Essential Digital Marketing Glossary, Marketing Automation and CRMs

Well, so far in this epic journey to demystify all the digital marketing jargon out there, we’ve covered the essential vocabulary for SEO, parts one and two, and Paid Search and Social, parts one and two.

If you missed these, here’s a quick overview to bring you up to speed. Digital marketing is riddled with jargon, acronyms, and other terminology that might be confusing for some. You might be on a call with an agency and miss half of what they’re telling you because you cannot keep up with the jargon.

So, partner in glossary crime, Alex Tsygankov, and I have taken on the herculean task of defining the terms you need to know and telling you why we think you need to know them. Instead of doing one ridiculously long blog post, we’re breaking this out into disciplines. This way, you can skip right to what you need to know.

This part will focus on Marketing Automation and CRM terms. Here are the links to SEO, Part One, SEO, Part Two, PPC, Part One, and PPC, Part Two.

Marketing Automation and CRMs

Marketing automation, and to some extent CRMs, has revolutionized digital marketing. The level at which you can track data and activity has gotten so granular that sometimes it’s hard to know what to focus on.

We’re hoping that this glossary post will serve two purposes:

  1. Define the critical marketing automation and CRM terms you need to know.
  2. Help make sense of this technology in a way that shows you how to make better use of it.

To that end, here are the Marketing Automation and CRM terms we think marketers should know:

A/B Testing

A method of comparing two slight variations of a landing page, email, or advertisement to determine which one performs better. Some marketing automation platforms include built-in A/B testing capabilities for emails and landing pages.

Why do you need to know?

A/B testing is an excellent way to optimize your campaigns by testing different elements, such as headlines, images, call-to-action buttons, or layouts, and making data-driven decisions to improve conversion rates and campaign effectiveness.

The key is to test two variations where the difference is slight, like a different color button, or two different link placements. And you want to run the test on a sample of your campaign audience. The data you gather from your sample will inform you how to proceed with the full campaign.

Behavioral-Based Automation

Automation triggered by specific user behaviors or actions, such as clicking on a link, downloading content, or making a purchase.

Why do you need to know?

Behavioral-based automation can be used to deliver personalized and timely messages or offers based on customers’ specific actions, increasing engagement and conversion rates.

Branching Workflow

A workflow that branches or diverges based on specific conditions or criteria such as time, user action, or other criteria.

Why do you need to know?

Branching workflows in marketing automation can be used to create personalized and tailored experiences for customers based on their preferences, behavior, or demographic data. The content delivery timing and relevance will help to guide a user through your marketing funnel.

CRM Integration

Connecting a customer relationship management (CRM) system with other marketing or sales tools, such as email marketing platforms, social media platforms, or e-commerce systems.

Why do you need to know?

While some marketing automation platforms also offer CRM functionality, some organizations might want to use a combination of marketing automation and a separate CRM platform.

For example, an organization may want to keep its Salesforce CRM and integrate it with HubSpot for marketing automation, even though HubSpot offers a CRM. Ideally, housing everything in one platform will reduce cost and management time.

CRM integration (whether in one platform or two) allows marketers to have a unified view of customer data, streamline processes, and improve communication and collaboration between marketing and sales teams.

Customer Journey (Buyer Journey)

The steps a customer takes as they move from awareness of a product or service to the final purchase decision or conversion action.

customer journey map

Why do you need to know?

Customer journeys help marketers identify touchpoints, optimize marketing strategies, and create targeted content and messaging to guide customers through each stage of the buying process.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

The predicted net profit you expect to earn over the entire relationship with a customer, member, or user.

Why do you need to know?

This information is incredibly useful, especially come budget time when you are looking for money from the higher ups and need to justify the cost. You can use this data to show what a new customer brings in terms of revenue.

Knowing the CLV helps marketers assess the long-term value of customers, make informed decisions on customer acquisition and retention strategies, and allocate resources effectively to maximize revenue and profitability.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Standalone software or a feature in a marketing automation platform that helps manage and analyze customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle. These systems are also useful for sales and marketing purposes by tracking interactions through the sales funnel, prior to client acquisition.

Why do you need to know?

CRMs can be used to enhance customer relationships and drive sales growth but tracking events and better planning follow ups and outreach.

