Marketers have a lingo all their own.
While we marketing pros tend to keep things clear and simple when writing website copy or marketing emails, we’ll often use marketing slang terms as shorthand when trading tips with each other online or at networking events.
If you’re new to marketing or just want to sound smarter on LinkedIn, this list of practical marketing slang terms will get you caught up in no time.
1. A/B testing
The act of changing a single variable in two otherwise-identical pieces of marketing content to see which achieves better results. Common A/B tests include using two different subject lines on a marketing email (with each subject line going to 50% of your list), measuring the effect of a new headline or lead image on your homepage, or changing the location of a signup form on a landing page.
The key with A/B testing is to only test one variable at a time. That way you know why one asset is performing better than the other. (See also: multivariate testing)
An article in a publication that is designed to promote a product or service, but is presented in the style of original editorial content. The brand being advertised foots the bill, and the publication is required to add a disclaimer that what you’re reading is actually sponsored content.
The group of people who you create all your content for, AKA your real bosses (they don’t really know what they want either). An audience is typically defined by their demographics and behavior.
Hyperlinked text that leads to an external webpage. High-quality ones are important for SEO and better search engine rankings because it helps connect a “web” between your website and other related domain leaders. Backlinks show Google that your website is so cool that it hangs out with all the other cool websites so it definitely should be popular.
5. Bounce rate
In the context of email marketing, bounce rate is the percentage of emails sent that could NOT be delivered to their intended recipients. If you send 100 emails and 10 of them bounce, for instance, your bounce rate would be 10%. Ideally, you should keep your bounce rate below 2%.
Bounces can be separated into two categories: soft bounces and hard bounces. A soft bounce happens when an email temporarily fails to deliver because the recipient's inbox is full, their servers are temporarily down, or the message being sent is too large.
A hard bounce happens when a recipient's email address or domain no longer exists or is inactive. Invalid emails should be cleaned from your list immediately.
6. Brand awareness
The measure of how memorable your company name and/or products are to the general public. For example, your dog knows exactly the kind of high-value experience they’re going to get when they hear W-A-L-K. Marketers work hard to achieve that same level of enthusiastic brand awareness and association around their offerings.
A one-off email that's not part of a larger series (like a newsletter or drip sequence). Broadcast emails, sometimes called bulk emails or mass emails, are great for making company announcements, sharing details about limited-time sales, and more.
BVA is a content marketing metric that stands for “blog visits per acquisition.” It measures the number of visits your blog content needs to attract in order to generate a single new customer. The lower your BVA, the more effective your blog posts are at generating leads. You can learn how to calculate your BVA and how to use it to determine your blog publishing ROI in this article.
Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003, CAN-SPAM for short, is an American law that regulates commercial emailing. The law prohibits businesses from spamming recipients and sending misleading messages. It also gives email recipients the right to STOP receiving emails from senders whenever they wish. You can learn more about CAN-SPAM here.
A channel, or lead generation channel, is a platform or content type marketers use to reach consumers. This can be anything from search ads to landing pages to social media.
11. Cold email
Similar to a cold call, a cold email is an unsolicited sales email sent to someone you have no prior contact or relationship with, but who fits the profile of a potential buyer for your company due to their industry, job role, or past purchase behavior.
12. Content marketing
A strategy that brands use to deliver value to an audience through multimedia content without selling them on anything—at least not explicitly. Content creation (including blog posts, podcasts, and YouTube videos) is one of the most expensive and time-consuming goodwill moves a brand can make. But it has a ton of invaluable benefits, from brand awareness to email acquisition. (See: lead magnet)
13. Conversion Rate
The percentage of recipients who complete your CTA. To find your conversion rate, simply divide the number of people who converted by the number of people who viewed the message.
For example, if 100 people opened your marketing email and 10 of them clicked a link and bought a product, your email’s conversion rate would be 10%. If 100 people visited one of your landing pages and four of them signed up for a free trial, your landing page’s conversion rate would be 4%.
CTA stands for Call to Action, which essentially means asking an observer to take the next step, like add to cart, sign up, or follow. CTAs often come in the form of buttons and popups and forms (oh my)!
