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Glossary of Digital Marketing Terms

We’ve looked high. We’ve looked low. And we’ve looked back: sifting through the fossil record of marketing. All in the spirit of uncovering the constituent parts of what might be the internet’s most exhaustive countdown of digital marketing terms. 

We’ll keep adding to it, as indeed will you.


Ad fatigue

This is the point at which consumers are exposed to an ad so many times that they become immune to it, and it loses its effectiveness.

Ad fraud 

Digital advertising fraud is a form of ad fraud where invalid traffic is sent to advertisers by bots or non-human means. This type of fraud relies on bot traffic being indistinguishable from human traffic, and while the bots count as page views or ad impressions on a site, they do not generate any value for advertisers.

Adblocking (software)

A form of software designed to remove online advertising from a user’s Internet experience. This technology is employed by some Internet users to reduce their exposure to unwanted advertisements.


A person or entity who promotes a product for another party in return for a commission.

Affiliate marketing 

A form of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought about by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts.

A/B split testing

A/B testing is a method for comparing two versions of a webpage against each other and determining which is more effective at accomplishing a specific goal, such as getting visitors to take the desired action.


Web analytics tools that help you measure and analyse your website traffic and provides valuable data that will help you improve your site.

Anchor text 

The visible or clickable text in a hyperlink. Anchor text is an important ranking factor for search rankings.


An audience is a group of people who come together as a result of having something in common, such as age group, occupation or interests.


Banner Ad 

An online advertisement that’s usually made up of an image (graphics) and/or text displayed on a web page. You might have heard terms like “skyscraper”, “leaderboard”, “RHC” and the classic “square” thrown around – but banners ads come in all shapes and sizes. You can target banner ads contextually (if you think your audience is likely to be interested in a certain publication for example), based on behaviour (e.g. “retargeting”), responsively (by loading up a whole load of headlines and images and letting a platform build the ad it thinks will be most likely to inspire a click), and even “natively” (so that the unit displayed doesn’t really look like an ad).

Behavioural Retargeting 

A marketing technique that uses data collected about visitors’ behaviour on a publisher site to display ads from the advertiser to these individuals when they visit other sites in the same online network.

Bing Ads 

Advertising on Microsoft’s Bing search engine. These advertisements appear along with regular search results and are typically displayed as banner ads, text ads or pop-up/pop-under ads.

Blogger Outreach 

The process of connecting with bloggers to establish relationships and encourage them to include links back to your site in their content.

Brand Engagement 

An approach to marketing that recognises encourages and celebrates the relationship between a consumer and a brand. It’s about making connections with people instead of blasting them with messages. According to Nielsen, 90% of consumers trust recommendations from other people over brands.

Brand Marketing 

A form of marketing that focuses on promoting the brand of a company or product rather than promoting specific products.

Brand Loyalty

When consumers remain satisfied with one specific brand because they believe it offers them superior performance compared to its competitors.

Banner advertising 

A form of display advertising used on the World Wide Web that consists of an image (sometimes animated) with a link. The ad format can be static, but in most cases, there are moving parts/graphics in the advertisement.


An important part of a brand’s content marketing efforts – blogs are often used to support or enhance a Search Engine Optimisation strategy. (A glossary is a good example.)



A term first used by B. J. Fogg in 1996. “Captology” doesn’t refer to the act of being “captured”, but is the result of an acronym: “Computers As Persuasive Technologies.” Captology investigates the way that a user’s attitudes or behaviours can be influenced by their interactions with digital interfaces. For marketers, understanding how to build persuasion into a product or service can be a lucrative exercise: user attention is both directly monetisable (think: platforms that sell ads) and tough to keep a hold of!

Churn Rate 

The leak in the bucket: quantifies how many customers/site visitors are lost versus how many are gained. A high churn rate might mean you’re losing more business than you’re bringing in – although tough to attribute (and involving many teams across an organisation) measures to reduce a high churn rate are worth investing in before the problem arises.

