A Guide to the Most Common Digital Marketing Acronyms

Written by Lauren Austin

In the digital marketing field, the understanding and use of acronyms has become a must. In fact, the digital marketing dictionary seems to be filled with more acronyms and abbreviations than actual words. To keep up, it's important that marketing professionals be familiar with the most commonly used digital marketing acronyms.

For that very reason, we've put together a list of some of the most important and commonly used acronyms in digital marketing.

Acronyms in Digital Marketing

SEO - Search Engine Optimization 

SEO is the process of working to get your website to rank as high as it can on Google and other search engines. The ultimate prize in SEO is to earn the coveted #1 spot in Google's search rankings. 

SEM - Search Engine Marketing 

SEM is the process of marketing your business on search engines like Google. SEM encompasses several digital marketing tactics, including, but not limited to, SEO, paid search (PPC), social media marketing (SMM) and online reputation management (ORM). 

PPC - Pay-Per-Click

PPC, commonly referred to as paid search, is a method of online advertising where the advertiser is charged every time a user clicks one of their ads. PPC is an alternative to CPM pricing.

CPM - Cost Per Mille (1,000 Impressions)

Mille is latin for thousand. Therefore, CPM bidding is an alternative to CPC bidding where an advertiser pays for every 1,000 impressions its ad receives, as opposed to the number of clicks it receives.

CPM is extremely common with display advertising, and can be effective for advertisers looking to build awareness versus drive a response.

SERP - Search Engine Results Page

An SERP is the listing of results returned by a search engine in response to a user's search. SEOs commonly refer to SERPs as Search Engine Ranking Positions when tracking the progress of their efforts.

UX - User EXperience

UX describes the experience a user has when using a company's product, service, software program, app or website. Digital products need to provide a great UX for their users in order to keep their interest and earn additional users/customers.

UI - User Interface

UI describes the visual interface the helps users navigate a software program, app or website. Apple, for example, is known for its clean, organized and intuitive UI across all of its operating systems. 

OS - Operating System

An OS is the software that supports a computer's functions. Windows is arguably the most widely known operating system, although Apple's iOS has become increasingly popular over the past few years as the company's products have been gobbled up by consumers in overwhelming numbers.

URL - Uniform Resource Locator

URL is used to specify and access addresses and files on the World Wide Web. A URL is the fundamental network identification for any resource connected to the web. URLs are commonly referred to as domain names.

CR - Conversion Rate

Conversion Rate is a calculation that shows how many visitors to a specific app, website or web page took a desired action during their visit. Common conversions include product purchases, PDF downloads, newsletter sign-ups, video views, etc.

CRO - Conversion Rate Optimization

CRO is the process of updating multiple aspects of an online marketing campaign to maximize the number of conversions it receives, as well as its overall conversion rate (CR).

The most commonly tweaked variables include ad images, ad headlines, landing page images, landing page headlines, call-to-action (CTA) graphics and text, element colors and page layouts.

CTR - Click-Through Rate

CTR is the calculation of how many users clicked on an ad (clicks), compared to how many users saw the ad (impressions). For example, if an ad was seen by 100 people and received 1 click, its CTR would be 1% (1 click / 100 impressions).

CPC - Cost Per Click

CPC is the amount an advertiser pays whenever a user clicks its ad. CPC is fixed through some advertisers, although, in most cases, it's dynamically generated as a result of several factors, including: demand, competition, past ad performance, the ad's relevance to the website or search query, etc.

ROAS - Return On Ad Spend

ROAS is a metric that helps online advertisers determine the value of their online marketing initiatives. ROAS is the calculation of the amount an advertiser spent in online advertising compared to the amount of revenue it saw as a result.

Ex: An online retailer who spent $5,000 on Google AdWords and received $15,000 in direct sales saw a 300% ROAS ($15,000 in sales / $5,000 in advertising).

ROI - Return On Investment

ROI is a lot like ROAS, although it goes deeper to help advertisers determine the true value and return on investment of their online marketing activities. ROI takes into account the advertiser's ad spend, direct sales (coming through digital marketing channels), overhead (product costs, employee costs, shipping costs, transaction fees, etc.) and profit margins to determine how its online marketing initiatives are impacting the bottom line.

Ex: An advertiser who spent $10,000 on Google AdWords and SEO services and received $80,000 in direct sales saw an 800% ROAS. However, when you take into account the fact that the company earns a 20% profit margin on all of its products, you can determine that the true ROI of its online marketing initiatives was 160%, or 1.6:1 (($80,000 in sales * 0.2 profit margin) / $10,000 in advertising).

The List Goes On...

I could go on for days and still not outline all of the acronyms currently used in digital marketing. Instead, I'd rather let this handy infographic that the good folks over at Pardot.com put together do the talking!


acronyms for online marketers

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