Ultimate Glossary of DTC Marketing Terms

With the acronyms, descriptors, and other terms that make up the lexicon of marketing, it can almost seem like growing a brand is its own language.

Don’t worry, we got you.

Consider this your marketing dictionary - we’ve gathered key terms used in our paid media, retention, and content departments to help navigate your way through the day-to-day of DTC marketing.

With the acronyms, descriptors, and other terms that make up the lexicon of marketing, it can almost seem like growing a brand is its own language.

Don’t worry, we got you.

Consider this your marketing dictionary - we’ve gathered key terms used in our paid media, retention, and content departments to help navigate your way through the day-to-day of DTC marketing.


A/B Split Testing - A testing strategy that identifies key opportunities by stacking two creatives against each other to see which drives higher performance (i.e. generates more conversions or customer “action.”) A/B testing is typically used to test ads, emails, copy, or creative elements within promotional content.

Acquisition - A marketing strategy focused on acquiring new customers by targeting consumers who are in the education/research stage of the buyer journey. Objective here is to convert prospects who are still considering all their options.

Affiliate Marketing - An income strategy where publishers can earn a commission when promoting a brand’s products or services through their content. For every purchase made through a specially generated affiliate link, the publishers collects a set percentage of earnings.

Actalike Audience - Specific to Pinterest, Actalike is a feature is that allows marketers to reach similar users to their existing audience. ****According to Pinterest, “you can use actalike audiences to find new customers, new people who are likely to engage with your Pins, or new people who are likely to visit your website based on your source audience. You can also create a new, more specified audience based on one of your existing audiences. The source audience will not be a part of the new actalike audience.

Ad Extensions - Specific to Google, installing an ad extension allow you to show extra business information in your ad such as address, web page link, phone number, etc. Ad Extensions are useful in streamlining the research phase of the customer journey and is a useful tactic in customer experience.

Affinity Audience - Specific to Google Ads, affinity audience is a feature that allows you to target people with relevant content to your products or brand. This audience has yet to interact with your brand, so it’s considered a cold segment. According to Google, “Affinity audiences are useful to advertisers who are looking to raise awareness and drive consideration among affinity groups that have a strong interest in their products.”

Audience Expansion - Specific to Google Ads, audience expansion is a feature within the platform that allows your ads to reach relevant people who are similar to your manually defined audience. The feature is available for video campaigns that have "Product and brand consideration" or "Brand awareness and reach" set as their goals.


Bottom of Funnel (BOF) - Also referred to as BoFu, the Bottom of Funnel refers to the conversion of prospective customers into buyers of a brand’s goods or services. It goes hand in hand with customer acquisition (i.e. strategy focused on acquiring new customers.)

Branded Search - A search query that explicitly calls out a brand’s name or product. (Example: “where to buy Kleenex”). Subsequently, other

Broad Match Keyword - If your Google ad targets a specific keyword that users are searching for, the ad may also be shown to users searching for a keywords that are similar in phrasing. For example, if the targeted keyword is “fitness clothing” a broad match keyword may be “workout clothes.”


Call to Action (CTA) - Directing the customer how to act on the content in your promotional campaign.

Channel/Platform Metrics - Key data that displays how your various marketing channels are performing (Example: email performance, Facebook performance, etc.)

Churn Rate - Your churn rate can be a little daunting to marketers but is an important metric to know. Your churn rate is the amount of customers or subscribers you lose in any given period of time. You can calculate your churn rate using this formula: Lost Customers ÷ Total Customers at the Start of Time Period) x 100

Clicks - A marketing metric that counts the number of times users have clicked on a digital advertisement.

Click Through Rate (CTR) - The ratio of users who click on a specific link to the number of total users who view a page, email, or advertisement.

Click Through Rate (All) - The ratio of users who click on a specific link to the number of total users who view a page, email, or advertisement. It is commonly used to measure the success of an online advertising campaign for a particular website as well as the effectiveness of email campaigns.

Content Management System (CMS) - A simple, intuitive software that allows users to upload and edit content directly to a website.

Contribution Margin - A key accounting metric calculated by subtracting your product expenses to from its total revenue. Vitally important in identifying the profitability potential of products and using it to inform your pricing model.

Conversion Rate - The percentage of users who take action on an ad. The higher your conversion rate on your ad, the more successful your ad’s performance is. The formula to determine the conversion rate on your display ad is: clicks / actions = conversion rate

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) - A marketing strategy centered around the continual increase in user conversions (clicks, purchases, etc.) of digital content. A high conversion rate means that the promotional content is performing well in the sense that it encourages users to take action.

Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) - Relatively self-explanatory, the cost-per-acquisition or CPA is how much it costs a marketer to acquire each new customer. The cost-per-acquisition is a useful metric to aid in pricing products or services. You can calculate your CPA by taking your total advertising spend and dividing it by the number of acquisitions made.

Cost Per Click (CPC) - A digital advertising metric that shows marketers how much it costs marketers in ad spend for every click on a sponsored ad. You can calculate your CPC using the formula: Advertising Campaign Cost / Number of Clicks. As a general rule, you want to keep your CPC relatively low in regards to your marketing campaigns spend.

Cost Per Thousand (CPM) - A marketing terms used to calculate how much it costs marketers for every 1,000 ad impressions on a piece of sponsored digital content or promotional campaigns.

Custom Intent Audience - Google defines it’s custom intent audience feature in Google Ads as: “a type of audience that allow you to choose who sees your ads on the Google Display Network and YouTube. There are two ways to define custom intent audiences: via keywords or via URLs. They can be used in combination too.

Ex. Let's say a hardware store in Santa Monica wants their Display ads to reach people who are actively looking for a coffee shops in the area. The business owner can enter "hardware" or "where to buy tools" as keywords to define their custom intent audience. They can also enter the URL of a popular web page that explains the types of tools for various DIY activities. Next time potential customers who have searched for these terms or visited this page are online, they'll be eligible to see the hardware store's Display ad.

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) - Similar to cost-per-acquisition or CPA, the customer acquisition cost is the amount it costs a brand to acquire a new customer. It differs from CPA in formula - you derive your CAC by dividing the number of customers that were acquired by the total sum of the costs spent on marketing and sales.

Customer Experience (CX) - The totality of the interaction a customer has with a brand. From the research phase of the customer journey, all the way through post purchase, a customer’s touch points with a brand are vitally important in solidifying brand loyalty and increasing their LTV.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) - A digital rolodex of leads and customers , often organized into actionable tasks, that salespeople and marketers can use to retain customers and convert new sales.


Data Driven Attribution Model - Google uses a data-driven attribution model to assign credit for conversions based on how people have interacted with your ad and converted to customers. It uses this data to identify which ads, keywords, and campaigns are driving the most performance for your brand. Learn more about how it works here.

Data Processing Agreement (DPA) - A formal and binding agreement between marketers and Google ****that marketers will responsibly handle customers’ personal data provided by Google Ads. This means protecting it with adequate security measures from breaches, etc. Ultimately, a DPA protects the platforms users from misuse of their personal data. Read the terms of Google’s DPA here.

Demand Capture - Targeted marketing focusing on customers who are ready to purchase your products or services.

Demand Generation - Targeted marketing to drive awareness and interest in your company's products.

Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) - A low barrier-to-entry business model that allows brands to leverage eCommerce to sell their products directly to customers. It differs from the traditional model of curating partnerships with retailers to sell your products. (Ex. If you sell a specialty sports drinks, you can simply set up an eCommerce store to have customers purchase directly from you instead of negotiating with Whole Foods to have it sold in their establishment.)

Discovery Campaigns (Google) - Discovery campaigns are a marketing feature in Google Ads that allow you to deliver experiential, visual, and empowering personalized ad experiences to prospective customers who are likely to discover and engage with your brand through Google multiple platforms. Learn more about the full scope of this function here.

Display Campaigns (Google) - Display campaigns are a type of Google ad that allow you to display highly visual ads in various locations throughout the entirety of Google’s digital properties. You can learn the full landscape of where Google will place your ads here.

Dynamic Ads - Specific to Facebook, dynamic ads are made of the standard conversion rate optimized content but the difference is in how Facebook deploys your ad. Dynamic ads are automatically shown to relevant audience members who have expressed digital interest elsewhere on the internet. For example, if someone visited your site and looked at a few products, Facebook dynamic ads will target them with your Facebook ads when they’re active on the platform.

Dynamic Ads Broad Audience (DABA) - Unlike dynamic ads, dynamic ads broad audience is a Facebooks ads distribution model that targets relevant audience with your ads who have yet to engage or interact with your brand. These people have not yet visited your site, app, etc. DABA targets a users interest and behavior - allowing marketers to reach new shoppers.