Click Fraud 

The practice of falsely clicking on advertisers’ ads or artificially generating impressions and clicks to increase revenue from advertisers.

Content Marketing 

Content marketing is the process of creating and sharing relevant, valuable, and engaging content to attract and convert prospects into customers.

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) 

A series of tests, often run by marketers and eCommerce specialists, to determine how well their website converts visitors into leads or sales. This term can also be used for optimising other elements on the site.

You can think of CRO as a process of finding areas on a website that are conversion killers and fixing these. It involves looking at a website’s layout, text, images (or other elements of the “page furniture”) to locate what might benefit from a change. Hypotheses are generated and tested, with the winning result then scaled across a brand’s digital ecosystem.

Conversion Path Analysis 

This is a process that involves looking at the multiple steps a customer goes through before completing the desired action (e.g. making a purchase). By identifying where potential customers tend to drop off, marketers can identify which messages need strengthening, or where their messaging needs to be tweaked.

Conversion Rate 

The percentage of a website’s total traffic that interacts with a website (for example, by filling out a form, viewing a video or adding an item to the shopping cart).

Creative Commons

Creative Commons licensing is a way for content creators to keep their copyright while allowing certain usage of their work. Six different Creative Commons licenses can be applied to any form of intellectual property. The creator picks the one that best fits what they want people to do with their work

Cross-device Targeting 

A marketing technology that allows marketers to deliver relevant ads to consumers across devices.

Crowdsourcing Content 

A form of outsourcing in which a company uses its customers to create content, or even solve problems.

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

The cost associated with winning (i.e. converting) a new customer. It includes things such as marketing spend, sales costs (calls, nurture, etc.), sales commissions and so on. There are various methods of calculating the customer acquisition cost, but all have one basic idea in common – it is the money invested in attracting new customers.

Customer Recommendations 

Ads that appear to a user on their social networking feeds. The ads are influenced by what the friends of the customer have done in the past. For example, if a friend of a customer has previously visited a website or filled out a form, ads about these websites and forms may show up on that person’s feed.

Customer Testimonials 

Content that features happy customers endorsing a product! Customer testimonials often appear as case studies, with the customer’s permission.

Cost Per Click (CPC) 

The amount of money an advertiser pays for each click on their ad.

Cost Per Mille (CPM)  

CPM is the amount of money an advertiser pays every time someone views their ads, but in this case, it is the cost per one thousand views. “CPM” is more commonly used than “CPT” (i.e. cost per thousand). Why the French? J’suis desole, we do not know.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)  

The percentage of users who click on an ad after seeing it. CTR is calculated by dividing the number of clicks by the number of views and multiplying the result by 100. It is expressed as a percentage.

Consumer Decision Journey (CDJ)

CDJ is the process that consumers go through before, during and after making a purchase decision. For most marketers, the idea of a “funnel” is the default CDJ – though recently a visualising of the CDJ as a “flywheel” has become increasingly popular.

Customer Experience Management (CEM) 

A methodology that leverages several different disciplines within the organisation to maximise positive customer experiences with a brand or product.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

The total profit a business expects to gain from a customer throughout their relationship with them. The concept was first introduced by Robert C. Blattberg and John Farber in Marketing Management magazine in the early 90s: “Marketers need to know not just how many new customers they are getting, but also what the profit contribution of each customer is. That contribution should be used to determine how much to spend on acquiring and retaining profitable customers.”

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)  

The cost of acquiring a new customer for your brand or business. It can also refer to the total sales, marketing and advertising costs associated with attracting one customer.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) 

CRM (or eCRM, digital CRM) is a system that companies use to manage interactions with current and potential customers. Data is typically stored in databases, facilitating data mining and reporting about the sales process, key trends in consumption, and metrics like Customer Lifetime Value.


Differential pay-per-click 

The practise of setting different prices per click for ads appearing on the same site, based on factors such as ad position and user characteristics such as location, browser or operating system. This requires that a publisher use several accounts with Google AdWords in order

Data Management Platform (DMP) 

A data storage and management system in which marketers can store, manage and make use of their data, including first-party customer data.

