The Inbound Marketing Glossary
A glossary of all things inbound
Are you baffled by buyer personas or mind-boggled by metrics? Our inbound marketing glossary will provide no-nonsense definitions for related terminology so that you can better understand the inbound methodology.
Want to refer to this resource on the go? Simply fill in this form to download it as a pdf.
Coined by HubSpot co-founder and CEO Brian Halligan in 2005, inbound marketing is a business methodology focused on attracting, engaging and delighting customers through value-based content creation.
If you want to try your hand at inbound marketing, it can be a daunting task. There's an abundance of information online, but we appreciate that sometimes it's difficult to know where to look and how to start.
That's why we've created the inbound marketing glossary. This glossary contains all the terms you'll need to be aware of to begin your inbound journey. Use it to learn all about inbound, to brush up on your existing knowledge, or reference it whilst exploring content elsewhere online to get a better understanding of the methodology.
Already know what you're looking for?
A/B testing, sometimes referred to as split testing, split-run testing or bucket testing, is when two versions of a variable (for example, an email or a landing page) are presented to two separate audience segments simultaneously. This enables you to test which converts better - Variant A or Variant B.
A/B tests are useful because you can track which changes to your marketing assets are effective - for example, making a blue button green or vice versa - and which are not.
A/B testing compares two variables. Testing more than two variables would be referred to as multivariate testing.
Analytics in the inbound world are the tools you use to measure, manage and analyse the success of your marketing campaigns. Analytics will help you to notice patterns in buyer behaviour and overarching trends, as well as correctly attributing your successes to your campaigns. There are a multitude of different tools you can use for marketing analytics, including Google Analytics and HubSpot.
Automation is the process by which certain digital platforms (for example, HubSpot), software and technologies reduce time and cost for marketers. Automating repetitive or standardised marketing communications makes for a much more effective and productive marketing team.
A backlink is a hyperlink to your website on another website. For example, if someone had cited your website or web page as a reference. High quality backlinks will improve your website's SEO.
The path to purchase. The buyer journey is as follows:
The buyer realises they have a problem. For example, there have been recent burglaries in their area, and they feel unsafe.
The buyer is considering potential solutions to this problem. For example, they research online to evaluate whether it would be best to get a dog or buy a home security system.
Based on their research, the buyer chooses their solution. For instance, they purchase a home security system.
A semi-fictional representation of your audience, or a segment of your audience, based on research, case studies and educated estimations. Take time to really think about your buyer personas. Making your buyer personas feel like real people will help you to tailor content to your actual prospects more authentically.
Call to action (CTA)
A prompt for the user to perform a desired action. For instance "shop now" or "download the guide".
A qualitative analysis of existing content. An important first step in content creation. You can use a number of tools - including Excel - to perform a content audit. It will involve collating all existing content and analysing how it is performing, whether it can be segmented, if the content is still correct and relevant, who will manage analytics for existing content, and so on. A content audit may also involve reviewing scrapped or discontinued content to see if it can be streamlined or repurposed. Only once a content audit is performed can you get a real idea of what gaps there are in your content, and what content will perform the best.
A plan that details what content will be produced, who will be responsible for it, when it will be published and how it will be managed post-publication.
How you use content to achieve your business goals.
Conversion is when a visitor to your website fulfils a desired action, such as clicking on a call to action, filling out a form, or making a purchase. The percentage of visitors who complete your desired action is called your conversion rate.
Any published written material.
CRM stands for customer relationship management. CRM softwares are used to manage customer data, track interactions, and more. Marketing, sales and customer service teams utilise a variety of CRM softwares (such as Salesforce or HubSpot) to manage relationships with their contacts.
CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is the language used to describe the presentation of web pages written in a markup language like HTML. CSS enables developers to separate content and presentation, and can be used to add or edit fonts, colours, layout and more.
Thanks to website publishing platforms - for example WordPress - it's not necessary to know CSS to build a great website or to be an inbound marketer. However, it's still a good idea to at least familiarise yourself with what CSS is, particularly when using digital tools.
An automated email marketing campaign.
A long-form piece of content that you can use to deep-dive on a particular topic.
Something you want lots and lots of! Engagement is people interacting with your business in some way. Engagement can encompass anything from clicking a link to posting a comment.
A term used to describe content that is relevant for a long period of time. For example, a product review is an example of evergreen content. It's not particularly time-sensitive, and traffic may stay the same, or steadily increase, over time. The opposite of this would be content related to, for example, a viral Tik Tok trend. Obviously, traffic for this type of content will decrease over time.
