This guide to marketing automation terminology is actually content created by automation provider Sharp Spring While I’ve edited this content to be unique, I’d like to provide them credit in the creation and curation of the information.

Marketing Glossary for Digital Marketers

Automation is for everyone — from the sole entrepreneur to the CMO, and everyone in between. Here are some basic marketing automation terms with which you should be familiar
before getting started.

A/B Testing

The process of comparing two versions of marketing content, typically a web page or an email, to determine which version produces better results. Most A/B testing is directed toward improving conversion rates. Also called: Split Testing

Advanced Blog Post Scheduling

There are optimal times of the day and days of the week to publish blog posts. Rather than waiting to write content at that time or just publishing whenever it’s completed, marketers can schedule blog publication in advance.

Advanced Lead Scoring

Lead scoring is the process by which a company ranks leads based on data. This gives salespeople an accurate picture of where leads are in the sales funnel as well as an idea of how to reach them in a way that maximizes their chance of conversion.

Advanced Segmentation

Leads rarely fit an identical pattern. This is why marketing campaigns are developed for specific buyer personas. Advanced segmentation enables marketers to automatically divide leads accordingly. They can then analyze specific groups of traffic data and use their insights to make better marketing decisions. While it’s important to know how many people viewed an email and
clicked on links within it, it’s their activity once they’ve clicked that is most important. Marketers use after-the-click email tracking to find out more about what inspired their audience to take action.


Analytics is the general term for information collected from websites, landing page campaigns, emails, paid
Google AdWords, forms and social media. Analytics give insight into a company’s customer personas, their
behavior, and the typical customer journey. Also called: Insights Behavioral-Based Automation Tracking a lead’s online behavior and then using this information to automate marketing and lead generation efforts. Examples include: (1) clicking on an email that triggers a specific follow-up email, (2) visiting a page that puts a lead on a specific list, (3) completing a form
that triggers delivery of a specific piece of content, and other things.


Websites are typically broken up into two types of content: web pages that deliver information on the company, and blog posts that deliver engaging content on a variety of topics. Short
for “web-log,” blog posts tend to be more timely and conversational in style. They also invite feedback through comments, which can be used to engage visitors and cultivate the company brand. Blogs are the original, and perhaps most important, form of social media and can be an efficient way to attract the attention of search engines.

Branching Workflow

Branching logic is when marketers use
certain pre-set conditions to trigger
an automated action. Once an action
is triggered, it pushes leads through
workflows to a desired outcome. In its
simplest form, actions are determined
on a “yes” or “no” basis. If “yes” then
“Action 1” happens; if “no” then “Action
2” happens. Long chains of “yes” and
“no” outcomes and their associated
actions are branching workflows.

Buyer Persona

A buyer persona is a hypothetical
customer made up of common
attributes typically seen in real
buyers. Based on real data, personas
reflect who customers are, what
drives their behavior, and how, when
and why they buy certain things. A
business can have multiple buyer
personas. The more detailed the
personas are, the better.

Call to Action (CTA)

Calls to action are a crucial part of
every marketing campaign as they let
visitors, leads, and consumers know
which action businesses want them
to take (e.g. call now, download this
white paper, fill out this form, etc.)
Click-Through Rate (CTR)
Typically presented as a percentage,
the click-through rate is the metric
of people visiting a web page who
clicked on a link or button for a
particular offer. It’s a measure of the
effectiveness of an online marketing
campaign, especially a pay-per-click
campaign. It’s calculated as ‘clicks’
divided by ‘impressions’ equals ‘CTR.’
Also called: Click Rate, Click-Thru Rate


A contact is anyone who has been in
contact with a company – by phone,
email, online form, social media, and
so on. Contacts are not always leads,
but leads are always contacts. Also
called: Prospects

Content Management

System (CMS)
Content Management Systems are
platforms that enable marketers to
create online content for a website
or a blog. They typically come with
all the tools needed to create, edit,
schedule, and even A/B test content.
Your marketing automation
platform should integrate with a
variety of CMSs.

Content Marketing

A segment of the marketing function
that involves the development and
sharing of valuable informational
material online (e.g. blog posts,
articles, presentations) to a clearly
defined audience. The material does
not explicitly promote a product
or brand, but is intended to drive
profitable actions by the audience.


A conversion is when a contact goes
from being a prospective lead to an
actual sale, the ultimate goal of all
sales and marketing efforts.

Cost Per Lead (CPL)

In an online advertising pricing
model, the cost per lead is what the
advertiser pays per each business or
consumer that shows interest in the
vendor’s offer. A lower cost per lead
is desireable.

