Ephemeral content is content that disappears after a certain time. Typically, it takes the form of video or images, as with Snapchat ads. Time-sensitive coupons and promo codes also qualify as ephemeral content.

David Trounce points out that ephemeral content’s goal is to tap into the audience’s fear of missing out (FOMO). Because it only lasts for a short time, users may be more likely to engage while they have the chance.

Trounce also points out that ephemeral content allows marketers to make more content. Audiences might be annoyed by a 20-tweet thread clogging up their feed, but an ephemeral, 20-post Snapchat thread is far less invasive.

Freemium

The term freemium describes a type of pricing structure. Using this model, companies give their software away for free. But, it’s usually a limited version, and users must pay a premium to unlock more features, options, or content.

Many software companies use a freemium business model. WordPress is one example. Although its blogging software and CMS are free to use, many plugins and themes cost extra money. If a user wants access to those themes, they must pay a fee.

A lot of streaming services use this model, too. Spotify, for example, is free if you’re okay with hearing an advertisement every few songs. But by upgrading to a premium account, you’re able to listen without ad interruptions.

Geofencing

There’s hardly a piece of technology that marketers haven’t figured out how to use for promotion.

Don’t believe me?

Look no further than geofencing, or proximity marketing. With this technique, you can use GPS technology to send texts, emails, or notifications to audiences when their mobile devices ping in a specific area.

If you have Google Maps on your phone (with notifications turned on), you may be familiar with this tactic. Every time you leave a restaurant, Google sends a notification asking you about your experience. This encourages users to leave reviews when they might not otherwise.

Retail stores use geofencing, too. If you have the Walmart app on your phone, you may receive coupons or promotions when you enter the store.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The term Internet of Things describes the entire network of devices connected to the internet. Ten years ago, that mostly just meant computers and smartphones. But with the influx of smart technology, everything from dishwashers and refrigerators to toothbrushes and silverware is wired in.

But why is this a marketing buzzword? Aside from the fact that marketers are the ones creating ads for this product, how is it relevant?

Well, the IoT generates a lot of data, and marketers love data. By looking at the data generated by a smart refrigerator, you can learn a lot about the owner’s buying habits. By analyzing the collective data generated by all the fridges in a particular city, you can learn about the buying habits of that entire population.

Yes, it’s a little unsettling in a science-fiction way, but this data will be immensely useful to people who market products.

Micro-Influencer/Nano-Influencer

Influencers are people who have a significant following online. But not all influencers have the same amount of followers. A YouTuber who does makeup tutorials may not have as many followers as a Kardashian, but they can have influence in their community.

In fact, that YouTuber might have more influence than a Kardashian, at least in the YouTube makeup community. They engage directly with their audience more often, making it more likely that the audience sees them as a friend rather than a celebrity.

Micro-influencers (10k–90k followers) and nano influencers (1k–10k) are valuable in marketing. By partnering with influencers in your niche, you can get your products in front of their audience. This is a great way to communicate with your target market through a channel they already trust.

According to Data Communications, 36% of millennials and 86% of Gen Z consumers prefer to see marketing content where an influencer discusses a product. So, it seems like we’ll be talking about influencers for a while to come.

Pivot to Video

The idea of pivoting to video has been popular for a few years now. It describes the idea that companies should focus less on written content and more on video content.

Some companies have embraced this concept wholeheartedly. FoxSports.com became a famous example when it laid off a significant number of content writers to invest more in video content. However, this didn’t exactly work out in their favor, as the website saw an 88% drop in website traffic.

via GIPHY

At the same time, there’s no argument that video content can be effective. According to Animoto, video ads are the number-one way that consumers discovered a brand last year. So, while written content isn’t going anywhere, this argument will continue to play out.

Programmatic Marketing

Programmatic marketing automates the process of buying and selling ad space. Instead of having to “rent” space for your ad, you’re able to “bid” on ad space in real-time.

There are a few reasons why this is valuable:

First, it can be cost-effective. There aren’t flat fees, so you may save money if you’re the highest bidder.

Second, it enables you to get your ads in front of a hyper-specific audience. Programmatic marketing uses AI and machine learning to determine who is most likely to buy your products and services. That way, you’ll waste less money on fruitless ads.

