10 Digital Marketing Terms for Business Leaders

Successfully leading a business is a complex process. You must retain a ridiculous amount of information, then translate the connections you make using that information into an actionable plan your employees can understand and follow. 

This means that most information you’ll want to commit to memory is absolutely ‘need-to-know’. 

We’re not saying that you need to understand every nuance behind digital marketing, but you’ll need just enough in order to fully understand where your marketing money is going and whether the business is benefiting. If you don’t understand the terminology, it’s unlikely that you’ll understand the value. 

And it’s a slippery slope from there for everyone involved.

To that end, here are 10 digital marketing terms that business leaders need to know in order to make sense of digital marketing reports and proposals, while also understanding whether their team is on the right track and empowering them to continue improving.


We’re not talking about your logo here. 

Your brand is what your company stands for at a fundamental level. It’s what allows you to answer the question “Why does this company exist?” without saying “to make a profit”. 

Profits are a result, not a reason to exist.

It’s a unifying set of principles that guides every single decision that the company makes. It’s what motivates those within it to wake up in the morning and go to work. We’re not saying your logo doesn’t matter, but your visual identity should be a reflection of your brand, not the other way around. 

Having a unilateral brand purpose and values will lead to a real understanding of who your audience is, and how to effectively communicate to that audience with purposeful messaging. A well-defined brand will provide you with all the resources you need to make a connection with those you want to speak to. 

If you want to read more about brand, Ed has the goods.

KPI (Key Performance Indicator)

Before deciding what to say and where to say it, it’s essential to know how exactly you’re going to measure your success. Marketing efforts without KPIs lead to communicating for the sake of it. 

How do you know whether you’re doing well or not? 

Looking at your bottom line definitely helps, but knowing what exactly is pushing your marketing efforts forward or holding them back is essential. 

The important thing to remember is that many-a-time, different marketing efforts require different KPIs. Measuring a campaign meant to build website traffic by counting likes & comments is like judging an elephant by its ability to climb a tree. Make sure it’s clear what the goal of the campaign you’re looking at is, and know what metric to look at. 

CPA (Cost Per Acquisition)

CPA is one of the most commonly used metrics in the business, and for good reason. Understanding how much a campaign is costing you to convert a new customer gives you a very clear picture of its success or failure. 

Over time, your team will be able to identify a target CPA that any campaign must fall under in order to be deemed useful. Knowing when to pull the plug on a campaign that’s generating expensive conversions is as important as the creative ideas themselves. 

When calculating the CPA, it’s important that all costs relating to the campaign are taken into account. If the campaign was set-up correctly, you’ll be able to incorporate campaign costs from across multiple channels to calculate a CPA that reflects the entire campaign concept.

Once you can reliably calculate campaign CPA, optimising the campaign in order to lower said CPA becomes the priority.

A/B Testing

Speaking of optimisation, A/B testing is definitely the way to go about it. If your marketing team decides on a particular creative direction and sticks to it from the very beginning, they may be missing key audience insights. 

Ideally, any campaign should begin with multiple versions of the same creative concept – this includes visuals, copywriting style, calls to action, etc. By simultaneously running ads with slight differences between them, you can begin to understand what creative style your audience responds to more by measuring the appropriate KPIs. 

Lead Generation

Lead generation is a fairly self-explanatory term. It’s the creation and locating of individuals interested in your product or service. 

In marketing terms, it’s generally used in B2B contexts slightly more often than B2C, mostly because many B2C digital marketing efforts measure conversions in terms of purchases rather than leads to be converted by an in-house sales team.

In most situations, leads come through contact-form fills, messages on social media, emails, and phone calls. If your digital marketing set-up allows for it, you can measure which campaign generated the most leads. That said, it’s not always possible to know whether someone who called you saw a particular ad campaign or not.

In B2B contexts, lead generation is an extremely important measurement to have. Mostly because your team can pretty easily generate traffic going to your website and claim it a success. But in reality, traffic doesn’t generate business unless it’s the right traffic, and the on-site experience is well-designed. Lead generation can only happen if there is a synergy between advertising and website UI.

Call to Action

This one’s pretty simple – a call to action is the term used for a phrase in an ad that asks the audience to perform a particular behaviour. “Contact us”, “Learn More”, “Download Now”. Calls to action are a key part of defining a particular marketing message, and are directly tied to the key metric you’re measuring your campaign with.

If a campaign’s call to action is “Download the App”, but the success of that campaign is being measured by how many purchases were made, you’re not likely to gain any useful insights into your campaign or your audience.


Retargeting is an essential part of digital marketing, while also being one of the more controversial. 

When browsing online, there are countless ways which advertising platforms such as Facebook, Google, & Amazon, attempt to learn about your interests and behaviour. Based on the information learned, they will attempt to serve ads that are relevant to you. 

Retargeting is one of these techniques. Advertisers will essentially be able to tie your web behaviour to your social media. For example, if you’ve visited a clothing eCommerce site within the last 15 days, you’ll likely see ads from that particular site on your social media for a while. The ads themselves will often have the very products at which you were looking. This is retargeting.

Search Engine Marketing & Search Engine Optimisation (SEO & SEM)

We’ve been talking about SEO for the last few weeks on the Switch blog

We won’t go into too much detail here, but essentially, SEO is the practice of creating content and adjusting websites to organically rank as highly as possible on search engine results pages. The key word (no pun intended) being ‘organically’. If you want to learn more specifics on how SEO works, and whether you need it, take a look here.

SEM, on the other hand, normally refers to the practice of placing paid advertising on the very same search engine results pages. Normally these ads appear above and below the organic search results and look practically the same, save for the word ‘Ad’ that appears before the copy itself. 

These can be just as effective as organic results, however many users tend to favour organic results first, as many ads might not have exactly what they’re looking for. Which is why it’s extremely important to have a detailed keyword advertising plan that gives you the best value for your ad spend.

Conversion Funnel

You’ve heard of the sales funnel before. In marketing, the conversion funnel represents the topline view of your overall strategy. 

It begins with your efforts to generate brand/product awareness – drawing the attention of those who may be looking for what you offer, or who relate to your communication. General awareness and thought-leadership advertising falls under this category. 

The second stage of the funnel is consideration. At this point, users are aware of your brand, but are looking to learn a little more. They’ll visit your website, engage with your content, or perhaps even enquire about a particular product or service. Here, you’re pushing engagement and website traffic campaigns.

Finally, the conversion stage. Here, you’ll be retargeting warm leads relatively aggressively with specific product information and offers. The success of conversion campaigns is measured by final purchases or qualified leads generated. 

ROAS (Return on Ad Spend)

Other than CPA, ROAS is one of the most widely used metrics to measure overall campaign success. As long as your digital marketing set-up allows for it, you can relatively accurately determine how much return was generated by a particular campaign in relation to how much advertising spend was used. 

The advantage that ROAS has over CPA is that not all acquisitions are created equal. If one channel is generating much higher-value leads than another, then CPA won’t register that distinction. ROAS gives you a clearer understanding of the quality and long-term value of particular channels, rather than the volume of leads generated. 


In order to effectively lead and give useful direction to a marketing team, the above terms are essential. That said, while you can find endless information and opinions on the above terms, understanding what exactly they mean to your particular business is different. We suggest spending a good amount of time with your team defining how success is going to be measured, and how exactly you plan on getting there.

If you need a helping hand to get your structure & strategy to that point, just give us a shout.

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