This is the process of comparing two variations of a single variable to determine which performs best in order to help improve marketing efforts. Primarily, this is done in email marketing (with variations in the subject line or copy), calls-to-action (variations in colors or verbiage), and landing pages (variations in content). Outside of inbound marketing, you can use it to determine what tastes better on a peanut butter sandwich: jelly or fluff.
What I sometimes refer to as the “eyes” of inbound marketing, analytics is essentially the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data. When referred to in the context of inbound, it’s looking at the data of one’s marketing initiatives (website visitor reports, social, PPC, etc.), analyzing the trends, and developing actionable insights to make better informed marketing decisions. Also, if you start using analytics buzzwords there’s a 65% chance you’ll sound really smart (source: unknown).
This is short for web log or weblog. An individual or group of people usually maintains a blog. A personal blog or business blog will traditionally include regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material, such as photos and video. Blogging is a core component of inbound marketing as it can accomplish several initiatives simultaneously, such as website traffic growth, thought leadership, and lead generation. It does not, however, do your taxes.
Business blogging retains all the attributes of “regular” blogging, but adds a tasty layer of marketing strategy on top. When blogging for a business, an inbound marketer should create posts that are optimized with keywords that their target audience is searching for and provide helpful, educational material to these readers. Typically, these blog posts should be actionable (by providing an opt-in, downloadable offer), as to provide a metric for the effectiveness of the business blogging. Need an example? Download the ABCs of Inbound Marketing ebook at the end of this glossary!
Bottom of the Funnel
Since we’re going alphabetically, the last part of the funnel process is first! So, “bottoms up,” I suppose. The bottom of the funnel refers to a stage of the buying process leads reach when they’re just about to close as new customers. They’ve identified a problem, have shopped around for possible solutions, and are very close to buying. Typically, next steps for leads at this stage are a call from a sales rep, a demo, or a free consultation (depending on what type of business is attempting to close the lead).
A call-to-action is a text link, button, image, or some type of web link that encourages a website visitor to visit a landing page and become of lead. Some examples of CTAs are “Subscribe Now” or “Download the Whitepaper Today.” These are important for inbound marketers because they’re the “bait” that entices a website visitor to eventually become a lead. So, you can imagine that it’s important to convey a very enticing, valuable offer on a call-to-action to better foster visitor-to-lead conversion. As Frank Gorshin says, “The finer the bait, the shorter the wait!”
Closed Loop Marketing
The practice of closed loop marketing is being able to execute, track and show how marketing efforts have impacted bottom-line business growth. An example would be tracking a website visitor as they become a lead to the very last touch point when they close as a customer. When done correctly, you’d be able to see just how much of your marketing investment yielded new business growth. One of the biggest business benefits of implementing an inbound marketing strategy and utilizing inbound marketing software is the ability to execute closed loop marketing.
A conversion path is a series of website-based events that facilitate lead capture. In its most basic form, a conversion path will consist of a call-to-action (typically a button that describes an offer) that leads to a landing page with a lead capture form, which redirects to a thank you page where a content offer resides. In exchange for his or her contact information, a website visitor obtains a content offer to better help them through the buying process. If you’re still having difficulty grasping the topic based on this description, feel free to absorb it as a rabbit hunting analogy in comic form.
In relation to inbound marketing, content is a piece of information that exists for the purpose of being digested (not literally of course), engaged with, and shared. Content typically comes in the form of a blog, video, social media post, photo, slideshow, or podcast. From website traffic to lead conversion to customer marketing, content plays an indispensable role in a successful inbound marketing strategy.