Click-Through Rate (CTR) is the number of times an ad or link is literally clicked on by viewers then divided by the number of times it's viewed. High ones make upper management happy because they often lead to more sales.
16. Demand gen
Demand generation is a marketing technique that uses a targeted strategy (like landing page conversion optimization or lookalike audience profiles on Facebook) to bring in new business. How is this different from regular old lead generation? Rather than just drum up more leads, Demand Gen makes the need for a product and company more urgent and important while also expanding the idea of who might actually want it then capitalizing on current wins through optimization.
Your ability to deliver email messages to their intended recipients. Deliverability is often expressed as a percentage known as delivery rate, or the number of emails that reach their target inboxes divided by the total number of emails sent.
For instance, if you send 100 emails and 97 of them reach their recipients, your delivery rate would be 97%, which is considered very good.
Related: How to get more of your emails to your audience’s inboxes [support.nutshell.com]
18. Drip sequence
A series of marketing emails that automatically deploys when specific conditions are met. An example of this is sending a welcome email series to new subscribers when they join your list.
19. Dynamic content
Content within an email or online ad that's automated to change based on the viewer's demographics, physical location, relationship with your company, and more. Dynamic content helps to personalize your email marketing efforts, making them more effective for your business.
20. Email service provider (ESP)
An email service provider is a software service that enables users to store their subscriber lists, design email messages, and send mass communications to hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people at one time.
People who love your product or services and promote them on their own without additional incentives or requests. Think of them like groupies for your brand.
A strategy that uses addictive and entertaining concepts from games to attract, engage, and keep audiences interacting with your brand for longer. McDonald’s Monopoly is a classic example, although there are many other examples in the digital era.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European regulation that came into existence in 2016. The law applies to all people who reside in the EU and is designed to help protect their data. If you have email subscribers in the EU, you must comply with GDPR. Learn more here.
How much positive attention something gets, warranted or not. Hype is usually measured by engagement and organic mentions, like when something goes viral.
25. Hyperlocal marketing
A strategy that targets an audience located in a very precise geographic region; it can be as large as a town or as small as a street. One way to find hyperlocal marketing is by searching for a desired keyword plus the phrase “near me.”
People brands pay to advertise to their personal followers. Contrary to popular belief, influencers exist outside of Instagram in places like Quora and LinkedIn.
27. Keyword stuffing
Including a ton of repeat keywords into a piece of content in the hopes that it will rank higher. If the language isn’t natural, you might actually get your content banned by Google.
Related: What is SEO content writing?
Individual words or phrases people use to search for queries online. Marketers will often research, strategize, and create content around a set of primary and secondary keywords to improve their search engine results page rankings (see: SERPs) for topics with high business value.
Stands for Key Performance Indicator, a unit of measurement used to define the success of a marketing tactic. Without KPIs, you won’t be able to track, monitor, and adjust how you plan to achieve your goals.
30. Landing page
A web page that's designed for a very specific purpose, often to capture leads or sell products. Email marketing and PPC ads are common ways to drive traffic to your landing pages.
A content technique focused on identifying and covering foundational topics a brand or product needs to have on their website. They’re usually detailed, aimed at beginners, and strategic.
32. Lead magnet
High-value content that lures in leads by providing valuable insights, tools, or research, in exchange for the visitor’s email address. Also known as “content offers,” you’ll find them advertised on social media, promoted in newsletters, or dropped into the middle of blog posts, just like this...
33. List hygiene
The act of cleaning an email list by removing addresses that have become inactive or repeatedly bounce. List hygiene also includes updating subscriber information when necessary so that you can successfully deliver your email messages to your audience.
Lifetime value, or how much money a client will bring into the business during the course of your relationship with them. LTV helps companies figure out projected profits and how much they should spend on marketing and sales to get a new customer.
Descriptive and structural information that helps search engines understand what your webpage is all about. Metadata creates rich snippets of content in search results but there’s even more metadata that site visitors don’t see.