Programmatic advertising happens mostly online through platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Google. However, some digital billboard companies now offer programmatic bidding.

To learn more about programmatic marketing and how it works, check out this article from Match2One.

Second-Screen

How often do you look at your phone or tablet while watching TV at the same time? If you’re like most people, probably pretty often. In fact, according to Nielsen, 88% of Americans use a second device while watching television. That’s almost everyone!

Marketers have taken note. We’re starting to see a lot more cross-channel experiences that incorporate both TV and mobile content. This technique is known as second-screen marketing.

Not surprisingly, TV networks and streaming services have led the charge. Netflix, for example, uses data to determine when people are watching certain shows the most. They’ll tweet inside jokes about those shows during those times, allowing the audience to engage further with the show.

Storyscaping

Since the release of Gaston Legorburu and Darren McColl’s book, Storyscaping: Stop Creating Ads, Start Creating Worlds, this concept has become quite popular in the marketing industry.

It’s particularly popular among those who market physical products and are looking to give their customers a deeper connection to their products.

The idea is that every brand should have a story around its products and services. Instead of simply selling things to customers, they should give customers a chance to be a part of that story.

We’ve seen this idea play out in a number of ways. Many companies link themselves to a particular charity and put a certain percentage of their profits toward that charity. By purchasing products from that company, therefore, customers are able to join in on the cause.

This type of marketing is made possible through social media, where customers are able to follow their favorite companies (and their stories) across multiple channels. So, we’re likely to see a lot more storyscaping going on over the next decade.


Marketing Acronyms to Know

We throw around a lot of acronyms in the marketing world, mostly just to save time. I mean, it’s a lot easier to say or write “CMS” than “content management system.” Acronyms are just a shorthand that speeds up communication.

If you’re new to marketing or you’re working with a digital agency and confused about the acronyms people are using, here’s a guide to help you:

CLV: Customer Lifetime Value

CLV stands for customer lifetime value. This term describes the average amount of profit that customers generate over the course of your relationship.

You can calculate this number by finding the average purchase value among all of your customers, then multiplying it by the average purchase frequency rate. I won’t get into the math right now, but there’s a great guide on how to find your customer lifetime value here.

Customer acquisition can get expensive. For companies who sell consumer goods, it costs an average of $22 marketing dollars to acquire each customer. And for software companies, it costs an average of $395. By calculating the lifetime value of each customer, you’ll know how much you can afford to spend on marketing while still generating a profit.

CMS: Content Management System

A content management system, or CMS, is a piece of software that helps you organize your website content. It allows you to create, edit, and publish blogs or other pages.

Most content management systems are designed for collaboration between coders and non-coders. In other words, they’re made so that a webmaster can build a site using HTML, CSS, and Javascript, then content writers and editors can edit the site without touching any code.

Some of the most popular content management systems include:

Each of these CMS programs is designed for users at different skill levels and with different needs.

Squarespace and Wix, for example, are famously very easy to use, although limited in their capabilities. WordPress and Shopify both have endless potential, although they require some technical skills (or the help of a web development professional).

CPC: Cost-Per-Click

Cost-per-click is a term used in discussing pay-per-click marketing campaigns. It describes the amount of money paid for each click on advertising services like Google Ads.

Learn more about pay-per-click marketing below.

CRM: Customer Relationship Management

A customer relationship management system, also known as CRM software, helps you track all of your customer information in one central location. All of your lead generation data, communication history, email marketing campaigns, and customer success information is organized in this system.

There are a bunch of CRM products on the market, and they all offer different features.

Some, for example, offer lead scoring features that enable you to qualify your leads to determine which are the most likely to convert. This can show you and your team where to focus your sales and marketing efforts.

Others integrate with your content management system so that you can better track how customers are interacting with your website. This can teach you a lot about how successful your website is in converting customers, and where it needs to be improved.

CRO: Conversion Rate Optimization

Conversion rate optimization, or CRO, is kind of a confusing term.

Doesn’t everyone want to optimize their conversion rate?

Isn’t that the goal of any business?

Well, yes. But this term specifically refers to optimizing the conversion rate of your website, turning as many site visitors as possible into customers.

