The Non-Marketer Digital Marketing Dictionary

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Rewriting the dek or discussing KPIs may sound like a foreign language at first listen. Whether you’re new to the field or you’re an industry expert, digital marketing vocabulary grows and diversifies every day. 

To help you navigate the sometimes-confusing world of industry terminology, we’ve created a digital marketing dictionary you can use to brush up on the lingo before your next content strategy meeting.

The importance of a digital marketing dictionary 

Starting a new job is stressful enough, not to mention the added challenge of learning specific industry terms everyone else seems to know. Sitting through a meeting and not understanding common terms your coworkers are using might lead you to feel less confident about your new position or lost in the conversation. 

Optimizing your industry vocabulary will help you feel more comfortable presenting your ideas, contributing to meetings, and learning how to explain the terms to someone else. Bookmark this digital marketing dictionary to quickly access the terms you need to become an industry expert. 

Content marketing terms

Buyer persona

A buyer persona refers to a representation of your target customer, based on data from market research as well as your existing customers. When creating a buyer persona, you might consider their demographics, motivations, and goals, and what your business can do for them. This information can help you focus your marketing efforts in the right places. 

Content marketing strategy

A content marketing strategy is a plan used to connect with your audience through strategic content creation. Successful content marketing strategies will draw an audience in, keep them interested, and encourage them to return. Strategies may include many multimedia resources, including videos, podcasts, articles, and more that your audience would find interesting and relevant to their needs. Your strategy encompasses all content produced by your business, not just content relevant to one campaign or initiative. Depending on the breadth of services you offer or the audiences you serve, your business may use more than one content marketing strategy to achieve its goals.

By The Numbers

According to Mailchimp, ​​companies that use content marketing see approximately 30% higher growth rates than businesses not using it.


The purpose of a CMS (content management system) is right in the name — it helps manage and create your website’s content. CMSs are great for business owners without coding experience, because many offer pre-built templates with easy-to-use drag-and-drop features. Some of the most common CMS platforms are WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace. 

CMS users leverage the platform to create, edit, and publish content to their websites quickly and efficiently with no coding required. Some platforms are SEO-friendly, offer a library of plugins, or include options for content scheduling. Using a CMS is a great option for business owners who don’t have the knowledge to build a website from scratch.

Editorial calendar

An editorial calendar helps marketing teams plan out content in advance. Editorial calendars keep team members focused on goals and help plot out messaging by platform. They not only allow team members to visualize future content but also provide historical data for teams to analyze campaigns. Project details can be easily housed on the editorial calendar as well, providing a quick reference for a piece’s topic, title, author information, or associated images. 

For more tips to create the perfect editorial calendar, check out our blog posts about How to Decide What Content to Create and How To Create A Content Calendar.


Engagement refers to how people are interacting with your content. While each platform has its own mechanics, people will ideally follow your accounts and regularly like, share, and leave positive comments on your posts. It’s important to remember that engagement is a two-way street — if you’re interacting regularly with your customers and other businesses, it’s more likely they’ll interact with you.

Related article: 6 Reasons to Publish More Content on Your Website

Search engine optimization (SEO) terms


SEO (search engine optimization) is the practice of organically increasing both the quality and quantity of traffic to your website. A strong SEO strategy ensures your pages reach the right audience through keywords relevant to your products or services. The foundational SEO goal for any business is to rank a website within the top three positions on search engine result pages for specific keywords. 

Note that SEO and SEM (search engine marketing) are not interchangeable terms. SEM is an umbrella term for increasing a website’s visibility through digital marketing strategies like SEO and paid advertising. 


Backlinks are external links that direct readers back to your website. They are also commonly referred to as “inbound links.” Website creators and SEO practitioners use backlinks for many reasons, including to provide context to the reader, back up a statistic, cite a source, or recommend a product or service. 

Backlinks communicate to search engines the quality, authority, and relevance of a website. They can either hurt or help a site by impacting its domain authority (a numbered scale that rates the quality of a domain). If a site secures many unique backlinks from high-authority domains, its organic rankings will improve. However, if the site begins to receive tons of spammy, low-authority links, it may see a dip in its rankings.

Further Reading

Learn more about domain authority and page authority from


CTR (click-through rate) is a comparison of how many times your content is shown (also known as “impressions”) versus how many times someone actually clicks on it. You can calculate your CTR through the following formula: clicks ÷ impressions = CTR. This percentage can help determine which pages, title tags, and meta descriptions are most relevant and engaging to your target audience.


A KPI, or “key performance indicator,” is a quantifiable measurement of performance over a certain period of time. KPIs help teams determine whether they’re meeting objectives and can help shape new strategies. KPIs can be high-level, meaning they are applicable to the company as a whole, or they can be created on a smaller scale for specific departments.