CRM enables marketers to centralize customer information, track interactions, personalize communication, and provide better customer experiences. This simply cannot be done with a spreadsheet.

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail)

An email authentication method that helps verify the authenticity of email messages. A critical deliverability tool often overlooked by marketers.

Why do you need to know?

DKIM is used to improve email deliverability and increase trust with recipients by ensuring that emails are not forged or tampered with. It’s kind of like an SSL for email.

It’s a simple setting but does require some technical know-how to implement correctly. If you’re unsure as to whether this has been implemented, ask your marketer to provide proof that it is in place. If it’s not, find someone (like us) who has the chops to make this update for you.

Drip Campaign (Lead Nurturing)

A series of pre-scheduled messages or emails sent to prospects or customers over a specific period usually triggered by some action taken by the prospect or customer. These can be simple or rather complex depending on the platform used and the goal of the campaign.

Drip campaigns (see sample to the right) are often what people think of when someone mentions Marketing Automation.

Why do you need to know?

Drip campaigns are essential for lead nurturing and maintaining customer engagement over time, gradually guiding them through the sales funnel. If you are not utilizing some sort of drip campaign strategy, you’re possibly missing out on additional conversion opportunities.

Dynamic Content

Personalized and customized content delivered based on specific data or user attributes. Dynamic content is what more and more of your customers expect as part of their customer experience.

Why do you need to know?

Dynamic content is an excellent way to deliver offer or recommendation content to different segments or individuals in your marketing automation or CRM platform. People want to feel “seen” and dynamic content is a great way to accomplish this which will, in theory, greatly increase conversions.

Dynamic Lists

Automatically updated lists based on specific criteria or conditions. For example, you have a contact field for “non-profits”, and anyone added to your CRM who has that field would be automatically added to a “Non-Profit List” if they have the “non-profit” field populated.

Why do you need to know?

Dynamic lists are essential for creating targeted segments based on attributes or behaviors, ensuring that the right messages reach the right audience at the right time. If you target any specific niches, like we do with “Regenerative Medicine Marketing,” you will want to use dynamic lists.

Ideal Client Lead (ICL)

A prospect or customer that a marketer wants to attract and engage. This is usually the designation of a prospect before they become a marketing-qualified lead or MQL.

Why do you need to know?

You need to know who you are marketing to in general. An ideal client lead profile helps marketers focus their efforts on the most valuable prospects, tailor marketing messages, and optimize lead generation strategies for better results.

If you cannot quickly and easily describe your ICL, then there is a good chance that your marketing efforts may be failing or attracting the wrong audience.

Inbound Marketing

Marketing strategies and efforts that focus on attracting and engaging customers through valuable content, rather than using traditional outbound advertising methods.

Why do you need to know?

Every company or organization can benefit from a well-executed inbound marketing strategy and execution. That said, despite what some may say, it rarely, if ever, replaces outbound marketing and sales efforts completely. More often, a combination of the two tends to yield the best results.

And yes, we are a digital marketing agency that believes in the benefits of inbound marketing. That said, we also are realistic and understand that “if you build it, they will come” is naive. You need a holistic approach built around a realistic and informed strategy.

Landing Page

A standalone web page with a specific marketing campaign or promotion as its goal, optimized to capture leads or drive conversions, utilizing minimal extraneous navigation or other distracting elements.

Why do you need to know?

While most reading this will know what a landing page is, in this case, we felt it was important to talk about what makes them work.

Landing pages, especially in the case of paid or email campaigns, are conversion machines. The design, the content, and the layout (including any functional or navigational elements) should all be implemented for one goal, conversion. Anything else is unnecessary and in the way.

Landing Page Funnel

A series of landing pages that guide visitors through a multi-step conversion process.

Why do you need to know?

If your conversion process, the process through which a prospect becomes a customer, is more complex than simply requiring a click to convert, then you should consider a landing page funnel.

Each page is built for a specific micro-conversion and leads the user to complete the full conversion process. Remember that each landing page should have a singular goal with all elements supporting that goal.

Landmark Emails

Significant or important email communications, such as welcome, transactional, or milestone emails.

Why do you need to know?

The term landmark email is not super common, but it is still useful. These emails are generally more important than the others because they represent a significant communication event in your drip campaign and other campaigns.

