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Speak Fluent Marketing: A Glossary of B2B Marketing Terms

Speak Fluent Marketing: A Glossary of B2B Marketing Terms

Ever feel like marketing conversations are a bowl of alphabet soup? CTA, SEO, ROI — the acronyms, initialisms, and abbreviations fly, leaving even seasoned marketers scrambling to keep up.

Forget time-consuming Google searches. We've got you covered. We've compiled this list of terms that we live and breathe every day at CI Design. In fact, we frequently use glossaries with our clients to ensure we're all on the same page, because clear communication is key.

Let’s go!

Quick jump:

A | B - C | D - G | H - L | M - P | Q - S | T - Z 



Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategy that targets high-value prospects with the information they want about your product or service when they want it in the way they want it. It's a method that relies on a strong partnership between marketing and sales teams to identify target audiences and understand their needs at different stages in the buyer's journey. ABM is particularly effective for B2B where buying journeys can be long and complex.

A/B Test
An A/B test is a great way to gather some insights into how an ad, landing page, or piece of content is performing with your audience. The premise is simple: Put two versions of an ad (or whatever) out in the world and see what does best. But here’s the catch: changing too much between version A and B won’t tell you much. Stick to one variable (changing only the image or only the headline, say) and your data will be much more useful for decision-making.

Alt tags
Alt tags (also called alt descriptions) are short bits of text that are included with images on websites, emails, apps, and basically, anywhere digital images are found. They can be easy to overlook, but they’re very important. Alt tags help visually impaired people using screen readers understand what’s on your site, and if you infuse keywords into the description (which you should), they can help your content appear higher in Google search rankings.

Anchor text
Anchor text (also called link text) is the clickable text of a hyperlink. It’s often stylized in code to be underlined, bold, or a different color from the rest of the text as a clue to the reader that it’s available. It’s the user-friendly way to show a link like this, instead of like this -

Audience segmentation
Audience segmentation is exactly what it sounds like - segmenting your audience into targetable groups or subgroups. You might segment based on demographic criteria such as location, industry, or job title. Or, if you have the means (i.e. data) the psychographic criteria, such as users who have engaged with a specific piece of content or people who have purchased from you in the past. Segmentation allows you to tailor your messaging more precisely, and hopefully resonate more with your segments.

B - C

Backlink/ backlink strategy
A backlink is a link that points from one site to another, using anchor text. Depending on the context it can be comparable to a modern-day citation. Just about every site and brand could benefit from a backlink strategy. That’s where you’d create a purposeful plan about how to obtain backlinks to your site. Examples include guest blogging, leveraging partner or affiliate relationships, PR initiatives, etc.

Bounce rate
Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your site (i.e. bounce away) after visiting only one page. People might bounce when they land somewhere they didn’t expect to, like if they clicked on a link from a SERP and the page content didn’t align with what they were looking for. Or, they might bounce if the UX isn’t great. According to SEMRush, a good bounce rate is 40% or lower.

Maybe the most potentially confusing terms for marketers and their sales counterparts, we spend a lot of time with our clients clarifying what we BOTH mean by conversion. At its core, conversion means a user has completed the desired action. It’s regularly used in reference to converting web visitors to leads. But, conversions can happen in other forms. That’s why we often add descriptors to conversion when we use it. For example, “Web Conversion” (someone who filled out a form) vs. “True Conversion” (an MQL, ideally, who became a customer). For more on conversions, revisit our blog, Back to Basics: What’s a Conversion?

Co-op advertising
Co-op advertising is when a brand manufacturer pays for advertising from a brand or business. This could be a portion of an ad (small section of a flyer), or an entire digital campaign, like a website takeover or a native advertisement. Co-op advertising applies to:

  • Companies who sell other brands' products. For example, Ace Hardware sells EGO Power+ Mowers. EGO may give Ace funding to feature their products.
  • Companies who distribute other brands' products. Total Energy Systems is a distributor for Kohler and Kubota generators. Either or both brands could give funding to Total Energy Systems to help them generate leads and obtain customers.
  • Companies who use specific brands in the services they provide. Consider a home remodeler who might use a particular brand of shingles for new roofing projects. That brand may provide the remodeler with funds to help them acquire new jobs (so they’ll have to buy more shingles).

