Every industry and trade has their own terminology—words and phrases that may be unfamiliar to those on the outside. Marketing is no exception, with an ever-expanding vocabulary of terms and jargon that may at times sound like a foreign language to business executives in non-marketing roles.

Understanding the meaning of marketing terms is not only helpful for working alongside your firm’s internal marketing team, but also vital in conversing with your marketing agency. We’ve set out to help demystify some of the most common B2B marketing jargon:

A/B testing – Testing two versions of an element with two separate audiences. E.g. testing two versions of a landing page or email and choosing the version that leads to more conversions. Learn More about A/B Testing

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) – A B2B marketing strategy focused on fewer, specific targets, as opposed to marketing to the masses. It coordinates personalized marketing and sales efforts targeted at specific, named accounts. Learn More About Account-Based Marketing

Account executive – The client’s primary contact and liaison with an agency. They manage budgets and schedules and often also help to drive the client’s strategy.

Algorithm – Search engine formulas that determine what content is displayed when a user makes a search query and presents search results in terms of relevance, as opposed to chronologically.

Agency of record (AOR) – A brand’s primary agency that coordinates all marketing, branding, digital and advertising, and manages the bulk of its creative output.

Application programming interface (API) – A set of rules, routines, protocols, and tools for building application software. It specifies how a piece of software should interact with another software platform.

Banner ad – An online ad on a webpage, typically at the top or to the side of the page, that links to the advertiser’s website. Also referred to as digital display advertising.

Baseline metrics – “Before” measurements, which establish a brand’s health and performance, before new marketing efforts are put into place.

Bottom of the funnel – The final “selection” stage of the marketing/sales funnel, where prospects are vetting potential firms, requesting a proposal, interviewing and selecting best option.

Bounce rate – The percentage of visitors that navigate to a website and view only one page before “bouncing” away.

Brand – An identifying name, symbol, and other intellectual property that distinguishes one company’s offerings from that of another, within a given category. But also more than just the visual identity, a brand is the sum of the thoughts, feelings and experiences the audience has with regard to your company.

Branding – Development of various elements, such as a name, logo, personality, messaging and functionality that distinguishes a firm from others in the same category.

Brand discovery – A research-oriented process where the brand’s positioning, messaging and value to customers are defined, or, in the case of a brand refresh, refined.

Brand awareness – The degree that people are aware of a brand’s existence and offerings.

Brand equity – The value of a brand in the eyes of consumers, based on their prior encounters with brand, and what they’ve heard from others.

Brand positioning – Where a brand fits within a given category or market, and what differentiates it among other brands in the same space.

Buyer persona – Research-based profiles or representations that help marketers see prospects and clients as real people and gain insight into the way they think, their goals, challenges, interests and how they make buying decisions. They allow marketing messaging, content and sales and marketing efforts to be approached with a better understanding of the buyer’s context and perspective. Learn More About Buyer Personas

Call to action – An “ask,” such as inviting viewers to share a Facebook page, subscribe to a blog, learn more or download a whitepaper.

Channel – Various portals such as a particular website, social media platform, or TV channel, through which marketing efforts are put forth.

Clickthrough rate (CTR) – The percentages of visitors that click on a hyperlink on an advertisement, email or website.

Content calendar – A document that maps out future content pieces or social media posts on a given channel, such as a blog, Facebook or Twitter.

Content marketing – A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content that does not explicitly promote a brand or product, but instead establishes a brand as a trusted expert. Learn More About Content Marketing

Conversion – Achievement of any desired action by a customer, such as subscribing to a blog, downloading a whitepaper, clicking on an advertisement, or purchasing a product.

Copy – Any written content that makes up parts of advertisements, websites, etc.

Cost-per-click (CPC) – A type of online advertising used to direct traffic to websites, in which companies pay a set amount each time their advertisement is clicked on.

Customer experience (CX) – The practice of designing for and reacting to client interactions and touchpoints throughout the client lifecycle, in order to exceed expectations with the aim of increasing client satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy. Learn More About Customer Experience

Demand generation – The focus of targeted marketing programs to drive awareness and interest in a company’s services and/or products.

Dynamic content – “Smart” content that adapts its copy and messaging based on a user’s prior behavior to create a more seamless, relevant experience. 

Earned media – Exposure and promotion from 3rd party sources that is “earned” as opposed to paid for. This would include traditional media coverage, as well as guest articles, speaking opportunities, and search rankings.  Learn More About Owned, Earned, Paid and Shared Media

Employer branding – An organization’s efforts to differentiate themselves as an employer and articulate their employer value proposition that conveys to job candidates why the organization is appealing and an “employer of choice.”

Engagement – The number of interactions that people have with your content, i.e. likes, shares, retweets, etc.

Evergreen content – Content that speaks to topics that have a long “shelf life” and will remain relevant for an extended period of time.

Exposure – Presentation of media to target audience. Each time an ad is presented to target, it is a separate exposure.

Geotargeting – Delivering particular content to a user in a particular geography or zip code. This is commonly used on websites and in some advertising strategies to vary content by geographical audience.

