The Layman’s Guide To Digital Marketing

I hate buzzwords. Almost as much as I hate acronyms and jargon.

Problem is, in the digital marketing industry, we are FLOODED with buzzwords. With just as much acronyms and jargon thrown into the mix (SEO, PPC, Social Media Influencer etc)

If you’re running a business today, you will no doubt have come across this yourself, because digital marketing IS ACTUALLY just plain old marketing… in today’s digitally connected world.

So yes, I feel your pain.

To help make things easier, I’ve compiled a list of some of the most widely used terms and buzzwords you may have come across, and have tried to break it down into simple terms that anyone can understand. I’ve also listed them alphabetically(ish) so you can easily reference them when you need to.

Hope this helps!

A/B Testing (or Split Testing)

A/B and Split Testing

In marketing, it’s always a good idea to test things and see what works and what doesn’t. Digital Marketing makes it even easier because it’s very quick and easy to run a test.

A/B Testing (also referred to as Split Testing) refers to running two adverts or two versions of a landing page (so an A and a B). There will be a slight variation between the two (eg: Landing Page A has a photo of a smiling man, while landing page B has a photo of a smiling woman).

You then send traffic to both pages and then after a period of time, see which page performed better than the other (eg: the page with the smiling woman received more conversions than the page with the smiling man)

That’s the basic explanation – you can use a free tool to play around with it yourself – see Google Optimise: Click here

Above the Fold / Below the Fold

Above the Fold

If you’re looking at a website on your computer or phone screen, everything you see without having to scroll down are things that are “above the fold” (ie: the fold being the bottom of your physical computer or phone screen). Everything below that, things which you need to scroll down further to see, are things that are “below the fold”.

Generally, you will want your most important information to appear as high up on a page as possible so people don’t need to keep scrolling down to find it.

Although it must be said, with the popularity of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, people are far more comfortable scrolling and scrolling these days. Still, it’s generally good practice to have your most important info as high up on the page as possible.

Adwords / Google Ads

Google Ads

These are adverts that appear on Google. If you search for something on Google, the top results are usually adverts (they will have the word “Ad” next to their website address in green).

You pay Google to run these adverts, based on a bidding system. You specify how much you are willing to pay for someone to click on your advert. It’s a quick and easy way to get traffic to your website, but it can also be quite expensive.

Audience (or Target Market)

Target Marketing / Audience

The people who would be interested in your product or service.

And no, you can’t say “everyone”.

The internet is vast and to make sure you’re spending your marketing budget correctly, you need to be clear on who your ideal customer would be – the customer that would definitely want to make use of your product or service – and then focus on them.



Basically data or information that will help you make better business decisions.

When people use the word “analytics”, they are often talking about “Google Analytics”, which is a free tool you can use on your website.

It’s fairly easy to install, and once it’s set up, you can log in and see how much visits your website received, how they found your website, what they did when they arrived on your website etc.

There are other forms of analytics available, but this is meant to be a Layman’s Guide, so we will just talk about Google Analytics over here. You can access Google Analytics at: Click here


It’s a set of rules that a program might use to complete a task. People will often talk about “Google’s Algorithm” or “Facebook’s Algorithm”.

So for instance, the way the Google Algorithm works is when someone searches for something on Google, the results you see will be based on websites that are easy to understand, are related to what you are looking for, and have a number of other websites linking or pointing to them (that counts as a vote)

Or Facebook’s Algorithm works in a way that if you Like or Comment on certain Friends posts regularly, they will appear more often in your feed.

So it’s basically just the way certain websites or programs work and function.



You visit a website. You click on a banner or a word that takes you to another website.

That’s basically what a backlink is.

A link from one website to another.



A smart robot pretending to be a human. You may have heard it when people talk about Twitter (dodgy politicians and political parties create thousands of these bots to retweet things so it looks like they are more popular than they actually are)

These days it also usually refers to something called a “chat bot”. Have you ever visited a travel website or an insurance website and a little window opens up asking if you need assistance?

