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A Guide to Digital Marketing Acronyms & Terms

By May 7, 2018February 14th, 2019In Other News
Emily Sorenson - Digital Marketing Expert on Terms & Acronymns

One thing is pretty consistent with digital marketing terms… just about everyone of them is an acronym! PPC, CPC, SEM, CTR, SEO, KPI… the list of 3 letter abbreviations for digital marketing concepts grows with the advent of every new technology. And let’s face it, a lot of people are confused about what they mean, how to do it, and how to determine if it even worked!

In this article Digital Marketing Director Emily Sorenson, is breaking down digital marketing abbreviations. This isn’t a complete list, but these are the ones most often used in reference to digital marketing terms and strategies.

The ABCs of Digital Marketing Terms


Pay Per Click… simply put, you pay every time your ad is clicked. Of all the digital marketing terms, this is the most general. It is mostly used to describe ads on digital platforms like Facebook and Google, but doesn’t really clearly define what type of ad.


Cost per click. How much a click costs. If you have a bid set for a keyword for 86¢ and someone clicks on the ad associated with that keyword 10 times, you will be charged $8.60.


Cost per thousand impressions. CPM measures “eyeballs,” how many times it was displayed in a way someone could see it on a website or platform. This is measured in thousands. Your CPM is $1.50 and your ad received 3 thousand impressions. You would pay $4.50 for those 3 thousand impressions. This may seem great, but it all depends on your strategy and goals – more on this later.


Search Engine Marketing. This is also a bit of a general term that doesn’t mean one specific ad type or one specific strategy. It is simply “paid digital marketing that involves a search engine


Click Through Rate. The ratio between how many times your ad was clicked on versus how many times it was displayed. Represented as a percentage, each ad type (search, display, social) will all have different CTRs. Your overall strategy will give you an idea if a high CTR is the metric by which to define your ads.


Search Engine Optimization. You want your website to be at the top of the list for organic rankings (not paid rankings). So does everyone else. There are things you can do to your website, like adding quality content, setting up backlinks to other relevant websites, making sure the images on your site have alt tags and descriptions, etc., to help you rank higher than your competitor. SEO is one of the most sought after digital services we provide. And it is one of the most challenging. In many ways SEO is like shoveling snow during a snowstorm. Not only does Google and other search engines continually change their algorithm, but you are also competing with all of your competitors websites from the region as well as around the world, who are also making changes to their sites to improve their SEO. You can learn more about one of the biggest SEO tools we provide here – Local SEO.


Key Performance Indicator. KPIs are the most important component of a digital strategy. Key Performance Indicators are the metrics you use to either define success or failure of a digital campaign. For some businesses their goal is awareness. They want as many people as possible to see their business name or offer, with a goal of building or maintaining top of mind awareness. A campaign with a high number of impressions may be your key performance indicator. If you are running an ecommerce campaign and are looking to sell items on your website, then the number of conversions generated from ads is the KPI you should be measuring. KPIs are not one-size-fits-all, neither for the client or for the different campaigns a client is running. Your digital marketing rep should lay out what the KPI is for each campaign, what their goal is, whether it is achieved or what changes they are making to achieve it in the future.


Return on Investment. This term is used in a variety of advertising strategies and not limited to just digital marketing. But one of the biggest benefits of digital marketing is being able to accurately determine your ROI. Everything digital leaves a trail. Every click, every page view, every new vs returning customer to your website… all of this (and WAY more) is measured and tracked. At the end of an e-commerce campaign, your marketing agency should be able to tell you what the return on your investment was by comparing what you spent vs what you earned. ROI and KPI have a lot of similarities – basically KPIs are what you use to determine your ROI.

The next few are terms not acronyms, but still important buzzwords in digital marketing terms!


Automation, or Marketing Automation, is commonly used in conjunction with your CRM (yes… another one) Customer/Client Relationship Manager. Automation allows for certain things to happen as a result of another action. A simple way of structuring these automations is to lay out an “If This… Then That” plan.

For example, if a lead gets to your website and fills out a form to receive more information about a product, then an automatic email response will be sent to that customer with the requested information. “That’s easy” you say… even the simplest form builder on my website does that. Well, the magic of automation happens when you continue to layer your thens, and thens, and thens, and ifs on top of each other to create a complex communication workflow between you and your customer automatically. So… let’s break down a more complicated automation.

  1. A customer fills out a form
  2. Their information is loaded into the CRM with their name and email address, at least.
  3. The Customer receives a bounce back email with the promised item – an ebook or coupon, whatever was promised for having filled out the form.
  4. Internal sales team receives a notification someone has filled out the form. Internal sales team member is assigned as the “lead owner.”
  5. One week later an email with information the customer is interested in, is sent to the customer. Customer opens the email and clicks on the link.
  6. Internal sales team is notified the customer opened the email
  7. Internal sales team is notified the customer clicked the link.
  8. Customer is progressing further into the sales funnel and has moved from a lead to a prospect.
  9. Using information voluntarily given, the internal sales team member contacts the customer to see if they can answer any questions about the product or services.

If this happens… then that happens. That is a super simplified explanation of marketing automation. But… this probably explains it better. Learn more about HenkinSchultz’s PinPoint Marketing Automation.

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the amount of sessions on your website where only one page was viewed. If you have a high Bounce Rate, that may and probably does impact your SEO. When someone lands on your website, views only one page and leaves, Google and other search engines, view this as negative.

Here is an example. Sarah types into google “ways to help promote my event” and a particularly interesting blog post appears in her query search results titled 10 Big Ideas to Promote your Event. Well, this seems like the right fit and Sarah clicks over to the page, reads the blog, and leaves the website. Although the content of the page is right on and met Sarah’s query search expectations, Google would count this activity as a Bounce because Sarah never viewed another page on the site during this session. Google interprets that as dissatisfaction from Sarah. If she was satisfied, wouldn’t they have viewed more pages? Google wants to make sure that they are populating query results that will be most helpful to the person conducting the query. If they don’t, then people will be less likely to turn to Google.

Final thoughts from the author.

There are more acronyms and digital marketing terms, but I listed the ones I think are the most important. I really could go on and on about analytics, KPIs, ROIs, Inbound, SEO… but I have done my research and I know that in an effort to improve my search engine ranking for the long-tail keyword “digital marketing terms”, the optimal word length for a blog is about 1200 words. And we hit that right about the 3rd sentence about Bounce Rate. I mention this because whatever your goals are there is digital tool to help you get there. Your digital strategy and who is implementing it for you matters. And I would love to sit down and talk to you about how to achieve your goals through digital advertising.

Emily Sorenson is the Digital Marketing Director at HenkinSchultz. With 14+ years working in marketing, Emily’s favorite part of her job is working directly with clients. “Helping make sense of data is what I really like to do. Digital can be very confusing and I hope the biggest value I bring to our clients is explaining what the data means and how it impacts their business.”