Digital Marketing Terms & What They Mean

19 Digital Marketing Terms You Should Know in 2021

By Karen TaylorDec 30 /2020

Every year, new terminology enters the vernacular of digital marketing. As we move into 2021, there are several new terms that will impact the marketing plans of organizations in the New Year. We’ve rounded up the following 19 trending digital marketing terms for 2021. If you haven’t heard of “always-on lifecycle marketing,” “no-click searches” or “the internet of everything,” then scan our list to stay current before welcoming another new year.

Digital Marketing Terms of 2021

1. Always-on Lifecycle Marketing

This term speaks to the fact that often in companies’ sales funnel, marketing ends with each prospect after they become customers. However, it could be a missed opportunity to keep selling to customers. Your existing customers should be proactively targeted to leverage new sales opportunities within your customer base. This requires creating a customer lifecycle marketing mindset — including treating current customers as potential customers.

2. Consumer Privacy

Privacy breaches experienced by large companies like Facebook and Google have elevated consumers’ awareness of the risks of accidental release of their personally identifiable information (PII). This and other factors have upped the ante for consumer privacy, including more compliance regulations with stiffer fines than ever before.

While it may seem like a problem for the CIO, not the CMO, in fact, marketing sits in a bullseye for consumer privacy. You need to work with your colleagues to mitigate the potential impact of security breaches and to restore customers’ faith that their personal data will be secure.

3. Cost Per Thousand (CPM)

CPM refers to the amount of money it costs for a social media post to be seen 1,000 times. If you’re aiming to raise awareness, this could be a key metric. When viewed with your engagement or click-through-rate, CPM can indicate whether the audience you’re targeting is too broad or too narrow, and how effectively your posts are resonating with them.

4. Dark Post

Dark posts refer to sponsored content that does not appear on your timeline, feed or profile, rather they appear on feeds of the users you are targeting. They are different from sponsored organic posts, known as boosted posts, which appear on your timeline.

Different social platforms call dark posts by different names. On Twitter, they’re known as promoted-only tweets. On LinkedIn, they are called direct sponsored content.

5. Digital Marketing Transformation

Marketers face several digital marketing challenges. Among the most common are a lack of focus on an integrated strategy, testing and optimization, along with structural issues like teams working in silos or a lack of skills in integrated communications.

To counter these types of challenges and make the most of the opportunities for growth through digital marketing, many businesses are now putting a digital marketing transformation program in place. The aim is to develop a roadmap to improve digital capabilities and skills and improve marketing outcomes.

6. Insights-Driven Marketing

Insights-driven marketing is the art and science of using analytics and insight to drive business performance and optimize the results from digital marketing. Increasingly, improving data-driven marketing has become a major concern, especially as companies demand more accountability for performance, so they can optimize their resources and investments.

One example of insights-driven marketing is reviewing website analytics such as page traffic and goal conversions on a page. If your conversion rate (traffic/conversions) is not performing at industry benchmarks, this insight could lead you to update the content on the page.

7. Integrated Online-Offline Customer Experience

Many online retailers and digital brands have thrived during the pandemic because massive numbers of consumers have moved more of their purchases and activities online. However, consumers still prefer physical stores for a personalized shopping experience, customer service and more. Brands must adjust their marketing strategies to take advantage of this increase in consumer digitalization.

In the future, stores will be more than just a place to shop. They will be a place where brands can engage with their customers and improve the customer experience. Doing this successfully will require delivering an integrated online-offline customer experience.

8. Live Video

Live video is popular with consumers. Some companies find it delivers a higher impact than pre-recorded video. When the live element is added, video is more engaging, because the audience feels they’re a part of the action and can influence the content, rather than just passively viewing. Live video is particularly good for grabbing consumers’ attention on social media, especially Facebook and Instagram.

9. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

The NPS measures how likely someone is to recommend your business to others on a scale of 1 to 10. Using this customer-satisfaction metric, you can identify how loyal your customers are and divide them into three categories:

  1. Promoters (9+)
  2. Passives (7–8
  3. Detractors (0–6)

Checking your NPS regularly helps identify ways to improve your products.