Sometimes it’s a live chat, and you’re chatting to an actual person, but more often than not it’s actually a bot, it’s not a real person on the other side. Very clever.

Bounce Rate

What Are Bounce Rates?

When someone visits a page on your website and then leaves immediately without visiting another page – that’s called a “bounce”.

Kind of like someone arriving at your dinner party and leaving almost immediately.

It’s not a great look.

If you have a website, you generally want your bounce rate to be as low as possible. If you have a bounce rate of 100%, it means EVERYONE who visited your website left without visiting another page on your site.

Click Through Rate (CTR)

What is a Click Through Rate

It’s a percentage or metric that agencies use to give you an idea of how effective your advert is.

It’s basically how many clicks your advert received divided by how many times the advert was shown (and then multiplied by 100).

So if an advert has a CTR of 1%, it means for every 100 times the advert was shown, it received 1 click. 4% would mean 4 clicks out of every 100 etc.

Click Through Rates will vary according to where you advertise, what the advert looks like (does it stand out) and what the offer is (eg: an advert promising R1,000 in cash if you click on an advert will likely get a high CTR).

Content Management System (CMS)

What is a CMS

A few years back, if you had a website and you needed something changed (pricing, wording etc) you might have needed to call your web designer to make the change for you.

These days, with sites like Wix and WordPress, you can create and make changes to your website yourself.

A site like WordPress or Wix is an example of a content management system, or a CMS. It’s a simple, easy way to create, edit and store content on your website.

If you are comfortable using Microsoft Word, you will be able to easily use a CMS. See WordPress: Click here and Wix: Click here

Content Marketing

What is Content Marketing

It’s a type of marketing that makes people loyal to your business or brand, without you pushing your core service to them.

So you are giving them useful content, without necessarily doing a hard sell. The theory goes that by offering them value, you create a sense of loyalty so when it IS time for them to use your actual product or service, they come to you first. It’s ALSO a way to keep or retain existing customers.

An example could be First National Bank creating a series of videos showing you simple money saving tips. They are not actively pushing that you bank with them, but they are creating something you find valuable and slowly luring you in through interesting, useful content.

Content marketing could be images and photos, blog posts, videos, newsletters, anything that offers value to someone.

Conversion Rate

What is Conversion Rate

Similar to a Click Through Rate (in a sense). This all depends on what your definition of a “conversion” is. A conversion is an action you want someone to perform when they arrive on your website.

For some businesses, a conversion could be someone who arrives on your website, and fills in a form to get more information. For others it could be someone who arrives and watches a video. For others again, it could be arriving on your website and making an actual online purchase.

You measure conversion rates by taking the action you regard as a conversion and dividing it by the number of visits you receive and then multiplying it by 100. (eg: a conversion rate of 5% for an online shoe seller means that for every 100 people that arrived on the shoe seller website, 5 have gone on to make an actual purchase.

Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) or Cost Per Lead (CPL)

What is CPA?

How much did you spend to get that lead or online sale?

This quickly helps you figure out whether your business is profitable or if you’re bleeding money. If you spent money on advertising, how much sales or conversions did you receive?

In its simplest form, it’s your marketing or advertising spend, divided by the number of conversions you received.

So if you spent R1,000 on marketing, and received 10 conversions, your Cost Per Acquisition or Cost Per Lead, would be R100.

Obviously, if you’re selling a product that costs R50, and you are paying R100 per sale… you are losing money.

Cost Per Click (CPC)

What is Cost Per Click

Google and Facebook lets you advertise on their platforms (that’s how they actually make most of their money).

One of the options they have is a Pay Per Click system where you can specify how much you are willing to pay when someone clicks on your advert.

If your advert performs well (ie: it has a high Click Through Rate and converts well) your Cost Per Click (or CPC) can actually end up much lower than what you were willing to pay.