Display Remarketing 

The process of targeting ad content to a specific group of users based on their past interactions with a website. For example, if a user viewed 10 web pages about video games and hasn’t bought anything yet, the marketer might want to reach out to that person with display ads for video games as well as related products.

Display Advertising

An online ad format, typically a banner ad on web pages. Display ads are based on relevance, not context.

Domain Authority 

An SEO metric developed by Moz, which predicts how well a website will rank in Google’s search results based on backlink profile. The higher the domain authority, the more likely that site is to rank high in search results.

Direct Marketing 

The practice of directly reaching potential customers and encouraging them to purchase products by mail, phone, web, social media or mobile apps. It has been defined elsewhere as “the solicitation of prospective customers in which the intent of the communication is to persuade individuals or organizations to buy goods or services or to contribute money towards a political, educational or charitable cause.”

Demand Generation 

Refers to online marketing activities that help educate and inform potential customers, while building brand value. It often occurs on a business’ website – educational content like eBooks (electronic books), research reports, how-to videos, templates, infographics and webinars (online seminars).

Digital Marketing Mix  

Refers to the proportion of investment into and outcome gleaned from key digital marketing channels (search advertising/organic, e-mail marketing, social media marketing, display advertising, referral marketing, etc.). Some marketing mixes will be heavily skewed toward search engine marketing (e.g. PPC), whilst others will place a huge focus on acquiring customer details for email outreach. It all depends!

Digital Marketing Plan  

A marketing plan which details the tactical execution of digital activities. Ordinarily aimed at key company objectives (social media follower growth, engagement on content, website visitors, customer acquisition, lead generation/conversion, etc.). A plan might also cover digital marketing software – platforms designed to help companies increase revenue through their marketing techniques.



An ebook is as it sounds: an electronic book that is made available in digital form, primarily optimised for reading on mobile and tablet devices.

Check out some fine examples of the format in StoryStream’s eBook & Strategy Guide hub.


A term used to describe businesses that sell products or services online (the term is a portmanteau of “electronic” and “commerce”). eCommerce is a hypergrowth category, with many of the world’s biggest (and richest) companies having benefitted from cornering the online shopping market in various forms and guises.

Enterprise (B2B) 

Businesses with 500 employees or more. Because they have large budgets for marketing, larger B2B companies can typically afford to outspend their competitors.

There are often differences in the way a marketer approaches possible enterprise customers. Some marketers maintain that the B2B enterprise customer has a clearly defined buying process (one assisted by internal teams, such as procurement), and good first-hand knowledge of the sales funnel (thus speeding up time to purchase).

Earned Media  

A marketing activity or asset that doesn’t involve a financial transaction between the brands and creators. Customers, fans, and advocates will often create content (also known as “UGC”) that brands may want to add to amplify on their owned channels (e.g. website, social media, email). This is “earned” media: earned because a brand hasn’t had to pay for it monetarily, but has built equity with the creator some other way (e.g. creating a kick-ass product!).

Email Marketing  

The process of sending emails to a group or segment of prospects or customers. In its broadest sense, every email sent to a potential or current customer could be considered email marketing. Narrower definitions would include concepts like “nurture flows” – using user-actions on previous communications to trigger increasingly more direct email communications.

Ephemeral Content  

Casual, time-sensitive information typically accessed via messaging apps e.g Snapchat or Whatsapp which can be viewed only for a short window of time (sometimes user-defined).


Frequency cap

A frequency cap describes the upper limit applied to how many times a given user sees a piece of advertising (or campaign) in the wild.

Friction element

A term used in web design and UX/UI to denote a particular obstacle or disruptive element in the user’s experience. A “404” page where the user was expecting a PDP is a particularly severe example, but a friction element can be as (seemingly) small as a poorly-chosen button colour that fails to attract and direct the user’s attention.



Gamification is a process that involves the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to non-game situations. The goal is to drive engagement with a product or service. Related to “Captology”.