To increase website conversions, you must:

  • Demonstrate clear value: Show your target audience that you have something they need.
  • Encourage action: Get your visitors to sign up for your mailing list, follow you on social media, make a purchase, or take some type of action.
  • Prevent bouncing: Optimize your website for speed and usability so that visitors are less likely to click away from your site.

CRO involves a lot of A/B testing. Techniques that work for one company’s site may not work for every site. You and your team will have to play around with different variables to identify exactly what drives conversions among your website visitors.

CTR: Clickthrough Rate

Clickthrough rate, or CTR, is a metric used to measure the number of people who “click through” a particular link.

We use this term in many different contexts, including:

  • Pay-per-click ads: How many people clicked an ad?
  • Email marketing: How many recipients opened an email or clicked the CTA inside the email?
  • SEO: How many searchers clicked a listing on a search page?

A high clickthrough rate is usually a good sign. It shows that the link is appealing enough that a higher percentage of viewers are driven to click it.

A low clickthrough rate, on the other hand, suggests that the link is not appealing enough to encourage the audience to click. Therefore, something has to change, whether that’s the link itself, the content it’s embedded in, or the audience it’s targeting.

CTA: Call to Action

In marketing, a CTA is any kind of prompt that encourages a response from the audience.

For example, a link on a website might prompt visitors to Buy Now!, or a pop-up might encourage them to Sign Up for Our Mailing List (hint, hint).

Calls to action take many forms, including:

  • Text links
  • Buttons
  • Banners
  • Graphics
  • Fillable forms
  • Chatbots

For more information on CTAs and how to create effective ones, check out this article on Marketing Land.

KPI: Key Performance Indicator

KPIs are used to measure the success or growth of a business or project in a more granular way than overarching performance metrics.

For example, you might measure how many new customers enter your site through a particular landing page in one quarter. Or, you might measure the number of conversions generated by that landing page.

Good digital marketers use KPIs to track every phase of their sales funnel, from lead generation to customer success. These metrics can help you to figure out how to achieve your desired outcome.

To create even better KPIs, ask KPQs and begin using SMARTKPIs.

PPC: Pay-Per-Click

Pay-per-click marketing is a type of online advertising where you pay a fee for each click your ad receives.

Here’s how it works:

You create an ad for display on certain pages. You might advertise on a specific web page, or you might target specific audiences (ex. users searching for specific terms, users with specific web behavior, etc.) through services like Google Ads.

Each time someone who encounters your ad clicks on it, you’ll have to pay a fee.

On some platforms, such as Google, the cost-per-click (CPC) is determined through an auction process. You choose the search term that you want your ad to appear in searches for, and you choose the maximum amount that you’re willing to pay for each click. If you have the highest “bid” for a given search, your ad will be the one that appears when someone searches for that term.

Highly sought-after keywords have a high cost-per-click because a lot of other people want to rank for those terms. For example, If you’re a lawyer and you want to target the word “attorney” in your region, you’ll pay around $50 for each click. But, given the amount of money you could make from that click, the CPC could be well worth it.

ROI: Return on Investment

The point of any investment is to make your money back and then some. That “and then some” part is your ROI, or your return on investment.

It’s all of the money you make in addition to the amount you spent on your investment in the first place.

In marketing, ROI is used to justify expenses. If you spend $1,000 on online marketing and your efforts generate $3,000 in sales, your return is $2,000.

ROI is often expressed as a percentage — the percent by which your investment grew. 

You can calculate this percentage by dividing your return amount by your initial investment, then multiplying it by 100%.

Returning to the previous example, you’d divide your return of $3,000 by your $1,000 investment, which equals 3. Multiply that by 100%, and you get your rate of return: 300%.

Sounds like a great investment to me!

Related: What is the ROI of SEO?

SEO: Search Engine Optimization

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the practice of driving free, organic traffic to a website through search engines.

Or, to put it in a simpler way:

It’s about making your website rank higher in Google search results when people search for terms related to your business.

A high-ranking website is a great asset, as it increases the likelihood of people discovering your business. If someone is searching for accounting software and you can get your site to show up on the first page of that search, you’re going to have a better chance of selling to them than a company on the second or third page of the search results.