It’s a sweetener that Google and Facebook uses to incentivise you to ensure your adverts are compelling (and it will make you spend more money with them)

Cost Per Thousand (CPM)

What is CPM

Similar to Cost Per Click (CPC) this is another option available on the likes of Google and Facebook where you can specify how much you are willing to pay for every 1,000 impressions your advert receives.

CPM stands for “Cost per Mille” (Mille meaning 1,000) This is generally used for brand awareness campaigns where you just want people to see your brand regularly.

Call to Action (CTA)

What is a Call to Action?

People visiting websites generally need to be held by the hand, you need to make things very clear and easy for them, and make it quite explicit in terms of what you want them to do when they arrive on your website.

That’s what a Call to Action is.

What do you want someone to do when they arrive on your website? Do you want them to subscribe to your newsletter? Then have a big button saying “Subscribe” which they can’t miss.

Do you want them to purchase a product on your website? Then have a big button saying “Add to Cart” which they can’t miss.

You get the picture.

Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM)

Customer Relationship Marketing

It’s a way to better understand your customers and what they actually want.

You do this by getting them to share information about themselves, which you can use when you market to them.

A basic example would be an online shop which asks customers to complete a questionnaire on their interests which you then store and use for further marketing.

You now know that Lumka Dlamini has two young kids and can send her an email when you have new children’s products, as opposed to sending a message to everyone on your database, including those who don’t have kids.

Digital Marketing

What is Digital Marketing

A fairly broad term that refers to any marketing involving a screen (a computer or phone).

The term is slowly dying out though because the reality is we live in a digital world (everyone has a phone, and can be communicated with via their phones), so it’s actually just marketing.

Display Ads

What Are Display Ads?

An advert or banner that is displayed on another website.

Think of the last display ad you saw. These are generally good for awareness, but people often just blank these out after a while so bear that in mind (think about the last time you actually clicked on a display advert).

Email Marketing

What is Email Marketing

Using email to generate leads and sales.

It’s in the same WhatsApp group as Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM).

Email is a powerful marketing tool (if it’s used correctly – Email Marketing doesn’t mean spamming people)

The key is to send people information that offers actual value. It’s effective when it’s part of a journey. Companies often give away something for free if you give them your email address. Using that as a starting point, they then slowly send you more info (that you’ll find useful) and nurture into an actual business lead.

It’s also a very cost effective way of communicating with your client base (and getting new clients) as opposed to spending thousands on other advertising options. Mailchimp is a great (free) tool to help you get started – Click here


What does Engagement mean?

This word is often used when talking about social media.

Engagement means any action someone takes regarding your content. It could be a Like, Share or Comment (on Facebook), a Retweet (Twitter) even a click to view more photos.

If your content doesn’t have a lot of engagement, it’s usually a sign that what you’re putting out there isn’t relevant to your audience (or your audience just isn’t seeing it).

Google My Business (or Business Listings)

What is Google My Business?

If you own a local business that has walk-in customers, you should definitely get listed here.

Firstly it’s free – which is always a good incentive – and secondly it helps you show up on Google Maps or regular Google if someone searches for something related to your business.

You can add photos, a description, your operating hours and it ALSO allows you to respond to reviews left by people. It’s definitely a must.

Get started over here: Click here

Hashtags (#Hashtags)

What are Hashtags?

Hashtags are generally used on Twitter and Instagram as a way to aggregate or categorize posts (eg: go onto Twitter and do a search for #blessed and you will see a list of tweets using that hashtag).

It has been hijacked by spammers though so this might change at some stage (eg: if you look at trending hashtags on Twitter, especially in South Africa, you will see random posts from people using a hashtag which has nothing to do with what they are posting).

It’s also evolved over time and is used to substantiate social media posts or give it added meaning.

But yes, from a purely functional point of view, hashtags are used for aggregating content.


What is a Heatmap?

A heatmap shows you which areas on a website page are getting clicked on, and how people are actually using your website.

