Digital Marketing Glossary, Part 2

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Bates reading room, Boston Public Library. Trevor Pritchard CC 2.0In the first installment of this series, I commented that I’d gotten “lead gen” and “demand gen” mixed up. Seems I am not alone, so before we leap off into the next group of definitions, a few more words are in order about “demand generation vs. lead generation.”

In a recent post on Content Marketing Institute’s blog, Eric Wittlake commented that “When many B2B marketers say demand generation, they mean lead generation — which is to say they will measure success based on the number and value of the leads their efforts bring in. The problem is this: Demand generation is focused on shaping the audience’s perspective, while lead generation is focused on capturing their information.” (The post generated interesting comments, which you can read here.) One of the things I found instructive was the different outcomes Eric postulated:  The direct outcome of lead generation is new contacts available for sales or marketing; the direct outcome of demand generation is that your audience is more likely to purchase your products or services.

I asked Jay Hidalgo, founder of Demand Gen Coach (and a marketer with both Fortune 100 and SMB cred), to comment. He agreed with Eric’s outcomes, and added: “Simply put, demand generation is the overarching program and process. Lead generation is one tactic, used to obtain contacts.”

With all that said, let’s get on with Part 2 of the Glossary:





Earned media:  Publicity or social buzz that’s free. In essence, the press and/or your customers become a free distribution channel for your marketing messages. It’s usually generated by your (not-so-free) strategic deployment of carefully crafted content assets (owned media). As an example, if a New York Times reporter writes a story about your company, that story is earned media. To get that story, a highly trained media relations person probably personally pitched a thoughtfully written press release to an editor at the paper. That press release is owned media. If you want to drive traffic to that story, you could run an advertising campaign promoting it. Those ads are “paid media” – you pay for time or space. For another example, imagine that someone on your social team tweets an observation that goes viral and is shared by a million people. Your tweet is owned media; all the shared tweets are earned media.

eBook: There’s a lot of overlap between eBooks and white papers. They can have the same goals: to educate, inform, or persuade; to demonstrate thought leadership; to extend branding; to establish a company as an authoritative source in its field; and more. The best illustration we can find comes from the 2012 book, Content Rules by Ann Handley and C. C. Chapman:

White paper characteristics

  • Long, linear and deeply researched in a single topic
  • Data-centric and based on quantifiable research
  • Text-focused with minimal graphics
  • Formal, almost scholarly in tone

eBook characteristics

  •  Formatted into scannable “chunks” of text to accommodate the time-strapped reader
  • Concept-centric, keyed to recent industry trends
  • More visually focused with generous callouts, images and graphics typical of a magazine article
  • Casual and more engaging in tone.

Email marketing: Using email to establish and/or maintain business relationships with prospects and customers.






Inbound link (aka “backlink”, “back link”): A hyperlink from one domain to another. Links are inbound from the perspective of the link target, and outbound from the perspective of the originator. This link to Wikipedia is outbound from Act-On’s perspective, and inbound from Wikipedia’s.

Inbound marketing: Focuses on creating awareness and attracting people who are looking for what you’re selling. In essence, this is a way for prospects to self-select as being interested in you. This is done through a mix of content marketing, search engine optimization, social media, and other tactics designed to attract attention, which Forrester Research has called “the fine art of being found.” After the marketer has optimized, published, and promoted content, any subsequent action is generally taken proactively, by the prospective buyer. This is in opposition to “outbound” marketing, which is the term used for push tactics such as email and advertising.

Integrated campaigns: Marketing campaigns that use an array of channels or tactics in a coordinated fashion. Examples include integrating inbound and outbound tactics (e.g., social media, landing pages, and email); integrating online and offline tactics (e.g. pay-per-click and direct mail); integrating paid, owned, and earned media (e.g. pay-per-click, landing pages, and news stories).

Interruption marketing: This is a term used for marketing that “interrupts” a person’s day or experience. Pop-up ads and telemarketing qualify; some experts consider email to be interruptive.





Key performance indicators: These are selected signals used to “indicate” whether a program or business activity is on track (its “health”, if you will). KPIs make performance more understandable by reducing a complex number of variables to a small and simple set of easily understood indicators. KPIs are derived from metrics and proxy sources, but are not themselves actual measuring devices. A KPI is also not diagnostic – it cannot tell you what is wrong, only that something does (or does not) meet a goal you have set.

To use a physical example, imagine you’re driving on the freeway, and the speed limit is 65. Most cars measure the rotational speed of either the wheels or the transmission using a drive cable. So the drive cable does the measurement, and sends the raw data to the speedometer. The speedometer is the KPI:  In a simple, unambiguous manner, it displays the information you need to make a judgment about whether your car is moving too fast.





Landing page: A single web page that appears in response to a click, usually in an email, an online ad, or on another web page. Landing pages are generally used to promote a single idea or action; they often offer something of value in return for the visitor filling in contact information. As an example, a registration page for a webinar is a landing page.

Landing page optimization: The process of testing and revising a landing page so that it becomes more effective over time.

Lead funnel (aka “sales funnel”): A representation, usually graphic, of the stages of the sales process. Terminology varies from company to company; one popular set of stages is: inquiry, lead, marketing-qualified lead (MQL), sales-accepted lead (SAL), sales-qualified lead (SQL), opportunity, closed.

Lead generation: The practice of attracting and acquiring individuals as leads through marketing programs. Typically focused on the beginning of the funnel; one facet of demand generation.

Lead management: A defined set of processes to manage a lead from attraction through delivery of the qualified lead to sales, all the way to closing the sale, with the lead becoming a customer and entering the customer management phases of retention, loyalty, advocacy, and/or re-purchase.

Lead nurturing:  Most leads are not sales-ready. “Lead nurturing” is the process of maintaining and nurturing a relationship with a potential buyer until such time as the lead becomes ready to buy. In practice, this usually means using a series of “touches” to connect with a prospect. These touches are most often emails and phone calls from the marketing team, the sales representative, or coordinated efforts from both. Good lead nurturing has two main effects: it helps the buyer answer questions and gain confidence in choosing a solution, thus progressing toward sales-readiness; and it positions the vendor as desirable according to factors the buyer values, such as expertise, trustworthiness, and/or reliability. According to Forrester Research, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost.

Lead scoring: “Lead scoring is a methodology used to rank prospects against a scale that represents the perceived value each lead represents to the organization. The resulting score is used to determine which leads a receiving function (e.g. sales, partners, teleprospecting) will engage, in order of priority.” (SiriusDecisions) In practice, this means that attributes (such as “title”) and actions (such as viewing a pricing page on a website) are considered signs of likely buying capability and/or advancing sales-readiness, and are given numerical values according to how such factors perform historically. Salespeople often use lead scoring to help determine lead prioritization. Leads scores aggregate, but when time is factored in, some long-past scores could be deleted.





Marketing automation: This term is applied to integrated software platforms that field multiple complementary technologies, such as email marketing, website visitor tacking, and automated programs (e.g. lead nurturing, lead scoring, etc.). The integration means the tools can all be managed from one dashboard, making management easier. It also means that all the lead and contact data flowing in from different tools is merged into consolidated histories, for real-time intelligence (on both individuals and segments) that both sales and marketing can use. Marketing automation offers a way to build and manage relationships at scale – and both sales and marketing have visibility into those relationships. It also enables the measurement of campaigns and channels. Key capabilities include customer segmentation, lead generation, nurture campaigns, prospect scoring, and closed-loop analytics.

Marketing-Qualified Lead (MQL): A lead that marketing has deemed worthy of handoff to sales. Characteristics may or may not include attributes such as demographics or activity and/or an assessment of the viability of the prospect as an opportunity. The main categories looked at are fit, based on explicit criteria such as title, industry, and revenue; and engagement, based on activities such as webinar attendance and white paper downloads. It’s important that marketing and sales agree on the criteria and definition. See Sales-Accepted Lead; Sales-Qualified Lead

Microsite: A mini-website within a larger site. Often used to promote a specific product or service.





Optimization: The process of reviewing (and/or testing) and then revising an asset so that it performs more effectively (e.g., more traffic, more conversions, etc.). All kinds of assets can be optimized; for just three examples: email subject lines can be optimized to increase open rates; landing pages can be optimized to convert more;  web pages can be optimized so that search engines understand more clearly what the page is about and so direct more of the right traffic.

Owned media: These are media that your organization creates or controls. Your web pages and landing pages, your blog, and all the content assets you create for any channel is owned media. Everything you post on your social networks is owned media, including tweets, images, videos on YouTube or Vimeo, and so on. Once other people begin distributing your content, it will become earned media.

Thus endeth Part 2 of the Digital Marketing Glossary.

If you missed Part 1, you can catch up here.

The concluding part will be along next week. In the meantime, if you disagree with any of these definitions, or think we missed including a useful word…please let us know.

Photo: Bates reading room, Boston Public Library, by Trevor Pritchard. Used under a Creative Commons 2.0 license.