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A Glossary of small business marketing

Marketing in business is not an exact science. There are many different theories and methods that marketers will use when planning and executing a marketing campaign. If you ever stop to listen to a marketer talk about a campaign, you wouldn't be blamed for questioning the language that is being used, given the level of jargon that is often involved. 

However, despite the level of jargon, marketing is an important part of running a business - without it you wouldn't have many customers - so it's important for business owners to have even a basic understanding of the essentials.

Fortunately, there are a number of guides and resources online to help you carry out your own marketing activities. To help you better understand these guides, we've put together this useful list of marketing jargon, along with their meanings.

Just click the letters below to take you to the relevant term.

A  B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z


A/B testing

The process of comparing two different versions of a web page to see which performs better. Also sometimes called ‘split testing’.


An advert placement tool from Google, which allows users to display targeted adverts on a website. Site owners can earn money for clicks that ads placed with AdSense get.


A paid advertising tool from Google, used to place adverts on search engine results pages.

Affiliate marketing

Acquiring customers through a partner or affiliate’s own marketing methods. The affiliate is typically rewarded for each customer, for example with a monetary fee.


Commonly refers to the tool from Google, which allows users to track and monitor website traffic.

Anchor text

The clickable text in a hyperlink.



Stands for ‘business to business’, refers to organisations whose target customers are other businesses.


Stands for ‘business to customer’, refers to organisations whose target audience are consumers.


An inbound hyperlink from one website to another.

Banner ad

Also known as a website banner, it is an advert delivered onto a website by an ad server.

Black hat

Typically used in relation to SEO: unethical or unorthodox strategies or techniques. See also grey hat, white hat.


A page or section of a website dedicated solely to content, that is updated regularly.

Bounce rate

The number of users who visit only one page on a site before leaving the site, expressed as a percentage.

Brand equity

The financial value of a business brand, based on the target market’s perception of the brand.

Broad match

Used in relation to keywords, typically in tools such as AdWords. A way of targeting a specific keyword, as well as variations of it, and other related terms. As opposed to exact match.


Call to action (CTA)

An instruction encouraging users to respond in a certain way, usually to fulfil goals. For example, ‘click here’, ‘call now’, etc. 


A medium through which customers travel. For example, users could find a website through      channels such as organic search, PPC, or social media.


A link that is designed specifically to be provocative and eye-catching, in order to elicit a click through.

Click through rate (CTR)

The number of people that ‘click through’ to a given website or page, expressed as a percentage.

Content management system (CMS)

A programme that allows the user to easily manage a website and its content, typically to negate the need for knowledge of HTML, CSS, Javascript, etc.


The act of a user completing a goal.

Conversion funnel / path

The path that a user takes on a website before converting.

Conversion rate

The number of people that complete a given goal, expressed as a percentage.

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO)

Making changes to a website and its conversion funnel in order to increase the conversion rate.

Cost per click (CPC)

Used in relation to paid advertising, the amount of money that one click on a paid ad costs.

Cost per lead (CPL)

The amount of money that a business spends on advertising and marketing in order to acquire one lead.

Cascading style sheets (CSS)

A styling language used to determine what the appearance of a webpage looks like. Used in conjunction with HTML.

Customer relationship management (CRM)

Management of a company’s relationship – for instance sales, customer service, etc – with its existing and potential, future customers.


Data capture

Acquisition of customer information, such as location, email address, name, etc – for example through a newsletter signup form on a webpage.

Data mining

The practice of analysing large amounts of customer data in order to extract that which is relevant to an organisation’s target demographic.

Deep linking

Used to describe hyperlinks to specific pages on a site rather than the site’s homepage.

Digital marketing

The practice of promoting products or services online. Digital marketing includes a number of more specific fields, such as SEO, social media marketing and email marketing.

Direct marketing

A form of marketing in which a business communicated directly with the customer – for instance, through text messages or email marketing – rather than indirectly – for example.


Email marketing

A form of direct marketingin which emails are sent to customers, containing adverts or information about the business.


When users interact with your business. In digital terms, this can refer to anything from an interaction on social media, to a conversion on a website. See also: interaction.

Engagement rate

The number of users that are interacting with your business – for instance on a web page of social profile – expressed as a percentage.


