Digital Marketing Glossary of Terms

digital marketing glossary of terms

Need to know the meaning of a word or phrase used by digital marketers? Look here!

Digital marketers are guilty of falling in love with our own vernacular. We throw around words like conversion and programmatic, assuming everyone else knows what we’re talking about.

But what about those of us who are new to the field, or who have specialized roles that don’t touch on the entire spectrum? Don’t we owe it to the community to clarify the meaning of the unique words and phrases that flow so easily off the tongues of our subject matter experts?

Yes! To meet this need San Diego AMA has compiled this glossary of digital marketing terms, definitions and examples of the most commonly-used terms in the field.

Is there a term you’d like to see us add? Do you see any that are off the mark? Let us know in the comments at the bottom.

Index of Terms: these are links; clicking or tapping will take you to the applicable term.

A/B testing

AMP

Above the fold

Affiliate marketing

Analytics

Anchor text

Attribution

Bounce

Canonical

Conversion

Conversion rate optimization

CTA

CTR

Display advertising

Funnel

Gated content

Impression

Inbound marketing

Influencer marketing

Keywords

Landing page

Long-tail keywords

Meta tags

Native advertising

Nofollow metatag

Omnichannel

Organic search

Paid search

Personas

PPC

PPM

Programmatic

Retargeting

ROI

SEM

SEO

SERP

UX

Glossary of Terms

A/B testing

A/B testing, also known as split testing, compares the effectiveness of one version of a webpage (or any type of digital media, including email) vs. another version of the same content. The content may differ in terms of copy, imagery, CTAs, layout, color, etc. Each version is tested on different users at the same with the goal of determining which version is more effective at getting visitors to take the desired action (see Conversion).

Why it matters: A/B testing is a critical component of Conversion rate optimization. Selecting the more effective version of a piece of content can have an enormous impact on conversion rates and, thus, business results.

AMP

Example of AMP, accelerated mobile pagesAMP is short for Accelerated Mobile Pages. AMP is an open source project led by Google that uses techniques like simplified coding and caching to produce pages that load faster on mobile devices. Starting in 2016, Google has begun to display AMP pages in response to searches conducted on mobile devices, and the expectation is that Google will always display the AMP version of a website’s content instead of its regular pages going forward. The screenshot at right shows two examples of AMP listings Google featured prominently among the results from a Nov. 2016 search for “San Diego football stadium proposal” on a smartphone.

Why it matters: As of this writing, programming AMP pages represents an opportunity to get your content ranked higher in search results than competitive pages that are not AMP-compatible. Over time, AMP is expected to become the dominant mobile content type, so producing AMP-compatible content will be a requirement for appearing anywhere on a mobile SERP. One school of thought is that AMP will render responsive site designs (single websites that use frameworks like Bootstrap to facilitate automatic adaptation to different screen sizes) obsolete.

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Above the fold

Above the fold is a term that originated in the newspaper business. Newspapers were folded in half to display in newspaper racks. This meant that you would see the most important news above the fold. In digital marketing, above the fold refers to the portion of a website visible on the screen before scrolling. This is the first thing users will see when they bring up a website on their computer, tablet or smartphone.

Why it matters: You can’t count on users to scroll to the bottom of your page, so placing important content, offers or calls to action at the top of a webpage will expose them to more users. Placing a call to action above the fold increases the likelihood of conversions.

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Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a form of marketing in which a brand or merchant compensates a website owner, or affiliate, for each visitor or customer referred by the latter to the former. This arrangement is typically facilitated by a third party network that matches buyers with affiliates and handles payments. Links from affiliates to target sites might be found in text or display ads or can appear contextually within content created by the publisher. Like native ads, the existence of contextual affiliate links in content must by law be disclosed to readers.

Why it matters: Affiliate marketing is, like SEO, PPC, native or display advertising, another way for brands to increase awareness, traffic and sales. Authoritative blogs with large, loyal audiences are good targets for contextual affiliate links because audience members are more likely to click on links for products and services if recommended by a publisher they trust.