CPA (cost per acquisition)
Cost per acquisition is the total* dollar amount you invested to acquire one paying customer. Most marketers want to calculate this as a whole, as well as by channel. For example, your all-in media budget for last year may have been $100,000. You may have acquired 100 new customers. On average, your CPA would be $1,000. But, you should also look at it by channel to determine where you may want to increase (or decrease) your efforts:

Sample CTR by Channel Comparison

*Total is the technical way, but also nearly impossible to calculate because you have to put a dollar amount on the labor. May be somewhat easy to approximate if you’re working with an agency, but with in-house talent, especially when you’re not logging timesheets, can get messy.

When you search for something online the first few results are almost certainly ads. The advertiser pays for each click the ad receives. So, if your organization is running search ads and you click on your own ad, you just cost yourself some money. The cost you pay per click has to do with the bid amount you set and how many clicks your ad gets. For a deeper dive, this article from SEMRush is worth a read. (Or just ask your CID digital marketing team member next time you’re on a call with us!) 

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. While commonly thought of as a platform (technology), it’s a strategic practice to manage relationships with customers and potential customers. Common activities include contact management, lead management, sales forecasting/tracking, or even customer service/ticketing. CRMs can help you segment your data to power your marketing. Well-known CRM systems (or CRMs) include HubSpot, Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce, and Zendesk (although there are 415 of them in Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic.

Arguably the three most important letters in marketing, CTA stands for Call to Action. It’s the short sentence, phrase, or word that tells people who see your ads and content what to do. The most effective CTAs are clear and short. Think: “Sign Up” vs. “Learn More.” For some great tips on writing CTAs and some copy ideas read this post on the CID blog

CTR or Click-Through Rate
A metric used to measure the success of a digital marketing effort. CTR tells you what percentage of users actually clicked on your display ad, email link, social post, or other link you’re asking users to click on. Say 100 people read this far down in this post and 10 clicked on this link. Our CTR for that link would be 10%. (That would also be a phenomenal CTR.)

D - G

Display ad
Display ads are visual ads that appear where users are already browsing (vs. searching), and can utilize images, video, animation or even audio. They come in a few forms:

  • Traditional banner ads in standard sizes using images or videos. Go traditional when you need full creative control.
  • Responsive ads which utilize the mix-and-match feature to test out different combinations of images or videos, headlines, and descriptions. Try responsive when you have more flexibility in your messaging and creative and none of the elements depend on any of the others. 

Display advertising is great for driving awareness and is also often used in retargeting.

Drip campaign
A drip campaign is typically a series of messages (emails, texts, direct mail … even social) sent at a regular interval you define. Drip campaigns are often used to develop a relationship with your prospects, although they can be used with existing customers for cross-sell/upsell purposes, or to encourage loyalty. Marketing automation platforms typically help power drip campaigns. 

An eBlast is a single email that’s blasted out to a large audience all at once. If it’s not a part of an ongoing campaign (including a drip campaign), or ongoing series like a newsletter, it can be considered an eBlast. eBlasts are typically sent to a wider audience (hence, the ‘blast’ part), vs. using very segmented targeting.

GA4/Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a free web analytics service and part of the Google Marketing platform. Its current version, Google Analytics 4, aka GA4 officially became the standard on July 1,2023. With GA4, marketers get additional features, including AI-powered predictive metrics, the ability to build completely custom reports, enhanced user journey analysis, and more.

We continue to learn more about GA4 and what it can do every day. The one thing we can say safely: marketers need to plan ahead for what they’d like to measure to configure things properly and get the most out of it. 

