Were you just in a meeting when someone casually dropped an acronym you’ve never heard and no one else batted an eye? We’ve been there. A lot.
Fortunately, we decided to start jotting down these abbreviations as we hear them (or when we use them and get that confused look from a colleague) to help others catch up as quickly as possible. So go ahead and Ctrl + F or Command-F and search the acronym you’re looking for.
We update this list as we go so if you don’t see something today, there’s a good chance it’ll be here soon. But if you’re struggling with a random acronym and can’t find the answer here, let us know and we’ll get it on the list ASAP.
AI: Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence, or AI for short, is a general term for technology where computers simulate human intelligence through algorithms, data analysis and programming software. This can also be referred to as “machine learning,” and can be used for automation and content generation, among many other use cases. AI for marketing is predicted to change how we work on a daily basis.
AVE: Ad-value equivalency
Ad-value equivalency, or AVE, is a PR tool for measuring the success of a given earned media campaign or placement. PR and ad agencies will check the earned media’s performance against how much it would have cost to pay for that same media coverage. Ideally, your ad-value equivalency will be much higher than what it cost to create the earned media.
B2B is a term referring to companies who sell products or services to other companies rather than direct to consumers. Examples include enterprise software companies, professional service firms like corporate accounting or human resources outsourcing agencies and office equipment leasing companies.
B2C, opposite of B2B, refers to companies that sell their products or services directly to consumers. B2C companies include consumer banks and credit unions, retail and ecommerce companies and consumer electronics companies, among many others.
BANT: Budget, Authority, Needs, Timeline
An older model for identifying qualified leads, first developed by IBM. BANT covers four core factors to determine sales-readiness: budget, authority, needs and timeline.
CAC: Customer Acquisition Cost
This metric determines how much it costs to capture and land a new customer. Find it by dividing the total cost of acquiring new customers by the number of customers acquired in a certain period. If you spent $1000 in a year on marketing efforts and acquired 500 customers, the CAC is $2.
CLV: Customer Lifetime Value
Also referred to as Lifetime Customer Value (LCV or CLTV), or Lifetime Value (LV), this metric will help you understand what your Customer Acquisition Cost (see above) means to your company.
It will also help you plan and budget your marketing costs.
This Kissmetrics infographic gets into the nitty gritty of CLV, but the simplest calculation is to multiply the profit generated by a customer per year by the number of active years, then subtract the CAC.
Profit X Years – CAC = CLV
CMI: Content Marketing Institute
A reputable resource for all things content marketing, the Content Marketing Institute is “the leading global content marketing education and training organization, teaching enterprise brands how to attract and retain customers through compelling, multi-channel storytelling.” CMI also puts on the annual Content Marketing World event, the largest of its kind.
CMO: Chief Marketing Officer
At the top of a company’s marketing team is the CMO. He or she oversees the execution of the marketing plan and designs strategies in a multichannel environment. The CMO’s ultimate goal is to increase revenue and sales through leading successful marketing efforts and campaigns.
CMP: Content Marketing Platform
A CMP is a centralized Software as a Service (SaaS) tool to streamline content marketing efforts by providing one space to create, review and publish content. A CMP promotes a more collaborative content creation process by storing all content, editorial and social media calendars, conversations, content edits and more, in one platform. Becuase this is a SaaS tool, a CMP can be accessed from anywhere. (BrandpointHUB is the perfect example.)
CMS: Content Management System
If you’re already running a blog or website, you’re using a CMS—the web-based application designed for creating and updating websites. Multiple users can access the tool, fostering a collaborative environment. The most well-known CMS is WordPress, but there are many other CMS tools. Individuals and businesses choose a CMS based on qualities such as the level of coding required, how and why the website will be used, cost and other factors.
Also referred to as cost-per-acquisition, or cost-per-sale. This metric measures how much a company pays to convert a customer. To find CPA, divide your total cost (whether measuring by campaign, keyword or ad group) by the number of conversions. This number is different from customer acquisition cost (CAC) because CPA determines conversion for both new and returning customers. CAC only relates to new customers acquired. When measuring CPA, you only pay Google for every conversion rather than for every click. In AdWords, lower your CPA by increasing your Quality Score.
This is the amount spent for every click on your ad content when employing a pay per click advertising campaign. CPC is one of a few advertising options when creating new campaigns on most platforms.
Calculate how much it costs to secure a new lead by using a simple formula: marketing spend / total new leads = cost-per-lead (CPL). You can determine the CPL for each of your marketing campaigns including webinars and events, display ads, paid media, paid social and more. Measuring the CPL will help you measure the cost effectiveness of your marketing campaigns if your main goal is to attract new leads.
CPM: Cost-per-Thousand (impressions)
The “m” stands for “mille,” the French word for thousand. When paying for an online ad, rather than paying for clicks (CPC), you can pay a flat rate for every thousand impressions that your post receives. This allows your ad to be seen by more people, but you’re not guaranteed any engagement with the ad. CPM is most often recommended if your goal is to increase brand awareness.