E-Commerce - A shortened term for “electronic commerce” or “internet commerce” which refers to the buying and selling of goods online. Goods bought and sold online can be both physical or digital products or services.

Earnings Per Click (EPC) - An affiliate marketing terms that refers to your earnings received when someone clicks on your digital content.

Earned Media - Any press written about your business that you haven't paid for or created (think reviews, articles, etc.)

Exact Match Keyword - A term used to describe a Google Ads keyword that has identical words and verbiage as the keyword marketers are bidding on. For example, if marketers are bidding on the keyword “coffee shops santa monica,” Google Ads will only enter an auction on those exact keywords.

Experiential Brand - A brand whose core strategy revolves around establishing a brand identity that engages and empowers customers through a specific vision vs. centering their strategy on making the sale.


Facebook Shop - An online store a brand can set up through Facebook that allows users to shop your products without leaving the platform. Helps eliminate steps in the buyers journey to optimize conversion potential.

Flow - A strategic configuration of promotions designed to convert or engage customers based on specific “triggers” or opt-in methods (Example: New Customer Flow - a series of messages to the customer triggered when someone buys)


Google Merchant Center - A Google service that allows you to manage how your store information and product inventory is displayed on Google. Google Merchants can reach relevant customer shopping for their products, connect with shoppers through other various Google properties, and aggregate business data for actionable insight.


Highly-Produced - Ad creative with a higher production value, typically focused on brand introduction, product education, or other highly-engaging content (Example: Harmon brothers style ads)

Hold Rate - Specific to Facebook, it’s the percentage of people engaged with your content for a predetermined time.


In-Market Audience - Consumers who are actively shopping for a specific product or service across Google’s digital properties. For a consumer to qualify as being in-market, Google will take into account clicks on related ads, conversions, the content of sites and pages they’ve visited, along with the recency and frequency of the visits. An extremely useful tool in helping marketers target shoppers who are most like to convert to customers.

Inbound Marketing - A business methodology that attracts customers through brand content and experiences tailored specifically to their interests. The objective of inbound marketing is to build meaningful, lasting relationships with your customers vs. outbound marketing which is a bit more disruptive.


Key Performance Indicator (KPI) - Any specific data metric instilled by marketers to determine quality of performance. A KPI can be attributed to virtually every marketing effort to gauge effectiveness of the campaign.


Last Click Attribution Model - A last click attribution model is a way to give credit to the last touchpoint a consumer had before purchasing. Ultimately, it’s the final touchpoint a shopper had that influenced their purchase intent. It’s mostly helpful in telling marketers which channels and touch points have had the biggest influence on a shoppers decision to buy.

Lead Form Ads - A type of ad that allows marketers to collect shopper data directly in the ad. Many channels offer lead form ads, in which a consumer can click the ad and be brought to a lead form with having to leave the platform, eliminately steps in the buyer’s journey.

**Lifetime Value (LTV) - “**Life Time Value is that which defines unique customer(s) revenue over time. Understanding LTV is critical when justifying the cost + ongoing marketing initiatives to acquire and inspire customers. It is an important metric to OWN, Zeb Pirkey, Director of Client Performance at Structured Agency.

LinkedIn Profile Targeting - A feature unveiled by Bing in 2018 that allows marketers to use LinkedIn data to target specific profiles through Bing Ads. You can target customers based on the company they work for, the industry they work in, or their job function.


Marketing Campaign - An isolated marketing initiative centered around a specific promotional focus. (Example: “Mother’s Day Sale”)

Maximize Conversions Bid Strategy - A Google Ads feature that automatically sets bids to help marketers get the most conversions for their campaigns when spending their ad budget. Google statesit uses advanced machine learning to automatically optimize bids and offers auction-time bidding capabilities that tailor bids for every auction.

Maximize Conversion Value Bid Strategy - A Google Ads feature that automatically sets and optimizes bids. Google states “It also offers auction-time bidding capabilities that tailor bids for each auction. You define the value that you want to maximize, such as sales revenue or profit margins, when you set up conversion tracking for your account.

Marketing Efficiency Ratio (MER) - A insightful metric that helps marketers identify the performance of an ad by dividing the total revenue of generated from the ad against total expenses spent on it.

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) - A lead that a brand marketing team or lead qualifying platform has deemed as valuable in the sense that the shopper is likely to convert. Typically these leads are handed off to the sales team to convert to a sale, or added to are added to a brand’s sales-nurturing strategy.