If content is king, then context is queen. Serving up valuable content is important, but ensuring that it’s customized for the right audience is equally (if not more) important. As buyers become more in control of what information they digest (again, not literally), it’s important to deliver content that’s contextually relevant. If you own a restaurant, you wouldn’t want to send a coupon for a steak dinner to a vegetarian, right? Unless you’re anti-herbivore, of course…
If Spinal Tap were a group of marketers, they would probably refer to dynamic content as taking normal content and “turning it up to eleven.” In the vein of context (up above) dynamic content is a way to display different types of website content based on the type of user viewing it. User data is captured based on past website interactions (think form field submissions and website activity). Continuing with the restaurant example above, dynamic content would help you display a fruit salad promotion to that vegetarian rather than a steak special. How ‘bout them apples?
In its most basic sense, email stands for “Electronic Mail.” It’s a core component of inbound marketing because it’s a direct connection to a contact’s inbox. However, with great power comes great responsibility, meaning it’s important for inbound marketers to not abuse the email relationship with a contact. It’s far too easy for a contact to click “unsubscribe” after gaining their hard earned trust in your communication. Don’t blow it.
As the goliath of the social networks, Facebook is a volatile sandbox of opportunity for any inbound marketer. It provides marketers an opportunity to reach a HUGE audience (over 1.15 billion to be exact), engage said audience, and subsequently grow their business. While it’s a core component of an inbound marketing strategy, it shouldn’t be the only component. Focusing entirely on Facebook (or any other large social channel, for that matter) will only give you a small piece of the inbound marketing pie. And it’s still piping hot, so be careful.
Google+ (referred to as “Google Plus”) is Google’s platform in the social media universe. Started in 2011, it’s a network that allows individuals to create their own personal profiles along with pages to promote their business. It aims to make sharing on the web more like sharing in real life with applications like Circles, Messenger, and Hangouts. I like the name -- much better than “Google Minus” or “Google Divide.”
This is short for Hypertext Markup Language, a language used to write web pages. Most HTML elements are written with a start tag <...> and an end tag </...>, with content in between. HTML is the foundation that the majority of webpages are built on, sort of like what you’re reading here on the HubSpot blog! Mind. Blown.
That’s right, we’re defining inbound marketing in an inbound marketing glossary (very meta!). So what’s inbound all about? Instead of the old outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists, and praying for leads, inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.
Sometimes referred to as “keyword phrases,” keywords are the topics that webpages get indexed for in search results by engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Picking keywords that you’ll optimize a webpage for is a two-part effort -- first, you’ll want to ensure the keyword has significant search volume and is not too difficult to rank for. Then, you’ll want to ensure it aligns with your target audience. After deciding the appropriate keywords you want to rank for, you’ll then need to optimize the appropriate pages on your website using both on-page and off-page tactics. What are those, you ask? Skip to “O” to find out! But don’t tell “L”, “M”, or “N.”
A landing page is a website page containing a form that is used for lead generation. This page revolves around a marketing offer, such as an ebook or a webinar, and serves to capture visitor information in exchange for the valuable offer. Landing pages are the gatekeepers of the conversion path and are what separates a website visitor from becoming a lead. A smart inbound marketer will create landing pages that appeal to different personae (plural for persona) at various stages of the buying process. A hefty endeavor no doubt, but one that pays off in spades (a currency I have not seen but is oftentimes used in figurative speech).
You can learn more about landing pages and how to optimize them in this free ebook.
Sometimes referred to as “drip marketing,” lead nurturing is the practice of developing a series of communications (emails, social media messages, etc.) that seek to qualify a lead, keep it engaged, and gradually push it down the sales funnel. Inbound marketing is all about delivering valuable content to the right audience -- and lead nurturing helps foster this by providing contextually relevant information to a lead during different stages of the buying lifecycle.
LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site. Launched in May 2003, it is mainly used for professional networking. As of June 2010, LinkedIn had more than 130 million registered users, spanning more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. Getting on the platform, developing a completed profile, and networking has helped many a jobseeker find work. Bottom line: If you’re not on LinkedIn, you’re SO LinkedOut.
