7 Must-Know Digital Marketing Terms for Do-It-Yourself Business Owners

When you started your business, you probably didn’t plan on needing to become a digital marketing guru in the process. But here you are, wearing yet another hat as you work to keep your business moving forward. Marketing, much like product development or accounting, is a vital part of any business and deserves your attention.

One of my favorite marketing resource websites, HubSpot, published a comprehensive glossary of marketing terms and definitions that you should know. It’s an extensive list, and you’re likely not a full-time marketer, so I’ve picked out a mix of basic digital marketing and top content-related terms you should know. But before we dig into the HubSpot list, I’d like to make a distinction between two terms that people often (mistakenly) use interchangeably.

Marketing and Advertising Are Not the Same Thing

This may seem basic, but it’s a big one, and it’s not a mistake that’s unique to small businesses or new business owners. The American Marketing Association gives the following definitions:

“Marketing is a business practice that involves identifying, predicting and meeting customer needs. Effective marketing strategies help businesses isolate how best to serve their client base, while maximizing revenue at the same time.”

“Advertising is a business practice where a company pays to place its messaging or branding in a particular location. Businesses leverage advertising to promote their products and services for sale as well as establish corporate culture and branding. When employed properly and strategically, advertising can drive customer acquisition and boost sales.”

In short, advertising is an activity that businesses normally incorporate as part of the promotional activity in a marketing strategy. Now, let’s jump into the list of terms you should know. PLEASE NOTE: all definitions come from

Term #1: Content

Definition: Content is a piece of information that exists for the purpose of being digested, engaged with, and shared.

Why You Should Know: Content isn’t just the copy (the text) like a blog post. The term encompasses everything from videos to podcast episodes, photos to infographics and illustrations. Anything that you use to convey an idea is considered content. When you think about content in all of its possible formats, you may find yourself more at ease because you have more options when it’s time to create.

Term #2: Call to Action

Definition: A call-to-action is a text link, button, image, or some type of web link that encourages a potential customer to do something (e.g., visit a landing page, sign up for a freebie, register for an event) and become a lead.

Why You Should Know: Your call to action is important because it’s the action that you want potential customers to take after interacting with your digital content. Ideally, it would start the process of leading them towards purchasing your service or product.

Term #3: Offer

Definition: In this context, offers are content assets that live behind a form on a landing page. Their primary purpose is to get email addresses and generate leads that begin a one-on-one relationship with prospects. Offers include ebooks, checklists, cheat sheets, webinars, demos, and templates.

Why You Should Know: Your offer is what hooks your audience. It’s your chance to connect with them by showing off how much you know about their needs and pain points. It’s also your chance to offer value, so make sure you provide something relevant and useful.

Term #4: Landing Page

Definition: A landing page is a website page containing a form that is used for lead generation. This page revolves around a valuable offer such as an ebook, webinar, how-to guide, or free trial, and serves to capture visitor information in exchange. Landing pages are the gatekeepers of the conversion path and help turn a website visitor into a lead.

Why You Should Know: Different from the standard pages on your website, your landing page is where you make a specific offer in exchange for the page visitor’s email address and other information about them (collected in the form.) From there, you’ll have the opportunity to continue one-to-one communication with the goal of building trust and earning their business.

Term #5: Keywords

Definition: Keywords (or keyword phrases) are the topics that web pages get indexed for in search results by engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

Why You Should Know: With 93% of all online experiences beginning with a search engine, it’s crucial that your content contains keywords that will encourage search engines to index your pages with the search phrases you associate with your business. If you’re not sure where to start, check out Google’s help article that provides basic tips for building a keyword list.

Term #6: Hashtag

Definition: Hashtags are a way for you and your readers to interact with each other on social media and have conversations about a particular piece of content. They tie public conversations on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram together into a single stream, which users can find by searching for a one or clicking on one

Why You Should Know: They’re everywhere! And, they help you associate your social media content to various topics. Creating hashtags shouldn’t be arbitrary and require some thought in order to drive the audience engagement you want. Hootsuite offers a handy guide for how to use hashtags of every social media platform.

Term #7: Key Performance Indicator (KPI)

Definition: Marketers look at KPIs to track progress toward marketing goals, and successful marketers constantly evaluate their performance against industry-standard metrics. Examples of KPIs include CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost), blog traffic sources, and homepage views.

Why You Should Know: How do you know if your digital marketing activities are working? Determining your KPIs ahead of time creates an objective framework for evaluating your marketing activities based on your business goals.

Digital marketing can be daunting, especially when you have a million and one other things to do for your business. Learning the fundamentals will make it easier for you to make the best of your marketing efforts. Have more questions about digital marketing terminology? Drop a note in the comments, and I’ll be sure to answer your questions.

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