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The Xmas Calendar of Marketing Definitions

There’s so much jargon in marketing that we thought it would be fun to do a bit of jargon-busting whilst creating our very own marketing-themed advent calendar.

So throughout December we’ve been posting definitions of marketing terms – one per day – that collectively make up a contemporary marketing glossary.

We hope you liked the posts, which we put out on Twitter and our LinkedIn company page. Here’s the whole lot put together and, in some cases, slightly elaborated.

There were so many more terms we could have chosen. Maybe next year…

Happy Christmas!

1. Above the fold

The section of a web page you see without scrolling. Where banner ads often live – advertisers like to be above the fold since this is the easiest and first part of a web page seen by users. As such, it’s also where all the important calls to action need to sit. If warranted and relevant, it’s also (usually) where the “best” content or summary copy needs to sit, if there is longer-form content elsewhere on the page.

2. Split testing or A/B testing

A way of comparing responses to different versions of a web page/email/campaign to see which is more effective. Split testing can apply to web pages, eShots or any marketing tactic that involves content being consumed in order to generate a response.

Split-testing will typically involve tinkering with the placement, size, colour and graphics used in the call to action – for instance an “order now” button – to see which version generates the best result. It’s also very common to test between different types, sets and examples of wording, which can have a significant impact on user behaviour.

Theoretically you can split test anything to see which delivers the best result.

3. Web analytics

The collection, measurement and analysis of web data to gain customer/user insights and understand/optimise web usage. The most renowned version is Google analytics which can reveal a great deal about the “behaviour” of visitors within your site.

On the subject of analytics, most software now has its own analytics package – Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook all have their own analytics which are useful in reporting on and determining the effectiveness of the content posted on those platforms.

4. TLD (top level domain)

The highest level of domain names on the net i.e. .com,, etc. Our own TLD is a new one: our address is and our TLD is .marketing.

5. Social proof

“Social proof” refers to our tendency to be influenced by what others do. In short, we’re more likely to follow someone who already has many followers. The analogy used by most sources when defining social proof is that of the club, bar or eatery that is full or has a long queue outside of it: we assume it’s a good place to be. (It takes a bit of frontier spirit to take your loved one into a restaurant that is empty). Social proof is a good way of guiding your website user’s hand to that “buy now” button: strategically placed endorsements from happy customers can pay dividends.

6. Bounce Rate

The percentage of people who, having arrived on your website, then abandon it without going to other pages. A high bounce rate generally leads to poor conversion rates because nobody stays on your site long enough to read your content or click a “buy now” or “download today” call to action (see below).

Bounces are also thought of as single-page sessions, so if you have a one-page site, using analytics to read your bounce rate won’t tell you much; you’ll naturally appear to have a high bounce rate. But there are other tools you can use to learn more about how people interact with one-page sites, such as events.

One of the more significant causes of a high bounce rate is when a landing page does not correspond to the search term its associated with (in particular if you’re using Pay Per Click to advertise a page in the Search Engine Results Pages). When someone lands on a page on your website because they’ve been brought there by an advert or a keyword search, they’ll soon leave if the page isn’t completely relevant, because that’s why they ended up there in the first place.

7. Call to action (CTA)

A mechanism that prompts people to get in touch or share their details. In web, often a link to subscribe, or download content. Examples of CTAs are “Subscribe Now” or “Download our report.” These persuade site visitors to become a lead, so are usually linked to an offer of something that’s pretty valuable. More and more in this content-driven age, that is likely to be a “how-to” document, a white paper, or similar – the key being that whatever is offered is useful.

8. Click through rate (CTR)

Percentage of people advancing through a link to a designated destination e.g. from an email to a landing page linked to it.

In other words, the percentage of your audience that advances (or clicks through) from one part of your marketing campaign (website, eShot) to the next step of your marketing campaign. As an equation, it’s the total number of clicks that your page or CTA receives divided by the number of opportunities that people had to click (ex: number of page views, emails sent, and so on).

9. CMS (content management system)

A website built on a CMS has an administrative “back-end” allowing non-techie users to add content to it. That’s the CMS. CMSs help users to edit content and also fulfil some of the search-related elements of the site structure like adding meta-data. CMSs vary greatly in terms of their comprehensiveness and ease of use. Some are primitive and don’t allow a user to do much. Others allow a user with very restricted technical ability to make really substantial changes to a site with relative ease.

10. CSS

Cascading Style Sheets. The magical language that makes a website look how it does. Includes layout, colours, background images and so on. CSS is what gives a website its style, mood and tone. It’s also what allows websites to adapt to different screen sizes and device types – in other words, it’s part of responsive web design (more on that below).

If you want to see a real-time, live demonstration of the power of CSS unfolding before your very eyes, go to this wonderful site:

CSS Zen Garden is “a demonstration of what can be accomplished through CSS-based design”. As the site suggests, you can select any style sheet from the available menu list, click on it, and the homepage of Zen Garden will be transformed according to that style sheet. The content remains the same, the page transforms. That’s the power of CSS, and it has changed the world of web design forever.

11. Cookies

Pieces of data sent from a website and stored on a user’s computer by their web browser while they’re browsing. The cause of much consternation in the last few years thanks to an honourable but rather silly EU Directive, adopted by EU countries in May 2011, which is why you now often see Cookies warnings on any new site you visit.

12. Rich media

Digital content, such as video and audio, providing an immersive, rich experience for users, to encourage engagement. As we become more and more accustomed to the web, people seek more immersive experiences to distinguish one potential supplier from another. For example, Rich media can be useful for selling and displaying products if you want to get as much of a sense of a product as possible before you buy. (Think bicycle manufacturers’ videos of their road bikes in action within their websites, or hardware stores’ digital demos of power tools). Rich media can be a great tool for employer brand development too: what better way to articulate how great your people are, or provide a virtual tour of your office, than through video?