Media Mix - Also referred to as a marketing mix, it’s the spectrum of communication channels brand’s use to reach their target audience and takes into account the 4 Ps’ of marketing: product, people, place, promotion, price. A media mix can include SMS, email, social advertising, television advertising, etc.

Middle of Funnel (MOF) - Middle of funnel customers are shoppers who are in the consideration stage of the buyer journey. These people have already done the research on products and are considering a specific set of options. Middle of funnel marketing strategies often incorporate content centered around helping the prospective customer solve a specific problem and positioning their product as the best solution.

MSAN - Microsoft’s advertising program that allows marketers to showcase their ads and products across Microsoft network of digital properties (Outlook, Fox Business, Microsoft Bing, CBS Sports, MSN, etc.)


Net Promoter Score (NPS) - A one-through-ten scale scoring system used to determine how likely a customer will recommend your products or services to someone else. The scale is broken down by:

1-5: Neutral, or those who likely won’t recommend your products to others 6-8: Passives, or customers who are satisfied but not enthusiastic enough to recommend to others

9-10: Promoters, or enthusiastic customers who recommend your products to others.

The formula for calculating your Net Promoter Score is: % of Promoters (9-10) minus Detractors (1-6) equals NPS


Outbound Clicks - The measurement of the amount of traffic your ads help send to your website or app.

Outbound Click Through Rate - The percentage of times users saw an ad and performed and clicked to your external site, social media channel, etc. It’s found by dividing outbound clicks by impressions.

Outbound Marketing - Business methodology that focuses more on making the sale as its main objective, versus the more intentional methodology of inbound marketing which focuses on attracting and maintaining a customer.

Owned media - Any digital property under a company's direct control (think email, website, SMS).


Pay-Per-Click (PPC) - An advertising model, used commonly for Google, in which advertisers pay search engines only for every “click” taken on an advertisement. This model is primarily based around keyword bidding and encourages marketers to invest in relevant keywords to convert searchers into sales.

Performance Brand - A brand whose strategy is more focused on investing in driving sales performance than investing in a high-level of customer experience. Said brands will likely follow the performance marketing model (below).

Performance Marketing - A sales and marketing strategy that focuses tactics on converting sales from TOF, MOF, and BOF after the sales conversion vs. investing in nurturing a potential sale with a higher branded experience.

Performance Max Campaigns - A Google Ads campaign type that is goal based and allows performance marketers to access their Google Ads inventory via a single campaign. According to Google, “it's designed to complement your keyword-based Search campaigns to help you find more converting customers across all of Google's channels like YouTube, Display, Search, Discover, Gmail, and Maps.

Phrase Match Keyword - A keyword type that allows advertisers to show their ads on searches that include the meanings of their keywords. For example: an advertiser sets the phrase match to “taxi service from LA to San Diego” to your keywords. With phrase match, their ads may show when for similar searches such as “affordable taxi from LA to San Diego” or “LA to San Diego taxi company.” According to Google, “the word order (and the additional emphasis on affordable or corporate moving) won’t affect the display of your ad because it’s clear that the meaning of the keyword is contained in the search: the user is in need of a service to move to and from the same cities.

Position Based Attribution Model - A Google Ads attribution model that gives credit to the first and last touchpoint a customer has before purchasing. Google will give 40% credit to the first and last touchpoint, and 20% across the touch points in between.

Product Feed - Data files, typically in .CSV, .XML, or .TXT files, that contain product information used by marketplaces, shopping engines, and commerce channels used to display product listings.

Product Feed Custom Label - In your product data files, Google allows advertisers to add custom labels. Custom labels help classify products into certain categories such as SKUs, seasonal items, parent-child product relationships, etc. For more on custom labels and how to use them effectively, click here.

Push Notifications - Automated message sent to a user when the app or web application isn’t being used.


Quality Score - Quality Score is a Google Ads tools that allows advertisers to get a sense of the quality of their ads when stacked against other advertiser’s ads. It is a 1-10 scale available at all keyword levels. A high quality score means the ad or landing page is relevant to those searching those keywords in comparison to other advertisers.


Retention - The degree in which you can build brand loyalty amongst your customers through marketing initiatives focused on recurring customer engagement (Examples: SMS lists, email lists, subscriptions, etc.

Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) - The monetary value of how much revenue you made from an advertisement versus what you bid on it. You can calculate your ROAS by dividing the total sum of revenue dollars on your marketing campaign by the advertising dollars spent on the campaign.