The way to show up on that first page for important search terms is by:

  1. Creating content pages that provide helpful information for the people who’d be searching for those terms.
  2. Promoting your content to earn backlinks from trusted sources in your niche, which shows Google that your site is also trusted.
  3. Optimizing your site from a technical perspective to ensure that it runs properly and that Google and other search engines can find and index it.

SEO is a complex field that involves a lot of different activities. But ultimately, it’s about publishing killer content to show Google that you run a relevant, authoritative website.

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SoLoMo: Social, Local, Mobile

SoLoMo, short for Social, Local, Mobile, is a marketing strategy that targets customers where they spend the most time: on social media, on their mobile devices, and in their local regions. It’s a holistic approach for marketing to today’s consumers.

For more info on social, local, and mobile marketing, skip to the sections on hyperlocal marketing, social media marketing, and mobile optimization.

ToFu, MoFu & BoFu: Top, Middle, and Bottom-of-Funnel

Tofu mofu bofu

When we say that someone is ToFu, it means that they’re at the top of the sales funnel. If they’re BoFu, it means that they’re at the bottom of the funnel. MoFu, as you might guess, means they’re in the middle.

It’s basically just a way to describe how close a prospect is to converting. Those at the top of the funnel are unqualified leads, so they probably aren’t going to convert for a while, if at all. Those at the bottom of the funnel are all but converted.

As a marketer, your strategy changes for leads in each level of the funnel. With ToFu leads, the goal is to use content marketing to get them into the funnel. As they move further down into the MoFu and BoFu stages, you’ll move away from content marketing and towards personal emails, free consultations, etc.

UGC: User-Generated Content

User-generated content, often abbreviated as UGC, is content that’s created by a brand’s audience instead of the brand itself.

Most of the time, UGC is created for free (although there are cases in which this isn’t true, such as with contests).

UGC campaigns are examples of content marketing, even when the brand does not contribute any content. In fact, this type of marketing can be more effective than traditional content marketing, as many consumers prefer to see user-generated content over brand-created content.

It’s no surprise that UGC has become more prevalent in the age of social media. With people posting photos of themselves interacting with products all day long, brands have an endless stream of UGC to incorporate into their own marketing efforts.

UX: User Experience

UX, short for user experience or user experience design, is an area of marketing that focuses on how people feel when interacting with a product, service, or interface.

It’s similar to customer experience (CX), except that CX is focused on the customer’s perception of the entire brand. UX is much more granular, focusing on individual products or aspects of the brand, such as the website.

The goal of any UX designer is to make the product or service in question as user-friendly as possible. This not only makes the customer’s experience more pleasant, which is always crucial, but it can also help to drive sales and referrals.

As the authors of the case study The Six Steps For Justifying Better UX explain, every $1 invested in UX results in an average return of $100.


Buzzwords to Know But Avoid

Okay, now let’s talk about the marketing buzzwords that we all have to stop using. These are terms that are either outdated, overused, or don’t accurately describe what they purport to.

If you work in marketing, these are words that you should definitely not use when talking to clients, and you should try to avoid them altogether.

360-Degree Visibility

I’m not sure if the marketing world has ever come to a consensus on what the term 360-degree visibility means. I’ve heard it used in so many different contexts that it’s hard to pin down what the real definition is.

From what I can tell, it refers to a marketing agency’s ability to track leads from the beginning of the pipeline to the end, qualifying them and measuring their engagement at every step.

People use it in a lot of other ways, though, and none of them make much sense, which is why I’m an advocate for getting rid of it. Instead of using this vague term to refer to tracking and analytic capabilities, just be straightforward about what you’re tracking and why that’s valuable.

Bespoke

Bespoke is a word that comes from the interior and fashion design worlds. It typically describes furniture pieces that are custom-made to fit a specific space. For example, if you built a weird-shaped bookshelf for a weird-shaped nook in your apartment, that’s a bespoke bookshelf. You may have also heard of a bespoke tailor.

Somehow, this term has made its way into the marketing world, and it doesn’t really make sense.

Web design companies talk about creating bespoke websites for their clients. Programmers talk about creating bespoke apps for companies. These words make it sound like people are sitting at a workbench, carving artisanal apps and websites out of a block of wood.

