We have a simple goal here at Econsultancy, to make the digital world a better place. 

We do this is by helping every visitor, client and delegate sort through the clutter of digital marketing, and our role here on the blog however is to help on a more day-to-day basis.

We aim to provide useful tips, guidance and best practice advice in a manner that we hope is as jargon-free as possible, to make digital marketing easy to understand for everyone at any level. 

Which is why I'm very proud to present Econsultancy's Colossal Jargon-Buster, a handy A-Z guide to the most useful and common terms that you'll come across in the digital marketing world. 

Most of these refer to practical terms or disciplines which will likely be around for a long time, but I’ve also included some of the more trendier terms too, because even if you don't like using them you can guarantee that someone else will, and probably in conversation with you. 

Within each term’s description I've also linked to further blog articles and reports from around the site, which will help provide a deeper, more expanded insight. 

Let me know if there's anything important missing in the comments section below and we'll add them in further updates.

Agile marketing

Agile marketing is the practice of reacting quickly with a specially created piece of well-timed content, normally shared on a social media channel in order to capitalise on a currently trending topic or news-story.

Social has certainly contributed to this new breed of real-time marketing, and the ability to react quickly on social channels is important for brand awareness, customer service and to encourage engagement, however agility doesn’t necessarily have to be the sole preserve of social as you can see in these 23 nimble examples of agile marketing from ecommerce brands.

Attribution

Marketing attribution is the practice of dividing credit between  any channel (whether it’s social media, email, telephone, etc) that a customer comes in to contact with on their journey to conversion.

Analytics

Analytics is what we call the process of deriving meaningful patterns within data. 

When we talk about ‘using analytics’ we are often talking about a specific platform (Google Analytics, Omniture) built to measure the traffic coming to our websites. It can tell us how much traffic is coming in, where it’s coming from, how long visitors spend on specific pages and whether they leave immediately, amongst many other insights.

For more detailed information download our 54 page Measurement and Analytics Report and read our surprisingly entertaining dictionary of data and analytics.

Automation

Marketing automation refers to any software or technology put in place to automatically serve people marketing communications on a variety of online channels in order to save time and resources. There’s a huge array of disciplines within automation, so here are just a few examples…

  • The way Amazon tailors its homepage to the individual user, creating a unique and more inviting experience based on products they’ve purchased or browsed.
  • Basket abandonment emails sent automatically after you’ve left an ecommerce site without purchasing.
  • Scheduling your marketing messages on Twitter so they send throughout the week without someone having to physically click send every time. Particularly useful if you're wanting to catch a territory while you’re still in bed.

Beacons and near-field communications (NFC) 

These are types of transmitters that can deliver targeted information to a user’s mobile device whenever they go near it with an enabled app.

Apple has introduced a version, named iBeacons, to its own stores. Customers are greeted on their iPhone as they walk through the door, are shown product information, offered promotions and the ability to pay without queuing.

Big data

A buzzword that is a much shorter way of saying ‘the massive volume of data that has suddenly become available to us thanks to the rise of online traffic, which has in turn led to the need for accurate analytics packages and improvements in understanding the data accrued.’

Content marketing

Audiences have wised up to the hard sell and the dry press release, so it's become vital for companies to provide high-quality content that audiences actually really engage with.

Content can be anything from videos, blog posts, how-to-guides, images, photography, infographics, podcasts... anything produced via any media that isn't a simple press release or mission statement, that is subsequently seeded around the internet and hopefully shared by the fans or followers of your brand.

Content should be one (or all) of three things: entertaining, interesting or useful. If the content isn’t any of the above, then the content has no value and people won’t stake their online reputation by sharing it.

Read the following to learn more about the importance of quality content.

Conversion/conversion rate

Whatever the ultimate point of guiding visitors to your website is (purchasing goods, email sign-up, completion of a survey) a conversion is the successful completion of that action.

Conversion Rate (CR) is a key metric in ecommerce as it reveals the percentage of your site’s total traffic completing a specific goal. The higher the conversion rate the better.

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO)

If people visiting your site aren’t achieving the goal you actually intend them to achieve (a conversion) then you need to optimise your site to increase your conversion rate.