Revenue Performance Management - Revenue performance refers to the continual analysis and improvement of sales and marketing strategies using revenue as a key performance indicator. Revenue performance management is a formalized, top to bottom approach to improving a brand’s sales and marketing tactics when approaching potential buyers. More on revenue performance management here.

Revenue Per Session (RPS) - Another way people say EPC is RPS (revenue per session). That latter is more common with people who got their start in e-commerce, the former more common with people who got their start in affiliate marketing, but they mean the same thing.


Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) - A potential customer that has shown genuine interest in taking the next step in the buyer journey. E.g. a prospect who has shown in their purchase intent behavior that they have a high chance of buying.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - The degree in which your digital content is most likely to place higher on search engine results pages than your competitors.

Search Impression Share - Specific to Google Ads, impression share (IS) is defined as “the percentage of impressions that your ads receive compared to the total number of impressions that your ads could get.” You can calculate using the formula: Impression share = impressions / total eligible impressions

Search Top Impression Share - A Google Ads specific term defined as **“**the percentage of your Shopping ad impressions that are shown in the most prominent Shopping position. There’s only one “absolute top impression” per auction so your absolute top impression share is an important indicator of your overall prominence.” You can calculate your absolute top impression share using the formula: Absolute top impression share = absolute top impressions / total eligible top impressions

SERP (Search Engine Results Page) - The list of results that a search engine lists in response to a specific word or phrase search.

Short Message Service (SMS) Marketing- Text message marketing, sending promotions to customers via mobile text.

Similar Audience - Specific to Microsoft advertising, Similar Audience is a function that automatically finds advertisers new customers by targeting users who’ve searched similar ****terms as defined on their Remarketing List.

Smart Shopping Campaigns - Specific mostly to Google Ads, Google defines Smart Shopping as “a campaign subtype [that] combines Standard Shopping and display remarketing campaigns, and uses automated bidding and ad placement to promote your products and business across networks.

Standard Shopping Campaigns - A feature specific to Google Ads that allows you to “promote your online and local inventory, boost traffic to your website or local store, and find better qualified leads.”


Target CPA Bid Strategy - Refers to the use of the Smart Bidding feature in Google Ads that automatically sets bids for you to drive as many conversions as possible. When creating a target CPA, you set an average budget that you’d like to pay for each conversion. More on target CPA bidding here.

Target Persona - Refers to formalizing a specific customer profile that allows you to map the demographics and psychographics of your ideal customers.

Target ROAS Bid Strategy - A Google Ads Smart Bidding strategy that allows advertisers to carefully predict the value of a potential conversion each time a prospective customer searches for products or services they are advertising.

Thumbstop Rate - A measurement of the efficiency of the hook of a video ad.

TikTok Live Shopping - A digital shopping experience offered through TikTok that gives brands the opportunity to display their products in real time through live streaming events. An example would be, say a TikTok creator is reviewing a product. The Live Shopping feature will provide an interactive pop up link that viewers can click to shop the product in the live content.

TikTok Shop - A product hosting feature offered through TikTok that allows brands to sell their products to buyers without them having to leave the app. Similar to Facebook Shops or Instagram Shops, the merit lies in streamlining the buyer journey when targeting TikTok users.

Tech Stack - The body of digital platforms and tools you use in your DTC marketing efforts (Example: Facebook Ads (Paid Media), Klaviyo (Email), Shopify (E-comm) etc.)

Top of Funnel (TOF) - Refers to the marketing activities centered on potential customers who have not yet interacted with a brand’s good or services. Top of funnel marketing typically consists of campaigns and content that focus on more on raising awareness to attract prospective customers.


Unique Clicks - The number of subscribers who clicked on your links.

Unique Outbound Click-Through-Rate - Estimates the percentage of users who saw an ad and clicked an outbound link.

Unique Outbound Clicks - Outbound Clicks counts the clicks that take people to external content (i.e. website, your app, or other external destinations).

User Generated Content (UGC) - Any and all content (testimonials, videos, images, etc.) from real customers centered on their experience with a good or service.


**Whitelisting - “**In reference to paid social, is when specific influencers and content creators grant you (the brand or agency) direct advertising access to use their handles, content and audiences,” Nicole Crowell, Creative Strategist at Structured Agency.

Word of Mouth Marketing (WOM) - A digital or verbal referral from a past buyer to a potential buyer. To date, WOM is considered the most influential form of marketing.

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