CRM: Customer Relationship Management
The phrase “customer relationship management” describes software used to manage relationships and interactions with customers. A CRM tool such as Salesforce, Hubspot or Dynamics 365 is usually used in a sales setting to record the progress of an interaction with an individual lead as it moves through the funnel. Some marketing automation platforms either have a built-in CRM or can communicate with whichever one your company uses.
CRO: Conversion Rate Optimization
According to HubSpot, CRO is “the process of creating an experience for your website visitors that’ll convert them into customers.” A visitor may read a blog post on your website, then read more on the “about” page, then look at product pricing. To improve your CRO means to increase the visit-to-lead rate on a web page or landing page, but it can also be applied to social media and SEO. Optimize by segmenting your content, conducting A/B tests with content and changing the design of your page.
CTA: Call to Action
The Oxford Dictionary defines a “call to action” as “an exhortation or stimulus to do something in order to achieve an aim or deal with a problem.” As it relates to marketing, a CTA is content that encourages a user to interact with the brand by taking an action. The CTA may be to download an e-book, read a blog post, visit a product page, sign up for a newsletter, etc. There are several ways to display a CTA such as with a graphic, specially formatted text or a digital button.
CTR: Clickthrough Rate
This is the ratio of how often people click your ad after viewing it. According to Google, “CTR can be used to gauge how well your keywords and ads are performing.” To find the CTR, divide the number of clicks your ad receives by the number of times your ad is shown. So, clicks / impressions = CTR. If you had 5 clicks and 1000 impressions, then your CTR would be 0.5%.
CVR: Conversion Rate
A conversion rate measures the success of various marketing campaigns by the percentage of people who take the desired action. The higher the CVR, the lower the cost-per-lead (CPL). A marketing team can determine how to measure each campaign’s CVR. This could be the number of products purchased after hosting an event, the number of demos booked after creating a landing page, or the number of website visits from a social media post.
GA: Google Analytics
Google Analytics is one of the most used website analytics programs but not everyone uses “GA” when referring to it so that acronym can sometimes be confusing.
GPT: Generative Pre-trained Transformer
GPT is a type of large language model developed by OpenAI that can create text, images and video. GPT-4 is the newest version of ChatGPT and is able to generate more accurate text based on billions of pararments.
H1, H2, H3: Header Tags
In a piece of content, H1 (or header number one) is the first heading size used to separate and categorize information. H2 and H3 are subheads to further structure the piece. Each header tag provides value to SEO because search engines use headers to better understand what the content, and the website, is about. H1 is the heading to place your most important keywords, and then the scale works its way down to H2, H3 and more.
ICP: Ideal Customer Profile
This is who your company wants to do business with. Defining your ideal customer profile will allow your marketing team to better target and personalize messaging. ICP development is the step before creating specific customer personas, outlining all the key features of your ideal customer from their interests to budget to industry. Then, you can create persona identities.
KPI: Key Performance Indicator
To know how your department or specific project is performing, you choose a key performance indicator (KPI). There are many to choose from, so it’s up to you and your team to decide what you want to measure. For example, it could be revenue, conversions, CTR, or webinar registrants. The KPIs should represent the progress of your goals and be crucial to your company’s success.
LLM: Large Language Model
In the artificial intelligence world, Large Language Models refer to models that “learn” from giant sets of text data found online in order to generate content. Examples of LLMs in the wild include ChatGPT and Google’s Bard.
MA: Marketing Automation
Marketing automation is the process of leveraging targeted, automated content to support lead generation and nurturing, making the sales person’s job easier. MA platforms such as Pardot, Marketo and SharpSpring assist with the process by offering features such as lead scoring, customer acquisition, dynamic content and more.
[Read more: Still shopping around for a marketing automation platform? Here’s what you need to know.]
MAT: Master Aligned Type
MAT stands for “Master Aligned Type”. It’s a newsroom term that dates back to when publishers used a manual press plate to print the newspaper. Currently, a MAT release is a piece of content created for mass distribution and aimed at a consumer audience. It usually appears as a piece of sponsored content and comes in the form of a feature article, an infographic or listicle.
MQL: Marketing Qualified Lead
When a prospect shows interest in top-of-funnel marketing initiatives (visits the website, downloads a case study, follows on social media, etc.), the marketing department gauges these actions to determine their quality. Using tools and tactics like marketing automation and lead scoring, marketing decides when the prospect has become a marketing qualified lead (MQL) and is ready to go to sales for a direct conversation.
MVP: Minimum Viable Product
If you’ve ever heard someone talk about the MVP in a product meeting and your thoughts went straight to Most Valuable Player, you’re not alone. The term comes from the Lean Startup methodology created by Eric Reis and it means getting a product into the market as quickly as possible with the minimum features that allow the it to be usable by consumers.
