From A - Z: The ultimate inbound marketing glossary

The digital marketing world is filled with terms and jargon you might not be aware of or need to brush up on. This glossary has all the inbound words you’ll ever need to know from A to Z.

The digital marketing world is filled with terms and jargon you might not be aware of or need to brush up on. This glossary has all the inbound words you’ll ever need to know from A to Z.

The digital marketing world is filled with terms and jargon you might not be aware of or need to brush up on. This glossary has all the inbound words you’ll ever need to know.

The world of inbound marketing is taking off at an accelerating rate in South Africa. If you’re starting your inbound journey or just wanting to brush up on your knowledge, our inbound marketing terminology guide is just for you. With this all-inclusive glossary of all the inbound marketing terms you’ll ever need to know, learning the language of inbound will be a breeze.


A/B testing
A/B means testing two different versions of a web page, email, or other marketing asset . This can be copy on a landing page, a subject line for an email, or using a different image on a social media post for the same blog. This is to determine which version performs better based on statistics. A/B testing one element at a time is best so you don’t clutter the page with data.
This means agreeing on strategy principles: usually between your sales and marketing teams. The more aligned these teams are on issues like ideal customer personas, advertising strategies, keywords, and target audiences, the more quality leads you will receive.
HubSpot says that analytics is the “eye” of inbound marketing and they couldn’t be more accurate. Analytics allows for the discovery of patterns and trends within data, so your marketing and sales team can be able to make insightful actions. Analytics along with optimisation is vital to a successful inbound journey.
Awareness Stage
There are three stages of the buyer’s journey in inbound marketing. First is the awareness stage. In this stage prospects are becoming aware of a pain point and a brand being able to possibly solve that pain point. Much of the content created for the awareness stage is to educate prospects about their problem and give them options to solve it - without hard-selling your own brand.
Business-to-business or B2B means a company that sells to other companies instead of to a consumer. An example of this is a waste management company selling their complex waste solution to big retail companies. There are businesses that can be B2B and B2C.
Business-to-customer or B2C means a business selling products or services to a consumer. This is where most businesses in many industries lie. It’s important to note whether a business is B2B or B2C as this impacts on the content produced in the inbound marketing journey.
According to Web Designer Depot, American blogger Jorn Barger first used the term “weblog” in 1997 but the shortened version “blog” was coined by author Peter Merholz. A blog is a series of articles published regularly on a website by an author. A well-maintained and updated blog of insights, learnings, or business achievements is a key traffic driver in inbound marketing.
 A bot, which is short for “robot” is an automated computer programme or artificial intelligence on a website that improves the user experience and increases qualified leads. Bots are created with pre-programmed responses that will be sent automatically if a user interacts with the bot on a query. This increases user engagement. Bots are mainly used for live chat and lead qualification. You can learn more here on how to build a chatbot in HubSpot for free.
Bounce Rate
 A bounce rate occurs when a visitor lands on one of your website’s pages and then immediately leaves without visiting another page on the site or completing an action on the page they landed on. According to a study by an American creative agency, RocketFuel, the average bounce rate varies between 26% and 70% for most websites.
Buyer's Journey
The buyer's journey is an important part of understanding inbound marketing. HubSpot says: “The buyer's journey is the process buyers go through to become aware of, consider and evaluate, and decide to purchase a new product or service.” Awareness, consideration and decision are the three stages of the buyer’s journey and all have their own best practices for inbound marketing. You can read more here on why we think the buyer’s journey needs one more stage.
Buyer Persona
According to HubSpot a buyer persona is “A semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”
 Call To Action (CTA)
HubSpot says: “A call-to-action is a text link, button, image, or some type of web link that encourages a website visitor to visit a landing page and become of lead.” An example would be a button that says, “Read our case study” or “Download our guide”. CTAs need to be eye-catching so that people will click through.
Click-through Rate:
A click-through rate, or CTR, is the percentage of people that clicked through from one page of your website, blog, or email to a marketing campaign. As an example, you would look at the CTR of an email you sent promoting your guide to understanding consumer behaviour.