That’s not even the problem, though. The problem is that clients probably aren’t going to know what you mean if you offer them bespoke marketing solutions. So, you’re probably just better off using the word custom instead.

Close the Loop

Closing the loop feels like an outdated word, mostly because I don’t hear it too much anymore. And when I do, it throws me for … well, a loop.

It refers to closed-loop marketing, a strategy in which sales and marketing teams share customer data to identify the strongest and weakest lead sources. The marketing team drives leads to the sales team, who closes the deal and then reports back on which leads closed. At that point, the loop is closed.

There were points in the past where sales and marketing teams didn’t communicate as much, or even saw each other as competition. But these days, it’s much more common for departments to share data and work together.

So while it made sense to have a special term for the final stage of the marketing process, it’s not really necessary anymore. And if you use it, you’re probably going to have to explain what you mean.

Deep Dive

To take a deep dive means to engage in intensive research around a particular topic. For marketing teams, deep diving usually involves a lot of discussion and planning, too.

You might do a deep dive into a certain type of software before investing in a new solution, or you might do some deep diving into your competitor’s products as part of your R&D process.

Whatever the case, if you work in marketing, you’ve probably heard this one a lot. And although it’s not the worst marketing buzzword, it is kind of redundant. You can save time (and eliminate the risk of annoying people) by using the word research instead.

Disruption/Disruptor/Disruptive

It’s probably been a decade so far of always having to hear the word disruption. Every other company claims to be a disruption to their industry, offering disruptive products.

And experts have been telling people to stop using the term disruption since at least 2013, but people persist nonetheless.

The problem with this term — aside from people using it so much that it’s hard to tell what they mean when they say it anymore — is that it takes change for granted. It’s often used in a way that discounts the fact that change and disruption are inevitable parts of business.

Every company is trying to create a better, more innovative product, no matter what industry they work in. So, to call something disruptive, whether it’s a product, service, or company, is rather fruitless.

This term embodies all of the problems with business jargon: it adds no value to any conversation, but for some reason, it won’t go away.

End-to-End

End-to-end is a weird term because it has so many different meanings. A lot of times, people use it correctly, but some people use it completely wrong and don’t even realize it.

When you hear about end-to-end encryption in an app (E2EE), it means that the app is completely secure for all parties using it. That’s a correct use of the term.

When people talk about end-to-end marketing, however, they’re talking about the process of converting online leads into paying customers. That doesn’t really make sense, as marketing is more of a beginning-to-end process.

It gets tossed around in relation to products, too. Software companies talk about providing end-to-end service, which means that all components necessary to run the product are included.

Comcast, for example, provides end-to-end cable and WiFi services by providing all of the necessary hardware and software. But, a lot of companies use this term simply to mean an all-encompassing product that does everything you need it to.

It’s not the worst thing in the world to misuse this term, but it can cause some confusion. This is one of those phrases that, unless you’re positive that you’re using it in the right context, you might be better off ditching.

Low-Hanging Fruit

In business, the term low-hanging fruit is used to describe a simple task or a problem that’s easy to solve. It suggests that a task can be completed with little to no effort.

In the marketing world, you might hear someone say that selling to certain customers is low-hanging fruit, or that ranking for a certain SEO keyword is low-hanging fruit.

It comes from the idea that the fruit — apples, oranges, whatever — hanging on the lowest branch of a tree is the easiest to grab. And while it may make sense to pick the most accessible fruit in an orchard, it doesn’t always make sense in business, especially if you’re focused on quality and growth.

Oftentimes, the term low-hanging fruit sounds similar to get rich quick. It suggests that the person using it is more focused on fast results than quality work. Therefore, it’s best to avoid this one and to think of every task as deserving of your time, attention, and effort.

Martech

Short for marketing technology, this term used mostly to describe apps and software. Sometimes, people use it to describe their “stack” of marketing technology.

Thankfully, this one never really caught on, but you do hear people use it from time to time. It’s not ubiquitous enough that people will know what you mean when you say it, so you’re better off avoiding it and saying marketing software instead.

