A Guide to Common Digital Marketing Terms

A List of Definitions For Common Digital Marketing Terms

The only thing more challenging than navigating the MarTech landscape is understanding its terminology. Hearing terms like search engine optimization and email marketing strategies can be like listening to speakers communicating in another language; it sounds like what they’re saying should make sense, and yet it’s hard to understand the nuances of what’s being discussed. While digital marketing and maintaining a strong assortment of MarTech is vital to maintaining your website’s footprint, knowing what tools are essential and why will help you understand what’s necessary to keep your web presence prevalent.

The Basics: Digital Marketing Industry Terms

These terms are some of the most common you’ll hear when researching MarTech, as most of the decisions you make to plan your digital marketing strategy are determined by these.

  • Analytics - The measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of web data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage.

  • Key Performance Indicators (KPI) - Metrics used to evaluate the overall health of a website, such as what pages are being visited and which are being ignored.

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - The process of maximizing the number of users to a particular website by ensuring that the website appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.

  • Growth Rate - The amount of increase or decrease to a specific variable such as traffic to your website or email list signups.

Website Traffic Terms: Understanding How You’ve Been Found

Knowing how users found your website is one of the first steps for targeting and customizing your digital marketing strategy to appeal best to users who are looking for exactly what your website offers.

Website Traffic

  • User - An individual person browsing your website (considered a unique browser cookie). Each user can visit your website multiple times. For example, 1 user could create 3 sessions on your website, with each session containing multiple page views. By default, each unique browser cookie will be counted as a separate user, which means someone visiting your website on multiple devices (each with their own browser cookie) will mean more than 1 user is reported.

  • Unique Visits - The number of individual (non-duplicate) users to your site over the course of a specific time period.

  • Session Duration - The length of time a user spends on your website.

  • Pageviews The number of times users views an individual page of your website.

  • Bounce Rate - The percentage of visits in which the user only views one page of your website or does not engage with your website before leaving.

  • Exit Rate -  The last page in a session a user has visited before leaving your website.

  • Conversion - Conversions happen when a user comes to your website and completes a desired goal or action such as completing a purchase, submitting a contact form, or downloading a document.

  • Events - A specific user interaction with an element on your website.

  • Goal - A measure of something you want to track and that you define as a success. Goals must relate to a quantifiable action a user takes, e.g. product purchases, newsletter sign ups, or downloads. Goals can be set up in Google Analytics to track conversions.

Traffic Sources

  • Keywords - These are the words that users use to find your website when using a search engine.

  • Paid Traffic Users who come to your website from a paid ad campaign.

  • Referral Traffic - Users who enter your website through a referral. 

  • Direct Traffic - Visits to your website where the user types your URL into their browser's address bar or when a user uses a bookmark to get to your website.

  • Social Traffic - Traffic that enters your website through social channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)

  • Email Traffic - Traffic that enters your website through links embedded in emails.

  • Organic Traffic - Users who come to your website from unpaid, organic search engine results.


  • Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) - Is a tracking marker appended to a URL and is recognized by Google Analytics as a dimension, just like average time on site, for example.

Traffic Devices

  • Desktop - Users who use a laptop or desktop computer to visit your website.

  • Mobile - Users who use a mobile device to access your website.

  • Tablet - Users who use a tablet device to visit your website.

Online Advertising: Measuring Your Impact

These terms are specific to the responsive behavior that your viewer will have with the ads you’ve placed online, such as those on other websites, within emails, or on social media.

Types of Online Ads

  • Display Ads - An image ad placed on the Google Display Network, which might not only be on your site.

  • Static Ads - Ads that feature an unchanging message or graphic, including banner ads.

  • Video Ads - Ads featuring video clips.

  • Remarketing - Targeting users who have visited your website with ads targeted to their interests.

  • PPC Ads - Online ads in which advertisers are charged for their ad once it is clicked.

Ad Campaign Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

  • Impressions - The number of times your ad was seen.

  • Clicks - The number of times your ad was clicked.

  • Cost Per Click (CPC) -The cost you pay for a click on your advertisement.

  • Avg. Cost Per Click (CPC) - The average cost you paid for a click.

  • Click Through Rate (CTR) - The percentage of times your ad was clicked on per the number of impressions that ad received.

  • Position - The position on the page your ad was shown.

  • Search Queries - These are the string of words that a searcher uses to find and trigger your ad when using a search engine.

  • Acquisition Rate - Percentage of respondents who opted in to participate in an initiative or campaign. The acquisition rate is equal to the total participants and audience.

  • Conversion Rate - Converting website users into paying customers.

  • Attrition Rate - A loss of customers within a specific period of time.

Ad Performace Cost Analysis

  • Cost Per Impression (CPM) - The cost per impression you pay on your advertisements.

  • Pay Per Click (PPC) - An advertisement model where the advertiser pays a sum of money to the host website when a user clicks on the advertisement.

  • Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) - The cost you pay when an ad delivers an acquisition.

  • Cost Per Lead (CPL) - The cost you pay per unique sign-up to your website.