Any online PR activity – including digital press releases, liaising with journalists and general online reputation management.

Exact match

Used in relation to keywords, typically in tools such as AdWords. A way of targeting one specific search term exactly, and not any variations of the term or related terms. As opposed to broad match.



On a webpage, the fold is the diving line between the visible top half of the page, and the lower half of the page that is only visible by scrolling. In a newspaper, it is the horizontal divide across the middle of the page.


A term used to describe the steps a customer goes through before ultimately making a purchase.



A way of identifying user through their geographical location, for example to deliver location-specific content or adverts.

Grey hat

Typically used in relation to SEO: the practice of a mixture of black hat and white hattechniques and strategies.

Guest blog

The practice of writing content for blogs on sites other than your own, usually with the intention of driving traffic or link equityback to your own site. 


Halo effect

The bias shown by customers for a particular product of service, based on a positive experience they have had with another product from the same brand.

Head terms

Usually used to describe keywords. The most commonly searched keyword for a given topic, usually in its simplest form. As opposed to long tail keywords.


Stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. The language used to create and code web pages.


A link from a document or webpage to another document or webpage, denoted by highlighted text.



The number of times an advert has been seen by online users.

Inbound marketing

A type of marketing that attracts customers towards a company, rather than the company having to go out and get customers’ attention.

Integrated marketing communication (IMC)

The practice of ensuring all marketing and communications from an organisation are consistent in brand and message.


When a user engages with a business in some way – for instance through a social share or email sign up. See also: engagement.



A programming language used to create interactive elements on a webpage.



Commonly used words or phrases used to search for a given topic on the internet. Sometimes referred to as a search term or query.

Keyword research

The act of discovering the keywords used by searchers to find a given topic. Typically done using tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner.

Key performance indicator (KPI)

A metric used to assign value to a business’s actions against its objectives. 


Landing page

A page designed to be an entry point into a website, or particular section of that website.

Landing page optimisation

The process of making adjustments to a landing page, and then A/B testingthose changes, in order to try and increase the number of leads generated, or goals fulfilled.


A potential customer for a business; someone who has expressed an interest in a business’s products or services.

Lead nurturing

The process of  building a relationship with leads, in order to maximise the chances of them converting.

Link attribute

An attribute that is added to a hyperlink in order to give a search engine information about the link, and how to treat it – for instance, whether to pass link equityor not.

Link bait

A piece of content designed for the purpose of acquiring links naturally, and not through link building.

Link building

The process of manually acquiring links from other sites to your own, for example through guest blogging.

Link equity

The value assigned to links by Google, based on factors such as the authority of the linking site, and relevance to the linked site.       

<name="long tail keywords">Long tail

Typically used to describe keywords. Less commonly searched keywords on a given topic, usually specific and more than one word long. As opposed to head terms


Marketing automation

The act of automating some or all elements of an organisation’s marketing efforts. Usually involves using tools or programmes.

Marketing funnel

See funnel.


A unit used to measure success. For instance, bounce rate and impressions are both commonly used metrics in digital marketing.

<name="mobile optimisation">Mobile optimisation

The process of optimising a web site or page for users on devices other than computers – for example tablets and mobile phones. See also: responsive design.


Native advertising

Advertising that is designed not to look like advertising, but instead a natural feature of the location in which it is placed.

Negative SEO

The practice of using black hat techniques to harm another website’s SEO, typically done to competitors.

New media marketing

Marketing to customers through modern channels, such as social media or PPC advertising, as opposed to more traditional methods.

Niche marketing

Marketing to a highly targeted audience in a certain niche.

No-follow link

The nofollow link attributeof a hyperlink that is used to tell Google not to pass any link equity through the link.



Refers to factors external to a website – i.e. ‘off’ its pages – that affect the site’s online visibility and performance, as well as the practices involved in optimising a website for these factors.


Refers to internal factors of a website – i.e. those ‘on’ its pages – that affect the site’s online performance and visibility, as well as the practice of optimising these factors.

Open rate

Typically used when referring to email marketing– the number of sent emails that have been opened by recipients, expressed as a percentage.