Geo-tagging is when you add a geographical location to content, such as blog posts or images. It enables you to identify where something was made/taken and show the location on a map.


Hashtag Campaign 

A campaign on social media that uses the hashtag symbol (#) to promote an event or raise awareness about an issue.

Hyperlocal Marketing  

Marketing that serves targeted advertisements for geographical regions as small as a group of streets. This form of marketing typically relies on demographic and socio-economic factors to bring together a specific set of customers or prospects.


Influencer Marketing

A form of marketing in which focus is placed on specific individuals who have influence over potential customers. Influencers can be seen as opinion leaders and possess expert knowledge about specific topics.

Influencer Engagement  

The process of building relationships with influencers to encourage them to engage with your content or products. This can be done by offering incentives like free samples or discounts if your product is reviewed positively on their blog etc.

Inbound Marketing  

Inbound is about earning the attention of your buyers, bringing them to you through tactics like blogs, online magazines and social media, and pulling them through with calls-to-action that align with your business objectives, such as selling your products or services.


Someone who has influence over potential and current customers. They can affect the decisions people make and increase sales by being trusted sources of advice and information.


A visual representation of information or data, using images, graphics and charts to convey a message or idea.



The attentive reader will query the appearance of “newsjacking” under “j” – forgive us. But like the suffix “-gate”, which can be used in combination with seemingly any prefix to form a scandalous portmanteau, “-jacking” also takes many forms: momentjacking, memejacking, launchjaking.

The best executions go down in social media history (remember Nokia’s tweet during the launch of the iPhone 5s?), while the worst are often considered as examples of “-jacking”’s unglamorous cousin, “bandwagon jumping”.



Keywords are the first tool in a content marketer’s toolkit when looking to optimise their website for search engines. By arriving at a targeted list of keywords relevant to their brand, a marketer can prepare content that either speaks directly to those keywords, or answers questions around them – therefore increasing their brand’s chances of being seen on the search engine results page when a user enters a query corresponding to that keyword.



A prospect, or potential customer who has indicated some level of interest in a company’s product or service offering and typically expresses this interest by requesting further information via a click, form submission.

Lead Nurturing  

The process of engaging with leads over time based on their actions (like visiting your website) to nurture them into becoming customers.

Landing Page Optimisation  

The practice of testing out new landing pages to determine how well they perform. The idea is that you create an original landing page with different types of content and then measure which landing page works best. A form of Conversion Rate Optimisation.

Landing Page Builder  

An application for creating landing pages. It is often a simple drag and drop interface for building landing pages.

Lead Generation

The process of attracting prospective buyers who are likely to purchase something. This is usually done by identifying the target market, finding out their needs, and creating a ‘sales pitch’ or content nurture that is designed to sell a product or service.

Lead Nurturing  

An automated (or more often semi-automated) process that helps generate sales leads from people who have shown interest in a company’s product or service. It often begins with an email campaign designed to make potential customers aware of a business’s products or services and continues with various forms of communication designed to build relationships.



A milestone in a marketing funnel is a specific event or action that must be accomplished for an advertising campaign to be considered successful. It often indicates the level of engagement with your product – and what milestone would make your lead ready to buy from you.

Marketing Automation  

Allows users to design marketing campaigns that, once turned on, work without any human intervention. Whilst true that the process of interacting with leads and nurturing them into customers can be automated, it is often only after substantial time and resources have been invested (by marketing creatives and technologists) first.


An acronym for “My eyes glaze over”. Usually said by someone who has been overwhelmed or confused by a long, wordy explanation. (In the case of B2B marketing, a prospect is more likely to say “that’s interesting,” in producing the same effect.)

Multichannel Marketing  

Refers to the use of multiple marketing channels (email, social media, pay-per-click, etc.) to promote the same product or service.

Multi-touch Attribution 

A method of tracking sales conversions – which touchpoint (e.g email, social media, website) drove the customer to make a purchase.