Adapted by HubSpot, the inbound marketing flywheel illustrates the different stages of a buyer's journey, as well as the key phases that keep this flywheel turning: attract, engage and delight. At the centre of this wheel is growth. If what you can offer can attract strangers, and you can engage and delight them until they become promoters of your product or company, attracting more strangers and prospects, for the cycle to repeat again, then you have a winning formula for growth. You can read more about the inbound marketing flywheel on HubSpot's website.
Gated content is content that your website visitors will need to disclose their information to access. This information is usually an email address. In exchange for valuable content, you gain a new contact that you can then continually market to.
See also: landing page
GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE
Google Search Console is a web service provided by Google which allows you to review and optimize the indexing status and visibility of your website.
H1 is an HTML element representing the most important heading on a web page.
<h6> defines the least important heading.
A menu symbolised with a hamburger button - three lines that resemble a hamburger - which can be clicked on to collapse or un-collapse a menu or navigation. Common on mobile interfaces.
HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It's the standardised system for tagging text files on web pages. HTML can be used to change fonts, colours, graphics and add hyperlinks.
An inbound-focused marketing, sales, customer service, and CRM platform.
A link from one web page to another. Activated by clicking on a highlighted bit of text or image.
A type of marketing that focuses on attracting, engaging and delighting prospects via content that adds value and solves consumer problems. You can read all about the inbound methodology, why and how it works, by reading our blog: 'What is inbound marketing?' or 'How the inbound methodology can revive your SME's marketing strategy'.
A form of content that visually presents data in an accessible and engaging way. Infographics are versatile and can include images, icons, text, graphs, charts, and so on. Use them alongside other formats for a diverse range of content.
Keyword / KEYPHRASE
In SEO terms, a key word is what enables users to search for you. In order for you to attract as many prospects as possible, your website needs to be fully optimised for search engines so that users can find you. This includes using the right keywords and keyphrases, and doing keyword research (see below).
Keyword research is how you will find out how your ideal customers are searching for products like yours. It involves comparing and analysing keywords and keyphrases, deciphering which are getting the highest volumes of searches, and evaluating how you can rank for those searches. Keyword research will help you to select the right keywords and keyphrases to use in your web copy, and continuous keyword research will help you to update your copy accordingly.
KPI stands for key performance indicators. These are metrics that are tracked to measure progress towards a specific goal.
In inbound marketing, a landing page is a page specifically designed to push conversion. Landing pages usually contain gated content that your website visitors will need to enter their email addresses to view. Since the purpose of a landing page is to convert, it usually contains a form and no navigation, to encourage prospects to enter their details, generating leads.
One example of how the user might get to a landing page on their visit to your website might be:
2. The call to action redirects them to your landing page, where they fill out a form and enter their email address so they can view your content.
3. Their email address is entered into your leads database.
4. You can now market to your new contact. Depending on what platform you use - here at Wellmeadow we use HubSpot - you can potentially enrol your contacts into workflows so that you can send automated marketing content to them.
Inbound leads are prospects who have initiated contact with you themselves, rather than the other way around. In the outbound marketing world, leads might be prospects you gain through sending a prospective email or cold calling. Inbound leads tend to be better qualified leads because they have already decided they would like to engage with you. The inbound methodology is all about attracting, nurturing and retaining leads who are voluntarily interacting with your business.
Long tail keyword
Long-tail keywords and phrases are longer and more specific, meaning that their search volume is low but their conversion rates are high. Identifying long-tail keywords when you're in a market with lots of competition is useful, as it may be difficult to rank for keywords with a high volume of searches.
Keyword research will help you to identify the long-tail keywords that your content is ranking for, enabling you to further optimise your copy.
A meta description is an HTML element summarising your web page that appears to users of search engines, underneath your page title.
Mobile optimization (or optimisation) is the process by which you make your website accessible and easy-to-use for mobile users. It's really important to optimize your website for mobile phone users, as mobile accounts for over half of all website traffic in 2021. Mobile optimization could include things like making a page load faster for mobile devices, designing it in a way that does not interrupt the mobile browsing experience, and optimizing images.
Multivariate testing compares multiple variables and/or combinations of variables to determine which is the most successful. Multivariate testing is similar to A/B Testing in concept, but with more variations as opposed to just two.
