Marketing Terminology 101–Terms You Need to Know

Practice speechThe field of marketing is a lot like other specialty fields. There are industry terms for everything. It helps create order and ensure that when marketers talk and share ideas, they’re discussing the same ideas. Jargon, aka industry terminology, helps create communication shortcuts.

If you’re not a marketer, you need marketing terminology 101. As a business owner and marketer, understanding the basic marketing terminology and definitions can help you strengthen your own marketing strategy and plan.  When you’re out there networking and trying to uncover the best resources for your company, understanding some of the terms will help you ask better questions.


Anything you read, view, or interact with online can be considered content. A picture published on your blog or social media page of you shaking hands with a customer is content. It might be categorized as “visual content,” which is different from a blog post, press release or an email message, but it’s still content.

Because there are so many different formats, content is now subcategorized. For example, you might see the following categories:

–  Visual content – infographics, memes, cartoons, photos, etc…
–  Print content – blog posts, articles, case studies, press releases, etc…
–  Audio content – podcasts, MP3 recordings, etc…
–  Video content – YouTube, Vimeo, and Vine are all video content creation and sharing tools.
–  Blog content – Blog content can be print, video, audio, visual, etc…
–  Social media content – Tweets, Facebook posts, comments, etc…

The list could go on and on. In fact, more than 100 different types of content have been identified. They include everything from a 140 character Tweet to a 140 page, or longer, eBook. It’s all content.

As a marketer and business owner, it’s essential to understand that content is considered to be virtually any information that you share with your audience. Its goal can be to educate, entertain, inspire, motivate, persuade, inform or something else altogether.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is the practice of using content, in any of the many formats and subcategories mentioned above, to connect people to your business. Let’s back up for a minute and talk about marketing specifically. Marketing is really about generating awareness for your company and getting people to take action. It’s typically created to achieve a specific goal – to generate leads or to convert those leads. It’s also used to build relationships and create customer loyalty.

Content marketing then uses content to connect your business with your target audience and customers.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is about marketing tactics that help your customer find you. It replaces or supplements the practice of seeking customers through activities like cold calling, advertising, or direct mail. Inbound marketing involves creating and publishing or sharing valuable content for your customers. You promote the content through a variety of methods that can include blogging, email, social media, even advertising and direct mail too.

The effect of providing and promoting your content builds relationships with potential customers, and thus pulls them to you. The goal is to get them to visit your website, sign up for a free consultation, or become part of your community.

Inbound marketing strategies are used to achieve a number of lead generation goals including:

–  Increasing and creating brand awareness
–  Improving search engine optimization
–  Building a reputation as a credible and authoritative resource

Inbound marketing builds trust. As you provide value-driven content to your audience, prospects learn to turn to you for information, and eventually for products or services. It’s also a more subtle form of marketing.

It gets through the walls that people put up to shield themselves from hard and more intrusive marketing tactics. Let’s face it, we get tired of companies trying to sell to us and we tune them out. Inbound marketing is available at your prospect’s leisure. They seek it out and they can seek it out when they’re ready for it – 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Outbound Marketing

If inbound marketing pulls prospects to you, outbound marketing is the process of pushing your marketing outward in the attempt to connect with those businesses which may be interested in your products or services. Outbound marketing reaches out to prospects via advertising, cold calling, direct mail lists as well as other tactics.

The most effective marketers today employ a combination of inbound and outbound marketing tactics to build the most successful programs.  There are pros and cons to both inbound and outbound techniques but when you use them together, you get the best results.

Marketing Campaign

A marketing campaign is an organized and structured effort to achieve a specific marketing goal. A marketing campaign is comprised of specific detailed steps that can include a variety of marketing channels for a very specific purpose. For example, you may create a marketing campaign for a new product or service launch.  Each of the tactics in the campaign is directed at generating awareness and leads for that specific product or service.


A lead is someone who has shown interest in your company’s products or services. They’ve visited your website, signed up for your email messages, connected with you on social media or requested more information.

The majority of your marketing efforts will likely be to generate leads, which is to find organizations that are interested in what your business has to offer.

A raw lead is someone that is just a name and email address.  This kind of lead hasn’t been qualified.

A ‘qualified lead’ is a name and with contact information that meets some level of pre-established criteria.  Usually that criteria includes has a time-frame for purchase, has a budget, and has indicated they have a need that your product or service can solve.  There may be other criteria established, however, these are the initial points used to qualify the lead.

Lead Capture

Lead capture is actually a technique, and it’s more passive and less threatening than it sounds. To “capture a lead” means to get some sort of information from them that allows you to begin the process of building on your new relationship and specifically marketing to that individual.

How do you capture a lead? Through a call to action in your content, you invite or motivate prospects to share information with you. For example, you might give them access to an eBook, a consultation, or a promotional offer when they share their email address with you. You now have the opportunity to do what’s called “nurturing the lead.”

Lead Nurture

Once a lead has reached out to you and connected with you, it’s up to you to make sure they’re taken care of. That’s accomplished by following up with a consistent flow of valuable and credible information.  The concept is really about keeping yourself ‘top of mind.’

We’re all busy and have a thousand things on our mind at any one time.  And while the need for your product or service might not be that great today—meaning they’re not in enough pain to do anything about it or are prepared to spend money solving it—keeping yourself top of mind, puts you in a great position to capture that business in the future when the need is greater.

The goal is to build a relationship of trust so that when they have a need, they turn to your company for a solution.


Conversion is action. When a prospect takes a desired action, that is a conversion. For example, when you invite someone to follow you on social media and they do, that’s a conversion. If you ask for someone to click on a link in your email and when they follow through, that’s a conversion. And of course when someone clicks on a “buy” link and becomes a customer, that’s a conversion too. Conversions are often the primary goal of your marketing efforts. A series of smaller conversions can lead to a larger one. A social media follow can lead to an email subscription, which can lead to a purchase.

You have to think in small steps as prospects go through the buyer journey.

From content to conversions, marketing terminology 101 makes it less complicated. Once you understand the basics, it’s much easier to begin to build your own powerful lead generation strategy where you can also establish the measurement criteria necessary.

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