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Analytics

Analytics is the data collected from users’ behaviors and actions on websites, emails, social media and other forms of digital media. Myriad user actions can be tracked, including email opens, click-throughs, content downloads, page views, social shares, form abandonment and many more.

Why it matters: Digital marketers use analytics to gauge the effectiveness of their digital properties and the success of campaigns. Looking at the data prompts digital marketers to make course corrections and improve things like website navigation, keywords, content creation, email messaging, CTAs, and social media posts, whatever is needed to increase awareness and convert potential customers into paying customers.

More San Diego AMA content about analytics:

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Anchor text

Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink that is visible to the reader. In terms of HTML code, in the hyperlink below, https://www.sdama.org is the destination webpage and San Diego AMA is the anchor text visible to the reader:

<a href=”https://www.sdama.org”>San Diego AMA</a>

Why it matters: Anchor text should indicate to the reader the content that will result from clicking on a link. “Sign up for our email newsletter,” for example, should bring users to a sign-up page and is much more illustrative than “click here”. Anchor text gives search engines the same information, so SEO practitioners labor to make their links relevant, increasing the credit search engines give their content. There is, however, a point of diminishing returns to this tactic. Search engine algorithms recognize manipulative link acquisition, and one indicator is frequency of excessively rich anchor text. If, for example, a high percentage of the inbound links to San Diego AMA’s home page read best San Diego marketing organization, search engines would likely scrutinize these links and possibly discount their value as inauthentic.

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Attribution

Attribution is the means of assigning credit for a sale to one or more channels or tactics used throughout the buyer’s journey or marketing funnel. There are seven well-known methods, including last click (assigns all credit to the last channel clicked before the sale); first click (the opposite, all credit to the first channel); linear (equal credit to all channels used); and so on.

Why it matters: Attribution is an inexact science, and given all the channels and tactics used before finally reaching a sale, it is impossible to allocate marketing credit with 100% accuracy. Nonetheless, calculating ROI of any given activity is impossible without assigning some credit for the sale. The good news is that the existing analytics and insights available from your various digital channels provide you the data you need to undertake an attempt at attribution. For example, as the dropdown menu at right shows, Google Analytics provides an easy way to assess the contributions of your channels to your conversions using various models. To find this feature, look at Conversions > Attribution > Model Comparison.

More San Diego AMA content on attribution:

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Bounce

A bounce refers to a website visit that terminates with only one page viewed. The term is also used in email marketing to describe the case where an email cannot be delivered to the specified address.

Why it matters: On the web, a high bounce rate on a certain page isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If the page in question is a signup form or product page with a very high conversion rate, then you’re probably getting the result you want from that page. If, however, the page is not one of these cases and users leave without visiting other pages, this might be indicative of an opportunity for improvement. For example, users aren’t intrigued enough by the content on that page to see if other pages on your site might be worth visiting, or your site gives the impression that it is too difficult to navigate, making other content hard to find.

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Canonical

Website operators use canonical metatags to help search engines determine the most authoritative version of the same or very similar content. This is so that the SEO value of such content can be concentrated on a single post or page. For example, let’s say San Diego AMA had two similar press release pages for its Art of Marketing conference but for a variety of reasons could neither delete one nor use a 301 redirect tag to route traffic from one to the other. In such a case, the search engines would be assigning dilluted SEO value to both pages. To remedy this situation, we should use a canonical tag to concentrate all of the SEO value to the most authoritative of the two pages. In our example, let’s say that the URLs for our two press release pages are http://sdama.org/art-of-marketing/ and http://sdama.org/sdaom/, with the latter the higher ranking page on a SERP for “San Diego marketing conference”. We would place the following metatag in the <head> of the lower-ranking page, http://sdama.org/art-of-marketing/:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://sdaom.org/sdaom/”>

This tag tells search engines that http://sdama.org/sdaom/ is the only page of the two that should be crawled, indexed and ranked.

Some publishers include self-referencing canonical tags on all pages, a practice called ‘self-canonicalizing’. By identifying each piece of content as the original and most authoritative page, in the event a scraper (content thief) replicates their content elsewhere, the HTML code will come with a tag pointing to the originator as the source and prevent the scraper’s content from outranking the source. However, the tag is as easy for the scraper to remove as it is for the creator to add, so the technique is not universally practiced.