It might seem obvious (they will click on the links, duh) but it’s quite easy to make assumptions and you often discover something really interesting when you install heatmap tracking on a website (eg: “Wow, look at that, everyone assumes my photo at the top of my page is a link, because they keep clicking on it”).

Some of the more popular Heatmap tracking services include Hotjar (Click here) and Crazy Egg (Click here)


What are impressions?

When a banner advert loads or displays on your computer or phone screen.

If you refresh a webpage and the banner reloads, it will count as another impression.

Banner adverts are often missed or ignored so if someone comes to you bragging about the thousands (or millions) of impressions they generated for you, take it with a heavy pinch of salt.

An impression is a pretty soft digital marketing metric.


Someone who can supposedly entice others to perform an action (buy a product, try a product, attend an event etc) due to their online influence or social media following (eg: Person A has 10,000 followers on Instagram. Let’s pay them to say nice things about our business)

As you can read by my tone, I’ve pretty skeptical when it comes to the actual value a so-called influencer can provide you with as a business.

There are certainly success stories when its done correctly and careful thought has gone into selecting the right influencers to use in a campaign, but more often than not, brands don’t do enough research and just end up using the same people who are used by other brands and who don’t really make any impact.

Inbound Marketing

What is Inbound Marketing?

In the same WhatsApp group as Search Engine Optimisation, in that it’s content that is pulling people towards you, people that are already looking for what you are offering (eg: Someone searches on Google for “customised muscle cars” and they find a blog post where you took about customised muscle cars, they are literally looking for what you’re offering, you’ve just pulled them in).

It’s the opposite of Outbound Marketing, which is also included in this guide.

Keyword (or Keyphrase)

What are keywords?

Keywords and keyphrases are one and the same thing.

It’s basically a word or phrase you type into a search engine like Google or YouTube, in order to get results.

It can be short and to the point (eg: “cape town hotel”) or it can be longer and more descriptive (this is known as a long tail keyword – eg: “cape town hotel near beaches with pizza restaurant nearby”).

Landing Page

What is a Landing Page?

What someone arrives or “lands on” (hence the name) when they click on a link from a banner advert, social media page, newsletter or some other website.

A landing page needs to complement the link it came from (eg: If someone clicks on a banner offering them affordable Wifi, they will expect to arrive on a page giving them more info on this affordable Wifi).

The Landing Page should be clear and concise with a strong Call-to-Action (CTA) otherwise the user will simply bounce.


What is a lead?

The contact details of someone who may turn into an actual conversion or sale for you.

Businesses often look at the sales process through the form of a funnel – typically, someone doesn’t immediately see an advert, click on it and then go through with the sale, especially with big ticket or expensive items.

So, often this requires a “funnel” approach where you get their contact details (usually by offering them something free but of value) and then from there, work the lead until it becomes an actual sale.

As a simple example – an online university might first try and get a customer’s email and contact number by offering a free tutorial, and from there, send them more info to try and get them to actually purchase an online course.

Meta Data

What is Meta Data?

Internal data inside a webpage (in the code) that helps search engines like Google and YouTube review and rate a website.

Meta Data often refers to Title tags, meta descriptions and meta keywords. It’s a very small part of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

Outbound Marketing

What is Outbound Marketing?

The opposite of Inbound Marketing.

Whereas Inbound Marketing is “pulling in” people toward you who are already looking for your product or service (think Search Engine Optimisation) – Outbound Marketing is “pushing out” messaging about your product and service to people who might not necessarily be looking for your product or service, but who do actually need them.

Outbound is often the more traditional methods like Direct Mail, Cold Calling on the telephone etc, but in the digital space, think Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing etc (pushing out messaging to a very targeted audience).

Performance Marketing

What is Performance Marketing?

Where you pay an agency or consultant based on reaching a certain performance (eg: We will pay you R200 per lead, or we will give you a bonus of R100,000 if you get 5,000 sales for us in this month).