Marketing Planning 

The process of creating a strategic plan for commercial marketing activity. It is about having a formalised approach to help guide marketing activities and resources and helps ensure the most important areas are covered.

Marketing Audit  

An evaluation of where a company is currently at with its marketing efforts. It is often undertaken to identify what needs to be improved, where improvements can be made and why they are needed. StoryStream offer UGC Audits for brands, which you can enquire about here.

Marketing Strategy   

The plan for how you are going to achieve success in your business’ marketing activity. It includes what the business will do, who will do it, when they will do it, how they will do it, and at what cost.

Marketing Mix 

The term used to describe the famous ‘4 P’s’ of marketing: product, price, promotion and placement. A superbly effective framework for planning marketing strategies – and one that goes beyond answering only the question of “how do we amplify our product?”

Marketing Model  

Refers to how a business manages its marketing. A model is an example of what works for one company may not work for another, depending on their circumstances.

Marketing Implementation and Effectiveness 

How a business manages its marketing efforts in a practical sense, based on the strategies and plans set out in the marketing strategy. It consists of four key elements: creating an implementation plan, project managing the implementation, tracking results and regularly reviewing progress.


A single web page that has been created to achieve a dedicated goal, such as promoting an event or product. ShopStream pages – pages optimised for “link in bio” shopping experiences – are a good example.



A daily, weekly or other periodic email containing news and information of interest to subscribers.

Native Advertising  

Content marketing that matches the form and function of the platforms on which it appears, e.g. a blog post to advertise a product looks like a blog post, not an ad.


Omni Channel  

Refers to a marketing approach that businesses use to engage with customers through multiple communication channels. Omnichannel marketing integrates the interaction customers have with a company’s products, services and brand across the entire customer journey and every relevant touchpoint.

Organic Search  

When consumers search online for products or services using a search engine such as Google or Bing. This type of search is ‘organic’ because it occurs naturally when consumers are looking for something, usually either to buy something or learn more about a topic.

Owned Media  

A company’s marketing assets that they ‘own’ to promote their brand, products or services. Examples include a company’s website, social media profiles, email lists etc.

Off-page Optimisation

Strategies contrived to improve a brand’s search engine rankings via “off domain” channels, e.g. obtaining links from other external sites that point to your page (“linkbacks”).

On-page Optimisation 

Changes made to a website that will improve its search engine ranking. This includes ensuring the right keywords and key phrases are in the right places on your site, and checking technical factors like schema and structured data.

Online Reputation  

The overall opinion others have of your brand – formed using information available on the internet, including social media, reviews and publically-accessible data.

Online Marketing 

A set of tools and processes designed to acquire customers, convert them into leads and nurture them into sales opportunities that result in revenue.

Open Rate  

The number of people who opened your email and how many emails were sent. It is generally expressed as a percentage, calculated based on opens divided by emails sent.


Programmatic Advertising  

Targeted advertising on the internet – takes advantage of user information like browsing habits and location to serve contextually relevant advertisements. It’s a form of automated marketing done through the use of ad-tech tools like programmatic buying, real-time bidding, and data management platforms.


The process of adapting an ad or marketing message to include details about the recipient such as location, age and past behaviour. This can be done through on-site personalisation like segmentation and dynamic ads, as well as offline techniques such as targeted direct mail pieces.

Paid Search 

Advertising that appears on search engine result pages (SERPs). Paid Search is purchased through an auction process, with ad space going to the highest bidder.

Pay Per View 

A fee model where brands pay publishers for each time an ad is viewed.


Quality Score 

A “diagnostic tool” offered by Google to help users of Ads assess how impactful their ad creative will be when shown to an audience interested in your keywords. Ranked on a scale of 1-10 (10 being best), higher quality scores are a signal from Google that your ad creative and landing page will be useful for your end-user. Lower quality scores might mean you’re being beaten in the auction by better-optimised competitors.


In the language of SEO, a query is that inputted by a user to stir the SERPs into action. For example, if you enter “StoryStream” as your query on Bing, DuckDuckGo, Google, or what have you … mercifully, there we are.