Why it matters. Concentrating SEO value has obvious benefits, namely, ensuring the highest possible ranking on SERPs for the applicable keywords. There is the additional priority of avoiding duplicate content, which many SEO practitioners believe can actually cause search engines to penalize your site’s overall authority. While many instances of duplicate content occur innocently, some are the result of the aforementioned scrapers, and canonicalization is one way website operators can send clear signals to search engines.

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Conversion

Conversion is the term used to describe a user completing the desired task in response to a call to action. It could be opening a newsletter, filling out a form on a landing page, downloading a case study, or buying a product. Conversion rate is the percentage of users who perform the task out of the population with the opportunity to do so.

Why it matters: Digital marketers keep a close eye on conversions. If users are not responding to calls to action and taking the next step that will lead to a purchase, this leads to a low return on marketing investment. When conversions are low, it may have to do with poor CTAs, content that doesn’t resonate, a badly designed form, or any number of user experience problems. The problem could even be a failure to appropriately identify the audience in the first place.

More San Diego AMA content on conversion:

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Conversion rate optimization

Conversion rate optimization is the practice of improving a piece of online media in order to increase the frequency at which users take the desired action. Simply put, CRO is figuring out why website visitors aren’t converting and fixing it. CRO is directly related to the user experience, for example, the appeal of the offer, the visibility of the CTA, the ease and speed of taking the desired action. Improving conversion rates often involves A/B testing different potential solutions to the problem.

Why it matters: Conversion rates are critical metrics for digital marketers because they related directly to return on investment and marketers contributions to the bottom line. Improving the conversion rate of a signup form can significantly increase the size of your email distribution list, while doing the same for a special offer landing page can provide a needed boost to revenues.

More San Diego AMA content on conversion rate optimization:

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Example of CTACTA

A call to action (CTA) is part of a webpage, social post or email that tells the user what action to take next, such as signing up for a newsletter, downloading a white paper, or making a purchase. Marketers use colors, fonts and visual imagery to ensure the visibility of their CTAs. The partial mobile screenshot at right shows a typical San Diego AMA CTA. The “Register Now” button encourages blog post readers to register for our signature Art of Marketing conference.

Why it matters: CTAs are critical to the success of marketers’ campaigns. A webpage without a distinct CTA is a missed opportunity to collect an email address for a distribution list or convert a lead into a paying customer.

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CTR

CTR, for click-through rate, represents the number of clicks on a link – such as a link in an email – divided by the number of impressions, or the total number of emails sent. For example, if 50 people out of 1,000 click a link in your email, your CTR for that link is 50 ÷ 1,000 = 5%.

Why it matters: Your CTR is a strong indicator of the success of a piece of digital content. If the click-through rate is low, that means not enough potential customers are responding to your content in the desired way. The message may not resonate for many reasons – it may be boring, it may not address the targeted audience’s primary pain points, or it may not use the most relevant keywords. Knowing the click-through rate either validates your content or indicates it could use some improvement.

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Display advertising

These are the visual (not pure text) banner or sidebar ads seen on publisher websites. Display ads are not limited to still images, and can include audio, video, animation and other elements. Ad network operators like Google compensate publishers on a per impression (PPM) and/or per click (PPC) basis for allowing them to display these ads to the publishers’ audience.

Why it matters: Display ads are the most important source of income for online content publishers. For brands, display inventory can represent another opportunity to promote its products or services to prospective customers. And of course, to an ad network like Google, display ads can generate $billions per year in revenue.

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Funnel

The sales or marketing funnel is also referred to as the customer journey or buyer’s journey. Its end goal is to get a customer to buy your product, service, or solution, and ultimately inspire brand loyalty. Inbound marketing companies may differ in the terminology they use to describe the various stages of the sales funnel, but it generally breaks down like this:

  • Awareness: A customer takes notice of your business online and the products and services you offer. This could be the result of an online search, a blog post that catches their eye, or a shared social media post, for example. This is when you begin to build trust with your customers by offering free, valuable content.
  • Evaluation: A customer assesses your offering by reading more in-depth content like reviews, testimonials, case studies, white papers or other digital media, and by comparing your offering to other options in the marketplace.
  • Purchase: A customer decides to buy your product or service.
  • Advocacy: A customer shares their satisfaction with your product or service through online reviews and social media mentions and shares.

