Small Business Marketing Glossary: 35 Must-Know Terms & Acronyms

January 23, 2024

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Navigating the world of small business marketing can sometimes feel like trying to crack a secret code. There are all sorts of strange words and acronyms, making it hard to even get started. 

However, understanding the language of marketing is essential for any small business owner looking to make a significant impact. That's why we created this small business marketing glossary full of 40 must-know marketing terms and acronyms.

By the end, you'll have a solid foundation of knowledge to help shape your marketing efforts and drive your business forward. You can even bookmark this page for future reference. 

Decoding the Lingo: Essential Marketing Terms

First off, let's tackle the language of marketing. From A/B testing to value propositions, we've compiled a list of essential terms you need to know. 

A/B Testing: A/B testing is sometimes called split testing, and it's like the marketing version of a science experiment. You have two versions (A and B), and you test them against each other to see which one performs better.

Above the Fold: This refers to the part of a screen that's visible before scrolling. 

Affiliate Marketing: This is a type of marketing where you partner with other businesses or people that promote your products and earn a commission on any sales they make. 

Analytics: This refers to the data that gives insight into your customers and their behavior. 

Branding: Branding is all about creating a unique image and identity for your business. Think of it as your business's personality. Coca-Cola, for example, has strong branding associated with happiness and refreshment. (Here's how to find your brand persona). 

Bounce Rate: This is the percentage of website visitors who navigate away from your site after viewing only one page. You want a low bounce rate. 

Conversion: When a visitor to your website completes a desired action, like signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase, that's a conversion. It's the digital equivalent of a customer walking into your store and buying something.

Conversion Rate: A conversion rate is the percentage of users who do what you want them to do on your website, like making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.

Customer Journey: This is the process a customer goes through, from first learning about your business to making a purchase. It's their path from being a stranger to becoming a customer.

Customer Retention: This term refers to the activities organizations take to decrease the number of customer defections. It's all about keeping your customers coming back for more. (Customer retention rate is the amount of customers you retain – or keep – over a specific period). 

Impressions: This is how often your content is shown, regardless of whether it was clicked. In other words, it's the number of times people see your ad, webpage, etc. 

Inbound Marketing: This is a type of marketing focused on attracting customers to you, typically through valuable content, SEO, and social media engagement. (It's different from outbound marketing, where you approach consumers. See the comparison between inbound and outbound here). 

Landing Page: This is a standalone web page designed for a specific marketing campaign. It's where a person "lands" after clicking a link in emails or ads.

Organic Traffic: This refers to visitors who come to your website from unpaid search results or marketing efforts. They're the folks who found you naturally, without you having to pay for advertising.

Segmentation: This is the process of dividing a broad market into sub-groups of consumers or segments. It's like sorting your customers into different buckets based on certain characteristics.

Target Audience: This is the people you want to reach with your marketing campaigns. (Here are the 7 steps to finding your target audience). 

Value Proposition: This is the value you promise to deliver to your customers and the main reason a prospect should buy from you. 

Cracking the Code: Key Marketing Acronyms

Now that we've decoded the marketing terminology, it's time to crack the code of marketing acronyms. These abbreviations can sound like secret agent codes, but once you know what they stand for, they become powerful tools in your marketing toolbox.

B2B and B2C: B2B stands for business-to-business, and B2C stands for business-to-consumer. 

CMS (Content Management System): A software that enables users to create, edit, organize, and publish content on the web. Wordpress, Wix, Webflow, Shopify, and Drupal are all examples of CMS platforms. 

CPA (Cost Per Action): How much you're willing to pay for a specific action, like a click, lead, or sale.

CPA (Cost Per Acquisition): This is the same acronym as above, but they mean different things. Cost per acquisition is the cost of acquiring a customer. 

CPC (Cost Per Click): How much you pay each time someone clicks on your online ad.

CPM (Cost Per Thousand Impressions): This is how much you pay for a thousand views of your online ad.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management): A technology for managing a company's relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. Some popular CRMs include Salesforce, Zoho, HubSpot, and Copper. 

CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization): This is the process of optimizing your site design and content to boost conversions.

CTA (Call to Action): The prompt that encourages your audience to take a specific action. Some examples of CTAs include "Buy Now!" or "Subscribe Here!"

CTR (Click-Through Rate): The percentage of users who click on your email, ad, or other marketing pieces after seeing it.

KPI (Key Performance Indicator): These are the measurable goals that help you track your marketing performance.

PPC (Pay Per Click): An online ad where you pay each time someone clicks on your ad. Google Ads is the most popular example of PPC. 

ROI (Return on Investment): This is the measure of the profitability of an investment. In marketing terms, if your marketing efforts result in more profits than you spent, you have a positive ROI. For example, if you spent $10,000 on your marketing, resulting in a net profit of $15,000, the ROI would be 150%. The equation for ROI is:

(Net Profit / Cost of Investment) x 100

SEM (Search Engine Marketing): A type of marketing that promotes websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages, primarily through paid advertising.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization): This is the art and science of getting your website to rank high in search engine results, making it easier for people to find you online. (Here are some basics of an SEO strategy). 

SERP (Search Engine Results Page): This is the search engine page that displays the results of a search engine query.

UGC (User Generated Content): UGC is content your customers or real people create, like reviews or social media posts. It's a great way to build community and engagement. 

Mastering the Language of Marketing

And there you have it! A crash course in marketing terminology. Just like learning any new language, it might seem a bit overwhelming at first. But, with a bit of practice, you'll be throwing around terms like "CTA" and "conversion rate" like a seasoned pro. 

Keep this glossary handy, and remember, the key to success is understanding not just what these terms mean but how they can work for you.