Marketing terms every marketer should know

Marketing Leaders Circle has assembled a list of marketing terminology we believe any marketer should know in 2021. To help you navigate these definitions, we have broken them into the following categories:

  • Overarching marketing terminology
  • Metrics
  • Tech and operational
  • Funnel marketing
  • Customer marketing
  • Product marketing
  • Website strategy and search engine marketing    

Overarching marketing terminology  

Digital marketing
Digital marketing is any form of communication aiming to persuade people to purchase a product or service that occurs through some form of digital device.

Brand positioning
Brand positioning is the way a business differentiates itself from its competitors and how consumers identify and connect with your brand. It is comprised of the key qualities and values that are synonymous with your company.

Brand positioning can be conveyed through a variety of means including tone and voice, visual design, and the way your company represents itself in person and on social media.

Brand awareness
Brand awareness is the extent to which people are able to recall and recognize your brand. It has two components: brand recall, which is a measure of how well a brand name is connected to a product class (for e.g. Do customers know that Toyota is connected with the product class of cars?), and brand recognition, which is when a consumer recognizes a brand by its attributes (i.e. a company’s logo or brand colours).

Brand awareness encompasses more than its component parts, however. Brand awareness constitutes a scenario when customers can see your brand or product and know that you provide the best solution to their problem.

Demand generation
Demand generation encompasses — you guessed it! — generating demand for your product or service. More formally, it is the data-driven focus of marketing programs to produce awareness and interest in a company’s offerings through the use of technology.

Revenue performance management
Revenue performance management ensures the functions of acquisition, retention and expansion are aligned in order to maximize profitability.

Part of the goal of revenue performance management is to break down organizational silos and establish a shared set of data, a shared process and a shared language that enables teams across the company to work toward the common goal of generating revenue.

Inbound marketing
Inbound marketing is a customer-centric approach that focuses on drawing high-fit customers in as opposed to blasting your message to anyone and everyone.

Through tactics like blogging, social media and SEO, inbound marketing attracts customers to your company using helpful, relevant content. Inbound tactics will continue to help your company grow after you have finished investing in them (unlike outbound tactics like paid ads or call lists), providing scalable long-term ROI.

Lead nurturing
Lead nurturing is the process of educating and building trust with your prospects in order to guide them through the buyer’s journey. The ultimate goal of lead nurturing is to provide your prospects with a unique experience that keeps them coming back for more — and eventually converts them into customers.

Introduced in 2018, the flywheel represents a shift in how marketers think about B2B marketing success. The flywheel places customers at the center of a business and highlights the opportunity for repeat business through relationship building and customer service engagement. It represents how you keeping your customers coming back leads to the success of your company.

Buyer persona
Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers.

Buyer personas should include demographic, psychographic and behavioral information, and they tend to go more in-depth about the role and influence these people have within their companies, emphasizing their goals and motivations.

Ideal customer profile (ICP)
An ideal customer profile is a hypothetical description of the type of company that would reap the most benefit from your product or solution. These companies tend to have the quickest, most successful sales cycle, the greatest customer retention rates and the highest number of evangelists for your brand.

Sales enablement
Sales enablement is a combination of coaching, tools and content to help your sales team be more efficient and effective. Your sales team needs to be properly enabled to carry out a successful sales strategy.

By providing key elements of sales enablement, you allow your team to work better within an inbound sales process so that they can provide contextually relevant information, carry out helpful conversations and see — in real-time — which of their efforts are working.

Account-based marketing (ABM)
Account-based marketing is an approach to marketing that flips traditional marketing on its head. Rather than developing buyer personas and then casting a wide net to attract those personas to your brand, ABM focuses on finding ways to engage with people from targeted accounts based on your ideal customer profile (ICP).

ABM is all about sending tailored messages to targeted accounts. Marketing will fuel the strategies behind a successful ABM approach, and sales will provide insight regarding the impact of the interactions marketing is having with the targeted accounts.

Contextual marketing
Contextual marketing is a strategy that is guided by the behaviours and conditions surrounding your marketing efforts so all content is relevant to the person receiving it.

To deliver contextually relevant information, you need to understand the psychographics of your buyer personas to know how to speak to them and what content will resonate with them.

Word-of-mouth marketing (WOM)
This is the oral or written advocacy of a good or service from a satisfied customer (or evangelist) to a prospective customer. It is widely considered to be the most effective form of promotion.


Churn rate
This is a measurement used to calculate customer retention and is significant for recurring revenue companies. It helps companies identify how many customers they lose in a given time period.

To calculate churn rate, you divide the number of customers lost during a time period by the number of customers you had at the beginning of the time period.

Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
Customer acquisition cost is exactly what it sounds like — the cost associated with turning a lead into a customer. CAC is typically expressed as the ratio:

Cost per lead (CPL)
Cost per lead refers to the amount spent on acquiring a lead. This cost is factored heavily into CAC. The most common use case for cost per lead can be found in paid advertising where there is a direct correlation between the amount of money you are spending in something like Google Ads, and the number of leads you are generating from that spend.

Key performance indicator (KPI)
Key Performance Indicators are used to track progress towards marketing goals. By setting the right KPIs for your business, you can continuously evaluate performance and make adjustments to optimize your marketing strategy.

Leading performance indicators (LPIs) and tactical performance indicators (TPIs) can help you understand which specific efforts are propelling you toward your goals.

Customer lifetime value (CLV)
This is the predicted net profit associated with the future relationship with that customer.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)
It measures how likely someone would be to recommend your company to others on a 1–10 scale. Using this customer satisfaction metric, you can easily identify how loyal your customers are and divide them into three categories: promoters (9+), passives (7–8), and detractors (0–6).

Checking your NPS regularly allows you to identify ways to improve your product or service.

Growth marketing
Growth Marketing is the process of designing and conducting experiments to optimize and improve the results of a target area. If you have a certain metric you want to increase, growth marketing is a method you can utilize to achieve that.

Growth marketing can be applied across your business to areas referenced within the acronym AAARRR (sometimes referred to as pirate metrics) which stands for Awareness, Acquisition, Activation, Revenue, Retention and Referral. By improving these categories of metrics, you can grow over time.

Tech and operational

Tech stack
A tech stack, also called a software stack, is the set of technology and software an organization uses to run their business. For most businesses, that probably involves having a CMS, CRM software, sales acceleration tool, marketing automation platform and project management program.

It also includes any integrations and servers you need to operate the platforms in tandem.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
At a bear minimum this is a business’ contact database; but for most organisations it is also a sales acceleration tool that identifies business insights and analytics. It is a comprehensive and easily accessible platform that houses the sales process.

The main feature associated with CRM software is its ability to hold contact information, such as names, phone numbers, emails and other records related to a given contact. It can associate individual contacts with their companies so salespeople can track their interactions with every stakeholder.

Content Management System (CMS)
A CMS is a software that allows marketers to create, design, host, edit, manage and track the performance of all of their website content.

Popular examples include HubSpot, WordPress and Squarespace.

Marketing automation
In a nutshell, marketing automation refers to software that is designed to automate your marketing tasks. It is centred around nurturing leads through the buying process by leveraging targeted content that addresses your prospect’s needs when they want it. Basically, you are sending them information based on their behaviour which is much more powerful than just blasting out emails to everyone.

Overall, marketing automation software allows marketers to streamline various tasks, boost their overall efficiency, draw key insights and drive ROI.

Marketing operations
Marketing operations is everything that happens in your marketing automation and CRM platforms to enable the delivery of the right message at the right time to people who are interested in your products and services.

Marketing operations lives behind the scenes. For example, while marketing operations specialists are not sending emails, they are making sure they are sent to the right person.

Sales operations
Sales operations is everything that happens in your CRM and sales acceleration platforms to enable your sales team to communicate effectively with clients and control their sales process.

Like marketing operations, it lives behind the scenes, supporting your sales team’s execution of strategy and objectives.

Services operations
Service operations includes management of all the workflows, tools and processes required to maintain and improve the overall customer experience.

It includes implementation, management and adoption of CRMs, ticket management, automated campaigns, product usage, knowledge base content and customer feedback.

Revenue operations
Revenue operations is the alignment of marketing, sales and service to drive accountability and increase efficiency across your business. The goal of revenue operations is to provide more predictable outcomes and accelerate your company’s growth by organizing people, data and processes to help your business run more effectively.

Funnel marketing

Top of the funnel
Even though the flywheel has arrived, the funnel still represents how you turn prospects into customers. The top of the funnel refers to the first stages of the buying process. During this stage, buyers are becoming aware that they have an issue and are looking for more information. Whether it is subscribing to a blog or watching a video, you want to have helpful content that prompts visitors to take the desired next steps.

Bottom of the funnel
The bottom of the funnel represents the last stage of the buying process. This is when the buyer has identified a problem, researched possible solutions and is getting ready to buy. At this stage, buyers are typically requesting either a free demo or consultation & beginning a conversation with a sales rep.

Marketing qualified lead (MQL)
A marketing qualified lead (MQL) is the third of six lifecycle stages in the buyer’s journey. MQLs indicate the number of visitors you have converted who are good fits for your organization.

When a company confirms a lead is a good fit, that lead becomes an MQL. Once a lead becomes an MQL, the company works to further qualify the contact and nurture them down the funnel.