Why it matters: Digital marketers must build their campaigns with the funnel in mind. Content should be designed to get prospects into the funnel and then guide them through it until they become loyal customers. Identifying where someone is in the funnel informs the type of content you create as well as its tone, the placement and promotion of that content, the design of your website, the text of your CTAs and ads, etc.

For example, if someone is in the awareness stage, asking that person to buy your product immediately is likely a turnoff. On the other hand, if someone signed up to receive your blog post updates via email a month ago and hasn’t opted out of your distribution list, he or she may be open to making a purchase if you make them a special offer.

More San Diego AMA content on the funnel:

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Gated content

Gated content, also known as premium content, is content that is accessible only after a visitor to your website provides an email address and other information you want to collect, such as name, phone number, business name, etc. Gated content should be of high quality and valuable to your visitors, such as white papers, special reports, ebooks and webinars.

Why it matters: Once you obtain someone’s email address you can – with their consent –add it to your distribution list and target these potential clients with email marketing campaigns, sending them newsletters, announcements and offers to purchase products and services. If phone numbers are collected as well, these are provided to your sales team, who can contact these leads to gauge their interest in your products and services and close the sale.

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Impression

An impression refers to the single instance when a piece of content is viewed, typically an online ad on a webpage or social platform. The more people see this content, the higher the number of impressions. This does not necessarily translate into views; there’s no guarantee that people are actually looking at the online ad.

Why it matters: Impressions are an indication of the total exposure of your promotional content. The greater the number of impressions, the larger your potential audience.

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Inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is marketing that directs potential customers to your website where they will discover landing pages or online offers that correspond to their needs. This type of marketing includes blog posts, video, social media posts, paid search, SEO, gated content, webinars, and more.

Why it matters: The goal of inbound marketing is to generate and nurture leads that will eventually become customers. It directs potential customers to various stages of the sales funnel.

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Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing relies on key individuals to help reach a target market instead of or in addition to marketing directly to the target market itself. There are several different types of influencers, including celebrities, academics, activists, social media mavens and other trendsetters. The goal of influencer marketing is to get people considered trusted or admired authorities with large followings to advocate on behalf of a brand, product or service. Advocacy can take the form of verbal recommendation, press mentions, social media content, blog posts, and most important for digital marketers, hyperlinks from the influencer’s website. Action taken by an influencer can be earned or paid, but a compensated relationship should be disclosed. Influencers are well aware of their value to brands, so most advocacy today is done on a paid basis.

Why it matters: The recommendation of a single high-profile influencer can significantly increase awareness for a new or small brand, or go a long way toward differentiating a brand from its competitors. Of course, for digital marketers, the most important consideration is online presence, and influencers tend to have authoritative websites with lots of visitors. Links from influencer websites can boost brand authority and generate traffic, leads and sales.

More San Diego AMA content on influencer marketing:

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Keywords

Keywords are the words that indicate to users and search engines the subject of a website or -page. For San Diego AMA, for example, relevant keywords might be San Diego marketing association and San Diego marketing conference. These keywords are found throughout webpages, obviously in content but also in titles and descriptions (also known as meta tags).

Why it matters: Keywords help search engines and users find your website, so strategic use of your keywords is important. When a user enters “san diego marketing association” as his search term, it is in San Diego AMA’s interest to appear among the top options the search engine lists in response to that search. The organization is wise to have these keywords appear early and often on its pages.

As in the case of rich anchor text, there are diminishing returns for the use of keywords. In the early days of search engine optimization, content publishers would engage in ‘keyword stuffing’, the excessive and/or out-of-context use of keywords, believing that the more often the keywords appeared, the higher the page would rank in search results. Search engine algorithms now recognize and discourage this tactic, so it has fallen out of favor among search engine optimization practitioners.