Although it’s not necessarily a marketing term, MVP has spread into marketing project management and is often used to describe getting a campaign “good enough” and launched and then improving on it post-launch.
NLP: Natural Language Processing
NLP can refer to a number of processes, but has come up most recently in AI conversations. Natural language processing includes training LLMs (large language models) to answer questions online, predict text and perform speech recognition. (Think Siri or Alexa.)
PESO: Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned
This is an all-inclusive content promotion and PR marketing strategy that integrates four media elements: paid, earned, shared and owned. The PESO model is rather new to cover all aspects of the ever-changing media landscape. For example, a company publishes a blog post on their own website (owned), then pitches it to a newspaper who references the blog in an article (earned). To reach a larger audience, the company will sponsor it on social media (paid), which encourages users to engage with the content and share it (shared). Read more about how earned, owned and paid media work together.
PPC describes an advertising model in which the advertiser pays for each click on your ad. Not to be confused with CPC (which is the actual measurement of the cost for each click), PPC is a type of advertising often seen in paid search, paid social and native advertising platforms.
ROAS: Return on Ad Spend
Return on ad spend is a simple calculation of the revenue generated from your advertising program divided by the cost of your advertising program. For example, if you ran an ad campaign for a total cost of $10,000 and it generated $80,000 in revenue, then your return on ad spend would be 8:1 or 800%.
Although not a true measure of profitability, it offers a straightforward performance indicator for your advertising campaigns.
ROI: Return on Investment
Return on investment is a measure of profitability calculated by dividing the net gains or profit by the cost of the investment. ROI is the most common profitability ratio, which helps determine if a company’s return on any given effort is worth the investment.
SaaS: Software as a Service
Software-as-a-Service is a not a program that you download or install on your computer. Rather, SaaS is a web-based tool that can be accessed from any device with internet. Files are saved on the cloud rather than on one single computer. It can be accessed by multiple customers at anytime, usually paid for with a subscription. Google Apps, Netflix, GoToMeeting, and BrandpointHUB are all SaaS tools.
SEO: Search Engine Optimization
SEO is an unpaid marketing tactic. This is the process of making your website and pages easy-to-find in search engines. SEO includes actions such as keyword research, writing meta titles and descriptions, inserting external links, organizing content and so much more. There are seemingly endless ways to optimize a website or webpage to attract organic traffic. However, creating high-quality content is one of the most important SEO factors.
SEM: Search Engine Marketing
According to Search Engine Land, search engine marketing “is the process of gaining website traffic by purchasing ads on search engines.” The term “paid search” is used interchangeably with SEM. When talking about both SEO and SEM, use the term “search marketing.”
SERP: Search Engine Results Page
After inputting a query on a search engine, the results will appear on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). This term is often used when discussing a website’s ranking from an organic search and where it appears on the SERP.
SMB: Small- to Medium-sized Business
In the world of marketing, a small- to medium-sized business is a category that may be targeted for its unique needs and goals, which differ from a larger corporation. Recognizing the differences between customers from large corporations and SMBs will help marketing teams develop more personalized messages and campaigns for each segment.
SME: Subject Matter Expert
Credibility and thought leadership are keys to setting your brand apart from the competition. By creating content based on a SME’s input, your marketing team can showcase the unique expertise your company offers.
SQL: Sales Qualified Lead
Typically, a prospect first becomes a marketing qualified lead (MQL) before being passed to sales. Once a prospect shows intent to buy, they become a sales qualified lead. This is determined by tracking a user’s interactions with the company, usually with lead scoring.
TOFU, MOFU, BOFU: Top of Funnel, Middle of Funnel, Bottom of Funnel
In reference to the sales and marketing funnel, these are the phases of the buyer’s journey. Beginning at the top of the funnel (TOFU), a prospect may find information about your website from a search engine or read a blog. This content answers a customer’s questions, and asserts your company as a knowledgeable source. In the middle of the funnel (MOFU), a prospect has a greater intent of purchase and may give you their information through a form. At the bottom of the funnel (BOFU), a prospect is now ready to buy.
USP: Unique Selling Proposition
This is the factor that makes a company’s product or service different from your competitors. What makes your brand stand out in the market? A company’s unique selling proposition should drive the development of the marketing strategy. This begins with understanding the ideal customer profile (ICP), researching competitors and industry trends and developing messages followed by a full content marketing strategy.
UTM: Urchin Tracking Module
An Urchin Tracking Module (now commonly known as a UTM code) is basically a URL tag that allows you to track who is clicking on a given URL. Through Google’s free UTM-code builder, you can take an individual URL and assign a campaign source and medium and then track it in Google Analytics in a much more robust and organized way. It’s great for assessing which websites, social platforms or promotion strategies are the most effective traffic-drivers.
UX: User Experience
The way that online audiences interact with your website, both from a design and a navigational lens, is their user experience. You should aim for your website design to be accessible, easy to navigate and well-designed.