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The Ultimate Dictionary for Inbound Marketing Terms

Oct 24, 2017 9:00:00 AM

The Ultimate Dictionary for Inbound Marketing Terms

Riddled with acronyms, abbreviations and portmanteau, inbound marketing terminology can be hard to decipher—even for the most experienced of marketers.

Don't let it send you running for the hills, though.

Despite its seemingly mumbo-jumbo jargon, inbound marketing is actually quite the accessible strategy. Want to understand today's most successful marketing approach, but can't translate the lingo? We're here to help.

Top 10 Inbound Marketing Terms

Let's start off with the biggest, most oft-used terms in the playbook.


A lead is a person—someone who has shown some sort interest in your products, services or what you have to offer. In the grand scheme of inbound marketing methodology, you are trying to attract leads, convert them, close them and, ultimately, delight them.

Buyer Persona

The Ultimate Dictionary for Inbound Marketing Terms

Buyer personas are semi made-up back stories about your target customers. If you're a med spa owner, one of your buyer personas could be Sally, a 50-something mom who's getting worried about signs of aging. Your goal is to break down your buyer personas by interests and demographics so you can better tailor your messaging to their needs.


In inbound marketing, we aim to create value. We don't just ask for email addresses and contact info so we can spam potential customers. We give them useful, valuable information in exchange for their contacts. Offers typically include PDFs, ebooks, access to webinars and free downloads.


Inbound marketing considers the entire sales and marketing pipeline a funnel. A person starts at the top, learning about your company and products, and then gradually works their way down the funnel until their ready to complete the sale. Your goal is the get each lead from the top of the funnel to the bottom, where they become a paying customer.


Also known as Key Performance Indicators, KPIs are what companies use to measure progress. Common KPIs include page views, organic traffic, customer acquisition cost and return on investment. Any metric can be a KPI.


The Ultimate Dictionary for Inbound Marketing Terms

In inbound marketing, calls-to-action are vital, as they encourage users to actually interact with a brand—”to subscribe to an email list, download an offer or submit a contact form. Calls-to-action, or CTAs, are crucial to generating leads that you can cultivate and nurture.

Conversion Rate

Getting people to read your blog or web page is one thing, but your end-goal is always a conversion—to inspire them to take action and give you their email address, schedule an appointment or give you a call. The conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who follow through and complete this call-to-action.

Landing Page

Landing pages house offers and are there to help you capture a lead's information. They're typically highly targeted to a particular buyer persona, with pointed content and few navigation options. Most landing pages contain some sort of fillable form.

Lifetime Value

The Ultimate Dictionary for Inbound Marketing Terms

Also known as LTV, the lifetime value is the total profit you'd stand to earn from a specific customer relationship. LTV is useful in determining which customers to focus your efforts and limited resources on.


There's almost always a disconnect between sales and marketing teams, which equates to fewer closed leads. Smarketing refers to a more efficient alignment of these two divisions, wherein sales and marketing teams better align their efforts and strategies toward the same goals.

Other Inbound Marketing Terms to Know

Pain Point

The Ultimate Dictionary for Inbound Marketing Terms

You always need to know the pain points—or the current needs, gripes and troubles—of your unique buyer personas. In the previous example, Sally's pain points are her physical signs of aging, not to mention the blow to her self-confidence they've dealt. In both the selling and marketing processes, your messaging needs to speak to each customer's pain points and show them how you, your service or your product can help resolve them.

Social Proof

At its simplest, social proof is the number of interactions a blog, article or other piece of content has on social media. It could also be the number of followers yours or another account has. The more “proof” something has, the higher quality and more in-demand people think it is.


Word-of-mouth marketing, or WOM, is one of the oldest strategies in the book. But today, it's not just an in-person method; it takes inbound marketing, social media, content marketing and many other pieces working together and in tandem to get right.


The Ultimate Dictionary for Inbound Marketing Terms

Often seen in B2B situations, a decision-maker is the person who has the ability to make a buying decision. Ideally, you want to always market to the decision-maker, as they have the most control. Sometimes, however, you may be marketing to someone under their purview; in this case, you'll need to tweak your messaging to help them convince and convert the decision-maker on their end.

Buying Signal

This is simply a signal that a customer might be nearing or very close to making a purchase. If a customer registered for a free trial or filled out a form to calculate shipping, these might indicate buying is on the horizon, and a sales rep can step in to close the deal.

Customer Acquisition Cost

The Ultimate Dictionary for Inbound Marketing Terms

We mentioned this earlier under KPIs, but it's worth discussing in further detail. Customer Acquisition Cost, or CAC, tells you your total costs to bring a customer through the entire sales and marketing funnel. It includes your ad spend, employee salaries, overhead costs and other expenses. You should always track and monitor your CAC and aim to improve it month over month.


Objections are potential challenges a customer could have with your product. Might it be too expensive? Too hard to learn? Too new and untrusted? You need to anticipate objections and address them in your marketing and sales efforts—before they become a sticking point.

Discover the Power of Inbound Marketing

Want more help understanding inbound marketing terms? Want to use successful inbound marketing strategies to boost your business? Contact Outlet Creative Group today. We're here to help.


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