13. Infographic

Infographics are visual representations of information/data that make it easier to understand due to our tendency to seek out and recognise visual patterns. Infographics are a brilliant way of displaying data but can also be an eye-catching way of sharing simple information that would otherwise be relatively dull. For example, we’ve used it to show the gender split and hobbies and activities of staff in organisations when helping companies to work on their employer branding. Not particularly engaging to read, but great fun as an infographic. Infographics can energise content too, then.

See some great examples of infographics here.

14. Meta tag

Snippet of text describing a web page’s content (e.g. subject etc). Meta tags don’t appear on the page itself, only in its code.

15. Long tail keyword

Very specific search phrase, each subsequent word further refining a search e.g. men’s hairdresser Brighton student discount.

16. Open Source

Software whose source code is freely available and can be modified and redistributed e.g. WordPress, Android, Firefox.

17. Freemium

Increasingly popular business model (often on the internet) where basic services are free but more advanced features are paid for. The idea is to give something away for free, knowing that people who are really interested will come back and pay for more. Some newspaper sites now use this model, as do many app-based subscription services where you can get, say, a number of lessons/sessions (on any given subject) for free, and sign up for the full account which includes many more sessions, extra features and, generally, the gold-standard service.

18. Geo-targeting

Delivering different content to a website user based on their geographic location, so their experience is relevant and useful. Some websites allow you to select your region before then presenting you with relevant content. Other geolocation software (for that’s what it’s called) is automated. The geolocation comes from analysis of IP addresses.

19. Responsive sites

Responsive websites are designed to adapt to the size of screen they’re viewed on and work well on any device (phone, tablet, PC).

One useful and popular analogy used to describe how responsive sites work is that of water in a container. Think of responsive sites as being like water: the shape they take will depend on the vessel you put them into, whether it’s a wine glass, goldfish bowl, pipette or whatever. The water stays the same but adapts to fill the vessel into which it’s poured.

That’s what responsive web design does with your website content. When the content is viewed on a small screen, a responsive site will show only the really important elements of your website, so that it’s still useful to a user.

It’s hard to believe that, once upon a time, if someone was looking at a website, they could only be doing it through a computer. There was no need for websites to do anything other than look good on a PC. With the rise of smartphones and tablets, suddenly websites were being viewed through all manner of devices and screen sizes. And often, they looked awful. Responsive web design changed all that, with responsive sites “working” well on all devices and screen sizes. What’s behind responsive design? It’s a mix of both technology (the code you use to build your site) and the technique or approach you use.

20. Parallax

Web design technique where background imagery moves at different speed to the foreground enhancing storytelling, engagement and, in some cases, fun. Parallax is quite popular today. The technique of backgrounds scrolling at different speeds to foregrounds was very common in computer games in the 1980s (parallax has its roots in the Greek parallaxis, or “alteration”). Here’s an amazing parallax site.

Our own site uses a bit of very subtle parallax, in one small section. See if you can spot it!

21. Inbound marketing

Inbound Marketing tactics gain attention, draw visitors to a site, keep them there, convert them, and encourage them to return. Inbound marketing is seen by many as a much more measurable and meaningful replacement for traditional, costly, hard-to-measure advertising and broadcast campaigns: it makes more sense to attract interested people to your site, keep them there and convert them than it does to, say, put an advert into a magazine. (N.B. this isn’t always true). The operative word here – and the single biggest difference between inbound and broadcast marketing – is the idea that if someone’s on your specialist site, they’re already interested in what you do, because they came to you through a search or an online advert they were interested in. That fundamental difference between inbound and (if you like), “outbound” marketing shows the sense in spending money on inbound. (This is a simplification of course, and there are many steps you can take to ensure other forms of marketing are measurable. And other forms of marketing still have great value).

22. Heatmaps

Graphical analyses showing which parts of your web pages are most viewed/paused on/ignored and how users scroll over a page. Heatmaps track what website users do with their mouse (or equivalent) and display this in a way that gives us a pretty comprehensive and easy-to-follow view of how those users behave. The term “Heatmap” is a fairly broad one that tends to encompass a lot of different types of technology that captures web user behaviour, some of which is more useful than others. Hovermaps, for example, show mouse behaviour (where someone scrolls and clicks) – but what does this really tell us about how someone reads a web page? The mouse is not the eye!

Attention maps can teach us more here, and there’s much debate about how useful Heatmaps are, but there are some simple lessons we can take from the variety of Heatmap analytics available, such as putting calls to action and good quality content in the hot spots on your web pages.

23. UX

User experience. In web design, user experience design (nearly always referred to as UX Design) means the ease or convenience with which users can engage with a website, key to maximising conversions (e.g. sales).

The point of UX is not only improve the user’s experience, but to increase the conversion on a site – i.e. make it easy for a user to add things to a shopping basket etc. UX is one of the most important aspects of web design.

UX Design encompasses disciplines including information architecture, visual design, usability and a whole lot more.

24. Personas

Imaginative representations of different types of customer that help you understand your target market’s needs/desires. Many marketing agencies treat persona creation as a key part of their process for designing content for different audiences.

Persona creation has its roots in real research (speaking to clients or prospects about their wants, needs and drivers in respect of any given product or service). Personas help you to remember who your audience is when you’re creating content, so that you can ensure you’re “talking” to that audience.

Here’s a really good description of a marketing persona from Ardath Lee:

“A marketing persona is a composite sketch of a key segment of your audience. For content marketing purposes, you need personas to help you deliver content that will be most relevant and useful to your audience.”

And here’s the nice, simple, useful blog it came from, on Buffer Social.

Have a great Christmas and a happy new year!

From Simon and Chris at In The Box Marketing

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