The process of improving the success rate of a particular function. Typically used to refer to organic search visibility (SEO), customer conversion rate (CRO), etc.

Organic search

The results that appear naturally on a SERP when a user enters a search query, excluding any PPC or paid for advertising. Also referred to as ‘natural search’.


Page rank

The algorithm used by Google to analyse a website’s ranking factors, and rank it in a SERP based on those factors.

Point of sale (POS)

A place where a transaction is carried out, or a conversion is achieved.

Pay per click (PPC)

A form of paid advertising where a website is charged every time a user clicks on one of their adverts. The ads you see on SERPs are PPC ads. Also referred to as ‘paid search’.


Qualified lead

A lead that comes with information additional to the standard contact details (e.g. email address), qualifying them for a certain product or purpose.


A word or phrase that a user types into a search engine. See also: keyword.


Ranking factors

The on page and off page elements of a website that a search engine uses to rank it in a SERP. Exact ranking factors for any given search engine are not definitely known, only best practices are clear.

Return on investment (ROI)

A metric used to measure the benefit gained from marketing activity, against what has been spent (e.g. time, effort, money) to carry out that activity.

Responsive design

A type of web design that is optimised for display on multiple devices. It typically involves all elements on a webpage automatically resizing to fit the size of the screen the page is being viewed on. See also: mobile optimisation.


The act of targeting a user that has had some experience of an organisation before – for instance that has previously been on a website or viewed an advert – usually through the use of cookies and Javascript code.

RSS feed

A tool which ‘feeds’ new content from frequently updated websites into once place. Stands for rich site summary. 


Search Console

A tool from Google which offers a range of analytical data, to aid the maintenance and optimisation of a site. Previously called Webmaster Tools.

Search engine optimisation (SEO)

A range of techniques and practices used to increase the online visibility of a website in SERPs, and the number of visitors and leads to the site.

Search engine results page (SERP)

A page generated by a search engine when a user enters a search query, consisting of a list of websites the engine deems most relevant to the query.

Social media marketing

The act of marketing an organisation through social channels.

Social media optimisation (SMO)

Optimising social channels to maximise interaction and exposure.

Sponsored ad

An advertisement that has been paid for in order to drive traffic to a website. Could be placed on another website or in a SERP. See also: PPC.


Touch point

Any place where a business comes into contact with customers.

Traditional media

Refers to older and largely offline marketing channels, for instance newspaper or billboard advertising.


Unique selling point (USP)

A factor which differentiates a business from its competitors, typically a focal point in marketing campaigns. Also called ‘unique sales proposition’.


A webpage’s address or location. Typically looks like:

User generated content (UGC)

A type of marketing which calls for users to create and submit their own content – rather than the organisation creating content – typically in a competition-style campaign.

User experience (UX)

A user’s experience of a business – in digital terms, often refers to the usability of a website. 


Vampire effect

When attention is ‘sucked’ away from the main message of an advertisement or marketing campaign by some other element of the campaign. For instance, strong imagery detracting from a brand name or product.


A blog consisting largely of video content, rather than written.

Viral marketing

When an advert, campaign or other marketing message is passed around the internet – for instance through social media – very quickly.


An individual who views pages on a website. Also a metric (sometimes called a ‘user’) used to measure website traffic. 



A lesson, discussion or seminar that takes place online (web + seminar), usually through video conferencing.

Web presence

The ‘space’ that a website occupies online. This term can be used to refer to the actual pages on a website, or the site’s authority and visibility on SERPs, social media, etc.

White hat

Typically used in relation to SEO: using ethical techniques and best practices to achieve SEO goals. See also: black hat, grey hat.

Word of mouse marketing

The online equivalent of word of mouth marketing, where consumers communicate their recommendations and disapproval for certain products or brands through online mediums.

Word of mouth marketing

Where consumers share their positive and negative experiences of a product or brand with friends and family, usually through oral communication.


XML sitemap

A file (.xml document) on a website that lists all the pages on that site. Used to help search engines crawl a site.



The practice of analysing and predicting consumer behaviour in order to maximise the profits – or yield – that can be gained from a particular marketing activity.


Zero level channel

A marketing channel through which products or services are sold directly from manufacturer to consumer, without going through any third parties such as retailers.