Custom Domain

A custom domain is a unique, branded
name that identifies a website. They
appear in the address bar at the top
of every browser, and they are what
we use to navigate around the web
every day. It’s important for custom
domains to be brief, memorable and
easy to share. Also called: Vanity URL

Customer Relationship
Management (CRM)

Customer Relationship Management
platforms are used to collect contact
information, establish sales pipelines
and drive leads to conversion. Your
CRM and your marketing automation
platform work together. Some
marketing automation platforms
include a CRM, others integrate with
CRMs. Ideally, a CRM system would
be included within your marketing
automation platform.


DKIM stands for “Domain Keys
Identified Mail” which is an encryption
authentication method used by
many ISPs designed to detect email
spoofing. DKIM establishes whether
or not the email originated from an
authorized system. Then it prevents
spammers from stealing the identity
of legitimate entities by permitting
the receiver to check that an email
claiming to come from a specific
domain was authorized by the owner
of that domain.

There are typically two types of content
editor interfaces, code editors (for
programmers) and WYSIWYG, which
stands for ‘What You See Is What You
Get.” A drag-and-drop builder is a type
of WYSIWYG editor that allows you to
select an object with your cursor and
“drop” it in a new location. It’s an easy
way for users to plug different elements
into an email or landing page and see
how the finished product will look. No
coding experience is necessary. Your
marketing automation platform should
offer this type of interface.

Drip Campaign

Sending marketing information
to prospects strategically over
designated periods of time. This
can be to nurture prospects or leads
through the marketing funnel, to
educate prospects, to onboard clients,
to perpetuate engagement, etc.
The term comes from the idea that
focussed, intentional messages are
being dripped methodically over time.

Dynamic Content

Landing pages and emails are
typically created for one specific
purpose, but the messaging and visual
elements won’t necessarily resonate
with every visitor all the time. Dynamic
content allows a marketer to swap
out areas of content (e.g. subject
line, headline, image, body copy)
based on the recipient/viewer — all
without writing code. Swaps are made
automatically by the platform based
on lead attributes that you identify.

Dynamic Lists

Dynamic lists are contact lists that
are created and organized based
on pre-set rules. A change in a
lead’s behavior can change his/
her membership on different lists.
Dynamic lists allow you to generate
prospect lists that can be tailored
to any specific criteria. Also called:
Smart List, Segment

Email Marketing

Email marketing is the targeting of
consumers through electronic
mail, including sending ads,
requesting business, or soliciting
sales or donations. It is meant
to build loyalty, trust, and brand
awareness. It is considered one of
the most economic methods of
direct marketing.


Engagement is any interaction
between a business and a lead.
Also called: Lead Interaction


Filters are used to refine a set of
results or actions in a marketing
automation platform. These
refinements are produced by a trigger,
which ensures the resulting list or
action is well defined.


A form is a data collection tool used
within websites to gather information
from leads. A form may be “native”
and reside within the marketing
automation platform, or it may be a
third-party form that comes from an
outside provider. Either way, data is
collected from completed forms and
imported directly into the marketing
automation system.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a strategy
marketers use to pull potential
customers into a company’s
marketing funnel. It uses social media,
SEO, content marketing, events, blogs,
events and more to create brand
awareness and attract new business.
Typically, inbound marketing includes
the use of a marketing automation
platform to carry out these initiatives.

IP Address

An Internet Protocol (IP) address
is the unique string of numbers
separated by periods that identifies
each computer, printer, or other
device using Internet Protocol to
communicate over a network. Certain
business intelligence can be gleaned
from an IP address – e.g. the type of
device a visitor is using, where the
visitor is located generally, how often
the visitor has visited a given site
and how long they have stayed on a
site in general or on specific pages.
Reverse IP lookup is a key marketing
automation feature that allows users
to determine the domain name
associated with an IP address.

Landing Page

A landing page is a specific web
page that a visitor can visit or “land”
on from a link or an ad. It is built to
engage a visitor with information that
is specific to the ad, to the clicked link
or to a certain keyword. Its purpose is
to convert. Typically, the visitor to the
landing page provides information via
a form in exchange for a marketing
offer, such as an eBook or webinar.
This page should only display content
that is specific to the advertisement,
search keyword, or link clicked.

Landing Page Funnel

A/K/A “conversion
funnel,” landing page funnels are
pre-determined pathways composed
of different webpages, established
by marketers and tracked by
analytics. These funnels are tailored
for conversion, and contacts are
expected to complete the steps in a
specific order.


A lead is a contact that has the
potential to become a customer.

Lead Generation

Identifying contacts that may have
interest in your product or service
and attempting to pull them into your
sales funnel.

Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing is the process of
managing relationships with leads
that are not necessarily ready to
purchase. The purpose is to win their
business when they are ready to buy.
A lead nurturing workflow includes
automatically following up with leads,
guiding them through the buyer’s
journey, and finally, converting the
leads into customers. Also called:
Drip Marketing

Lead Score

Lead score is a key feature of a lead
management system. Contacts and
leads are scored based upon their
actions, behaviors, engagement level
over time, profile, demographics
and more. Each action or behavior
has an assigned point value
designated by the owner of the lead
management system. These point
values automatically accrue as the
contact progresses through the
buyer’s journey. When the lead score
hits an established threshold, the lead
converts into a qualified lead that can
be passed to sales. Also called: Score,
Lead Grade

Life of the Lead

A timeline of all of the interactions
between a lead and a business,
including website activity, marketing
communications, event attendance,
and more. Also called: Lead
Interaction Timeline, Activity Log
Marketing Automation Platform
Software-as-a-service that enables
marketers to automate many
repetitive tasks such as emailing,
maintaining social media and various
website interactions. It is designed
to drive more leads, convert those
leads to sales and prove the ROI of
marketing campaigns. A marketing
automation platform should also
have the ability to integrate with other
marketing tools (CMS, CRM, meeting
software, social media, etc.) to provide
a single platform for centralized
management and analysis.

Media Center

A repository that allows you to create
trackable media such as videos,
podcasts and sound clips that can
be used in emails, automation tasks/
workflows and notifications. When
leads view these media items, an event
will appear on their lead interaction
record (i.e. Life of a Lead), enabling
you to track your leads’ interactions
with important content and follow up
with them in a meaningful way. Also
called: Content Files, File Manager,
Media Library, File Storage


The term “metrics” refers to
general statistics and performance
measurements. Metrics allow firms
to track lead behavior over time
and create greater precision in the
execution of marketing activities. They
help marketers identify, target, and
effectively reach leads by studying
their preferences, behavior, and more.

Mobile CRM

Sometime called mCRM, Mobile
Customer Relationship Management
refers to the capacity to use handheld
devices to access a CRM. No longer
limited to a stationary desktop
computer, mobile CRM allows remote
staff to manage their lead-generation
efforts, sales pipelines and marketing
campaigns from just about anywhere.

Mobile Optimization

Mobile optimization refers to the
calibration of the pages displayed on
a website so as to accommodate the
device used to view it. Sometimes
referred to as “responsive design,” all
site pages will appear to automatically
arrange themselves or simplify for
optimal viewing based on a given
user’s screen size and orientation.

Multiple Device Tracking

Multiple device tracking offers a
continuity of visibility into the various
devices used by the same lead. For
example, if a user first visits the site
with a desktop and then subsequently
on a smartphone, the different
interactions are still identified as
being with that one user. In the past,
these visits would have been reported
as involving two different users.
Since offline and online engagement
are both ubiquitous and valuable, a
marketing automation platform must
provide this feature to be effective.

Page Tracking

Page tracking measures the number
of views for each particular page ona website. It is one of a number of
interactions that are measured
with analytics.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

A type of internet advertising where
a company places an advertisement
on a website and pays a sum of
money to the host website when a
user clicks on to the advertisement.
The most common example of PPC
advertising is Google AdWords. A
marketing automation platform will
measure your PPC advertising as part
of campaign analytics.

Point-and-Click Editor

A point-and-click editor is another
alternative to backend coding. It
works by placing the cursor on a
“hot spot” or link, and clicking to
activate that function. Point-and-click
permits the user to install elements
of code into a page without actually
programming. Unlike a drag-and-drop
editor, which enables users to move
elements around when customizing
an interface, point-and-click is a
more common way to create and
edit content and functionality. Most
marketing automation platforms offer
this technology.

Professional Services

Generally, professional services are
by-the-hour services available to
marketing automation users for an
additional cost. These services offer
help with technical tasks such as
import and sync services, HTML
and CSS services, automation
services, development services and
data restoration.

Progressive Profiling

Rather than discouraging visitor
engagement by requesting too much
information, progressive profiling
boosts lead generation by gathering
user data over time. Ideally, this is
accomplished through a series of less
demanding touch-points that advance
the lead through the sales funnel. An
alternative to progressive profiling
is autocompleting forms, which
gives leads the freedom to update
information as their situation changes,
while also relieving them of the burden
of filling out forms.Render Testing
Render testing is a form of crossplatform
quality assurance for
marketers who use email marketing
as part of their campaigns. It offers
the capacity to test emails and email
campaigns for potential problems that
might show up on the different email
platforms and devices that recipients
use (e.g. Gmail, Outlook, Apple Mail,
mobile devices, etc.).