A CTR is calculated by dividing your total number of clicks by the number of opportunities your audience had to click. Following the earlier example, the CTR would be calculated by dividing the total number of clicks your CTA to download the guide got by the number of emails sent.
CMS stands for content management system and it’s the foundation of all your inbound marketing efforts. It’s designed to create, edit and manage content on a website for those who might not be as technically skilled as others. A CMS helps make content easily searchable and easy for Google to index - , automatically adding navigation elements and tracking users and their permissions.
Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, is software used for sales and marketing in an organisation. The leads you gain from your inbound marketing efforts will be added to your CRM. The CRM allows you to keep track of all your potential and existing customer interactions with your business: from emails and calls to scheduling appointments and logging customer service and support. You can learn more here about the free HubSpot CRM.
Consideration Stage
The second stage of the buyer’s journey is the consideration stage. This where the target buyer is assessing their options for solving their pain point. In this stage, your business should offer content such as case studies to show how the products or services your business has to offer can relieve their pain point.


Content Offer
A content offer is usually a piece of content such as an ebook or a white paper that can be gated behind a form on your website. The personal information gathered from the form, such as an email address or company name, is seen as payment for the content. A content offer is a vital piece of content in your inbound marketing journey. Content offers provide value and often lead to your prospects becoming qualified leads.
Content Pillars
Content pillars are the main topics of your blog. Your blog needs to be structured to focus on the specific areas of expertise your business provides. Having content pillars helps you create content on these specific areas and plan content strategically.
Content Strategy
A content strategy is a fundamental part of your inbound marketing journey. This document is the detailed plan for all the content you create to attract prospects and get quality leads to your website. Your content strategy document is a guide for all your marketing efforts. It includes; creating strategy for emails for lead nurturing, keywords for PPC and SEO, and content offers such as ebooks and videos.
Contact Conversion Rate
Conversion rates are critical for a successful inbound marketing journey. This is the percentage of people that convert from being visitors to prospects by completing a form on your site. A high conversion rate means the content you’re creating is working - captivating and educating content that convinces your visitors to give their contact details. You can read more about conversion rates and tips to optimise them here.
Decision Stage
The final stage of the buyer’s journey is the decision stage. This is where a prospect will make a decision in solving their pain point. Prospects and leads in this stage of the buyer’s journey will need content such as assessments, consultations, or free trials with your business.
Email Marketing

Email marketing is a branch of inbound marketing used to engage with leads and prospects on relevant content. An email marketing strategy is important as these strategies are often used as lead nurturing campaigns, newsletters, blog subscription, emails, and more.

Engagement Rate
Your engagement rate is the percentage of time which your audience is engaging with your brand. Engagement rates are measured using metrics such as social media sharing, comments on posts, CTRs and form submissions.
A form is another fundamental part of inbound marketing. Without a form you won’t be able to convert your visitors into leads. Forms are the conversion points and gateways for content offers such as ebooks and webinars. A form needs to include different fields of different types of personal information, as well as a submission button. HQ Digital says: “As a best practice, only ask for information you need from your leads in order to effectively follow up with and/or qualify them.”

The flywheel replaced the traditional sales funnel in inbound marketing in 2018. It was created by HubSpot co-founders  Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. The  flywheel shows that the marketing and sales cycles are customer-centric.


