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Marketing Acronyms 101

Confused by marketing acronyms like API, SEO and WOM? This guide will clarify the most common industry shorthand.

Confused by marketing acronyms like API, SEO and WOM? This guide will clarify the most common industry shorthand.

Sometimes, looking at a marketing document is a bit like looking into a bowl of Alphabet soup. You recognize all the letters, but there is just such a jumble it's hard to discern any meaning. We’ve decoded some of the most common marketing acronyms, so you’re no longer guessing what CTA, CRM and WOM mean.

What Are Marketing Acronyms?

Marketing, branding, outreach, and business public relations are related and complex disciplines. They require a great deal of knowledge, experience, and talent to master, and they have been around for as long as trade and sales have.

Marketing has become intertwined with information technology, and it is related to many legal, technical, and historical issues. That being the case, understanding marketing, marketing strategy, trends, and technique across industries takes a pretty intensive education. Whether that education comes in the form of formal study, hands-on experience, or both, you need to learn, master, and use at least a few of the most common acronyms in the business.

A marketing acronym is simply an abbreviation for various types of marketing tools, methods, metrics, and so on. Marketing acronyms can help make communication quicker so long as everyone in the conversation understands the meanings of the acronyms being used.

Not learning an important marketing abbreviation could leave you in the lurch anytime you are around marketing professionals talking shop, or God forbid a sales conference or trade show. Marketing acronyms are like any other acronyms. They are abbreviated versions of longer terms. After all, no one wants to say "application programming interface" five times in three sentences. So they say "API."

Likewise, hearing someone say "customer relationship management" 20 times when they could be using the acronym "CRM," can be a bit off-putting. You don't want to be that guy, and you certainly don't want to waste time and ink using the full term more than once in a conversation.

To that end, we have acronyms.

Why You Should Know Digital Marketing Acronyms

Every industry has industry-specific acronyms and digital marketing is no different. The military, police, government, and businesses of every form use acronyms. So it only makes sense that marketing professionals have some of their own. It is expedient, and it helps you look more professional and sound more authoritative.

By learning digital marketing acronyms, you can:

  • Better understand industry discussions
  • Optimize communication
  • Build and navigate a career in the marketing industry

List of Marketing Acronyms

Now it's time to look at some of the most common digital marketing acronyms used today. You are sure to have seen a few of these before. If there are any items on this list you don't know already, now is your chance to remedy that. With that being said, check out the following marketing acronyms:


An application programming interface (API) is essentially a digital middleman. It allows one application to talk to another with ease. In a nutshell, an API is what allows your Facebook “share” button to work, instantly allowing visitors to your website to post your content on their Facebook page for their friends to see and enjoy.


The cost per action (CPA) is an important budgeting concept, highlighting the level of investment needed to have customers reach certain milestones: clicking on your website, subscribing to a newsletter or purchasing a product. Knowing this number can help compare which marketing strategies are the most cost effective.


Think of a call to action (CTA) as the homework you’re giving your target audience. It’s the sales instructions, typically at the end of your marketing message, that tells customers to “Buy now!” or “Sign up today.” Our partners are experts at crafting CTAs that get clicks.


Speaking of clicks, your click-through rate (CTR) will be one of the metrics your partner will use to measure an advertising campaign’s success. It’s essentially the percentage of how many people viewed something and then clicked on a link. By employing tagging, dynamic content, eye-catching email templates, A/B testing and by writing winning CTAs, a partner can work to improve your CTR.


Good customer relationship management (CRM) will help you retain current customers, increase their spending, and convert prospects into new customers. As an all-in-one marketing platform, CRM technology is baked into Mailchimp. You can keep tabs on demographic information, interactions, purchases, and more. Correctly configuring and setting up your audiences is crucial for getting the most out of Mailchimp. A partner can guide you through this process, ensuring that you’re using the data you’re collecting to its full potential.


When it comes to marketing, it’s important to track what’s working and why. Establishing a few relevant key performance indicators (KPIs)—these are relevant metrics (such as open, click-through, bounce, and conversion rates) that help you track and measure success—is key to achieving your goals.


When you’re a small business, every bit of budget counts. That’s why it’s important to ensure what you’re spending on is paying dividends. Return on investments (ROIs) is a calculation of the monetary value of an investment versus its cost that’s defined as the ratio of net profit over the total cost of the investment. ROI’s an extremely useful tool for evaluating your past business decisions (like, say, hiring a partner) and informing future ones.


Search engine optimization (SEO) helps the various search engines—Google, Yahoo, Bing—to better find you online. There are many techniques to do this, including using commonly searched terms in your web copy called keywords. Regardless, having a solid SEO strategy can make a significant difference to the number of clicks you get on your website, and therefore the number of potential customers you are reaching online.


A statement of work (SOW) is like a roadmap to a project. It lays out the timeline, budget, deliverables and expectations for both you and any freelancer or agency you are working with. The contents of SOWs will change from project to project, but there should be enough detail so that everyone involved understands the scope, costs and stakeholders of a job.


User experience (UX) describes how a customer interacts with your brand. Having a smooth user experience—a functional app interface, an intuitive website—creates positive impressions about what you do, and ultimately makes it easier for people to access your products and services.


Word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing is when people are talking about your business in their online and real life conversations. It’s a great sign that interest is growing in what you’re doing, and telling their friends and family about your products and services.

What Are the Most Popular Marketing Acronyms?

The most popular digital marketing acronyms are the ones that are used the most. The following examples are used frequently because almost every piece of content on the subject of digital marketing includes them or at least mentions them. After all, any good salesperson knows that a call to action (CTA) is part of any good sales pitch.

Likewise, CTA and the other items on the following list are key to digital marketing these days. If you expect to make it through the day in any marketing department, you had better know the following terms by heart. So take note of these five must-know marketing acronyms:

  • CTA (call to action)
    This is a proven tool for motivating readers to move toward making a purchase after being presented with compelling content from your brand.

  • CRM (customer relationship management)
    Customer relationship management encompasses every interaction you have with your customers. It’s all about customer service, the customer experience, and the way your branding plays out in reality. By optimizing customer relationships and the customer journey, you can create loyalty, build your brand, and get more return customers.

  • ROI (return on investment)
    This term means the monetary gains you can make by investing in an asset. For example, if you sign up for a social media account with a paid subscription, the ROI would be the sales you make on that platform (beyond the cost of the investment) by reaching customers you ordinarily would not reach.

  • SEO (search engine optimization)
    This is an umbrella term that describes all kinds of techniques that are used to boost the search engine rankings of your company website. By appearing higher in search engine results, you can increase visibility and generate more website traffic.

  • UX (user experience)
    Usually related to a company website, mobile app, or other pieces of software through which customers interact with your company, UX indicates the nature and quality of their experience.

Final Notes

Understanding these digital marketing acronyms is critical to understanding the way marketing is done in today's digital marketing industry. But as every marketing professional knows, these acronyms are also useful for explaining complex ideas simply and quickly.

They help those who know and use them well seem more on the ball, more professional, and more competent.

To learn more about this and other key digital marketing subjects, check out Mailchimp’s expansive library of marketing resources. As an all-in-one marketing platform, we provide you with the tools and resources you need to make any marketing strategy successful. From detailed campaign reports to behavioral targeting tools, Mailchimp has what you need to achieve your marketing goals.

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