Geofencing is a way to do super-specific location-based marketing. It gets its name because you literally set up a virtual fence around a particular geographic area to target users on mobile devices within that area. Uber, for example, might target users within an airport, or your favorite retailer might ping you with a coupon offer when you’re near a store location (typically done through RFID) Many B2B marketers use geofencing for tradeshows to drive traffic to their booths.

H - L

H1 tags
H1s are the header tags on a web page. They are in the largest font size so they stand out, and are most effective when they provide context for the user and search engines as to what the page is about. Every important page on your site should have an H1 (but only one), and best practice is to keep it under 60 characters while including your target keyword.

Intent Marketing
Intent marketing is a strategic approach that tailors content and messaging to where a prospect is in their buyer’s journey. Having strong, accurate user data is key to successful intent marketing strategies. For example, a user who is using broader search terms is likely in the early stage of their journey, so content for that user should consist of top-of-funnel messaging. A user who is searching for specific information about your product, like pricing, is showing strong purchase intent. They’re close to converting, so content and messaging should be aimed at helping them complete their purchasing decision (by choosing you, of course). 

A keyword is a word or phrase that people use to find information online. Keywords apply to both SEO and PPC. From an SEO perspective, ranking organically and high in the SERP can get you more traffic. With PPC, you bid on keywords to have your ads appear above organic results. Nearly every marketing strategy we embark on has an element of keyword research.

Keyword stuffing
This is the practice of shoving, er, stuffing, target keywords onto your web page(s) in an attempt to get search engines to favor your content and have you show up higher in the SERP. Whether by oversaturating on-screen copy, or trying to stuff invisibly (i.e. white text on a white background), keyword stuffing is considered a spammy tactic and a “what not to do.” Google has only continued to increase the importance of context for search results with E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) as part of its Search Quality Rater Guidelines, so keyword stuffing is a fool’s errand anyway.

Landing page
When someone clicks on one of your digital ads* it has to take them somewhere. That “somewhere” is a landing page. Effective landing pages have design and copy that clearly connects to the ad that sent people to the page. They also have a simple, direct form with a strong call-to-action usually at the top of the page, and additional information that will help persuade the user to fill out the form. 

*Or billboard, direct mail piece, social ad — whatever you’re running can have a unique landing page.

Long-tail keyword

These are specific search terms (usually multi-word phrases) with a lower search volume. But don’t let that lower volume deter you. Long-tail is where it's at. According to SEMRush, long-tail keywords convert at a higher rate than high-search volume terms. Your website copy, particularly blog content, is a great place to incorporate long-tail phrases. You may even be able to use some of the phrases as topic inspiration for your content.

Lookalike audience
Lookalike audiences are audiences that have similar traits to another audience, usually your customers. The theory is if you find more people who are like your existing customers, those prospects are more likely to become leads, and eventually customers. Facebook was the first to introduce lookalike audiences in 2013, but it’s not available on several other platforms, including Google and LinkedIn. To be successful with lookalike audiences, you need a large enough sample size (seed list of at least 1,000 people) and good, clean data.

Looker Studio
Formerly known as Google DataStudio, Looker Studio is an online tool for building customizable dashboards for marketing performance reports. You can build reports from scratch or use templates. Either way, you can customize the design elements to match your brand’s palette. Reports hook into “connectors” to get their data. Google products like Ads and Analytics are free to connect to, but other data sources may require a connector. For example, we use Supermetrics with our Looker Studio reports.

M - P

Meta tags
Meta tags give information about your website’s page to search engines. The most common types of meta tags are meta titles and meta descriptions. Neither may directly affect your search-engine rankings on their own, but you should still give them attention and care as they appear on SERPs and give users the context to click to your page (or not).

Meta description
Meta descriptions summarize a web page’s content for search engines. They need to be clear and concise (150-160 characters, max), should include your target keyword(s) for the page—without keyword stuffing—and follow sentence case. You should also avoid duplicate meta descriptions on your website. Search engine crawlers will be confused by seeing the same information twice (or more) and may skip serving your content altogether. So, CMS managers, be careful cloning and editing existing web pages.

