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22 Complex Marketing Terms Explained in Plain English

Marketing certainly has a lot of jargon, and it often leaves many of us scratching our heads. Even seasoned marketers get caught out from time to time! Check out this plain English glossary with some of the most common terms you might find out in the wild.

Marketing. Even if you don’t fully understand it, your business can’t live without it.

It’s one of those topics where the jargon can sometimes be so impenetrable, even seasoned professionals are left scratching their heads now and again!

If marketing lingo leaves you puzzled, then read on – we’ve compiled a glossary of 22 common marketing terms and their definitions in plain English.

Let’s dive right in!

A/B Testing – This is a type of testing often used in online marketing. Two or more designs or textual choices are published simultaneously and then observed to establish which version performs the best.

AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) – This model defines four crucial stages of buying decisions and is often followed when creating marketing materials; you start by grabbing the reader’s attention, then you nurture interest, then you make the offer desirable, and end on a call to action encouraging a purchase.

B2B (Business-to-Business) – A model of business or marketing that deals with selling products or services to other businesses. Some examples of B2B businesses are engineering companies, marketing agencies, commercial cleaning services, and security companies. If your business only sells to other businesses then you’re a B2B.

B2C (Business-to-Consumer) – A model of business or marketing that deals with selling products or services to the general public. Retailers and eateries are good examples of B2C companies. Think of all of the things you can spend money on in a personal capacity; hairdressing, pet sitting, gardening, clothes shopping – the list goes on!

Blogging – This is the practice of producing blog posts, which are sort of like online magazine articles (in fact, you’re reading one right now!). In the context of marketing it generally refers to companies producing branded blog posts to maintain and increase online reach and discoverability.

Brand Awareness – This is a very desirable trait; it refers to the “recognisability” of a given brand. Companies like British Airways, McDonalds, or Marks & Spencer are all household names; this is the result of great brand awareness.

Buyer Persona – A fictional representation of an ideal client, backed up by research and client engagement, used to help companies target their communications to a certain audience. Companies can establish as many buyer personas as they like and those descriptions can be laser-focused or quite flexible. Some companies even put names and faces to their buyer personas.

Churn Rate – The amount of customers who have stopped doing business with you over a given period, usually expressed as a percentage. Can also refer to email subscribers unsubscribing, social followers unfollowing, and employees leaving a company.

Content Marketing – A marketing method that revolves around the regular creation and publishing of content such as blog posts, videos, social media posts, infographics, podcasts, etc. This method grows brand awareness, gives the creator a chance to evidence their knowledge, and starts a conversation between them and their readers.

Conversion – When a user completes an action you want them to complete, this is called a conversion. Though the term is usually used to refer to an online purchase of some kind, it can refer to any (usually online) action that a company may find desirable; such as signing up to email marketing, registering interest over social media, or staying on the company’s website for longer than a specified time.

CTA (Call to Action) – This is the part of a piece of marketing (usually placed near the end) that incites the reader to take action; whether that action is a purchase or another desired action such as signing up to an email list or filling in a questionnaire.

Demographic – A particular sector of the population who share set characteristics. You may sometimes hear marketers talking about appealing to a certain demographic such as an age range, income bracket, geographical area, occupational sector, etc.

Direct Mail – Sometimes shortened to “DM”, this refers to marketing that involves sending materials directly to recipients; the term usually refers to materials sent through postal mail, but can also refer to materials sent directly to recipients through digital means such as email.

Email Marketing – This is marketing carried out through email and sent to willing subscribers, usually to cement brand awareness in the minds of those subscribers, to announce new products or services, and to generally keep the company on their subscribers’ radar.

KPI (Key Performance Indicator) – This is a data point that helps to measure the success of a campaign, an organisation, or an ongoing marketing concern like a website, blog, or social media profile. KPIs can measure financial data, can relate to number of clients or orders, or basically any metric that might be beneficial or essential to keep an eye on.

Market Segmentation – This refers to the practice of splitting up a broad market group (like a national demographic) into smaller, more targetable groups. This is usually done to tailor one’s marketing message to a more specific audience, so you can construct your marketing campaigns around the exact needs of that smaller group.

Primary Data – This refers to data that has been gathered directly from a data source, allowing you to ask questions that your company specifically needs answering. In terms of market research, this may refer to data gathered through 1-on-1 practices like focus groups, questionnaires, online polls, vox pops, and verbal feedback where you can ask your own questions and get a direct answer from a real human being.

ROI (Return on Investment) – This refers to the (usually monetary) return that you get from a given endeavour. It’s a term that shows up in many fields, but in marketing it usually refers to the incoming sales revenue achieved from a given campaign or product. ROI can be expressed as a monetary figure or as a percentage.

Secondary Data – This is data that has been accessed from external published sources. As an example, you may source publicly published information about demographics from a government website. Secondary data is far easier to source than primary data – it can be carried out with a simple Google search! However the results are unlikely to be tailored to your exact needs.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – This is a process that website owners undertake to increase the visibility of their site in search engine results. The aim is to rank near the top of the results page when someone searches for a relevant phrase, potentially resulting in more website visits from interested parties.

Up-Sell or Cross-Sell – This is the concept of persuading an existing customer to purchase either a product/service of comparable value to the one they were considering (a “cross-sell”) or getting them to purchase a product/service of a higher value (an “up-sell”). For example when buying a new car, if the salesperson persuades you to pay a little more for metallic paint and seat warmers, that’s an example of an up-sell.

USP (Unique Selling Proposition) – This refers to one or more particular characteristics that makes your company unique and sets you apart from your competitors. There are certain marketing exercises that can help you define your individuality such as the 4P’s or 7P’s of the “Marketing Mix”.

Marketing terms got you puzzled? Our easy #marketing jargon buster has got you covered! Click To Tweet

So reader, it’s over to you. Are there any marketing terms that leave you scratching your head? Let us know down in the comments!