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The marketing world is full of acronyms in an attempt to make the vast amount of verbiage easier to memorize and understand. However, for most of us they just sound like letters. We’ve taken time to break down all of the most important marketing acronyms for you here. Now you can be in the know and sound cool at parties.

AIDA: Attention Interest Desire Action

These are the outdated steps a consumer goes through from the beginning of a purchase funnel all the way through to actually making their purchase. They start with noticing, then work through having interest, to deciding they want it, and finally actually purchase it. Typically marketing focuses on guiding a consumer through each of these phases of the funnel, however this has changed somewhat in the digital age.

API: Application Program Interface

This usually has a very complicated explanation of how software talks to other software. Essentially you can setup an API to have a set rule it enforces when interacting with other software. It’s like setting up a contract between one software and another. For example, Weather Underground makes it’s API information available to other weather websites and apps so once it’s set up they can automatically get the weather information from Weather Underground for their app via the API.

ASP: Application Service Provider

These are businesses that provide services over computer networks. For example, a company that works with clients to send text message promotions to their customers.

B2B: Business to Business

Either a company serves other businesses or it directly serves consumers. Sometimes they do both. For example, a sports equipment company selling their products to sports shops. That would be a B2B arrangement.

B2C: Business to Consumer

In this instance, a business directly serves customers or consumers. For example, the sports shop selling its products directly to consumers.

BANT: Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline

This is a popular tool sales reps and sales leaders frequently use to help them determine whether their prospects have the budget, authority, need, and right timeline to buy what they sell.

B = Budget: Can they afford it?

A = Authority: Are they the decision maker to be able to buy this?

N = Need: Do they actually need what you are selling?

T = Timeline: What’s the time frame to implementation?

BR: Bounce Rate

Out of the total amount of visitors to your website, how many of them navigated away after only viewing a page? The percentage you get here is your bounce rate.

CAC: Customer Acquisition Cost

How much money did you have to invest in order to get a customer to purchase something from you? The amount you had to invest into research, marketing money, getting your sites and profiles setup and continuing to run well, etc. There are many costs that go into acquiring a customer. Knowing this monetary amount helps with projecting how much to spend to acquire a customer moving forward.

CAN-SPAM: Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing

A U.S. law passed in 2003 that set the rules for commercial email and messages. This law means that users can opt out of emails and that if businesses continue to attempt to email them (e.g. spam) then there are penalties in place. This is why all emails require an “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of them.

CASL: Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation

A Canadian law passed in 2013 that regulates the sending of “commercial electronic messages.” CASL covers email, texts, instant messages, and automated cell phone messages sent to computers and phones in Canada.

CEO: Chief Executive Officer

The most senior corporate officer managing a company. This person makes the high level decisions about policy, and strategy, and reports to a board of directors.

CFO: Chief Financial Officer

The most senior executive responsible for managing the financial risks at a company, including financial planning, record-keeping, and reporting. This person is the financial spokesperson of the company, and typically reports to the CEO and the board of directors.

CIO: Chief Information Officer

Most senior executive responsible for the technical aspects of a company including management, implementation and usability of information and computer technologies. The CIO figures out how technology can benefit the company or improve an existing business process, and then integrates this into the company.

CMO: Chief Marketing Officer

A CMO wears many hats but their specialty is in-depth knowledge of marketing fundamentals. They may also be involved in data analysis and strategic thinking.

CMS: Content Management System

Any kind of software application that manages the vast amount of content you have related to your brand. It may support your images, content editing, organizing, and publishing. Think: blog and social media content. Some applications do more than others but they are all considered to be a CMS if the y are within the content management realm.

COO: Chief Operating Officer

Most senior executive that manages and oversees the business operations within a company. They typically report to the CEO and are often second-in-command within a company.

CPA: Cost Per Action

Let’s say you have a website and get some product advertising banners on it. Every time someone clicks the banner, buys something, or views the banner- you get money. Every advertiser and arrangement is different, for example you may just get paid when someone actually purchases something. However you make the arrangement, the amount you get paid is called “cost per action.”

CPC: Cost Per Click

Another online advertising model, in this instance with the web banner example, you’d just get paid a pre-set amount whenever the Ad is clicked. Another acronym you may see for this is PPC (pay per click).

CPM: Cost Per Thousand

If you are doing a large marketing campaign, the amount it costs to reach one thousand people via a particular advertising type or medium.

CR: Conversion Rate

How many users took the action you wanted them to out of the total amount who were there and saw the offer? E.g. how many people joined your email list on your website out of those that visited your website? That percentage is the conversion rate.

CRM: Customer Relationship Management

This is when a company looks at the history of interactions it’s had with its customers and determines how it wants to interact with them in the future. In a simplified example, a company can see that a consumer opened all the emails about a particular product and clicked links to look at it, but didn’t purchase. So the company can send them a follow up email with a special promotion for that particular item.