10. Position Zero (aka Ranking #0)

Position Zero is the new top-ranking spot versus the traditional top-ranked search result because it’s placed above the top-ranking search result and displayed differently. Achieving this highly coveted position requires different SEO techniques than those employed for a normal listing in the SERPs.

11. Shoppable Posts

These are clickable photos or videos that appear on customers’ social media feeds. When you tap the photos, information appears, such as product names and prices. Viewers can tap the shoppable images to get more information, such as reviews, product details and buying guidance.

12. Social Media Stories

Stories posted on social media are short insider video moments that can take a range of forms, such as behind-the-scenes views of product development, dialogues with company leaders, or animations designed to both entertain and inform.

Since they arrived on scene, stories shot to the top of consumer interest, making them the perfect avenue to share important information, such as news about product feature developments and upcoming events. Each story is a fleeting event, typically a few seconds or a minute. However, companies can post a lot of them frequently.

13. Strategic Marketing Transformation

The business of marketing is becoming increasingly complex. For companies to succeed today, they need to think about what they’re doing now and link everything back to the “why” of the business as a whole. To accomplish this, marketing goals and objectives must align with the overall goals of the business. The change process is known as a strategic marketing transformation.

A marketing transformation includes a combination of activities, including:

  • Data collection
  • Deploying modern technology
  • Building customer relationships
  • Engaging with customers online
  • Publishing quality content
  • Improving a brand’s online presence


14. The Internet of Everything

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been with us for a while. But now there are so many connected devices generating zettabyte levels of data that it’s now being referred to as The Internet of Everything. This massive number of connected objects will generate a huge quantity of data that can be used to gain advanced customer insights. This information can then be used to personalize the customer experience and provide avenues for easier communication and engagement with the brand.

15. Vanity Metric

Everyone likes metrics, especially positive ones. But some positive metrics deliver no real value. A good example is impressions. They represent the number of times that an ad appears on someone’s screen. Having thousands of impressions sounds good. But there’s no guarantee the people actually saw your ad even if it appeared on their screen.

The reality is that, in isolation, impressions are just a vanity metric. To add value, brands need to add engagement, reach, clicks or increase in followers to measure an ad’s actual impact.

16. Visualization

In a world where live video stories, voice searches and readable content are grabbing the most attention, it’s tempting to forget about visuals and design. But visual content is not just an old-school marketing priority. It’s as important today as ever. People are still attracted to visual content, and there’s plenty of proof, namely, Instagram and Pinterest.

17. Visual Search

Instead of typing a description into Google, users can now upload an image and get information about an item from just a photo. Also, uploaded photos can deliver additional information, such as species information of a plant or historical data of a landmark. Businesses can leverage visual searches by adding high-quality images tagged with descriptive keywords and introduce an image search into online product inventory.

18. Voice Search

Voice search has been growing and shows no signs of slowing down. It is projected to have a major influence on how brands create content and market themselves online. Voice searchers use longer, more conversational queries, so slanting your content to serve these queries, as well as answering questions directly, can help make it more responsive to voice searches.

19. World-Class Customer Experience

Marketing is evolving from merely convincing people to buy from your company. Now, the priority has moved toward delivering world-class customer experiences. This includes delivering a customer-focused culture, seamless experiences, personalized messages and responsive customer service.

Staying Current with Digital Marketing

In today’s fast-moving world of marketing, it’s incumbent on every marketer to stay current with new trends, tools and terminology. These 19 terms should give you a jumpstart on what’s expected to leap to the top of the biggest trends in 2021.


Karen Taylor
The Author

Karen Taylor

Karen Taylor is a professional content marketing writer with experience writing for over 100 companies and publications. Her experience includes the full range of content marketing projects — from blogs, to white papers, to ebooks. She has a particular knack for creating content that clarifies and strengthens a company’s marketing message, and delivers optimum impact and maximum results. Learn more at