You can do this through testing various elements of your website to either make it easier for visitors to use (perhaps your navigation is too hidden) or to make it more persuasive (perhaps by changing the colour of a ‘buy-it-now’ button).

For more detailed information download our 86 page Conversion Rate Optimization Report 2014.

Customer experience (CX)

Here are the two different ways marketers refer to customer experience, both of which are entirely related...

  • Customer experience is the sum of all the experiences a customer has with a business during their entire lifetime relationship, taking in not just the key touchpoints (product awareness, social contact, the transaction itself, post purchase feedback) but also how personal and memorable these experiences are.
  • Customer experience can also refer to the quality of an individual experience a customer has over the course of a single transaction.

Bear in mind that the ‘entire lifetime relationship’ can be anything from a single transaction to 80 solid years of brand loyalty.

Read the following for information on how to measure customer experience.

Customer experience management (CEM)

Customer experience management is a strategy used to track, oversee and organise all interactions a business has with its customers, in order to build more meaningful relationships, which can differentiate your brand and help keep customers for life.

Customer lifetime value (CLV)

Customer lifetime value is the total worth of a customer to a business over the entirety of their relationship.

Measuring CLV will help provide meaningful insights into how you can plan future marketing campaigns and improve future customer interactions. 

It can help you decide how much your company should invest in retaining existing customers and how you should divide budget between retention and acquisition. Ultimately CLV can give you a strong indication of your company’s health in the long-term.

For more detailed information download our report: Customer Lifetime Value: Building Loyalty and Driving Revenue in the Digital Age.

Customer relationship management (CRM)

CRM is is the name for any system or model used to manage a company’s interactions with its current or future clients or customers.

This system is a piece of technology used to organise, automate and synchronise all of the customer facing areas within your company: from marketing to sales to customer service to technical support.

It gives you the time to develop other areas of your business, whilst giving you the reassurance that you’re not letting your existing clients down or responding to new enquiries in an efficient manner.

Data visualisation

A data visualisation brings your difficult to read data to life in a captivating, image-based and shareable way.

You can use one of these 17 tools yourself to make your own data beautiful.

Digital transformation

Digital transformation refers to the change that all businesses and organisations will have to go through in order to succeed in an increasingly digital led world.

These changes can occur everywhere from its most basic operations to the entire infrastructure. It can also affect the products it sells, how they are sold and the channels they are marketed through.

Digital transformation is an ongoing process. As technologies rapidly change and new platforms spring-up, it's important to know whether they are suitable for your organisation and if they'll help you succeed in the future.

For more information, visit our collection of digital transformation resources.

Disruption

‘Disruptive innovation’ means to transform an expensive, complicated product used by a small minority, by making it more affordable and accessible, and therefore creating a brand new market.

Ecommerce

This is just what we call selling goods and services online. Easy one that.

Email Marketing

Email can be used in a number of ways when a company communicates with a consumer. Fundamentally any commercial message sent to a recipient from a company can be considered email marketing. 

There are many forms of email marketing: an automatic customer service email informing a customer their ordered item has been despatched. A retargeted email triggered when a customer abandons an ecommerce store reminding them they still have items in their basket.

There are also emails designed for retention purposes. Keeping consumers interested in a company that they’re either already aware of, have purchased goods from or used its service. These can arrive in the form of newsletters or round-ups of your excellent blog-posts.

Download our Email Marketing Best Practice Guide for 200 pages of insight.

Experiential marketing

The premise of experiential marketing is to create a closer bond between the consumer and the brand by immersing them in a fun and memorable experience that may just be a one-off. 

Growth hacking

Growth hacking is the practice of companies with limited budgets using non-traditional and innovative methods of obtaining exposure and therefore generating growth.

Inbound marketing

Any marketing activity that attracts the attention of new visitors or customers to a company, through promotion on any online and offline channels (social media, TV, print, display ads) using any kind of content (blog post, video, whitepaper).

Link building

Google treats a link from another website to your site as a vote of confidence. Google will therefore rank you higher based on that vote. Therefore the more good quality links the better. 

Not all links are born equal though. One link from a high authority site is much better than many links from a bunch of low authority sites.