CRO: Conversion Rate Optimization

A strategy to try to increase the amount of users that take action on something and convert into customers. E.g. Increase the conversion rate of users who visit a website and end up purchasing.

CSO: Chief Security Officer

Most senior executive that creates and oversees the policies that protect the people, company assets, and physical and tangible property. Things like privacy, data protection, health and safety are under this role.

CSS: Cascading Style Sheet

When you build a website using traditional coding like HTML, you use CSS code on top of it to make it look visually appealing. HTML is like the building blocks and CSS is the decoration. So if you were to add a snippet of HTML code to your website from your email service provider to try to collect email addresses, it likely has a very static look from the email company that doesn’t match your website’s branding at all. You would then use CSS to change the button color, the font, etc to make it look like it’s a matching part of your website.

CTA: Call to Action

Words like “click here!” “Subscribe now” “buy now” etc are all considered to be CTAs. It’s a specific instruction to users encouraging them to take a desired action. When done right, they provoke an immediate response.

CTO: Chief Technology Officer

The CTO is the most senior executive responsible for focusing on the science and technology within an organization. This role is most common in companies within technology-based industries such as software or eCommerce.

CTR: Click Through Rate

How many users clicked on something specific vs. the total number of users that saw the link. E.g. out of everyone who opened an email and saw the link, how many actually clicked?

CX: Customer Experience

This is what we call the entire process a consumer goes through from knowing about your brand through to purchasing, purchasing again, interacting with staff, with the website, etc. Every little piece is part of a customer’s experience.

DA: Domain Authority

Domain Authority is a search engine rating metric created by Moz. DA rating is a score between 0 and 100 and this score calculated by evaluating a ton of different metrics some of which are; Moz’s very own MozRank, MozTrust, linking root domains, number of total links (similar to Trust Flow and Citation Flow). All these factors and more make up a site’s DA the higher the score the more authority that domain has (higher = be tter). DA is a predictor on how likely a website will rank. Now website’s have a single score to compare themselves against other websites.

DM: Direct Mail, or Direct Message (Social Media)

Direct Mail: Sending physical mail via post to recipients. Also known as “junk mail” as this no long er converts a cold audience into a customer anymore.

Direct Message: A message on a social media platform used to get in touch with followers of an account directly and in private. DMs can be sent from one person to another, or within a group. Most accounts only allow DMs from their followers, but many businesses allow DMs from anyone.

DNS: Domain Name Server

A system that controls your domain name’s website and email settings.

EOD: End Of Day

Can be used less formally such as “I’ll have this report to you by EOD” which means the end of the business day or more formally with regards to market closing if you are in the financial industry.

EOW: End Of Week

Similarly to EOD, EOW simply means end of the week. This means around the end of the business day on Friday.

ESP: Email Service Provider

A company that offers email marketing or bulk mail. Keeping track of everyone and various campaigns in a personal email is impossible. These companies make it easy and well organized. They also take precautions to ensure you do not get flagged as spam when sending emails.

FTP: File Transfer Protocol

If you have a large amount of files to send (think an entire website of files, a ton of videos, etc) you can use FTP to transfer the files from one host to another over the internet.

GA: Google Analytics

Google provides a service for users’ websites that generates detailed statistics about a website’s traffic and where

the site visits are coming from. It can also measure conversions and sales. This is added to your website and then presented to you on a private dashboard.

HTML: Hyper Text Markup Language

This is the basic code used to make websites. If your website was a house then HTML would just be the foundation, walls, holes for doors and windows. But that’s all. See CSS definition for how to decorate your house / website.

IBL: Inbound Link

A link back to your site from another website.

IM: Instant Messaging

When you send a typed message to another person in real time. E.g. text message, Facebook message, Skype chat, iMessage.

IP: Internet Protocol Address

There’s a number assigned to every device that uses the internet. E.g. phone, laptop. This number is called an IP Address. An example IP address looks like this:

KPI: Key Performance Indicator

As a company you get to determine what your own KPI’s are based on the goals you are trying to achieve and what you want to track. Maybe a KPI for you is how many views you get on your blog and how many of them convert into subscribers.

LTV: Lifetime Value

This is a monetary amount associated with a customer that estimates how much money they are going to ever spend with the company based on their actions, demographics, purchases, etc.

MoM: Month-over-Month

This is used when you are comparing a month of a certain year with the same month of the previous year.

When you compare the average of what you are trying to track changes in for each month, you end up with the MoM.

To calculate percentage growth: Subtract Month Y number from Month X number, divide the result by Month X number, then multiply the final result by 100.

MRR: Monthly Recurring Revenue

This is used to track the amount of revenue a subscription-based business receives every month. Includes averaging lost customers averaging with the rate new customers subscribe.

MTD: Month-to-Date

A time period starting at the beginning of the current month and ending at the current date.

NPS: Net Promoter Score

This is a number from 0-10 that the measures the degree to which people would recommend your company to others.This number can be used to determine how to improve a company’s product or service.