Microsites are essentially small websites. While they can be a single page, they are typically a few pages. You might create a microsite for a specific product, where you want to lead with that branding (vs. your company brand), or for an event like an annual conference. 

Microsites differ from landing pages in that:

  • With multiple pages, there can be more content for users to explore or discover about your initiative (product/service/event, etc.)
  • There may be a conversion mechanism (i.e. form), but the goal is usually more about awareness (whereas a landing page is about driving that conversion or completion action). 

MQL stands for Marketing Qualified Lead. Every organization sets its own criteria defining a marketing qualified lead, typically combining explicit (demographic) information and implicit (behavioral) data. Behaviors that feed into MQL criteria or scoring, might include web page visits, content downloads, event registrations, etc.

Nurture campaign
Nurture campaigns are a series of messages sent based on the lead/contact’s behavior. They are sent via trigger vs. on a schedule. Triggers could be links clicked, pages viewed, forms filled out, videos watched, and webinars registered for. Like drip campaigns, nurture campaigns are used to further develop (or nurture) relationships with prospects. But, organizations can also nurture existing customers to increase loyalty. 

When you opt-in, you’re agreeing to receive ongoing communications from an organization. As a marketer, you should make sure it’s omnipresent in your email and/or SMS marketing initiatives. It’s about compliance and common sense. No one likes getting added to lists without their permission! Furthermore, opt-in - and its counterpart opt-out are crucial to compliance-based initiatives like CAN-SPAM, GDPR, CASL, and CCPA.

Optimization is about improving the performance of your paid media campaigns. Adjustments may vary by channel or campaign type, but could include things like:

  • Keywords: adding new ones, adding negative ones
  • Audience targeting
  • Budget adjustments

Optimization may include creative refreshes (copy or image updates) but is generally more focused on campaign structure and mechanics.

Organic post
In social media terms, an organic post is any content you share without any paid promotion. Every brand’s posting cadence and post types will vary, but in a world where attention is harder and harder to come by, you should consider all the ways you can use organic posts to stand out and grab your followers’ attention. Always be true to your brand, but consider ways you can push your boundaries a bit. 

PPC: Pay-Per-Click
You most likely recognize PPC ads as the text-based ads that show up first in your search engine results, though they aren’t limited to text ads. When someone clicks on that ad, the advertiser pays (usually a relatively small amount) to the platform. PPC allows you to target specific audience types, track your ad’s performance, and control your budget. It’s a highly effective tactic, which is why our Digital Strategists tend to recommend PPC campaigns as a part of your complete marketing plan.

Note: PPC and Paid search are often used interchangeably, but they do mean slightly different things. Paid search applies to the general approach of bidding on keywords to have ads displayed on SERPs above organic results, whereas PPC is technically a bidding model within paid search campaigns.


Pixel (as in “we need to add a pixel to the site for tracking”)
A marketing pixel is a secret code hidden on a website, silently gathering intel on visitors for valuable campaign tracking. They are added to Google Tag Manager (GTM). Pixels come in many forms, but the ones we use most frequently include::

  • Retargeting: those shoes that follow you around the internet via display ads after you don’t buy them.
  • Conversion: tracking completion actions, like newsletter sign-ups, form-fills or purchases.
  • Analytics: data you see in GA4, like visitor demographics, and engagement metrics.
  • Social: LinkedIn, Meta, X… pretty much every platform has its own pixel. Social pixels work in conjunction with social advertising to improve targeting. 

Pre-roll ad
A pre-roll ad is a short video ad, usually 6, 15, or 30-seconds, that plays before the content you actually want to see or access. They are very common on YouTube, but also can be seen on Meta, streaming services like Hulu, or mobile apps, especially gaming apps. Pre-roll ads can be a great way to grab attention for a new product, promote a special offer, or build brand awareness. 