The flywheel




Image from Hubspot

To create a hashtag, which can be a word or phrase, simply add the # symbol (sometimes referred to as the pound symbol) before words. There are no spaces between the words in a hashtag. A hashtag is used to index content by topic category to group social media postings under one keyword or keyphrase, allowing your audience to search and find your content.
HubSpot is our favourite digital and inbound marketing automation software. This all in one marketing software provides an integrated sales, marketing and service platform built to give your business all the tools you need in order to effectively service your customers and help you to grow better. HubSpot's co-founders, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, are credited with founding the inbound marketing movement.
Impressions are the number of times the content on your website has been served, through paid advertising, to your audience. Impressions are often sold by the thousand because they are great for brand awareness campaigns.
Inbound Link
 An inbound link links apiece of content from one site to a piece of content on the same site or another site. Inbound links improve your website’s SEO.
Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing is a strategy and methodology that centres on attracting leads and customers to a brand by drawing them in, rather than by pushing advertising out, to them. Inbound marketing relies on principles of marketing strategy, content marketing, conversion rate optimisation, and other disciplines to deliver engaged, qualified leads for marketing and sales teams. Read here on if your business is a good fit for inbound marketing.
Keywords are usually a few words or phrases that are often used by users when searching on the internet. Having a keyword strategy for your inbound marketing journey is what will help your content be found by your ideal buyer. Your keywords need to be strategically used in website copy, blogs, emails, and social media posting to great SEO.
Landing Page
A page on a website that contains a form. Its goal is to convert visitors into leads. It’s also important to distinguish between the types of landing pages: click through and lead generation. Here’s an example of a lead generation landing page.
Lead Management
Lead management is about ensuring your leads are nurtured, scored, and assessed to be taken through appropriate lifecycle stages. Lead management also means that if your leads no longer qualify to be an SQl or MQL, they are moved back to the correct lifecycle stage to be nurtured.
Lead Nurturing
Leading nurturing is about ensuring your leads do not lose contact with your business. Lead nurturing comes in different forms such as events, communications like emails and social media posts, and content offers such as webinars or exclusive ebooks. Lead nurturing is to ensure that those who started as prospects and became leads will move through the lifecycle stages to become delighted customers and promoters of your business.
Lead Scoring
This is a strategic method to ensure that the leads you have are likely to convert into happy customers. This automated scoring process gives a certain number of points to high-value attributes like website engagement and known demographic data. Our ebook is the perfect guide to navigating lead scoring.
Lifecycle Stage
The lifecycle stage is the cycle that your leads fall into during the marketing and sales journey. There are seven phases of the lifecycle stage which are:
  •  Subscriber or contact
  •  Lead
  •  Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
  •  Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
  •  Opportunity
  •  Customer
  •  Promoter
MQL stands for marketing-qualified lead. An MQL is a lead that the marketing team has assessed and qualified to move through the lifecycle stage from being a contact and an unqualified lead to a qualified lead. Another assessment is done to determine whether the MQL can move into the hands of the sales team.
Open Rate
The open rate is the percentage of email recipients who opened your email out of the total number of emails sent to that list of recipients. Having a captivating subject line can improve your email open rate and is another important part of your email marketing strategy.
Organic Traffic
Organic traffic means website visits that originate from an organic keyword search in a search engine. It consists of both branded and non-branded keywords used to find your organisation or website.
Personalisation Token
A personalisation token is a dynamic element of an email or other digital asset that is personalised to the recipient. Using data from collected forms, a field is populated with a user's information, such as first name, company name, or industry.
Pillar Page
 Pillar pages are linked to content pillars. They link blog posts together in one place, making it more convenient for your audience to find and read. Pillar pages, such as FAQs pages, cluster common pain points that your customers might have and provide the information to solve those pain points.. Pillar pages, like content pillars, help you to structure your website’s content, increasing the chances of ranking higher with search engines.
PPC stands for Pay Per Click and refers to the money spent to get your digital advertisements clicked. For search engines, PPC ads display an ad when someone searches for a certain keyword that is part of the advertiser’s keyword strategy. PPC ads are used to direct traffic to the advertiser's website, and PPC is used to assess the cost-effectiveness and profitability of your paid advertising campaigns. 

There are two ways to pay for PPC ads, the first on being a bid-based method. According to online advertising software, WordStream, “Every time a search is initiated, Google digs into the pool of Ads advertisers and chooses a set of winners to appear in the valuable ad space on its search results page. The “winners” are chosen based on a combination of factors, including the quality and relevance of their keywords and ad campaigns, as well as the size of their keyword bids.” The other method is a flat rate where an advertiser and publisher agree on a fixed amount of money to pay for each click. Typically this happens when publishers have a fixed rate for PPC in different areas on their website.
 A prospect is an individual who visited your company’s website seeking a solution to their pain point and has decided to seek further information on your business by submitting a form.
Organic Traffic

Organic traffic means the website visits you produce from an organic keyword search in a search engine such as Google or Bing. Having great organic traffic means that your company won’t need to spend as much on paid traffic from advertisements.