To calculate NPS, subtract the percentage of customers who would not recommend you (detractors, or 0-6) from the percent of customers who would (promoters, or 9-10).

OBL: Outbound Link

Links that take you away from your current website.

OoO: Out of Office

Used to explain if you are going to be out of the office physically for a specific time.

PA: Page Authority

Page Authority is calculated the same as Domain Authority and has the same rating system (0-100). The difference is that Page Authority is a score for a single page on a website. Thus predicting the likelihood that that specific page will rank. This score can also be used to compare specific pages of a website to other specific pages on other websites.

PM: Project Manager

Project managers manage the various aspects of a project, but do not actual contribute to the project elements itself. They are responsible for increasing productivity, reducing risk, maximizing benefits, and minimizing costs. They are the point person for any issues that arise inside or outside the project team.

PR: PageRank

How Google ranks software and calculates how well your page connects with the search words entered.

PR: Public Relations

The act of getting a company, brand, product or person in front of the right audiences at the right time. Ideally, consumers watch it and it sounds like genuine recommendations or information vs. an advertisement that would turn them off. Examples of good PR:, being featured in a magazine, TV show, special event, celebrity, news article, podcast, etc.

PTO: Paid Time Off

This is the vacation, sick and holiday time you are either given when you begin employment somewhere, or that you accrue over time.

PV: Page View

How many people viewed a specific web page. This isn’t general to the entire website, it’s for a particular page within a website.

QoQ: Quarter-over-Quarter

This is used when you are comparing a quarter of a certain year with the same quarter of the precious year.

QR Code: Quick Response Barcode

Have you ever seen those squares with a bunch of dots on them on products or signs? These are called QR codes and they store website URLs or other information. You can scan them with your Smartphone’s camera and be taken to the information directly.

QTD: Quarter-to-Date

The time period starting from the beginning of the current quarter and ending at the current date.

ROI: Return on Investment

If you invested $100 into a marketing campaign and made $1000, you had a $900 return on investment. This amount is just how much you got back on an investment you made of any kind.

RSS: Rich Site Summary

An RSS is a list AKA “ feed” or “channel” with a summary of a bunch of different websites.

RT: Retweet

Re-posting (or sharing) a tweet posted by another user on Twitter. This can be done by simply using the “retweet” button.

SaaS: Software-as-a-Service

If you’ve ever used an online software or downloaded it onto your computer, you’ve used SaaS. For example, if you use an accounting software that’s SaaS. These are typically on subscription.

SEM: Search Engine Marketing

When you search on a search engine and the top results are sponsored results, i.e. companies pay to have their related site come up above the rest to increase the likeliness you’ll click them vs scrolling down to the non-sponsored posts.

SEO: Search Engine Optimization

This is when you optimize your website and content in order to appear in search engine results for keywords you want to be associated with. This is organic (free) to implement whereas SEM (see above) is the paid version.

SERP: Search Engine Results Page

When you search for keywords in a search engine and the list of results appears, this page is called the SERP.

SLA: Service Level Agreement

An agreement between a company’s sales and marketing teams that defines the expectations sales has for marketing and vice versa. The idea is to align the sales and marketing teams so they are integrated and can work toward goals cohesively.

SMB: Small-to-Medium Business

Companies that have between 10 and 500 employees.

SMM: Social Media Marketing

Marketing throughout various social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin) strategically for a brand.

SMO: Social Media Optimization

Leveraging various social media communities to increase publicity around a brand.

SOV: Share of Voice

An online advertising ad revenue model that focuses on weight or percentage among other advertisers.

SWOT: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats

A SWOT analysis gives a strategic view of the main opportunities and challenges that exist within a company’s brand or market. The result is an action plan containing the most important next steps in order to achieve success as a department or large organization.

TOS: Terms of Service

Terms a user has to agree with in order to use a particular software, service, product, etc.

UGC: User Generated Content

When users of a particular online system or service create content related to that business. E.g. a website about men’s health that accepts and features content from various contributors, paid or unpaid.

UI: User Interface

The part a user sees on a web application. E.g. when you interact with a website, that’s the UI. There is various code, databases, servers, etc that goes into a website. But the part users SEE is the UI.

URL: Uniform Resource Locator

An address to a website or resource on the internet. It’s what you type into the top bar of a web browser so you can locate the site you want.

UV: Unique Visitor

This is used to count the number of individuals visiting web pages during a given time. It counts each person individually, so if someone leaves the site and comes back they are still only counted as 1.

WOM: Word of Mouth

A person shares their experience with a product or brand in writing or verbally with someone else.

WWW: World Wide Web

How the internet organizes its web pages. This prefaces all URL’s (see URL definition).

YoY: Year-over-Year

Changes in levels expressed with respect to the previous year. YoY incorporates more data than MoM or QoQ, so it gives you a better long-term view.

YTD: Year-to-Date

The time period starting at the beginning of the current year and ending at the current date.

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