Learn more: Beginner’s Guide to Writing Metadata
36. Multivariate testing
Unlike A/B testing, which forces marketers to test one variable at a time (i.e. just the subject line or just a CTA), multivariate testing allows marketers to test multiple variables at once (i.e. subject lines and CTAs). While more complex, multivariate testing can save you time.
An email that's sent on a regular basis to subscribers who opt in to receive it from your business. Newsletters are perfect for sharing company updates, announcing new products, and providing valuable, authority-boosting resources. While they often aren’t as sales-focused as broadcasts or drip sequences, they serve an important function of steadily providing value and maintaining brand awareness among your subscribers.
38. Open rate
The percentage of emails in a campaign that get opened by their intended recipients. To find your open rate, divide the number of opens your campaign receives by the number of total emails delivered (i.e., emails that didn’t bounce). For example, if you deliver 100 emails and 29 of them get opened, your open rate is 29%.
Getting people to find your offerings on their own. This marketing slang term has more to do with website traffic you don’t directly pay for than the quality of your celery.
“People Also Ask,” or the frequently asked questions that come up on Google’s first page of search results. These questions give content marketers a sense of what to answer in their own related content.
41. Paid search
The top one to five search results that show up at the very top of search results and say “Ad” next to them. Companies pay to appear there when people search for specific keywords. There are two types of paid search: the kind you pay for upfront or ads that you pay for after someone clicks on them. (See: PPC)
The act of customizing content based on the audience it's created for.
When it comes to email marketing, personalization includes addressing a subscriber by name, mentioning previous purchases they've made, wishing them a happy birthday (as long as it's actually their birthday, of course), and sending them sales offers that are specific to their region or industry.
Modern consumers demand personalized experiences from the companies they buy from. Personalize your messages and your email marketing efforts will be more effective.
43. Pillar pages
A webpage that groups information from a lot of related topics onto one page. For example, a business may have a Services pillar page that summarizes all the services they offer, while linking out to individual pages that describe them in greater detail.
44. Plain text email
An email that does NOT include HTML, though it can include links to external web pages. HTML is what allows senders to add eye-catching imagery to their emails. We suggest always giving your recipients the option to view your messages in plain text, even if you've designed a stunning HTML message. Most ESPs will give you this option.
45. Post and pray
A delusional approach to marketing in which a person shares a webpage or blog post link on social media hoping it will drive traffic despite not having done any additional strategy or promotion to increase reach.
Pay-per-click, or paid search ads that are displayed for free but charge for every link click. The cost depends on which keywords you choose, with more competitive keywords having a higher price tag.
Learn more: 8 PPC tips to improve your Google Ads performance
47. Preview text
The supporting text that appears next to or underneath the subject line in your recipients' email inboxes. This text gives recipients more context about what to expect if they open your message. Adding clever, eye-catching preview text to your marketing emails increases your open rate, so don’t hit send without adding it.
48. Product-market fit
The act of measuring how well an offer meets the demand of its target audience. An example of great product-market fit is the authentic taco stand that sets up outside of bars at closing time on the weekend.
49. Reply rate
The percentage of people who reply to your email communications (also known as response rate). To find your reply rate, divide the number of replies you receive by the total number of emails sent. For example, if you send 100 emails and receive 8 replies, your reply rate is 8%.
50. Responsive design
An email design that is automatically optimized for the device it's being viewed on. If you've ever viewed an email on your laptop, then pulled it up on your iPhone and noticed that the message looked different, you've experienced responsive design.
Responsive design is important because it ensures your recipients can always enjoy your email content, no matter what kind of device they decide to view it on.
Return on investment. A measured result of an expense that justifies your marketing spend, and helps you know where to allocate future budget. The goal is to get the most results in terms of customer revenue for each dollar spent.
The act of dividing an audience into groups based on shared attributes. For instance, you could create email audience segments based on gender, physical location, purchase history, and content preferences. Doing so will allow you to make your email campaigns more relevant to the recipients, which often results in higher open, click, reply, and conversion rates.
Search Engine Marketing. Using paid ads to land at the top of search engine result pages. It often helps marketers guarantee their spot at the very top of Google’s first page but beware of ad blindness.