Guerilla marketing – Powerful marketing that saturates a market for a brief period with the goal of getting maximum impact for minimum cost.

Impression – The number of times your content is displayed on a social channel, such as Facebook.

Inbound marketing – Pull marketing, as opposed to push marketing. It’s focused on attracting customers through relevant and helpful content customers find through channels like blogs, search engines, and social media.

Influencer marketing – Using important thought leaders with high clout to publicize your brand, product, or service.

Integrated marketing communications – An integrated marketing strategy that stays consistent and “on brand” across channels and promotional tools.

Key messages – The main points that you want to get across to your target audience, with the goal of differentiating your firm from the competition.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) – Desired quantifiable metrics, indicative of success of marketing campaigns, such as page views, cost per lead, cost per click, traffic to lead ratio, and engagement rate.

Landing page – A single web page designed to promote a specific content offer (e.g. whitepaper download, webinar registration, etc.) with the goal of converting visitors into identified contacts and/or leads.

Lead generation – The process of attracting and converting unknown prospects into someone who has indicated interest is you company’s services or products. Learn More About Lead Generation

Lead nurturing – Developing relationships with leads and maintaining them through each stage of the marketing funnel. Typically this involves automated email drip campaigns where a lead is sent relevant content on a consistent basis and over an extended period of time. Learn More About Lead Nurturing

Marketing automation – A software technology that helps companies automate online marketing, lead management and customer engagement in order to be more efficient, streamline resources and, ultimately, increase revenue. Learn More About Marketing Automation

Marketing mix – A set of marketing tools made up of the 4 Ps: product, price, promotion, and place.

Marketing tactics – A set of integrated methods intended to reach the target customer and make them aware of products or services offered to meet their needs. For maximum impact, tactics should be aligned with a strategic marketing plan.

Middle of the funnel – The middle “consideration” stage of the marketing/sales funnel, where prospects are doing heavy research, exploring specific solutions and starting to consider their options.

Native advertising – Paid media that is content-based and inherently non-disruptive, as it follows the natural form and function of where it is placed. Learn More About Native Advertising

Net promoter score (NPS) – A score that represents the likelihood of customers recommending a product or service to others. 

Organic search – Returns of a search that result from relevance to search query, as opposed to those delivered due to paid advertising.

Owned media – Any marketing channel or property you create and control. This would include your firm’s website, content, blog, email marketing, print collateral and other controlled channels. While a firm doesn’t technically own a social media channel, they own the content and have control over how that channel is used. Learn More About Owned, Earned, Paid and Shared Media

Paid media – External exposure and promotion that involves paid placement. This would include traditional advertising, search engine marketing, social media paid amplification, tradeshows, sponsorships and any other promotion that is paid for.  Learn More About Owned, Earned, Paid and Shared Media

Pay per click (PPC) – A type of online advertising used to direct traffic to websites, in which companies pay a set amount each time their advertisement is clicked on.

Preroll – A video advertisement that plays before the start of chosen content.

Qualitative research – Anecdotal, non-numerical research used to capture consumer sentiment and generate insight. Typically conducted in one-on-one interviews with clients, prospects and business partners. Learn More About Qualitative Research

Quantitative research – Research using numerical data and statistics to test hypotheses and answer research questions. Often conducted using online-based surveys.

Segmentation – Dividing a market into various customer segments based on certain criteria, such as demographics and psychographics.

Shared media – When your audience becomes the channel through the voluntary “sharing” and/or engagement of your content on social media. Shared media also includes client testimonials, referrals, word-of-mouth and co-created content.   Learn More About Owned, Earned, Paid and Shared Media

Social listening – The process of monitoring social media channels for mentions of your brand, competitors, product, and potential or existing customers.

Stickiness – Memorable messages, ads or web pages that have longer than average engagement and/or higher than average page views, likely due to good content.

Strategic marketing plan – An integrated, detailed plan of steps to be taken in order reach desired target customers and attain specified goals and KPIs.

Tag line – A short, sticky phrase used to increase brand or product recognition.

Thought leadership – A position a firm holds where their opinions and expertise on a specific subject matter are taken to be authoritative and influential. Often promoted through original content such as articles, webinars, white papers and public speaking. Learn More About Thought Leadership

Top of the funnel – The early “awareness” stage of the marketing/sales funnel, where prospects are looking for answers to questions, understanding of potential problems and needs, resources, research data and other insights.

Traffic – Visitors to a website. Can be measured in number of visitors or number of pages visited.

User experience (UX) – The user’s journey as they navigate a website including usability, intuitiveness, engagement, and delight.

Vlog – Video-based blog content.

Word of mouth – Words exchanged from person to person around a product, service, or brand. Can be positive or negative in nature, and can be directed to current or prospective users.

Learning the marketing term lingo

While this list is far from exhaustive, it represents many of the terms that are used on a daily basis in the world of business-to-business marketing. By learning this marketing vocabulary, you will be able to better navigate working with agencies and internal marketing colleagues.

You may also want to read 25 Web Design and Development Terms Every Marketer Should Know to learn about web and digital-specific terms.