PWA (progressive web app)
A progressive web app or PWA is kind of like the middle ground between a traditional website and an app. It can be accessed online like a website, but what makes it different is that it can also be accessed on a device when someone is offline. Unlike traditional apps, a PWA is not tied to a specific mobile operating system. We’re finding that PWAs are proving particularly attractive to sales teams in part because of the options and flexibility they offer to field reps. This article from Mozilla has a deeper dive on PWAs. 

Q - S

Quality score
You can think of a quality score like a report card for your Google ads. It’s a rating based on the usefulness and relevance of the combination of your ad, keywords, and landing page for users. Google wants to show relevant ads, so higher quality scores can cost less and get you better placements. You should monitor your quality scores weekly, like we do for our clients.  

A redirect instructs a user's browser (and search engines) to send them to a different URL than the one they initially requested. It's a crucial tool in providing a good user experience. Redirects ensure users don't encounter broken links or outdated content. If a web page has moved, a redirect seamlessly takes them to the new location, preventing frustration and keeping them engaged with your content.

Referral traffic
This is traffic to your site that originates from another website linking to yours. Increased referral traffic from high-quality backlinks can have a powerful impact on your SEO efforts.  They build your website's authority with search engines, send interested visitors your way, and help search engines find your content faster – all contributing to potentially higher rankings. The key there is high-quality, because low-quality links can do the exact opposite and tank your efforts. For more, check out HubSpot’s blog - Referral Traffic: 7 Ways to Drive It (And Get More Leads!). Then talk to our team about how to implement these or other ideas!

Responsive design
Responsive design is the magic behind website and email layouts that adjust to fit the device they are being viewed in, from desktop to tablets to phones. It’s the gold standard for any build today, and UX design and development have to work in concert to make it happen. A few best practices for responsive design include:

  • Creating flexible layouts: using grids and images that adapt to different screen sizes
  • Scaling your content: making sure text and buttons are readable and easy to tap on small screens
  • Responsive navigation: simplifying menus for mobile users via “hamburger” menus or creating larger tap targets

Ever visited a website, considered a high-ticket item, then been followed by ads for that same product across the internet? That's retargeting in action. It's a powerful strategy that shows targeted ads to website visitors who haven't converted yet, reminding them of your brand and nudging them down the sales funnel. It’s not just for B2C, either! Plenty of B2B brands also use retargeting based on high-value web page visits (think about your “Book a Demo” or “Request a Quote” type of pages).
PS. It’s powered by pixels!

SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing, and according to Optimizely it’s “arguably the fastest way to drive traffic to a website.” SEM is a paid digital marketing strategy that delivers ads to people when they enter a question into a search engine. Using keywords and audience targeting tools helps place ads in front of the people you want to reach. 

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the process of improving your website’s or digital platform’s visibility through search engines. Essentially, it’s how anyone will find you on the internet without a media spend. To be successful, you have to consider the two facets of SEO:

  1. On-Page SEO. This is the optimization of content with keywords to ensure users are driven to pages that will present them with relevant and helpful information. It includes the things you might naturally think of for SEO, like keyword research, meta titles and descriptions, image alt tags, H1 tags, and much more!
  2. Technical SEO. This is the optimization of the site and server to help search engines crawl and index your site. It includes things like optimizing image sizes, updating site maps, creating proper redirects, improving site speed, and you guessed it… much more!

SEO needs to be considered at the time of site build, but it doesn’t stop there. If you want customers, it should be a strategic, ongoing effort to keep both your on-page and your technical components optimized. Our digital marketing team does this through ongoing marketing programs for several clients.

SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page. It’s literally the page that shows up once you hit return on your search query with a mix of ad links and website links for you to click on. As marketers we care about SERPs because we want our valuable, keyword-rich content to rank as high as possible on the first page of results so our target audience sees it right away. 

SME stands for Subject Matter Expert. When you hire CID, you’re getting access to our 40+ SMEs, all in one place. 

