Digital Marketing Dictionary: Our Marketing Terms, Defined

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The field of digital marketing is constantly changing and evolving – and as a result, so is the language we use to describe it. Trying to make sense of all the acronyms and jargon can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t have a background in marketing or communications. However, taking the time to do so can ensure you get the most out of your marketing efforts.

To help shed some light on the digital marketing process (as well as some terms you’ll likely hear along the way), we’ve broken down 15 common marketing buzzwords in layperson’s terms.

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. For more guidance on creating a buyer persona, check out this blog from our client, Go Narrative.


A CMS (content management system) is any application used to produce and publish your online content. Multiple users can log into a CMS to create, store, edit and publish that content. Some popular CMS platforms include WordPress, Squarespace and Wix, though there are countless others.


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: Good 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 page. A strong SEO strategy helps ensure that your pages are higher-ranked and will come up more often when people are searching for specific keywords. In other words, it helps more people who are interested in your business to actually see and click through your page. A quick note: SEO and SEM (search engine marketing) are not interchangeable terms. SEM is the practice of increasing a website’s visibility through organic search engine results as well as advertising. SEO is one of many strategies used within SEM.


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 content and keywords are most relevant to your target audience.

Organic Growth

Whether you’re looking at social media or search engine results, any growth is either organic or paid. Organic growth refers to increased customer reach without any kind of promotion or payment. On the other hand, paid growth comes from posts that are “boosted” (i.e., more likely to show up in people’s searches or feeds) for a fee. Both organic and paid growth have their place in marketing – the strategy will depend on what your company needs.


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 is a great way to organically boost your search engine ranking.


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. 

Related article: 10 Beginner SEO Tasks You Can Do This Afternoon

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 gives 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.”)

General Business Terms

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.

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.

Thought Leadership

A thought leader is someone who’s considered an expert in their industry and uses their knowledge to offer guidance to others. Thought leadership typically involves creating and sharing content that positions you as an influencer, or someone who can offer solid insights and identify trends before they arise.

Related article: How to Develop Your Thought Leadership Platform

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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