When people want to research, buy, or review a product, they do it online. Digital marketing helps businesses get in front of those people and stay up to date with market trends. And knowing the right digital marketing terms can make all the difference.

With digital marketing campaigns, you can invest with any type of budget, track results, and measure your return on investment (ROI) to see what’s working and what isn’t. Given the effectiveness of these campaigns, it’s no surprise businesses in the U.S. alone spent over $300 billion on digital ads in 2020.

Like any specialized field, digital marketing has its own language — jargon that might be confusing at first but useful once understood. To help you get started, we’ll review the top digital marketing terms to help take your campaigns to the next level.

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Top digital marketing terms to know today

From SEO to SERP, the terminology around digital advertising can be a lot at first. If you’re just starting to research this field, don’t be intimidated by those who are already in the know. New terms are being coined constantly, and even veteran digital marketers come across terms they haven’t seen before.

This list will break down some of the most relevant digital marketing terms to know today. That way, if you decide to dive deeper, you’ll have a good foundation to build on.

1. A/B testing‌

You’ll see this mentioned a lot, especially when referencing social media ads and email marketing. A/B testing is when two different versions of the same product are tested at once to see which performs best.

That can be entirely different versions of something, or a version with only small changes. The existing version is called the control version, and the new version tested against it is called the variation. Once enough data is collected, the version that performs better is kept.

digital marketing terms
A/B testing is even used to determine which mobile app store listing performs better via randomized trials.

2. Ad extension(s)‌

Ad extensions are extra information or features you can put in a Google Ads advertisement. This can be a variety of things, from a “click to call” button to customer reviews. The idea is to provide the person searching with more detailed information about your business.

3. Bounce rate‌

This refers to the amount of time someone stays on your website before exiting. If someone visits your site then immediately clicks away, that’s called a “bounce.” If a page has a high bounce rate, it could indicate an issue needing attention.

One caveat: Certain types of pages are designed for people to visit once and then leave. They have a high bounce rate, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Press releases are one example of this. If your homepage has a high bounce rate, however, you’ll want to determine whether that’s the desired goal for that page.

4. Backlink‌

A backlink is a link to another website or page within your own site, and it’s one way to boost your search rank in Google. Sites with strong backlinks — those that link to trusted, relevant, and authoritative sources — are viewed as more relevant and can be favored by the algorithm. They might also be called other digital marketing terms such as incoming links, inbound links, in links, or inward links. 

When other websites backlink to your site, this sends a signal to Google that they believe your site to be credible and authoritative. This consequently boosts your site’s search rank in Google.

5. Buyer persona‌

Buyer personas (or just “personas”) are fictional characters based on your ideal customer. They’re often used in digital marketing to represent the people who would typically buy a product. They’re also used to tailor advertising efforts to similar people in the real world.

Personas can be segmented into different audiences. They can also be as detailed as you’re willing to make them. Income level, geographic location, whether someone has children, and what causes they support are all commonly included in buyer personas.

6. Call to action (CTA)‌

A CTA can be anything from a “subscribe” button to an invitation to sign up for a newsletter. Whatever form it takes, the CTA is meant to encourage the reader to take a specific action. This usually means buying a good or service but could also be providing information like an email address.

digital marketing terms
CAPTION: Spotify’s CTA is simple and effective, providing clear direction. Image Source: Critical Mention

7. Click-through rate (CTR)‌

This refers to the number of people who click on an ad after seeing it online. When combined with the number of views, it can tell marketers how effective their ads are. This data can drive changes in a campaign. For example, an ad with a high rate of views but a low number of clicks probably isn’t interesting enough for most people to click on. It should therefore be reworked.

8. Cost per click (CPC)‌

Commonly used as a metric for ads on Google, CPC refers to how much an advertiser is charged for every time someone clicks on the ad. The CPC of an ad can vary depending on the associated keywords and the industry you’re advertising in, according to Google.

9. Customer relationship management (CRM)‌

Another digital marketing term is CRM — the process of creating, building, and maintaining relationships with your business’s customers. It includes everything from email marketing automation to lead generation to re-engagement campaigns.

CRM software is built to automate and streamline most of the actions necessary for CRM. Marketing email campaigns, for example, can be almost completely automated. Plus, the analytics provided let you know which tactics are working. Customer data is also kept organized and easily accessible.

10. Demand generation‌

This is the process of creating awareness of a product or brand. In letting people know about a product or service, the hope is to create demand for that product or service and bring in new customers. Marketers do this by reaching out to people, businesses, or governments through multiple digital channels, including social media and email.

11. Digital marketing automation

Digital marketing automation puts repetitive processes that can be time-consuming — like writing a welcome email series — into the hands of software. Templates, programmable scheduling, and more are used to take as much effort out of the process of digital marketing as possible.

digital marketing terms
Email marketing workflows can be automated to save time.

12. Digital marketing funnel‌

The marketing funnel refers to a multi-stage buying process each customer goes through with your business. These stages include brand/product/service exposure, discovery, consideration, conversion, and customer relationship (retention and loyalty, for example). The marketing funnel covers everything from when someone is first exposed to your business to when they (hopefully) decide to become a loyal customer.

13. Key performance indicator (KPI)‌

KPIs are the benchmarks set at the beginning of any digital marketing campaign. They let you know whether your tactics are working.

KPIs will vary depending on the campaign goal and purpose. If, for example, your goal was to get 1,000 newsletter signups in one month, the number of signups per week would be one of your KPIs.

14. Return on investment (ROI)‌

Usually expressed as a percentage, ROI is how much you get back compared to what you’ve put into a given marketing campaign. It’s an approximate value calculated by dividing the net return on your investment by the cost of that investment, then multiplying that number by 100.

For example, if you spent $1,000 on ads and brought in $2,500 in revenue as a result, your ROI for that campaign would be 250%.

Learning the language of digital marketing‌

As you plan out your next marketing campaign, review the terms in this article to see how they apply to your business. If you haven’t incorporated them into your strategy yet, can you do so going forward? For example, did you set KPIs for your most recent marketing campaign? If not, try it on the next one!

The deeper you go into this field, the more digital marketing terms you’ll learn and understand. Use these terms as a blueprint to start from, and build out your knowledge as you implement each new campaign.