Tracking website traffic isn't enough, you need to understand where it comes from. That’s where Source/Medium comes in. The Source is your traffic source (like social media, email, or organic search) and the Medium is the specific marketing tactic used (like a Facebook ad or a blog post). This intel helps you understand which marketing channels and what you place on them are driving the most valuable traffic to your website. Source/Medium are key components for our friend, UTM.

Marketing works hard to generate MQLs, but your lead funnel doesn’t stop there. When the sales team picks them to work them, they are working them toward becoming Sales Qualified Leads, or SQLs. These are potential customers who have shown strong interest and who sales is likely attaching an Opportunity to. Marketers need to understand which leads become SQLs to bridge the gap between marketing and sales efforts and improve targeting at the ToFu (top of the funnel).

T - Z

Tags/Tag Manager
Tags are snippets of code that track user behavior on your website. Tag Manager acts as your control center. It lets you add, edit, and deploy these tags without modifying your website code itself, keeping things organized and saving you valuable time. Think of tags as data spies and Tag Manager as your mission control – together they provide valuable website visitor insights to optimize your marketing efforts.

PS. It’s also easy to confuse Tags with Pixels. All pixels are tags, but not all tags are pixels. Here’s an analogy:

Tags are tools in a toolbox. You might have a hammer (analytics tag), a screwdriver 
(conversion tracking tag), and a wrench (social sharing button tag). 

Pixels are a specific kind of tool in that toolbox. They're like a tiny, multipurpose 
screwdriver used for precision tasks (tracking specific user actions).

UI stands for User Interface. It’s all about how users interact with your digital experience - the visual elements, layout, buttons, and overall feel. A good UI is clear, intuitive, and user-friendly, guiding visitors towards taking the desired actions, whether it’s downloading a white paper or signing up for a demo.

You know how when you share a link from one site to another it gets super long? Look closely at the URL and you’ll see something like “utm=campaign…” and some symbols. UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module and it is a snippet of code that marketers can use to track things like where site traffic is coming from, digital ad campaign clicks, social content shares and lots more. For a deeper dive, we recommend this explainer from HubSpot.

UX stands for User Experience. A user experience designer spends their time thinking about how someone will interact with a product. The UX designers at CID are primarily focused on how the websites or apps we develop can best support a visitor’s time on the site. They consider things like the overall site structure, the way it looks, and how to move users through the site or app efficiently. 

Walled garden
Walled gardens are closed ecosystems controlled by a single platform (like Facebook or Google Ads). They offer powerful advertising tools and vast user bases, but with limitations. Marketers gain access to targeted audiences, but data access and customization can be restricted. Walled gardens have their strengths, but also drawbacks, because the “Gardener” (i.e. Meta or Google) can decide to do what it wants with its “garden” at any given time. This is exactly why when it comes to publishing your content, our pals Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi, say “Don’t build your house on rented land!” Meaning: don’t rely on a platform you can’t control. Use them to promote your content on a “house” you built, like your own website.

A wireframe acts like an initial blueprint. It's a basic visual representation of a web page or app layout, focusing on functionality and structure rather than design details. Wireframes help visualize the user experience, information flow, and key elements before diving into the fancy graphics and colors. Wireframes are a key part of the website discovery process at CI Design so that we can help marketers make decisions and iterate early, saving time and resources in the long run.

XML Sitemap
Ever wonder how search engines find all of your important website content? That's where XML Sitemaps come in! It's like a roadmap, written in Extensible Markup Language (XML), a format both humans and computers can understand. This file lists all your important website pages, making it easier for search engines to discover and index them. Once you've created your XML Sitemap, submit it to search consoles like Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. These platforms help search engines find and process your Sitemap, potentially improving your website's ranking in search results.


Did you make it this far? If so, nice work! Want to talk about any of these terms or another that's on your mind? Drop us a line.


CI Digital Strategy Team

CI Digital Strategy Team

Our Marketing & Strategy team works on everything from SEO and digital advertising strategies to developing and executing content marketing strategies.

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