Sales qualified lead (SQL)
A sales qualified lead (SQL) is the fourth of six lifecycle stages (occurring right after the MQL stage) in the buyer’s journey. An MQL is characterized as an SQL when sales agrees with marketing that the contact has demonstrated enough interest and is a good enough fit to initiate a sales conversation.

The SQL stage also happens to be both one of the most important and most difficult stages for a company to define because it is where the marketing-to-sales handoff occurs.

Conversation qualified lead (CQL)
Conversational marketing and chatbots are becoming increasingly important in today’s marketing landscape. A Conversation Qualified Lead is someone who has expressed interest in buying via a conversation with an employee or a bot. These leads are coming to you with specific questions that they want answers to in real-time.

Buyer’s journey
The buyer’s journey is the progression that a contact follows when researching and purchasing a product. It starts with the awareness stage, when buyers realize they have a problem, moves to the consideration stage, when they evaluate different solutions to that problem, and concludes with the decision stage, when they decide which contender best aligns with their needs and objectives and purchase it.

The buyer’s journey differs from the customer journey because not every prospective buyer becomes a customer. Individuals might go through some of the buyer’s journey stages without ever making a purchase.

Multi-touch revenue attribution
Multi-touch revenue attribution is the process of organizing, collecting and cataloguing all of the interactions that occur as an individual decides to make a purchase with your company. It helps businesses understand how their marketing is contributing to the company’s bottom line, giving marketers the credit they deserve for their efforts.

Customer marketing

Customer marketing
Customer marketing is a set of strategies and tactics aimed at your customer base in order to improve their experience with your brand and increase the value they gain from their engagement with you. Through customer marketing, you can boost retention, evangelize your customer base and nurture existing customers toward future sales.

Customer acquisition
Customer acquisition refers to all of the steps, processes and resources involved in attracting a first-time customer to your business.

Brand awareness, lead generation, product marketing, nurturing and sales strategies all fall under the umbrella of customer acquisition — but the concept of customer acquisition stops as soon as your prospects officially close as a customer.

Customer retention
Customer retention is the act of renewing your existing customers so they continue to work with your company. It is the inverse of churn.

The first step of retention is acquiring good-fit customers in the first place, but there are other components like customer support, customer success and customer experience that contribute to a customer’s likelihood to renew.

Customer expansion
Customer expansion is the act of increasing the MRR you see from existing customers. This is typically accomplished through upsells and cross-sells.

Customer success
Customer success is partnering with your customers to help them meet and exceed their goals. It is a proactive function that aims to help maximize the value customers gain from working with your company so they are more likely to renew and expand.

Customer support

Customer support is solving the problems your customers have when things go wrong. This is a reactive function that uses tools like a ticketing system or self-service knowledge base.

Customer service
Customer service is assisting your customers with the offering they bought from you and ensuring it is meeting their needs. Customer service can be thought of as a proactive version of customer support. It is outreach meant to provide customers with value before your customers need to go looking for it.

Customer satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is the management of client sentiment. When tracking this, you should look at not only how your main point of contact feels about your product or service but also how that sentiment trickles down to the rest of their company.

Satisfaction is the baseline of a happy customer. Not every customer will necessarily become an evangelist who recommends your company to their entire network, but you should be able to satisfy every customer your company takes on.

The customer journey
The customer journey is a way of tracking a customer’s experience with your company from a visitor’s first interaction through when they sign a deal. It is a framework for a greater philosophy of client nurturing.

The customer journey is not one-size-fits-all. What the overarching framework will look like depends on numerous factors, including your industry, sales cycle and product or service.

“By providing the right segmentation, by triggering the right actions in an approach to proactively progress your relationships, it allows you to be responsive to your client,” says New Breed’s Client Success Manager, Dylan Berno.

Product marketing

Product marketing
Product marketing is the process of bringing a specific product to market and ensuring that that product is successful.

As a product marketer, your job entails guiding a product’s internal strategy. It is your duty to enable all of the marketing activities surrounding the product within your organization.

Go-to-market (GTM) strategy
A go-to-market (GTM) strategy is a plan specifying how you will present your product’s unique value proposition so you can reach your customers and achieve a competitive advantage. The purpose of a GTM strategy is to provide a roadmap for launching a product in a way that will achieve product-market fit — the end goal of your launch.

Product-market fit
When your product fulfils a market’s needs, you achieve product-market fit. Product-market fit occurs at the intersection of the introduction and growth stages of the product lifecycle.

In order to obtain product-market fit, you first need to create a minimum viable product (MVP).

Minimum viable product (MVP)
A minimum viable product (MVP) is an offering that has enough features to initially satisfy your target market.