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Landing page

A landing page is the high-impact, specific webpage targeted by a CTA on another platform. For example a “learn more” button in an online ad or a “download our white paper” link in an email would each lead to a landing page. Landing pages are specially designed to facilitate the action you want the user to take on that page, for example, completing an email signup form or buying a specific product on sale.

Why it matters: Landing pages are a critical success factor in just about any digital marketing campaign. Conversion rates can often be tied directly to the quality of the applicable landing page, and a poorly-executed one will lead to fewer conversions.

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Long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords are search terms that are specific to a particular niche. Pages resulting from longtail keyword searches get less traffic, but they also lead to higher conversions because they target users who know exactly what they’re looking for. Just like regular keywords, these longer strings are included throughout your website.

Why it matters: Like keywords, long-tail keywords are critical to the success of organic search, the searches your potential customers perform when looking for particular content. Use of a longtail keyword in an organic search indicates a prospect who is further along in the customer journey. For example, a user searching IT consulting is likely just looking for general information, and a search engine will return a list of very general and highly-trafficked pages in response to that search. If, on the other hand, the user searches Oracle ERP optimization best practices, that is a very different search that will return much more specific pages. A consultancy with a strong piece of content on that subject would likely appear high among the search results and could very well find itself a prospect in that user.

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Meta tags

Meta tags are bits of text, included in HTML code and not visible to a user, that tell search engines what a webpage is about and how to treat certain aspects of the page. These differ from regular tags on blog or social posts that can be seen.

Some of the more important meta tags are:

  • Title and H1 header: primary indications of page subject; carry high value in search engine algorithms.
  • Robots attribute: tells search engines whether to index the page.
  • Nofollow attribute: tells search engines to not follow links.
  • 301 redirect: routes search engines and users to another page.
  • Description: this is the snippet that appears under the page title in search engine results. The copy has no SEO value, but is important to users when evaluating whether your page contains the content they’re interested in.

There is a keywords meta tag that was originally thought to carry high SEO value, but it is now understood to be of no SEO use.

Why it matters: Paying proper attention to your website’s meta tags will help ensure search engines find and properly characterize your webpage. Fortunately, website content management systems and common SEO plugins support automatic generation of some tags, but site owners are nonetheless wise to review their tags carefully. For example, if your page has no meta description, a search engine will fill that field using the first few lines of content on the page, which may not be the best representation of the page’s purpose. Or, if you neglect to assign a nofollow tag to a link that targets a page whose content you don’t control, you could be indicating to search engines that your page has something in common with a site you might not want to be associated with later. Paying close attention to your site’s meta tags helps ensure you will remain in good stead with search engines, support high rankings in search results and make it easy for users to understand the purpose of your pages.

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Native advertising

Native advertising consists of articles or videos promoting a brand, product or service which are published on a platform in a way that mirrors the style and format of the editorial content on that platform. This type of content is also known as sponsored content and must be identified as such to comply with FTC regulations. Here is an example from NBCNews.com:

Example of native advertising

Why it matters: Like any other form of promotion, if done correctly, native advertising can be an effective way to reach a new audience or grow traffic. Some members of a platform’s audience who won’t click on a display or text ad will click on a piece of sponsored content that succeeds in commanding their attention.

More San Diego AMA content on native advertising:

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Nofollow metatag

A “nofollow” tag is a part of a hyperlink used to tell search engines not to follow the link to determine what content exists on the destination page. We’ve added a nofollow tag to the hyperlink we discussed in the section on anchor text, below:

<a href=”https://www.sdama.org” rel=”nofollow”>San Diego AMA</a>

As with anchor text, the nofollow attribute is invisible to the reader. In the absence of a nofollow tag, search engines will automatically follow links, so there is no need to insert a “dofollow” attribute.

Why it matters: By including a nofollow tag in a hyperlink to a page whose content you don’t control, you are denying responsibility for that content. The main reason for doing this is to preserve the search engine authority of your own page. Search engine algorithms take into account not only links inbound to your site, but links outbound from your site as well. Generally speaking, SEO best practice is to include ‘followable’ links only to highly authoritative and trustworthy content. If there is any concern about the quality of the content or SEO tactics of target pages, the nofollow attribute should be applied so that your own authority isn’t damaged by the low authority of the target of an outbound link.

