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Inbound marketing and more: Marketing-speak defined

Inbound marketing could be considered part of the new marketing-speak. We’ve written before about the importance of keeping your communications jargon-free—no inside acronyms, no technical language (especially when writing for a non-techie audience), keep it simple. Every industry has its own language it seems and sometimes it’s easy to forget that you need to communicate with those outside your world — assuming you want them to buy your products or services.

Image of a closeup of handwriting with the word "Language" floating above it

Even as marketers we sometimes forget the golden rule about communicating sans the jargon. In this blog post, I’ll share some of the more recent additions to the marketing vernacular that you may hear from time to time — and a few I hear butchered most often. The definitions below are in my own “layperson’s” words — non-pretentious, plain old English, to the point, simple.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a lot like fishing (sorry, with a big fishing derby coming up next week, I couldn’t resist). You need the right bait, the right conditions and the right tools to pull in the big ones. Simply going fishing does not guarantee you’ll catch fish. Likewise, simply building a website, sending a direct mailer, having a FaceBook page or doing a blog does not guarantee you’ll get customers, right? You need to have a clear sense of who your customer is. You need to provide them with information they want or need — when, where and how they want it. And, you need to work at it. Inbound marketing is the process of raising awareness among your potential customers, attracting their attention, building the relationships and nurturing them along so you ultimately earn their business.

Content Marketing

Anything you’ve developed, written or even shared (graphics, photos, a blog post, a brochure, a newsletter, etc.) is considered content (a marketing asset) and you can make use of it in your marketing to create interest in your products or services. To extend the fishing metaphor, the "content" in content marketing is often the "bait" used in inbound marketing.

Digital Marketing

Any marketing that is created for use on electronic devices (smartphones, PCs, tablets, game consoles, etc.) can be considered digital marketing. Your company’s social media networks, your website, an online newsletter, a company app can all be components of a digital marketing strategy.

Social Media Marketing

Marketing that is done using social media channels/platforms (like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, SlideShare, and for some people, a blog, etc.) to achieve your goals or objectives. This marketing is meant to be interactive. You seek to build a following using social media and engage with them. It’s a much more real-time and fluid process (a give and take) than traditional marketing.

Social Media

These are the channels/platforms mentioned above (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.) that are used to communicate your company’s messages or other information with your target audience or to engage (have conversations and interact) with your customers.

Social Marketing

This is actually one of our firm’s specialties and should not be confused with social media marketing. Some folks in our industry use these two terms interchangeably—and that’s very misleading. Social marketing is research-based marketing that seeks to change behavior to improve lives or benefit society in some way. It may or may not make use of social media as a tactic to accomplish its goals.


This term is fairly straightforward. It’s the combination of words (information) and visuals (graphics) to convey a story or message—usually an infographic includes numbers or data to educate or inform. You can check out some examples of good infographics (and the reasons why) in one of our previous posts.

A Glossary of Marketing Terms

It can be distracting and stressful to miss part of an important conversation because you're not confident about the meaning of the terms being tossed around. If you're a nonprofit organization or a professional service firm, marketing-speak can seem like a foreign language. You want to "do" marketing, not struggle with a new language.

Have I missed some marketing terms? Are there any other terms you’d appreciate having the plain old English for? Share them here!

download your free glossary of marketing terms

photo via flickr Some rights reserved

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