  • Effective Cost Per Lead (eCPL) - The effective cost per lead is equivalent to the total cost divided by the total leads generated.

Search Engine Optimization: Knowing Where You Rank

Search engine optimization will obviously play a large part in configuring your digital marketing strategy. Decisions you make about the layout and creation of new content on your website should be constantly informed by your website’s SEO.

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - The process of maximizing the number of users to a particular website by ensuring that the website appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.

  • SERPs - Search engine results page, the listing of web pages returned by a search engine in response to a keyword query.

  • Impressions - The amount of times your listing was shown.

  • Clicks - The number of times your result was clicked on.

  • Position - Where your website result is shown in the SERPs. 

  • Backlinks - A link from an external website, to your own website. Considered one of the most important factors in ranking for search. 

  • Domain Authority - The measure of the power of a domain name and a factory of search engine ranking. Domain authority is based on three factors: age, popularity, and size.

Managing MarTech on Your Own Website: Website Platform Terms

An important aspect of choosing your MarTech should come from an understanding of how it will interact with your website platform. For example, what does it mean if an email marketing provider boasts of their robust API? Every website is different, and understanding which MarTech will interact best with your specific system will help you choose among them.

  • Open Source - When a system’s source code - the textual listing of the system’s commands - are made available for anyone to develop and improve.

  • CMS - Stands forContent Management System,” a computer system that allows for the publication and management of content.

  • Front-end - Front-end web development focuses on designing the part of the website which users see and interact with.

  • Back-end - Back-end development is the part of the website that is invisible to the user. The website is built using an application to make the server navigable, the server then uses the connecting database for storing information.

  • Framework - Website capabilities arranged into a template to more easily present information within a web browser.

  • Staging (Stage or Dev) - A website used to initially arrange and review versions of the website in its production before it is published and made accessible to users.

  • Production (Prod) - When the website is accessible to users.

  • Mobile - A website that is designed for an interactive experience  and easy navigation on a mobile device.

  • Responsive - Configuring websites to offer an interactive experience and easy navigation on any device.

  • WSYIWIG - Stands for “what you see is what you get.” It’s a program that enables the developer to see the end result of what they’ve created thus far.

  • API - Stands for “Application Programming Interface.” The API dictates how a software’s program should interact, acting as the mediator between the developer and the application.

  • Theme - A website’s theme maintains the aesthetic of the website, the theme dictates its style and appearance.

  • Pixel - Short lines of code placed as a small, pixel transparent gifs to track a user's behavior on the website. By reading the user's cookies, the pixel can then relay information about the user, such as how they interact with the ads placed on the website or what their shopping experience was.

Blogs, Posts, and Updates: Managing Content Marketing

Content marketing plays an important role in keeping your website relevant. Understanding exactly what content will last the longest, what content needs to be updated the most, which can and cannot be edited after it has gone live, are vital to maintaining the voice of your website.

  • Evergreen - Content that continues to be relevant past the time of its initial publication.

  • Case Study - An experience unique to the company used as an example, detailing how they approached a client or a particular challenge and what their solution was.

  • White Paper - A detailed report on a particular issue and the approach recommended for dealing with that problem. Essentially it’s a report on methodology.

  • Gated - Content that is password protected. For example, content that is only available to users who register as members of a website may be given access to gated content as a perk.

  • On Demand - Users are able to gain access to specific content for an established amount of time.

  • PDF - Means Portable Document Image, and is the digital generation of text or a graphic that can be printed or distributed as an image.

  • Blog Post - An entry posted in a weblog, or, blog.

  • Social Post - An entry posted to a social media platform, such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Link Types: Directing Your Users

Links can impact your website's organization, SEO, and user navigation. Embedding hyperlinks is just the tip of the iceberg; you have a variety of options when it comes to links that allow you to control your user's website navigation. 

  • Absolute Link - A link that includes the domain name in the URL (www.beargroup.com/contact). If you're embedding a hyperlink in your content, and want to redirect your user to a location that's external to your website, you'll need to use an absolute link. 

  • Relative Link - If you're embedding a hyperlink in your content that redirects your user to another location within your website, a relative link will tell your browser to look for your file location within the same website. This is beneficial for both SEO as well as website organization. Instead of typing out the full URL (www.beargroup.com/contact) you would just type out the file name (/contact). 

  • iFrame - You can use an iFrame to display another webpage within your webpage. The webpage's content that the iFrame links to will be "framed" within an HTML box. 

  • Anchor - You can use an anchor link to create a link to a specific location within that same webpage. If you feature extensive amounts of content within a single webpage, anchor links would help your user's navigate to what they want more quickly, instead of bouncing when they don't immediately find what they want. 

Looking For More Marketing Term Definitions?

While we’ve tried to include the most crucial terms, the list we’ve put together is still just the tip of the iceberg in the MarTech and web development industry. If you have any questions on the terms we’ve listed, or if there’s one we’ve missed that you have a question about, feel free to send us a tweet!