While there’s some overlap with the term “lead nurturing,” marketing automation is a bit different. Think of marketing automation as the platform with associated tools and analytics to develop a lead nurturing strategy. If you’ll let me run with an “art” analogy, marketing automation is the paintbrush, watercolors, and blank canvas. Lead nurturing is the artist that makes it all come together. Like Bob Ross! You can’t paint a happy little nurturing campaign without both.
Bonus: Want to get super-savvy with your marketing automation terminology? Take it to the next level with behavior-based marketing automation. Behavior-based marketing automation refers to a system that triggers emails and other communication based on user activity on and off your site. It enables marketers to nurture leads and send them information only when it is most relevant to their stage in the buying cycle.
Before we dive in here, let’s nail the pronunciation of this word: (/ˈmiːm/; meem). Okay, rhymes with “gene.” Got it. In a broad sense, a meme is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. In terms of inbound marketing, we’ve seen a lot of internet memes that have contributed to many a viral forum post, video, or blog. In the realm of inbound marketing, remarkable content is king -- and while memes might not always be the most valuable content to your bottom line (although sometimes, they are), they are quite remarkable.
Middle of the Funnel
This refers to the stage that a lead enters after identifying a problem. Now they’re looking to conduct further research to find a solution to the problem. Typical middle of the funnel offers include case studies or product brochures—essentially anything that brings your business into the equation as a solution to the problem the lead is looking to solve. Also, if you want to be cool, you can refer to this stage as “MOFU” for short.
If an iPhone 5s selling for $10,000 on eBay isn’t a dead giveaway, mobile platforms are pretty popular right now. And with smart watches having the potential to take off, it’s safe to assume that the mobile market will only keep growing. So now is probably the time to explore mobile marketing, which is the practice of optimizing marketing for mobile devices to provide visitors with time- and location- sensitive, personalized information that promotes goods, services, and ideas.
A no-follow link is used when a website does not want to pass search engine authority to another webpage. It tells search engine crawlers not to follow or pass credit to linked websites as a way to avoid association with spammy content or inadvertently violating webmaster guidelines. To varying degrees, the no-follow attribute is recognized by all major search engines, like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Not all links (and linking domains) are created equal, and a no-follow attribute helps avoid any foul play.
This is simply the content that is provided once a lead has filled out a landing page form. Examples of an offer include ebooks, whitepapers, webinars, and kits. Expert inbound marketers design these by channeling their inner Don Corleone. Hopefully, I don’t need to elaborate more on that reference for the punch line.
This type of SEO is based solely on a webpage and the various elements within the HTML (see “H” if you skipped here directly). Ensuring that key pieces of the specific page (content, title tag, URL, and image tags) include the desired keyword will help a page rank for that particular phrase.
This is the free-spirited cousin of on-page optimization. Off-page SEO refers to incoming links and other outside factors that impact how a webpage is indexed in search results. Factors like linking domains and even social media play a role in off-page optimization. The good news is that it’s powerful; the not so good news is that it’s mostly out of an inbound marketer’s control. The solution? Create useful, remarkable content and chances are people will share and link to it.
Sometimes referred to as a “buyer persona,” a persona is a basic profile of a target consumer. It helps an inbound marketer visualize the ideal prospect, their behavior, demographic profile, and psychographic information. A complete and accurate buyer persona profile can help inbound marketers better define their target audience and make better-informed marketing decisions.
PPC, (or Pay-Per-Click) is an advertising technique in which an advertiser puts an ad in an advertising venue (like Google AdWords or Facebook), and pays that venue each time a visitor clicks on the ad. I couldn’t think of anything witty to place at the end of this definition, so let’s move on to “Q.”
A qualified lead is a contact that opted in to receive communication from your company, became educated about your product or service, and is interested in learning more. It does not include your cat (or dog), your relative that “Liked” your Facebook fan page, or someone you just met on Chat Roulette (if that’s still a thing).
A QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response code) is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) that is readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera telephones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded may be text, URL, or other data. It also starts with “Q,” which is a rarity with marketing-related terms.
