Your Must-Know Marketing Acronyms Cheat Sheet (“YMKMACS”)

by | May 11, 2021 8:32:00 AM |

To start this blog off, we want to apologize. Sincerely.

In the marketing world, we’re constantly throwing around acronyms like peanuts and beer at a baseball game. Sometimes, we even get called out in meetings when someone will say, “That sounds great, but what does XYZ mean, again?”

Our job is to be both the marketing expert, but also an educator. We want to instill confidence in our clients and partners when they think about marketing. We help a lot of clients going through high growth periods where marketing can be exhilarating but also scary.

Whether you’re a high school student exploring the marketing industry or the CEO of a multimillion-dollar company, we know there’s something for everyone to take away from this list. 

Below is a list of acronyms we use on an almost daily basis. This list is NOT comprehensive and new acronyms are constantly being made up. Feel free to add any that we missed in the comments section below.

You probably even know a few if not more!


No FOMO Today. Learn these ASAP!

CMS: Content Management System

You’ll hear this used a lot when talking about websites. That’s because a CMS is what you use to manage your website. The most popular CMS is WordPress (40% of the internet!), but there are thousands of other options out there depending on your needs. Choosing a CMS is important because it will determine how you organize, control, and present content like text, pictures, videos, links, and more to your audience. Changing a CMS can be a big undertaking, so getting it right the first time is key.


CPC: Cost Per Click

When you search for “how to write a blog” online you’ll notice that some of the first results look like normal links, however, they probably have a little “Ad” note next to them. This is a Search Ad and that website is actually paying to show up when someone searches for “how to write a blog” (it’s more complex than that, but you get the idea). Although, what you might not know is that they don’t actually pay to show that ad until you click on it. Hence, the CPC. The price is different for every ad and is always changing. It’s calculated by how popular a word or phrase is according to the search engine since lots of other companies might want to show their ad too.


CRM: Customer Relationship Management

Not to be confused with a CMS. Where a CMS is dealing with content, a CRM is dealing with tracking past, present, and future customers (or clients, consumers, and/or leads). One of the most popular CRMs online is SalesForce, but you might have heard of HubSpot or NetSuite too. A CRM allows a business to keep detailed records about its audience which enables companies to better communicate using powerful marketing tools and data side by side. You’ve probably heard of a sales or marketing funnel. A CRM is essentially a tool to manage that funnel. 


CTA: Call-to-Action

Click Here. Call Today. Watch Now! We humans respond well to clear instructions and a CTA is the most simple form. When it comes to marketing, we are ultimately trying to provide helpful information for a specific situation and audience. But, what do they actually do with that information? Rather than making someone figure it out themselves, a CTA, usually in the form of a button or link, gives a no-nonsense next step. Keep Reading! (See what we did there?)


CTR: Click-Through Rate

Related to CPC, however, a CTR is not always associated with a price but rather a conversion rate (percentage). If ten people get an email, five people might open it. However, only one person that opened the email might actually click a link in the email taking them to the website to learn more. All variations of that situation, 5 of 10, 1 of 10, and 1 of 5 are a CTR. It just depends on which matters to you. For example, if you run a search ad, you might have a $1.00 CPC and a 10% CTR (100 impressions, 10 clicks).


ESP: Email Service Provider

No, we aren’t talking about reading minds...or are we?

It's like I have an ESP or something.

An ESP is where you send email campaigns from. Think of websites like HubSpot, Constant Contact, or MailChimp. The keyword here is campaign which is how it differs from something like Gmail or Outlook. Yes, technically those are ESPs too, but they are going to make marketing extremely hard. ESPs allow you to create audiences, segment them, build automated workflows, track detailed metrics, and more.


H1 / H2 / H3 / Etc: Header Tags

If you aren’t familiar with SEO, it might be worth jumping ahead to the “SEO / SEM” definition, then coming back. Header tags are referring to web pages and blogs, specifically, the headlines and subheadings used on the page. If you were able to look at the backend of this page you’re reading right now (not so fast), you would actually be able to see that we’ve assigned each headline a number. These tags rank headlines by importance so that search engines can “see” what content is most relevant so that other readers like you can find this page.


KOY: Key Opinion Leader

Another word similar to this is an influencer. However, an influencer is more related to social media. When we talk about a KOY, we are talking about business moguls. Think CEOs, Presidents, and Founders. Whereas an influencer might promote a product on Instagram, a great strategy in some situations, a KOY is a trusted voice in the industry who is helping define the direction of a business or industry by taking risks and spotting opportunities. You might interview a KOY for a blog, invite them as a guest speaker to your event/podcast, or use them as a benchmark for your own business goals.


KPI: Key Performance Indicator

Your KPIs are only limited by your imagination. These are the goals aligned with your business strategy that indicates success or that there's room for improvement. Maybe it’s how many people visit your website, click on a link, or do a backflip on Fridays (Good luck!). There are some KPIs that are more common across strategies, but yours should be unique to your plan and may change now and then. We like the saying, if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it. If you set KPIs, you have something strategic to track and inform future decisions. 


MQL / SQL: Marketing / Sales Qualified Lead

Remember the marketing funnel we mentioned? The widest part is at the top where you first capture attention, then the funnel narrows as the audience becomes smaller but their focus and interest increases. Depending on your plan, there is a point when someone has shown enough interest where you might want to start directing marketing tactics, like emails, toward them. This is an MQL. They have identified themselves as ready for marketing based on the activity you think shows enough interest. An SQL is similar, which is when someone (it doesn’t have to be an MQL) has engaged in a way that you are ready to try and make a sale/conversion.


ROMI: Return on Marketing Investment

Marketing is not overhead. It is a value-add and is directly tied to sales more and more every day as people like you and me make most of our decisions without ever communicating with a company. This is at least what they think. If you are marketing right, you’ve been helping them make the decision with great content on your website, blogs, emails, and more. We pride ourselves on proving a strong ROMI by measuring exactly how much impact efforts have on success. 


SEM / SEO: Search Engine Marketing / Optimization

Words! We can’t overstate how important they are. When it comes to marketing, they are gold. The difference between SEM and SEO when it comes to words is paid vs unpaid, respectively. With SEM, you are bidding on keywords and phrases trying to get in front of your audience with ads (CPC from earlier is a measure for SEM). With SEO, you are strategically incorporating keywords and phrases into your content like web pages and blogs so that, over time, search engines show it to more users. There’s more to SEO like page speed, readability, links, images, and more, but words are a huge piece.



OMG You Read Fast. Is YOLO Still a Thing?

We started this blog with an apology, and now we’re going to say you’re welcome. Why, you ask? Well, now that you're an expert in marketing acronyms, we’re going to save you so much time. Dozens and dozens of seconds. 

In all seriousness, we’re honored that you took the time to learn a little more about our world. If we missed one you were hoping to learn more about, or if you wanted to dig into one of the acronyms above, make sure to leave us a comment.

Be sure to check out our other blogs and subscribe to our blog and newsletter to get more great content written by our team.

About 1 Bold Step

At 1 Bold Step we believe that everything can be more efficient, but especially marketing. Acting as an extension of a client’s marketing department (onsite or virtually), we help create systems, order, and accountability. With a focus on increasing sales and proving return on marketing investment, we’re determined to change marketing from overhead to value add. 


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