Multichannel

  • Multichannel marketing is the ability to communicate with your audience and potential customers on various platforms and channels. This can be via email, Twitter, television, print ads, etc.
  • Multichannel customer service provides customers with options for communicating with a brand across a variety of two-way channels. This can be via email, social live chat, telephone, online form, etc.

The best multichannel experience is seamless. This means that no matter what channel a customer chooses to communicate with a brand the response (in terms of speed, tone of voice and outcome) should be the same.

A good ecommerce example of this is being able to return goods bought online to the same store’s high street branch.

For more detailed information download our report: The Reality of Multichannel Marketing.

Native advertising

This is a method of advertising used by publisher websites where the content is meant to look like the articles it normally publishes, but they are in fact ads sponsored by third-party brands.

Publishers of these advertorials stress that these ads are not meant to trick the reader. The balance between creating paid content that fits into the house-style of the site and it being, by its very definition, an advert is a tricky accomplishment.

The good and bad of native advertising is explored further here: What is native advertising and why do you need it? 

Paid, earned and owned media

  • Paid media is all the advertising you pay for. This includes print ads, TV ads, promoted posts on Facebook and sponsored tweets.
  • Owned media is all the cool properties that belong to your brand which you control. For instance your website, your offline retail stores, blogs, social media channels, magazines, apps. 
  • Earned media is the free publicity generated by your fans. You didn’t pay for it, because you earned it. This normally manifests in online shares, comments, retweets, online reviews, unsolicited blog posts, word of mouth.

For more information, check out what’s the difference between paid, owned and earned media? 

Paid search

Paid search is the term we use for advertising within the listings of a search engine. 

When a user searches for a particular word or phrase, the results will appear as a list on a search engine results page (SERP), these results will generally be a mixture of naturally occurring links (organic) and paid-for ads. 

The adverts normally appear at the top of a SERP or to the side, and increasingly look more and more like organic results. At the moment Google places a small yellow ‘Ad’ label on them.

If you wish to advertise on Google you must use their advertising network known as Google AdWords. Yahoo and Bing also run their own similar advertising network, called the Yahoo Bing Network. 

Read the following article for further guidance on how to use Google AdWords.

Pay-per-click (PPC)

PPC is tied in to paid search (see above). If you want your advert to appear in search engine results pages (SERPs) for a particular search term, then you will have to bid against other marketers for the same phrase. PPC is how much you’re willing to pay the ad network every time a searcher clicks on your ad. The more you pay per click the more likely your ad will appear in the search results. 

Programmatic buying

Programmatic quite simply means automatic. Programmatic buying refers to any ad space bought automatically on a web page, through either bidding for the space or buying it directly so it's guaranteed to be yours.  There are two types of programmatic buying…

  • Programmatic RTB: RTB stands for real-time-bidding, this is an automatic process that occurs when a webpage with available ad-space loads. This ad-space is auctioned off in ‘real-time’ (milliseconds in fact) and the winning ad appears on the webpage when it has finished loading.
  • Programmatic direct: this is also known as ‘automated guaranteed’, ‘programmatic guaranteed’, and ‘programmatic premium’. These all mean the same thing, so don’t worry about the jargon. Basically, this is an automated process of buying guaranteed ad space that doesn’t involve an auction. 

Learn more in our super accessible beginner’s guide to programmatic buying and RTB.

Real-time bidding (RTB)

Real-time bidding is used for serving internet users with display advertising around the internet. 

As a webpage loads, if it has ad space on it that is available for real-time bidding, information about the webpage and the user viewing it is passed on to an ad exchange. An ad exchange is a platform that auctions off the available ad space to the highest bidder. The winning ad will then appear on the webpage when it has finished loading. These auctions are held in the milliseconds it takes for a webpage to load. 

Responsive web design (RWD) & Adaptive web design (AWD)

Responsive design refers to a type of website that can be viewed across different sized screens and devices, with the content of the site resizing depending on the screen.

Because it comprises a single design it means that only one set of page templates need to be created and maintained.

If you click on the edges of this browser window then drag to resize our website, you’ll see what we mean.

Adaptive web design on the other hand typically uses a completely different set of designs and templates for each device being targeted, so designers will create a desktop version of a website as well as separate tablet and mobile versions.