(Side note: there’s lots of fun to be had over on Google Trends, where you can look at the relative popularity of any given query, and compare and contrast with others.)


Real-Time Bidding (RTB)  

A technology that enables buyers of digital ad inventory to purchase the advertising space instantly and automatically, based on “real-time” information about the consumer. It is used in trading desks within an advertising agency or other companies that aggregate access to multiple publisher websites and real-time analytics.


Also referred to as “retargeting”. It is a form of online advertising that enables advertisers to show banner ads to people who have visited their website, as they browse other pages across the web.


An acronym for Return on Investment. The value of money returned when the revenue generated is higher than the cost to generate that revenue.


The number of unique individuals who saw a particular piece of online content, such as an ad or email message. Reach can be expressed as a percentage, as in the case of “impressions share” in Google Ads (i.e. “the percentage of impressions that your ads receive compared to the total number of impressions that your ads could get.”)

Rich snippets  

Enhanced snippets added to SERPs (and also to Google News) by search engines. They include additional information about the results including reviews, location information and product prices.

Rich Pin  

A type of enhanced pin, where information such as reviews and prices are shown in search results on Pinterest.

RSS Feed  

An online service that delivers website updates to subscribers via an email or another platform, such as their RSS reader.


Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) 

The process of getting your website to rank highly in organic (unpaid) search engine results. Typically, SEO involves using keywords and other factors like backlinks and page speed to help search engines understand what your content is about and why they should show it to someone searching for related terms.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)  

A form of digital marketing and advertising that focuses on driving traffic to a website by achieving high rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Social Media Marketing  

The process of gaining website traffic or attention through social media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube. Community management, the sharing of User-generated Content, and paid social are all important ingredients of a strong Social Media Marketing strategy. The ultimate goal is to build meaningful relationships with users that can lead to conversions for your business.


An acronym for “search engine results page.” The place where search engines show you the results for your query.


The process where you divide your customer base into smaller segments to better understand them, improve targeting and achieve more success.

Social CRM 

Customer relationship management via social media. It is the use of social media as a low-cost, timely and highly effective method of engaging with customers, prospects and other stakeholders.

Social Media Monitoring

The process of tracking conversations taking place on social media, often using keywords and hashtags to identify when someone has talked about your product or your brand.

Social Listening

Social listening is about monitoring online conversations taking place about you, your competitors and your industry. It helps you to know what people think about your business and to understand the topics they are interested in.


Tagging and Tracking

The processes that are used to track the actions of website visitors and to determine which content they respond most effectively to. It is typically done through small and imperceptible pieces of code that are placed throughout a site’s HTML.


User Experience (UX)  

UX refers to the general ease of use that a user derives from interacting with a product, service or brand. (I.e. much broader in scope than simply “the layout of page”!). The term was first popularised by “Godfather of UX” Don Norman in 1993.

User-Generated Content (UGC) 

UGC is any form of content published by a brand’s customers, fans, or advocates. Examples are wide-ranging and include social media posts, reviews, user-made guides about products, websites, Wikis, and even fan fiction. For brands, User-generated content is a key route to establishing authenticity in its marketing.


The Value Proposition 

“The value prop” is a promise of value that a product or service can provide to customers and users. The value proposition should help a brand to understand what it is about that brand, product or company that makes it different from others in the market.

Viral marketing  

A now decades-old concept: an idea, trend or product that is passed from person to person, resulting in exponential growth. To achieve successful viral marketing you need three key elements: a message with some traction, a creative means to convey it, and a supportive environment.


Word-of-Mouth Marketing  

When consumers talk about a brand or product that they like. WOM may take the form of a recommendation, but can also include a customer describing their experience with a brand or product, or even outlining the problems they had (and how they overcame them).

White Paper  

An authoritative report or guide that is longer and more detailed than a press release. Confusingly, a white paper is an example of “grey literature” (i.e. “materials and research produced by organisations outside of the traditional commercial or academic publishing and distribution channels”).

Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash.