Digital Marketing Glossary, Part 3

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Content Marketing

EncyclopediaHere’s the third and final installment of the Digital Marketing Glossary. Thanks for your comments; please suggest additional terms as you think of them.





Paid media: Here, you pay (usually for time or space) to leverage a third-party channel. Tradeshows, outdoor advertising, pay-per-click ads on websites and search engines, newspapers, TV, radio, magazines, signage, movie screens, sponsorships, direct mail, etc., are all paid media. Paid media is often important for creating awareness, an early step in demand generation.

Pay-per-click (PPC, also called cost per click): is an internet advertising model used to direct traffic to websites from search engines, advertising networks, content websites, and blogs. You pay the publisher only when your ad is clicked. With search engine advertising, advertisers typically bid on how much they will pay per click for keyword phrases for their ads. Content sites commonly charge a fixed price per click rather than use a bidding system.

Permission marketing: Explicit permission happens when you disclose how you plan to use a prospective subscriber’s email address (such as when someone subscribes to your newsletter and also checks a box accepting promotional emails). Implied permission happens when someone shares their email address with you in the course of normal business communications (such as filling out a form to register for a webinar). (Adapted from John Arnold’s Email Marketing for Dummies)

Personalization: Traditionally, this has been an email marketing targeting tactic in which an email message appears to have been created for a single specific recipient. Techniques include adding the recipient’s name in the subject line or message body, addressing known concerns, making an offer on a product the recipient has looked at on your website, referring to transaction history, etc.

Privacy policy: “A clear description of how your company uses the email addresses and other information it gathers via opt-in requests for newsletters, company information or third-party offers or other functions. If you rent, sell or exchange your list to anyone outside your company, or if you add email addresses to opt-out messages, you should state so in the privacy policy. State laws may also compel you to explain your privacy policy, where to put the policy statement so people will see it and even in form the policy should be displayed.” (The Email Experience Council) If you’re marketing internationally, note that different countries have different legal requirements for privacy policies.

Progressive profiling: The practice of serving multiple successive forms to the same lead. The first asks for minimal information. Subsequent forms ask for additional information. The goal is to gain a multidimensional picture of a lead without asking for too much information at any one time, so the ask is both less intrusive and more appropriate as the relationship develops.





Sales-Accepted Lead: This is a lead that marketing sends to sales which sales agrees is qualified, and agrees to follow up with. In some organizations, there are teams of sales development reps who specialize in qualifying leads further by getting potential customers to take some pre-defined next step(s). Marketing may support this step with nurturing programs for leads that are sales-worthy but not sales-ready. See Marketing-Qualified Lead (in Part 2), Sales-Qualified Lead.

Sales-Qualified Lead: This is a lead that has passed the Sales-Accepted Lead stage with some degree of engagement that allows sales to believe this lead is both qualified and likely to buy within a certain amount of time. Marketing may support this step with bottom-of-funnel materials and other specialized collateral. See Marketing-Qualified Lead.

Search engine optimization (SEO): The name of this practice is actually a mischaracterization; you can’t optimize a search engine, but you can optimize your website to increase the volume and/or quality of traffic directed to your site by search engines. All search engines make their money directly or indirectly by satisfying searchers; this means their number-one goal is to find and return the content that most directly matches a searcher’s intent. Your goal with optimization is to use the methods which will assist Google and other search engines to discover your content. Of all the things you can do (e.g., linking, keywords, schema, authorship, etc.), the one tactic that trumps all is: Create quality content that people want and search for. Recent research indicates that almost 80 percent of B2B buyers use search to begin their information discovery process for a business purchase; SEO is critical to your website being found by those buyers.

Search engine results page (SERP): When someone initiates a search on a search engine, the engine will return pages of results. According to Search Engine Watch, page 1 results garnered 92 percent of all traffic from the average search, with traffic dropping off by 95 percent for page 2.

Search engine marketing (SEM): Using search engine optimization (SEO) to generate organic traffic and/or search engine advertising to generate paid traffic, to your website.

Segment: When used as a verb, this is the action of slicing a list into segments determined by various attributes or factors. You can segment by demographic and firmographic factors (job title, location, company size, industry), behavior (website visits, webinar attendance, email responses, form submissions, purchasing activity), or any other factor that makes sense. Segmentation allows targeted campaigns and supports personalization.

Service Level Agreement (SLA): This term is usually employed as part of a service contract, often in any vendor-customer situation where downtime is critical and can turn contentious (e.g., telcos and internet service providers). Increasingly, sales and marketing teams are using two-way service level agreements to outline mutual understandings of what constitutes a qualified lead, how and when the lead will be handed off, and what efforts sales will put forth to follow up. There are usually time constraints as well, such as: “Sales will follow up a sales-qualified lead within 12 hours.” The goal is to foster mutual understanding, cooperation, reliability, and maximize the potential of as many leads as possible.

Social media: Internet-based applications that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, etc.

Social media marketing: Using social media strategically to drive traffic to a website or achieve other marketing goals.




Tracking code:  Information typically included in a URL (or on a web page or in an email) that allows you to track something. It’s used in advertising to estimate the effectiveness of various aspects of an ad, such as search terms and referring search engines. It’s used in website visitor tracking to identify visitors and their behavior or your site. Note that if you create and track additional URLs for a web page and distribute each different URL to a different channel, you can track the source of visitors more easily.

Trigger email: This is an automated email, sent in response to an action taken by a person or in response to a calendar date. Examples include a welcome message sent to new subscribers as soon as they join your list; instructions sent upon webinar registration; or an email confirming a download. These can be one-offs, or an automated series of emails.

Trump rules:  Rules that are put in place which allow for a lead to bypass all lead scoring criteria and be routed directly to sales. A lead who fills out a contact form and indicates a desire to speak with a sales rep is one example.





Web form: A form, on a web page or landing page, used to collect information on a buyer or customer. Fields usually include name and email address, and may include other details such as title, company name, company size, physical address, area of interest, readiness to buy, etc. See Progressive profiling.

Website visitor tracking: This is an application that reports who visits your website by IP address and geographic location, and often by company (if the company is large enough to have its own internet service provider). If the IP address is already in your database, the website visitor tracking report will display the visitor’s name. For known visitors, the page-visit data automatically feeds into the lead or contact’s activity history, giving sales and marketing visibility into the person’s specific page visits. If the IP address is not already in your database, you may be able to identify an anonymous visitor through an integration with a business directory (such as Many marketing automation systems incorporate website visitor tracking.

White paper: An authoritative report or guide helping readers to understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision. White papers are commonly used in B2B and B2G marketing. As to the differences between white papers and eBooks, here’s a list of them 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

If you missed Part 1, you can catch up here.  Part 2 is here, and all three parts are being formatted into an eBook.

As always, if you disagree with a definition or think we missed including a useful word…please let us know.

Photo: “Encyclopedia,” by Todd Mecklem. Used under a Creative Commons 2.0 license.