Paradigm Shift

When scientists talk about a paradigm shift, they’re talking about a revolution in world history. When human beings started farming, a paradigm shift took place. When the internet made it so that we can talk to anyone anywhere in the world at any time, another paradigm shift happened.

This term describes big changes that affect massive amounts of people.

Now, a lot of people use this word when talking about marketing, but they’re not getting it right. Similar to the word disruption, it’s overused by folks who are trying to say that they’ve created an important product. And while they may have a great product, this word is a bit hyperbolic.

Instead of claiming that your company is going to usher in a paradigm shift, it’s a better use of your time to figure out why your product is so great. You’ll have an easier time selling it if you can communicate how it’ll add value to peoples’ lives, instead of leaning on vague terms like paradigm shift.

Seamless Experience

The term seamless experience, and the word seamless in general, is used frequently in marketing. We hear it a lot in regards to tech and software, especially.

The problem with this term — and I’m speaking as both a consumer and a marketer here — is that it sets unrealistic expectations for clients. It suggests that the user can simply pick up a product or open a piece of software and start using it without having to first familiarize themselves with it, and that’s hardly ever the case with any product, no matter how simple it is.

In other words, there’s no such thing as a completely seamless experience. Products can be user-friendly, yes. And some products are even intuitive in their design. But, it takes a human user to activate any product, and human beings learn at different rates. So, it never quite makes sense to suggest that a user’s experience will be 100% seamless, 100% of the time.

Snackable Content

Snackable, or digestible, is a term used to describe short-form content. We often hear it in relation to social media content like tweets, status updates under 200 words, and branded memes. It’s meant to be processed in a matter of seconds and requires little engagement beyond a like or a share.

The problem with this term is that it’s dismissive of the value of short-form content.

To say that a piece of content is a simple snack does it a disservice. Things like infographics, short blog articles, and social media posts can all drive traffic to your website, build awareness around your brand, and encourage customer engagement.

These types of content aren’t just snacks — they’re valuable for both you and your audience.

Turnkey

When someone uses the word turnkey to define a product or service, they’re saying it’s ready to use. This word comes from the world of buying and selling businesses; when someone is selling a turnkey business, it means that the buyer can simply open the door and start running the business as their own.

Like the words bespoke and seamless, this word has the potential to mislead the client. After all, not every product is ready to use directly after purchase. Most products take at least some time to learn how to use, and some products require a lot of learning.

If someone offers you a turnkey solution to all of your problems, be skeptical. And if you’re in the habit of pitching your product as a turnkey solution, make sure that they know how much work they’ll have to do before they can take full advantage of its capabilities.

Wheelhouse

You’ve probably heard the term wheelhouse even if you don’t work in marketing. It’s common business jargon that describes someone’s skills and capabilities.

For example:

“Yeah, we’d love to help you migrate your website. That’s totally in our wheelhouse.”

There’s nothing wrong with just saying, “Yeah, we’d love to help you migrate your website,” though. The wheelhouse part is excessive and only increases the risk of confusion.

Zillenial

Zillenial is a word that was used for a little while but never caught on. It describes the people born on the cusp of Gen Y and Gen Z, between the years 1996 and 1999.

Conversations about generational terms are always bound to start arguments. Some people claim that the Millennial generation starts in the late 70s while others say it starts in the mid-80s. Some people think that Gen Z started in the year 2000, while others claim it was earlier.

Either way, Zillenial never proved to be a useful term. Marketers seem to do a fine job lumping the ʼ96–ʼ99 generation in with either Millennials or Zoomers, and it hasn’t caused any issues.

If someone is insistent on using this term, it’s good to know what they mean. But if you’d rather not get into long discussions about when a certain generation started and ended, it’s easier to avoid this term.

Conclusion

Don’t worry if you can’t memorize all of these. No one needs to know them all, and some of them might not even be relevant to your vocation.

But, these terms make it easier to communicate with anyone in your industry. Some of them (like the acronyms) can save you a lot of time, while others (like affiliate marketing) don’t really have an alternative.

At the same time, you should be hesitant to load your vocabulary with buzzwords, because people might not know what you mean. If the buzzword is the clearest way to communicate something, use it. But if there’s a more natural way to say what you mean, go with that.

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103 Marketing Buzzwords to Know in 2021 [And Beyond]