Responsive Templates

Responsive templates are prebuilt
sites and pages that utilize a
responsive design, meaning the
design is effective on all device types.
The templates allow for a variety of
different looks while maintaining a
reliable and efficient implementation.


ROI stands for “return on investment.”
The formula is: ROI = (Net Profit /
Cost of Investment) x 100 and it is
usually expressed as a percentage.
It is one of the most important
metrics for a business — it compares
all investments made in marketing
against the resulting conversions, i.e.
sales. Marketers can prove ROI with a
marketing automation platform.

RSS Email Syndication

A “Rich Site Summary” or “Real
Simple Syndication” (RSS) feed is a
means of automatically collecting
new or recently updated content from
your own site (e.g. blog posts) and
syndicating it via email to subscribers.

Sales Funnel

Sales funnel (or conversion funnel)
is a term used in e-commerce to
describe the journey a consumer
takes through marketing and
nurturing until a conversion results.
The metaphor of a funnel is used to
describe the decrease in numbers of
potential customers that occurs at
each step of the process.

Sales Pipeline

A sales pipeline is a visual
representation of prospects and
where they are in the sales process,
the final step being conversion into a
sale. The term is also used to describethe process through which sales
teams work to convert a lead into a
paying customer. The sales pipeline
is typically visually presented in a
customer relationship management
system (CRM).

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Refers to various strategies employed
to ensure that a site appears high on
the list of search engine results for
specific terms. The purpose of SEO
is to maximize web traffic. There is a
distinction between paid results, i.e.
Google AdWords or other programs
using paid placement, and “organic”
results, i.e. listings that appear on the
site as a result of relevancy determined
by the search engine’s algorithm. SEO
applies only to organic results. In order
for content to be found by users online,
it needs to be optimized for search.
Most marketing automation platforms
incorporate blog SEO analysis and
recommendations to assist marketers
in optimizing content.


The process of separating your
target audience into groups that act
similarly. Messaging will ideally be
tailored to specific segments in a way
that reflects their specific experiences
or interests. In a marketing
automation platform, these segments
can be turned into lists and then used
to send targeted messages.

Site Visitor

A site visitor is anyone who lands
on a website. Typically they are
anonymous, and an IP look-up is
required to determine who they are,
what sites they have come from, and
numerous other behaviors and traits.
Reverse IP look-ups typically work
only on businesses as opposed to
individual visitors. Analysis of a site
visitor can be used to suggest specific
site options or content.Social Media
Social media websites and
applications allow users to create
and share content or to participate in
social networking. Blogs were the first
form of social media, but in recent
years, most social media applications
tend to exist within the context of
a proprietary platform. Facebook,
Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and
Snapchat are examples of social
media. A key feature of a marketing
automation platform is its ability to
integrate with social media.
Social Media Conversions
Social media conversion refers
to social media visitors who are
guided towards the sales funnel and
ultimately become sales.

Social Media Engagement

Social media engagement usually
refers to any kind of interaction by
a visitor with a brand’s social media
profiles. A “like” on Facebook or a
“retweet” on Twitter are examples of
this type of interaction.
Social Media Monitoring
Social media monitoring is the
tracking of social media for
information about an individual,
organization or business.
Marketing automation platforms
integrate all monitored social media
accounts into one dashboard for
easier management.

Social Media Profiling

A social media profile is a
description of an individual’s social
characteristics as identified through
social media sites such as LinkedIn
and Facebook. As with brand
personas, social media profiling
enables marketers to create better
targeted messaging and also to
connect with thought leaders and
online communities.

Social Media Publishing

Social media publishing is any form,
new or emerging, of online content
creation that allows for interactions
such as sharing, likes, comments, etc.

Third-Party Postback

Marketers using a third party datacollection
tool (like a CRM) outsidetheir marketing automation platform
can use postback URLs to direct any
information collected on their site to
that third party. Postbacks are visible
on URLs in shopping carts and other
e-commerce transactions with an
embedded code such as “id=”. The id
tells the site what information to share
and where to send it.

Time-Based Automation

Time-based automation, also known
as “time-based event automation,”
enables an action based on a pre-set
schedule or a delayed delivery after a
lead completes a specific task. For the
marketer, the automation of recurring
tasks produces increased efficiency
and usability.


A trigger initiates an action or series
of actions with a lead, typically after
the lead has engaged in specific
behaviors. Also called: Automation
Rules, Workflow Starting Condition

Program Feeder

A sequence of emails sent using
automation. Also called: Program,
Automation Program


WYSIWYG stands for “what you see
is what you get” and refers to the
interface of a text editor. Drag-anddrop
and point-and-click editors are
alternative forms of WYSIWYG. The
alternative would be an HTML editor,
which requires in-line Coding