Sales Cycle
 According to HQ Digital, a fellow certified HubSpot expert, the sales cycle, “Refers to the length of time, or the full process of how a sale is completed within your company.”
Sales Enablement
Sales enablement includes the processes, systems, and content that helps your sales teams gain more qualified leads and close more deals. An important part of sales enablement is equipping your sales team with information they can use and ensuring they are trained to use the resources given to them effectively.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Optimising your website for search engines will help you increase traffic to your website for increased organic growth and help you rank better on search engines such as Google. SEO involves using various methods and techniques like keyword planning.
Sequence (also termed email sequence)
A sequence is a lead nurturing campaign that automatically switches off when a prospect replies so that your sales reps can engage directly in conversation with the interested lead.
Service-Level Agreement
A Service-Level Agreement or SLA in the world of inbound marketing is a document that outlines the rules, expectations, and responsibilities agreed upon between an agency and their client or sales and marketing departments. 
Smart Content
According to HubSpot, smart content is, “Also referred to as "dynamic" or "adaptive" content, smart content is a term for the aspects of a website, ad, or email body that change based on the interests or past behavior of the viewer.” This is content on your blog or in an email that is served to certain users due to conditions set up by your inbound marketers using automated marketing software like HubSpot. Using smart content makes the user experience more personalised and will most likely lead to more conversions.
This is a widely used term to refer to the alignment of the efforts sales and marketing teams. You can read more here on how to achieve smarketing in your business.
Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing means leveraging social media networks to attract users to your inbound marketing funnel. Inbound marketers often use popular social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to increase brand awareness and website traffic.

A subscriber is the first part of the lifecycle stage. This is someone who has shared their contact details to receive updates, insights, product and service information from your company. Subscribers are not as engaged with your business as are leads. but would like to know more about what you do and what you offer.
SQL stands for Sales-Qualified Lead which is a lead that has progressed beyond an MQL (Marketing-Qualified Lead) and that has been accepted by the sales team as a viable lead. As a best practice, an SQL meets a specific definition that is laid out in an SLA.
A tag refers to a blog tag. It's a categorisation system used to organise blog posts by topic. These tags improve user experience by making your content easily navigable. Using tags is also beneficial for search, as each tag created will generate its own web page.
Tech Stack
 This refers to the marketing and sales technology stack which is the set of systems and software that your company uses for all your marketing and sales efforts. Your marketing tech stack includes your website CMS, marketing automation platform, analytics tools, email marketing tools, CRM, and more. You can read more here on choosing the right martec stack for your company.
Time-on-site, sometimes referred to as "dwell time," is a metric that indicates user engagement time on your website. Time-on-site measures a user's total time spent browsing the pages of your website. Users who leave right away, or within a couple of seconds, are considered a bounce.
Tracking Code
A tracking code is a snippet of HTML code that is added to the header or footer tags of a website in order to get analytics reporting through a third party like Google Analytics or HubSpot. Installing a tracking code is necessary to connect your website data to an analytics application.
User experience or UX is about ensuring your users’ experience with your brand is seamless from the first touch to when they’ve become delighted customers. HQ Digital defines UX as, “A specialised discipline in marketing and should be incorporated into most major marketing decisions.” Search engines place considerable and growing emphasis on a user's experience in their ranking algorithm.


Viral Content
Viral content can be seen as a blessing and a curse. It is a piece of content which rapidly gains digital popularity through sharing on various social media platforms. Viral content means that your website traffic shoots up drastically and will have a negative effect on your general website analytics as it doesn't happen often. 
Video Marketing
Video marketing means using videos as a part of your inbound marketing strategy. Videos are still the hottest digital trend and should not be seen as an “extra” for your content strategy. Videos are an amazing way to engage with your audience and increase other analytics such as time-on-site and time-on-page. Videos can be used throughout your inbound marketing assets and in your sales process to attract and engage visitors, convert leads, and nurture prospects.
A wireframe is an outline put into a brief for a piece of content. A wireframe is the content writers guide to understand what the content needs to include and how the content will be used in the bigger picture of the content strategy.
 A workflow is a series of automated emails, or other tasks, in your marketing automation system. A workflow can consist of actions or triggers inside or outside of your organisation. Workflows are used to automate common, repeatable tasks like lead nurturing emails or assignment of sales reps to accounts.


So there you have it! Well...not quite. The world of digital and inbound marketing is constantly changing so we’ll make sure that this glossary keeps up with all the latest developments.

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