Lead Generation (Lead Gen)

Attracting and capturing potential customers’ interest in a product or service, typically through marketing campaigns and activities, but also through sales activities like cold calling.

Why do you need to know?

Lead generation is generally the goal of all marketing organizations, whether in-house or outsourced. While some marketing may be for brand building or awareness, ultimately, lead generation is what justifies marketing’s existence in the eyes of the C-suite or key stakeholders.

Failure to focus sufficiently on lead generation could result in the termination of certain marketing activities or cancellation of employment or engagement. Gulp, yup, it’s that important.

Lead Interaction (Engagement)

Trackable actions or behaviors of prospects that indicate interest, engagement, or readiness to purchase.

Why do you need to know?

Lead interactions can be used as indicators of warm leads, target follow-ups, and when to deliver personalized messages or offers based on their engagement level. Lead interactions can be things like unique email clicks and opens.

Marketing automation platforms are the ideal tool for tracking these moments of engagement via a dashboard often referred to as the “Life of the Lead” (see below) where these actions are mapped and associated with an individual lead to identify someone who should be contacted.

Lead Scoring

Assigning a score to leads based on their level of engagement and readiness to make a purchase. Scores are determined automatically or manually if so desired.

Why do you need to know?

Lead scoring allows you to prioritize and focus on the most promising leads, enabling efficient lead management and increasing conversion rates.

Of course, this all depends on the quality and validity of the data and lead-scoring parameters. It’s important that things like buyer personas, historical data, and strategy all factor into the development and implementation of lead scoring.

Life of the Lead

A lead’s journey from initial contact to conversion or disqualification. Life of the Lead tells the story of a buyer’s journey through the sales funnel.

Why do you need to know?

The information outlined in the life of the lead helps marketers track and analyze lead behavior, optimize lead nurturing efforts, and identify opportunities to improve the conversion process.

It is also a very useful tool for salespeople looking to better understand and sell to their customers. It can illustrate what a prospect might be interested in helping the salesperson to better refine their “pitch.”

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

Lead that meets specific criteria or has demonstrated enough interest or engagement to be considered ready for further marketing or sales efforts.

MQLs are generally what a marketing organization will be expected to deliver to a sales team.

Why do you need to know?

Defining and tracking MQLs helps marketers focus their resources on leads with a higher likelihood of conversion. MQLs are where marketing and sales efforts can align to improve lead management processes.

Multi-Channel Marketing

Engaging customers across multiple channels, such as email, social media, mobile apps, and offline channels.

Marketing automation platforms like HubSpot, Marketo, etc. are built specifically for multi-channel marketing in terms of management and tracking.

Why do you need to know?

Today’s marketing efforts are mostly multi-channel. Customers are splitting their time between email, social, etc.

A marketer today will need to know where their customers are and reach them multiple times before an action is taken. This is often done spread across many different platforms.

Permission-Based Marketing

Marketing strategies that require consent or permission from individuals before sending them marketing messages or collecting their data.

Why do you need to know?

When in doubt, it is always better to get permission. With laws like the CAN-SPAM Act and GDRP in Europe, it is a common practice to ask for permission before sending an email or placing cookies on someone’s browser.


Tailoring marketing messages content, or recommendations based on individual customer data, preferences, and behavior to drive conversion.

Why do you need to know?

Personalization helps marketers deliver targeted and personalized campaigns, enhance customer engagement, and improve conversion rates. Personalization is so common that many customers have come to expect it from certain brands.

Progressive Profiling

Gradually collect additional information about leads over time by asking for or requiring small pieces of information at different touchpoints.

Why do you need to know?

No one likes long and involved forms or being asked a seemingly endless string of questions. Progressive profiling allows marketers to gather more details without overwhelming prospects, which can then be used for better personalization and lead nurturing (see above).

Revenue Performance Management (RPM)

A data-centric approach where marketing, sales, and finance teams connect and engage with prospects through the entire revenue generation process. In other words, directly tying revenue growth to marketing and sales operations.

Why do you need to know?

This is pure fact-based ROI. RPM helps marketers analyze and improve the impact of marketing and sales activities on revenue growth. With this data, this team can optimize resource allocation and drive growth more efficiently.

Sales Funnel (Sales Pipeline)

A visual representation of the stages that leads go through in the sales process. The stages may vary depending on the organization’s sales process.