Producing an MVP is the end goal of the product development stage (which precedes the introduction stage) of the product lifecycle. Your GTM strategy is essentially a blueprint outlining how you will introduce your MVP.

Total addressable market (TAM)
Total addressable market (TAM) is the amount of potential revenue your company could earn if everyone with a demand for your product or service actually bought it.

For most companies, the amount of achievable revenue is nowhere near TAM, but understanding your total market can help inform how to define the target market you will focus your marketing and sales strategy toward.

Product-led growth (PLG)
Product-Led Growth is a strategy coined by OpenView Venture Partners that relies on product features and usage as the primary drivers of customer acquisition and retention. It leverages a free product for initial usage and begins enforcing paywalls only after value has been delivered to users.

Product qualified lead (PQL)
A Product Qualified Lead is someone who has tried your product and indicated purchase interest through their usage. These leads tend to close at a higher rate since they have already interacted with your product.

Website and search engine marketing

Lead generation website
A lead generation website’s primary objective is to educate your visitors on your product or service and the industry you operate within. On top of that, it should give visitors the opportunity to provide qualitative information to your sales team, helping your organization capture qualified leads for your product or service.

Conversion rate
Simply put, conversion rate is the ratio between the number of people that complete the desired action on a given webpage and the number of people that visit that webpage. That desired action could include filling out a form on a landing page or clicking a CTA on a blog post.

Conversion rate optimization (CRO)
Based on the principles of the scientific method, conversion rate optimization (CRO) focuses on systematically increasing the percentage of website visitors who take a desired action on a given page. For example, they might convert on your site by filling out a form or providing information to a chatbot.

By identifying key metrics, you can better understand how customers interact with your site and the actions they take. These metrics help to test and determine what strategies work best for generating leads and closing customers.

Wireframes are blueprints for your website. They provide the framework upon which the functionality and design of your final website will be built. The focus of wireframes is not on the look and feel of your website, but rather the structure and layout of content that will prompt the intended actions of your ideal user.

There are many different forms a wireframe can take, and their level of fidelity is characterized by the level of depth into functionality and content. Low-fidelity wireframes can be as little as sketches on paper and generally utilize all placeholder text. High-fidelity wireframes often incorporate some clickable elements to demonstrate user flow and often featured draft or even finalized copy.

Web Content Outlines
A web content outline is the raw copy version of a website page. It reflects the structure the finalized page will take, but it is not designed at all.

In addition to all titles and body copy, web content outlines also include technical information like SEO metadata, page title and where the page exists within the site architecture.

Information Architecture
Information architecture is the organization and structuring of content prior to developing a website. It defines how your content is connected and categorized.

Information architecture encompasses the planning of a site’s main navigation, auditing all existing URLs, determining what to keep, consolidate and delete and then establishing URL structures. When complete, it enables users to find the content they are looking for quickly and efficiently.

Landing page
A landing page is a webpage optimized for lead generation. Using a form, companies are able to leverage meaningful content in exchange for visitor information. Successful landing pages have well-defined content and clear conversion paths.

Thank you page
After submitting information on a landing page, customers are immediately redirected to a thank you page that thanks them for their submission and provides them with potential next steps. Thank you pages are important in your lead nurturing strategy because they deliver the offers individuals are seeking and they can position other relevant content as a next logical step.

A/B split testing
An A/B split test is an experiment that compares two variables by presenting those variables to a randomly “split” audience over a specific period of time. As long as the experiment is controlled and unbiased, A/B split testing is a great way to understand which marketing tactics reap the best results for your business.

Responsive design refers to the way a website automatically adjusts to the screen size you are viewing it from. This will ensure that no matter what device your visitor is using, whether it’s their computer, their phone or their tablet, your website will always look great.

Search engine optimisation (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of positioning your content and website so it can rank well on and draw traffic from search engine results pages (SERPs).

SEO includes both on-page SEO, where you attempt to make alterations to your web code and content to improve its ranking, and off-page SEO, where you try to reach out to individuals outside of your company to acquire backlinks and traffic from other sources.

Paid search
Paid search is the practice of displaying ads on search engines based on the terms, or keywords, individuals search for. Paid search works on a pay-per-click basis, meaning you only pay when someone clicks your ad for a given keyword.

Keyword research
Keyword research is the process of identifying the search terms that your prospective site visitors are looking for online. It is critical to ensuring your content can be found on search engine results pages.

Such research is not the only element that impacts your digital visibility, but if you are trying to drive traffic to your website, you should actively investigate which keywords work best.

Marketing is full of jargon. Understanding these terms will not just help you cruise through that; it will also help you optimise your marketing efforts.