For more detailed information download our 200 page Mobile Web Design and Development Best Practice Guide.

Retargeting

Retargeting is a method by which ecommerce marketers can 're-attract' previous visitors who perhaps abandoned a shopping basket, or who browsed some product pages but then left the site for elsewhere.

It’s a fairly straightforward, cookie-based practice. An invisible JavaScript tag is placed in the footer of a website which leaves a ‘cookie’ in their browser of every visitor. That visitor will then be targeted with theoretically relevant adverts when they visit other sites.

Retention

Encouraging your customers to come back for more. There are many different skills and values you need to engender in order to improve customer retention, most of them around building trust, loyalty, reliability and relevance.

Search engine marketing (SEM)

Search engine marketing involves increasing the visibility of websites on search engine results pages (SERPs) by either using search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques, which help your website appear higher in the results, or by using a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign, which displays adverts on the SERP based on the users search terms. This is also known as paid search.

Search engine optimisation (SEO)

SEO is the process of optimising your website and its content so that it can easily be indexed by search engines. 

Using this indexed information about your website, search engines can provide searchers with the most relevant results based on their search terms. These listings are known as organic search results and often appear below any paid search listings.

There are many different areas within SEO where skills are required. Please click on the relevant links to read more information:

And here’s a handy dictionary of SEO

Single customer view (SCV)

A single customer view provides businesses with the ability to track customers and their communications across every channel.

The obvious benefits of this include much improved customer service levels, better customer retention, higher conversion rates and hopefully an improved overall customer lifetime value (CLV). 

Organisationally this will also lead to better communication between traditionally separate teams and a more cooperative approach to customer service.

For more detailed information download our report: Single Customer View - Myth or Reality?

Social media

Social media is the general term for all the platforms on which users can create personal profiles and interact with other users over a network. The most popular networks are the ones you’ll no doubt have already heard of. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.

Success on social media for brands relies on them not just broadcasting their marketing messages. It instead relies on engaging their followers in real, personalised conversations. Replying to customer complaints and queries. Providing well made content that is either entertaining, informative or helpful. Sharing content made by users and ultimately building a community that encourages loyalty.

Here are some best practice guides to help you not suck at Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

Social video 

Also becoming more popular are specific image and video social networks such as Instagram and Vine.

  • Instagram allows users to share their own photos, applying various filters and leaving comments on other users images.
  • Vine allows users to record, edit and share their own six second long video creations with followers. Instagram also now has its own video functionality.

Video and image based content is a key way to engage followers, and brands are following suit by creating their own visual content on these channels.

Here are some best practice guides to help your brand be brilliant at Vine and Instagram.

Storytelling

Storytelling in marketing terms isn’t just about producing an advert where a narrative arc occurs, it’s about telling the story of the ‘brand’ across multiple channels and using various tools and methods.

The challenge is in not just using storytelling in video, but also to keep the narrative weaved into the customer experience, providing consistent and compelling content to build a picture of the company. 

Good branded storytelling is engaging, memorable and authentic, has a unique personality, creates intrigue and builds an entire world for the brand to play in.

User experience (UX)

In digital, a ‘good user experience’ is one that helps somebody accomplish a task in the most efficient, effective and enjoyable way possible. There are many elements that comprise user experience, ranging from the visual design, the way we interact with the product (website/technology/software) and how we interact with it.

Now that you have reached the end of the jargon-buster, it is our honour to say…

Images: courtesy of the Unfinished Business iStock library. Stupidity: author’s own. 

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 18 March, 2015 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

686 more posts from this author

Comments (2)

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Roger Poultney, Internet Marketing Consultant at Eagle Intermedia Publishing Ltd.

A useful guide Christopher, though the entry for "link building" only seems to refer to the potential benefits for search engine rankings. I think it's important to remember that inbound links from suitable and appropriate external websites can be a valuable source of traffic in their own rights !

over 2 years ago

Jayne Reddyhoff

Jayne Reddyhoff, Director at Zanzi Digital

Lots of useful definitions here. However, your definition of content marketing really only defines 'content' and not the 'marketing' component, which is a vital part.

I what like the CMI's definition says on this "...with the objective of driving profitable customer action"

over 2 years ago

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