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Omnichannel

Omnichannel marketing is the practice of planning and implementing a unified customer experience across platforms and devices, for example, websites on desktops, tablets and mobile, social media channels, phone and physical retail locations. While some marketers attempt to draw distinctions between omnichannel, cross channel and multichannel, any differences are very subtle if existent at all.

Why it matters: Omnichannel marketing is a necessary acknowledgement of the way consumers shop today. Shoppers commonly reference reviews, promotions and competitors’ products on their phones while shopping at retail stores and return to retail stores unwanted items bought online. It is vital for all brand communications to consistently reflect the latest company offers and standards, or risk confusing and alienating potential customers. It is also critical for all company personnel to be made familiar with company promotions and policies in order to reinforce messaging found online or in print, and to ensure customer satisfaction.

More San Diego AMA content on omnichannel:

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Organic search

When a user enters keywords into a search engine, the listings that appear on the search engine results page are organic search results. These are not to be confused with paid search results, which are the results that appear above, below or to the right of the organic results and for which the search engine is compensated.

Why it matters: While paid search can be effective, many users express a strong preference for organic search results and will click those results at much higher rates. Ranking highly in organic search is the product of many factors such as the quality of your content, the usability of your site, proper application of meta tags, links to your content on other sites, shares on social media platforms and many others. Ranking highly in organic search takes a lot of time and effort, but is worthwhile considering the value users place the relative placement of results.

Example of SERP

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Paid search

Paid search is exactly that: ads that appear at the top, bottom or side of a search engine results page. These ads are tied to keywords or long-tail keywords entered into the search engine by your potential customer.

Why it matters: Paid search is a faster way to get your webpage noticed on a search engine results page. Unlike organic search, which takes some time to optimize, paid search can put your website at the top of search listings and generate leads or sales quickly. The down side is users may deliberately avoid clicking on paid search ads, because they know this placement was purchased, rather than appearing at the top organically.

More San Diego AMA content on paid search:

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Personas

Personas are representations of a brand’s typical customers. They are not single users, but rather are a group of users defined by their job title, interests, behaviors, regional location, buying patterns, social media preferences, goals, dreams, income levels, etc. Digital marketers will create profiles describing each persona, often naming each one based on the targeted market, like Gardener Gary or Professional Pam.

Why it matters: Establishing personas helps digital marketers create a strategy for reaching each particular audience. Personas guide everything from keyword research to content, social media presence to ad placement, and make it possible for marketers to target their prospects more specifically and directly.

More San Diego AMA content on personas:

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PPC

Pay per click (PPC) is online advertising in which an advertiser pays a host each time a user clicks on one of the advertiser’s ads. PPC is most commonly associated with paid search, the ads that appear at the top or to the right of search engine results pages. Google’s AdWords is the best-known PPC platform. But ad space on publisher webpages or social platforms can also be bought on a per-click basis. Related term: CPC (cost per click).

Why it matters: PPC can help you grow awareness and bring traffic to your website faster than organic search. It should be considered a valuable tool for a new brand, website, product or solution, as a supplement to your organic search efforts.

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PPM

PPM is short for pay per thousand impressions, because per-impression advertising is charged on a per mille (Latin for thousand) basis. An impression is the single viewing of an ad on a webpage or social media platform. Related term: CPM (cost per mille).

Why it matters: If you are an online publisher, getting paid per impression provides a way to earn income even when people aren’t clicking on ads. If, on the other hand, you’re an advertiser, PPM only makes sense in certain circumstances. If you are a large brand looking to generate awareness or reinforce a brand message, PPM might make sense. But for a smaller brand or ecommerce site dependent on actual website traffic for revenue, impressions rarely offer a clear return on investment.

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Programmatic buying or advertising

Programmatic is the contextual placement of display ads via ad exchanges that use algorithms and auctions to determine the selected ad. This differs from traditional display advertising that relied on contracts negotiated between humans to place fixed volumes of sometimes irrelevant ads.