There are many different types of KPIs, as defined by the Qlik KPI Planning Guide. Common KPIs we track for our marketing campaigns include return on investment (ROI), cost per acquisition (CPA), and impression share.


OKR stands for “objectives and key results,” a methodology used by marketing teams to help set reasonable goals with quantifiable outcomes. OKRs can be collaborative and can change based on the needs of the team. OKRs help promote transparency within teams and allow members to come together to achieve a common goal. provides an excellent example of OKRs that your digital marketing team can model. Another helpful way to get started is using this Gtmhub formula: We will (objective) as measured by (these key results).


A website’s metadata refers to what appears on search engine result pages. This includes the meta title (title of the page) as well as the meta description (the text that appears below the title, usually a brief overview of the page content). Optimizing metadata with strategic keywords can boost your search engine rankings and engage new potential customers.

LMP Team Tip

Our SEO Specialist Katti Betterton tracks all of LMP’s primary and secondary targeted keywords — which are in our metadata — to keep our content strategy aligned with our SEO strategy.​


Each digital marketing channel has its own algorithm — a set of rules that establish how content is being seen and prioritized — that is meant to better connect customers to what they want to see. These algorithms change frequently, so understanding how they work is key to making sure you’re effectively reaching your audience. 

Journalism terms


Hed refers to the headline, which is a title that’s meant to grab the reader’s attention. This is distinct from the meta title, which is meant to grab the search engine’s attention!


Below the hed is the dek, also known as the subhed. A dek is typically one to two sentences that give readers an idea of the content. This is distinct from the meta description, which serves a similar purpose but is geared toward search engine readability.


The lede is the introduction of the content, up to two paragraphs in length. A good lede will “hook” the audience and entice them to keep reading.


Graf is shorthand for “paragraph;” the terms are often used interchangeably. For example, a lede can also be called the first (or second) graf of an article. Similarly, the nutgraf can be thought of as a “nutshell paragraph.” This graf usually comes after the lede and provides the thesis or main idea of your article.

(A note on the above terms: these intentional, idiosyncratic spellings can help to differentiate them from their words of origin — for example, distinguishing a “graf” from a supporting bar “graph.”)

Common digital marketing terms

A/B testing

A/B testing (also referred to as split testing) enables marketers to understand consumer behavior by splitting an audience in half and testing two variations of the same content to analyze which performs best. 

For example, you can use A/B testing to see if changing the color of a call to action (CTA) button on your website affects your click-through rate (CTR). One portion of your audience would receive the “champion,” a marketing asset that currently exists. The other portion of your audience would receive the “challenger,” a variation of the champion. As the A/B test runs, you’ll either confirm the control works best or learn the variation will work better. You can continue to A/B test for other variables until you find a winning combination. 

B2B and B2C

B2B (business to business) companies market goods and services directly to the decision makers of other businesses. B2C (business to consumer) companies market their goods and services to customers for personal use. While B2B and B2C marketing strategies have similar best practices, the specifics of your business strategy will depend on your audience.


ROI (return on investment) measures the success or failure of a digital marketing campaign. This metric indicates whether a campaign directly contributes to revenue and can help justify a marketing team’s budget for future campaigns. 

Certain digital marketing strategies like SEO and email marketing have notoriously high rates of ROI, but those strategies aren’t the magic formula for every business. Teams should evaluate their goals against the metrics that matter most to their operation to visualize the true ROI of their efforts. 

Value proposition

A value proposition clearly communicates what you promise to deliver to your customer when they choose your product or service. Successful value propositions are unique — the statement should read untrue if you swap a competitor’s name in for your own. It may or may not stand out on your website or in your content, but it must be communicated early in the sales funnel for the customer to make an informed decision. 

Evidence, like customer testimonials, data, and statistics, support value propositions by proving the direct value customers will receive. Help Scout provides a helpful template for crafting value propositions, with easy-to-understand examples from popular companies like Slack and Airbnb.

Lightning Lesson

Your value proposition will help you write marketing copy because it’s a single source of truth and use case for your intended audience.

Conversion Rate

Conversion rate is the percentage of website visitors that complete a desired goal or task (e.g., sales, email signups, or form completions) out of the total number of visitors. A high conversion rate indicates that your marketing strategy is working — people are interested in what you have to offer and are following the necessary steps to get it.

Looking to scale your digital content publishing? Lightning Media Partners is here to help. Our agency delivers high-quality, high-volume content without the hassle of building an in-house staff or managing dozens of freelancers. Contact us today and let’s discuss your editorial needs.

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