It can look something like this (this example is from SharpSpring from ConstantContact) …

Why do you need to know?

Marketing and sales teams use the sales funnel to track lead flow, identify bottlenecks, and optimize marketing and sales efforts to better drive conversions and revenue.

Sales enablement is a marketing process where content and other marketing efforts are deployed to target prospects as they move through the sales funnel.

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

A lead that is ready for direct sales intervention. This definition can vary depending on the organization. When a prospect has means, authority, and a need.

Why do you need to know?

Each organization will need to define what an SQL is for them. Usually, marketing teams are responsible for delivering marketing-qualified leads (MQLs – see above) to the sales team. The sales team then qualifies the MQL and turns it into an SQL.

That said, there are ways to use marketing efforts and marketing automation platforms to qualify an MQL for a sales team.

You will want to be careful not to over-automate this process in a way that annoys or alienates an MQL. Sometimes, a human touch is the best way to move a prospect from MQL to SQL.


The process of dividing a target market into distinct segments based on pre-defined criteria, such as demographics, behavior, or industry, to deliver more targeted marketing messages.

Marketing teams use segmentation to tailor their marketing efforts to specific audience segments. Segmentation, if done correctly, can improve campaign effectiveness.

Testing and analysis are recommended as you engage each segment to determine if the data is accurate and if the campaigns are connecting with the segment.

Social Media Conversions

The desired actions or outcomes that occur on social media platforms. A conversion can vary broadly from organization to organization. Most consider a conversion an action that drives a meaningful metric, such as sales, followers, or subscribers.

Why do you need to know?

We recommend defining a social media conversion as an action that either directly or indirectly affects your bottom line. Steer clear of defining vanity metrics (likes) as a conversion. Focus more on metrics like shares, clicks, and purchases.

Social Media Monitoring

Tracking and analyzing social media platforms to monitor brand mentions, customer sentiment, industry trends, and competitor activities. This is usually done with a monitoring platform or sentiment analysis tool.

Why do you need to know?

Social media monitoring helps marketers manage online reputation and make data-driven decisions to improve social media strategies.

Social Media Publishing/Scheduling

Creating and sharing content across social media platforms to engage with audiences and promote products or services, often scheduled in advance using a social media tool or marketing automation platform.

Why do you need to know?

A consistent presence on social media helps marketers build brand presence, foster engagement, and drive traffic to websites or landing pages. It is also important for potential hires who will look at your social channels.

Scheduling posts in advance using a social media or marketing automation platform will streamline your efforts and allow you to collect more meaningful analytics which can be used to improve your social media efforts.

Time-Based Automation

Automated processes are triggered (see below) based on specific time intervals or schedules.

Why do you need to know?

These differ from action-based automation in that they are solely triggered by a reset schedule. Time-based automation is ideal for time-sensitive messages or offers, such as personalized birthday emails or time-limited promotions.

These are effective when trying to engage with a prospect based on a specific event or to trigger a FOMO (fear of missing out) response.


An event or action that activates a marketing action or automation workflow. Triggers can be actions such as filling out a form, downloading content, or abandoning a cart.

Why do you need to know?

Triggers are a key piece of marketing automation functionality. Understanding the implications of specific actions and what a follow-up to that action should be will help you to define specific action/automation workflow triggers.


A series of automated actions or tasks that are triggered by specific conditions or events. Workflows are the primary automation referred to in the name marketing automation.

Why do you need to know?

Workflows allow marketers to automate and streamline processes, such as lead nurturing, email campaigns, or customer onboarding. This is the system that enables you to nurture leads and drive them through the funnel.

We see too many organizations either underutilizing or misusing automation functionality. They are either not using it to its fullest potential, or they are using it incorrectly either confusing or annoying their prospects.

When employing automation, always consider the user experience as well as the desired business objective. When run through these filters, your workflows will more likely produce the desired outcomes.

Marketing Automation and CRMs Done!

Well, there you have it! All the marketing automation and CRM terms we think you need to know. Next up will be content and social media marketing.

We hope as you come along with us on this journey to demystify all the digital marketing jargon thrown at you, that you feel more comfortable with your marketing efforts.

We also hope that you feel empowered to try new things, as the possibilities are endless in digital marketing if you know where to look!

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