This is the practice of developing a website that adapts accordingly to how someone is viewing it. A responsively designed site will be easy to read and navigate, regardless if you’re viewing it on a laptop, tablet device, or smartphone. For all those Transformers fans out there, think of it as Optimus Prime in website form.
SEO (or Search Engine Optimization) is the practice of enhancing where a webpage appears in search results. By adjusting a webpage's on-page SEO elements (see the letter “O”) and influencing off-page SEO factors (again, see the letter “O”), an inbound marketer can improve where a webpage appears in search engine results.
Smarketing is fun phrase used to refer to the practice of aligning Sales and Marketing efforts. In a perfect, utopian business process, marketing would pass off fully qualified leads to the sales team, who would then subsequently close these contacts 100% of the time. The business would grow, and everyone would have cake. But this isn’t the way things work—so it’s important for marketing and sales to align efforts to impact the bottom line the best they can through coordinated communication. Inbound Marketing software provides the opportunity to do so by facilitating data share between both sales and marketing. The only downside is that it does not facilitate cake. Bummer.
Social media is media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+ are examples of social media networks that one can join for personal or business use. Social Media is a core component of Inbound, as it provides marketers with additional channels to spread reach, increase growth, and reach business goals.
Top of the Funnel
Sometimes called “TOFU”, top of the funnel refers to the very first stage of the buying process. Leads at this stage are just identifying a problem that they have and are looking for more information. As such, an inbound marketer will want to create helpful content that aids leads in identifying this problem and providing next steps toward a solution. TOFU is also very tasty in certain Thai dishes.
For the sake of creativity, I’ll define Twitter in 140 characters or less: “Twitter is a platform that allows users to share 140-character long messages publicly. User can follow one another and be followed back.”
This is short for Uniform Resource Locator. I honestly didn’t know that before writing this definition. Basically, this is the address of a piece of information that can be found on the web such as a page, image, or document (ex. http://www.huspot.com). URLs are important for on-page SEO, as search engines scour the included text when mining for keywords. If a keyword you’re looking to get indexed for is in the URL, you’ll get brownie points from search engines (but no real brownies, unfortunately).
This term is used to describe a piece of content that has become wildly popular across the web through sharing. Oftentimes, folks don’t know a piece they’re creating will be viral until it actually does, which is usually unfortunate if it’s particularly embarrassing.
A website is a set of interconnected webpages, usually including a homepage, generally located on the same server, and prepared and maintained as a collection of information by a person, group, or organization. An inbound marketer should structure a website like a dynamic, multi-dimensional entity that can be used to attract relevant website visitors, convert those visitors into leads, and close those leads into customers. Otherwise, it’s just a brochure -- and let’s be honest -- could you really use another brochure?
A workflow is another way to describe a lead nurturing campaign. It’s a set of triggers and events that move a lead through the nurturing process. A workflow can also serve other purposes, such as adjust contact properties on a lead record based on certain conditions, or adding a contact record to a certain list. Regardless of how you use it, workflows can be a very powerful asset in an inbound marketing strategy.
We couldn’t leave “X” out of the party! An XML sitemap is a file you can use to publish lists of links from across your site. Sitemaps do not guarantee all links will be crawled, and being crawled does not guarantee indexing. However, a sitemap is still the best insurance for getting a search engine to learn about your entire site. It’s sort of like saying “Hey, Google -- check out this fine website.”
YouTube is a video-sharing website on which users can upload, share, and view videos. Three former PayPal employees created YouTube in February 2005. In November 2006, YouTube, LLC was bought by Google Inc. for $1.65 billion, and is now operated as a subsidiary of Google. YouTube is the largest video-sharing site in the world and you’re probably on it now instead of finishing up this post.
We couldn’t think of anything for “Z,” so I ask you dear readers -- what inbound marketing related topic should we define that begins with the letter "Z"?