Digital marketing terms you need to know

Marguerite Arnold
Digital marketing is a complex discipline that continues to evolve. Even the most experienced practitioners need regular refreshers. This is a glossary of the most common terms; what they mean, and how they can be used to your benefit.

Digital marketing is a type of branding that has been around for at least a decade. It has evolved steadily with the rise of social media and has come to play an integral role in both online and brick and mortar businesses. But whether you are a newbie or an old hand, it’s always good to take a refresher course. The online world is continually developing, and it is easy to fall behind with new terminology. Or get a handle on it in the first place.
Here is a brief guide to help familiarize you with the core terms and ideas behind this discipline.
Let’s start at the beginning. What is digital marketing?
Very simply, it is the use of online tools, including social media, to engage customers. It is also a way of defining a brand by expanding its influence via a digital environment. Digital marketing campaigns may include traditional advertising, as well as content marketing. Gamification is another popular form of content marketing. This is the practice of using competitive games to drive customer interaction. The following are some of the more common terms and concepts you will need to understand as you craft a digital marketing strategy.


This is a technology used by consumers that can block traditional ads (like pop-ups) before they load. This software allows for faster loading times since no extra bandwidth is required to render annoying advertisements. Pop-up or pop-under ads are the primary reason ad blocking has become so popular. While consumers may love this technology, it is the bane of digital marketers and has largely influenced the move away from traditional ads.


APIs are coded triggers for obtaining certain kinds of information from other apps or websites. They can be used in a variety of models. For example, to set up Google Analytics, you need to obtain an API from Google and insert it into your website or app. You can then track visitors, location, and other information. You can also tie it into other applications.


Affiliate advertising is still hot in the world of digital marketing. It refers to a business model where a company has outside representatives promoting the company or product. In return, they receive a percentage of the eventual sale. Individual campaigns are assigned a unique affiliate ID number that tracks the referrer.


Banner advertising is pretty much what it sounds like. It refers to the “banner” space at the top of websites. A great place for ads, in other words. This is the first thing the customer sees. Common banner ad sizes are 728 x 90 and 468 x 60.


Blogging has continued to play an important role in content marketing. Blogs are regular posts designed to drive user interaction and visitation. Blogging style will depend on your product, campaign, or audience. Blogging is a great way to inform your customers about new products, features, or even industry developments.
Blogging has continued to play an important role in content marketing.


Caching is the temporary storage of information from a website. Types of data stored include pages and images on a web page. Cached content will speed up load time. Most modern browsers cache information from a website automatically.


Click through advertising is a kind commonly used in affiliate marketing. This metric shows how many times an ad is clicked on.


This is a measuring tool used to understand the effectiveness of your digital marketing budget. The metric is the cost incurred by the advertiser per thousand impressions of a particular ad. An “impression” is when an advert is displayed to someone.


Keywords used in the construction of a blog, website, or post can trigger certain kinds of advertisements to show up on your site. This requires the use of a service like AdWords or another online circuit. When your website or blog has keywords that match available ads, advertising keyed to the same will show up in the spaces dedicated to such features on your digital storefront.


This is a kind of analysis that can be applied in several different ways. It is a helpful tool that can be used to understand the overall performance of a particular campaign. This metric describes how effective a certain kind of outreach has been in obtaining information – or customers. It can be used to determine how many customers signed up for your newsletter or bought your product. The idea is to understand how successful your outreach campaigns are in terms of influencing customer action.
The idea is to understand how successful your outreach campaigns are in terms of influencing customer action.


Website cookies store information from users regarding website traffic and preferences. Cookies can store identification information, billing, purchases, and passwords. In many jurisdictions like the EU, it is mandatory now to alert users on whether your website uses this kind of information collecting tool. Client IDs (or CIDs) are a unique number that is assigned to each user when visiting a webpage. These are stored in cookies. They can also help you identify how many times a user has returned to your page.


DKI is a way of adding user keywords into campaigns to help maximize SEO and increase traffic. Keyword analysis is the first step in figuring out what words or phrases are commonly used to search for a particular product or service. Integrating this information into your meta text, blogs, or advertising campaigns can dramatically increase traffic, if not conversions into sales or signups.


HTML is the most common coding language found on modern websites. It is code that gives structure to a web page, such as headers, links, and text.


An HTTP referrer is a page that refers a user to your website. This is important to track. It indicates how effective your off-website presence is in encouraging visitors via other sites. One of the best examples of this is media coverage of your site. An article can reference your website via a link. Visitors will click through on that link to find out more. A good online campaign will have as many alternative but relevant sites as possible linking to the main website.


This is a practice of placing many keywords throughout the content of your blog or advertising campaign. It is hard to do well. Most of the time, it makes text unreadable and is not taken seriously by search engine algorithms.
Keyword stuffing makes text unreadable and is not taken seriously by search engine algorithms.


This is a ~160 character description of your web page. Search engines use the meta description to quickly summarize your web page. This allows users to get a brief overview of the information they can expect upon visiting your site. Setting your meta description properly can dramatically improve search results.


This is advertising that is used internally on social networks. Such ads are placed in the media feed.


This is the best kind. It is traffic that comes from unpaid campaigns. Organic traffic means users arrived at your website via search results on a browser, or from a local search. It is heavily influenced by several other factors, including keywords and a site’s domain authority.


RSS feeds are a kind of content syndication that allows users to go to one feed for their information, rather than to each individual website contributing content.


This is a way of advertising on search engines. For example, on Google, paid spots will have the word “ad” next to them. This can help boost your rank for keyword searches.
Search engine marketing can help boost your rank for keyword searches.


One of the most important parts of any digital marketing campaign is optimizing the ability to be found – without advertising. SEO is defined as the ranking and visibility of a website when certain words are typed into a browser search box. The ideal strategy for any website (or web page for that matter) is to get on the first page of search results. Multiple factors determine a site’s SEO. These include keywords, content, and links – as well as overall authority.


User experience refers to the customer journey through your site. It combines issues like design, usability, and universality. When a site is designed well, users can easily move from one area of a site to another.
As you see, there are quite a lot of terms when it comes to digital marketing. There are many more than on this list, but the above should cover the basics to getting you well on your way to integrating the lingo.