Why it matters: Programmatic makes the buying of ad space more efficient as it is being done automatically and algorithmically. When a publisher webpage is being loaded in a visitor’s browser, information about both the visitor and the context of the site or webpage are relayed through an ad exchange, triggering the placement of an ad in an available space. The winning ad is selected via auction, causing the loading of the ad, all in a matter of milliseconds.

According to Google, ”Programmatic buying allows brands to use audience insights and technology to tailor messages to the right person, at the right moment, in the right context. It helps brands respond to real-time signals on an impression-by-impression basis across screens and across channels.”

More San Diego AMA content on programmatic:

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Retargeting

When you see display ads online for a brand, product or services you’ve already researched, that’s retargeting in action. An advertiser can tell when you’ve visited its website if you allow your browser to accept a cookie from that website. The owner of that site can then via an ad exchange retarget you with display ads on publisher websites or social media channels.

Why it matters: Very few users convert during their first visit to a website. Retargeting is an important middle-of-the-funnel, or nurturing, tactic as it keeps your brand, product or service in front of potential customer who wasn’t ready to convert on an earlier visit but could be convinced to return and complete the desired action.

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ROI

Return on investment, or ROI, is simply whether a marketing effort translates into sales. Your ROI is the revenue achieved divided by the dollars spent on a particular strategy, tactic, channel or on marketing in general.

Why it matters: ROI is really the key to digital marketing; marketers are judged on their ability to generate value for an enterprise and ROI is the foremost way to measure their impact. ROI determines the value of any particular campaign, strategy or tactic. ROI determines whether an activity is worth continuing, needs improvement, or should be abandoned altogether.

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SEM

Search engine marketing comprises the activities that result in optimized visibility of web pages in search engine results. SEM is most commonly thought to include both organic (SEO) and paid (PPC) components.

Why it matters: Search users tend to limit their clicks to the first page (top 10) of organic search results and especially the top three on that page. While users tend to click on paid results less frequently than organic ones, paid results can generate traffic that cannot be achieved rapidly by executing an SEO strategy. Businesses that depend on web traffic for revenue (eCommerce) or leads (B2B) must appear high in search results pages, so these firms are wise to consider both SEM components in order to achieve the desired business results.

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SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) consists of three major sets of activities content publishers can undertake to improve the ranking of their page(s) among search results:

  • Technical: the structure and speed of your site, its usability across different devices, the use of meta tags, ability of search engines to crawl your content
  • On-page: your content and especially your keywords
  • Off-page: existence of inbound links, social shares, online mentions and other indicators on the web that tell search engines your page website contains content others find valuable. Most SEO practitioners agree this is by far the most important activity set.

Why it matters: Given the strong preference of search users for the top organic results on a SERP (see immediately below), SEO is a critical priority for firms that depend on web traffic for revenue or leads. A strong brand, attractive website, excellent content and appealing offer are also important, but you could be all but invisible to your intended audience if you don’t take the right steps to ensure your prominent appearance among organic search results.

More San Diego AMA content on the funnel:

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SERP

SERP stands for search engine results page. These are the listings of webpages – organic and paid, including titles, URLs and descriptions – that appear in response to a keyword search. The default Google search setting shows 10 organic results per page, adjustable upwards to 100 in increments of 10.

Example of SERP

Why it matters: Many will limit their consideration to the first page of results, or even the top three. Therefore, the goal of any business relying on digital marketing to drive sales or leads is to appear among the first 10, and especially the first three, sites listed. The further down your website appears on a SERP, the less likely prospective customers are to find you.

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UX

User experience, or UX, refers to what a user experiences when visiting a website or other digital property. Many factors can positively or negatively affect the user experience. These include navigation, imagery, color scheme, font size, tone and type of content, form design, page load speed, and mobile device responsiveness, among many others.

Why it matters: The user experience can directly impact brand reputation and sales. With a good user experience,the potential customer can easily find what he is looking for and take the desired action, whether that’s signing up for a newsletter or ordering a product. A poor user experience, on the other hand, may cause a potential client to abandon the site. A potential customer might even resort to the inferior product or service of a competitor whose site is superior.

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