The nofollow attribute is a method of telling search engines to disregard your web page linking to another page as an endorsement of that content. Adding the nofollow attribute means that your link authority will be discounted, so search engines will not consider your link as a 'vote' towards that page's search engine ranking.
The process of making your website accessible and easy-to-digest for users of different devices including mobile, tablet and desktop.
A word used a lot in the marketing world, although it can mean different things to different marketers. Usually, though, organic in marketing means unpaid. An organic Facebook post, for example, refers to a Facebook post that isn't sponsored or boosted.
Pain points are the problems experienced by your audience. You need to tap into what problems your audience faces in order to present a solution to them. For example, if you were a B2B business selling CRM software to law firms, you might find that a 'pain point' of your audience is having to work with antiquated or clunky interfaces. You could then market your product accordingly, as an easy-to-use, accessible software.
A pillar page is a web page broadly covering all aspects of a main topic. It may contain hyperlinks to other, more detailed cluster content (for example blog posts), which addresses more specific related keywords.
To put it into real-world terms, this page - which covers an array of keywords and phrases related to inbound marketing - is a pillar page. It does not go into lots of detail on one specific keyword or phrase, it's more of an overview of the wider topic of inbound marketing. Alternatively, our blog post 'Creating A Content Strategy: The Basics', which is linked on this page, is an in-depth piece of cluster content around a specific related keyphrase: content strategy.
PPC stands for pay-per-click. It's a type of internet marketing that involves paying a fee for every click you get on ad. PPC is commonly utilised on search engines, where marketers can bid for a space in the sponsored links section of search engine results for specific keywords or phrases.
See also: SEM
A prospect is a potential customer that fits your business's specific criteria.
A potential customer who has met certain criteria set by your organisation by willingly providing their information. Depending on the information provided and the criteria set by your business, qualified leads may be MQL (marketing qualified leads) or SQL (sales qualified leads).
The order that search results appear in. Ranking refers to where web pages are positioned on search engine results. Both SEO and SEM aim to improve search engine rankings.
Retargeting (sometimes referred to as remarketing) involves targeting your content towards users who have already seen it, by using cookies to serve your advertisement to users on different parts of the web. According to retargeter.com, only 2% of website traffic converts on the first visit. Retargeting works because it continually familiarises a user with your brand, building trust, and increasing conversion.
SEM stands for search engine marketing. SEM is the process by which a marketer ensures a web page ranks on search engine results using paid methods.
See also: SEO
SEO stands for search engine optimization. SEO is the process by which a marketer maximises organic search engine lead generation, by ensuring that their web pages rank high on search engine results.
SERP (or SERPS) is short for search engine results pages. These are the pages served to users of a search engine, such as Google, after entering a search query.
Your target audience is a group of people that meet your business's criteria of potential customers, to whom you will aim your marketing publications.
See also: prospect
User-generated content (UGC), sometimes referred to as user-created content (UCC) are images, reviews, comments, videos, audio, and any other type of content created by your audience, not you. Utilising user-generated content in your marketing strategy can improve audience engagement and build trust.
UI is short for user interface. UI focuses on how users interact and communicate with your website.
UX is short for user experience. UX focuses on how the user feels while visiting your website, particularly how easy, accessible and enjoyable it is to use.
UXD / UED
UXD is short for user experience design. It's a type of design with the objective of making the user experience as seamless, relevant and accessible as possible.
Vanity metrics is a term used to describe metrics that look impressive on the surface, but do not generate leads or inform your marketing strategy in any way. For example, 10,000 Twitter followers may look impressive, but if they were all gained several years ago and most of the accounts are inactive or bots, it's a vanity metric.
In marketing, a whitepaper is an in-depth report on a topic, which addresses a problem and provides a solution. They tend to be lengthy, with more text and fewer visual design elements, lending to their authoritative tone.
In inbound marketing, the word 'workflow' usually refers to the HubSpot tool. The HubSpot workflows tool allows you to automate processes to improve efficiency. Enrolment criteria can be set so that records are automatically enrolled and steps can be actioned upon certain triggers (e.g. an email is sent after a certain amount of time has elapsed).
An XML sitemap is an XML file that contains URLs for a website. It ensures that search engines can crawl and index all of a site's relevant pages. An XML sitemap can also contain additional information about a web page, such as how often it is updated and where it sits in relation to other pages. This helps search engines to understand which pages to crawl.