It’s a bit like rewarding your kid if they get a good report at the end of the term.

More and more businesses prefer paying agencies and suppliers based on performance agreements.

Pay Per Click (PPC)

Google Ads

In the same WhatsApp group as Cost Per Click, Pay Per Click is a model where you advertise your business on Google Adwords or Facebook and you pay whenever your advert is clicked on.

You can specify how much you are willing to pay when someone clicks on your advert. If your advert performs well (ie: it has a high Click Through Rate and converts well) your Cost Per Click (or CPC) can actually end up much lower than what you were willing to pay.

It’s a sweetener that Google and Facebook uses to incentivise you to ensure your adverts are compelling (and it will make you spend more money with them).


What is Remarketing?

Have you ever visited an online store like Takealot or Superbalist, looked at a few products and then left without buying anything?

And then you visit other websites, and you see a Takealot advert showing you the products you were looking at previously?

That’s an example of Remarketing.

When you visit a website, the browser you use (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Micosoft Edge etc) gives off a “breadcrumb” or “cookie” to the website you visited, which tells them which pages you were looking at.

Advertisers can use this to show you products you looked at previously, to try and get you to follow through and actually purchase. It’s a clever and pretty effective digital marketing tactic to use.

Responsive Web Design

What is Responsive Design?

In the old days (around 2008/9), people designed websites for large computer screens, which were generally landscape or “wide screens”.

Today though, most people access the internet using their phones, which are portrait or “narrow screens”.

Rather than having two websites (one for computers, one for phones) you can now build your website in such a way that it “responds” to the screen it is being viewed on.

So it is the same website but it displays differently depending on whether you’re looking at it from your laptop or your phone.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

What is SEM?

It’s a fairly broad term that involves making your website as highly visible as possible, on search engines like Google.

By being highly visible, it means as many people as possible will see (and then hopefully visit) your website when they search for Keywords related to your business.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) involves both Search Engine Optimisation (appearing in organic rankings on Google) as well as Paid Media or Google Ads(appearing on Google as an Ad).

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

What is SEO?

This is the process of making your website as easy as possible for Google to check out and review, and thus increasing the chances of your website being highly visible on Google (ie: when someone searches for something related to your business, your website appears on the 1st page).

Appearing on the 1st page on Google is really the ultimate goal of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

The benefit of SEO is that if your website DOES rank well on Google, you don’t pay for that traffic (if someone clicks on the link and visits your website, it’s free – whereas with Paid Media or Adwords you pay every time someone clicks on the advert and visits your website).


What's a URL?

Pronounced “You-Are-Ell”, it’s basically a website or web page address.

The URL stands for “Universal Resource Locator” but you don’t really need to know this. Just know that it refers to a website address.

So when someone asks for your URL, they are asking you for your website address.

User Interface (UI)

What is UI?

In the same WhatsApp group as User Experience (UX).

UI refers to what you see on your screen – how something (a website, an app etc) is presented to you.

Does the presentation make sense to a user? Are they able to easily navigate around and do what is required from them? (eg: once they arrive on your shopping website, are they easily able to navigate around and find the product they are looking for?)

This is what UI involves.

User Experience (UX)

What is UX?

Same same but slightly different to User Interface (UI) .

User Experience (UX) refers to a user’s actual experience on a website. It’s the thinking behind how they use your website (so it can incorporate things like Analytics and Heatmaps).

As an example, UX would involve looking at how a person interacts with a page when they arrive on it. Did they click on the required button? No, they clicked on the photo at the top of the page, thinking it was a link. Therefore, we need to change things on this page in order to make it easier for the user to navigate.

The end results of the findings from the UX is to change the way the page is displayed (which is the User Interface – UI)

So yes, the UI and UX actually go hand-in-hand and are often used interchangeably.

I hope you found this useful.

PS: If you’re wanting more clients or customers this month, click here to schedule a free (yes, free) digital strat call with me.