Search Engine Optimization is all about driving organic traffic to your website, preferably from visitors who are actually interested in and qualified to use your products and services. SEO typically involves creating marketing content that’s competitive in search engine algorithms and provides a lot of value to human readers too.
Learn more: What is SEO content writing?
Search Engine Results Pages are what you get when you Google anything. 90% of internet users don’t read past the first one.
56. Spam folder
The folder in your recipient's inbox that contains messages identified as likely spam by their email provider. It's the one place you do NOT want your emails to land. Why? Because your intended recipient will likely never read them. Plus, spam has the potential to hurt your deliverability. Learn more about how to avoid the spam filter here.
A person who subscribes, or opts-in, to your email list, thus agreeing to receive emails from your company. One of your main goals as an email marketer is to fill your email list with high-quality subscribers that care about the content you produce and the products you sell. This article lays out some practical strategies to draw more subscribers to your email list.
58. Teething problems
The beginning phases of an entrepreneurial venture that’s still growing. Marketers help companies with teething problems by building their brand name over time.
59. Tracking pixel
An email tracking pixel is a 1px by 1px square image created by a line of code that is inserted into an email message. Tracking pixels are often transparent and placed somewhere discreet in the header or footer of the email. An email tracking pixel will fire when the email is viewed, sending a message back to the sender’s data analytics software that allows the sender to track email opens. You can learn more about this process here.
The number of website visitors you have within a given timeframe. Not all traffic is created equally; if your visitors aren’t buying your product or giving you their email addresses, then site traffic is nothing more than a vanity metric.
61. Transactional email
An automated email that's programmed to send when a purchase is made. For example, when you buy a product on Amazon, the e-commerce giant sends you a quick message to let you know that they received your order and to thank you for making the purchase.
When a subscriber decides they don't want to receive emails from you anymore. This metric is usually expressed as a percentage, known as unsubscribe rate.
To determine your unsubscribe rate, divide the number of folks who've unsubscribed by the total number of subscribers on your list. For instance, if you have 100 people on your email list and two of them unsubscribe, your unsubscribe rate is 2%.
63. User intent
What people search for versus what they actually mean. For example, the search term “what is bone broth” provides more links to recipes and flavors than actual definitions.
Something that is noticeably successful or skillful. It can also be used to describe a task or event that is very fast-paced. For example, you can have a whizbang Facebook ad campaign or eBook launch. And for all you nerds out there, you may have heard this term used in the digital card game Hearthstone.
65. Zero-click searches
More than 50% of users find what they’re looking for at the top of page one of Google without having to click on any links because the information is already available in the text preview. That can be a positive experience for the user—though it’s not great news for the outlets and websites that depend on google for search visits.
With great power...
Marketing slang terms are all well and good when you’re among peers. But there are different types of slang and you need to be greatly responsible for how you use each one when talking to clients.
“In general, I think there's a difference between ‘slang’ that's a) technical in nature, where accuracy matters, b) slang used to convey some key brand positioning point, and finally, c) slang used to intentionally confuse or alienate people—and/or just make you look smart at the expense of your customer,” says Tory Gray, Founder, Principal SEO & Digital Strategy Consultant at The Gray Dot Company.
“Slang used to make you sound smart (or someone else feel less smart) is not good or okay in my book. It can be an effective sales tactic. Depends on your customer. But there's a reason snake oil sales exist—because, at least in some circumstances, it works. Which is obviously a bummer. Slang used to convey your brand and your brand's positioning can be powerful and meaningful so long as your customers have the same association with those terms that you think they have.”
But when it comes to technical industry terminology, Gray says this is where it gets tricky. Ultimately, you have to really understand your customer’s level of experience with the topic before you start throwing marketing slang terms around or talking down to them. Her advice: “Aim for balancing the explanation in a way that ~80%+ of customers will get it.” She also says to add context and provide relevant, meaningful analogies while you’re at it.
“Ultimately, I think you have to meet customers where they are and communicate with them effectively while setting clear expectations. If slang helps you do that (ethically), then I say go for it. If not...stop it already! You aren't helping anyone.”