The Beginner’s Guide to Marketing Terminology: 8 Acronyms Decoded!

UPDATED: We’ve JUST released a new comprehensive guide to affiliate marketing terms. Check out our ultimate affiliate marketing glossary!

ROI, CTA, PPC…. OMG! Go from “don’t know” to Pro with this Must-Know Marketing Terminology Guide.

Acronyms are Annoying 

Until you know what they mean. The English alphabet can make can make 17,576 different combinations of three letter acronyms and 456,976 combinations of four letter acronyms. Throw a few numbers in there and….



If you’ve worked in the digital marketing space for even a day, then you’ve noticed this seemingly endless list of acronyms. However intimidating these may be at first, it’s important to realize that… You must know these must-know terms!

To succeed in digital marketing, affiliate marketing, e-commerce or direct response, you need to know the terminology, understand the terminology, be the terminology. 

Okay, that last one? Not so much… But you DO need to have a good grip on these terms if you want to start, manage, and grow your business. Imagine if you didn’t understand what red, yellow, or green meant on a stoplight…. YIKES!

Alright, let’s GTPS (get this party started)!

Here are a handful of starter acronyms to help you get familiar with marketing terminology


1) PPC = “Pay Per Click”

Pay-per-click is an internet advertising model in which the advertiser pays a publisher a fee each time their ad is clicked. It’s essentially a way of buying visits to your site, rather than attempting to earn them organically.

The two most popular forms of PPC advertising are through search engines such as Google or Bing, and through content sites like Facebook or individual websites.

If you’re using PPC with a search engine, then you are practicing SEM: Search Engine Marketing. For PPCs in a search engine, it’s common that advertisers will bid on keyword phrases that are relevant to their target market, product, or service and this will place their ad higher in the search ranks.

pay per click (ppc) ads

Have you noticed lately the little “AD” boxes that appear next to the top handful of search results? Those are PPC ads paid by the advertiser to appear that high in the searches.

In addition to PPC within search engines, content sites also have created ad space you can purchase. Content sites will commonly charge a fixed price per click rather than use a bidding system. Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have also added pay-per-click advertising models to their arsenal.

social ads

By using pay per click, you will be able to analyze the effectiveness of your ads and the profitability of your marketing. Clicks are a great way to measure attention and interest: if the main purpose of an ad is to generate a click, or more specifically drive traffic to a preferred destination, then pay-per-click is a great way to measure the attention and interest that the ad is attracting.

2) CTA = “Call To Action”

Ahhhh yes, the small but mighty call to action! A call to action is exactly as it sounds: a call for your visitor to take an action. It’s a text link, image, button or some form of web link prompting the visitor to perform a specific and immediate task. The action you want them to take is completely up to you:

  • “Download the E-book”
  • “Sign Up Today!”
  • “Continue Reading”
  • “Subscribe to the Newsletter”
  • “Add to Cart”
  • “Buy Now”

CTAs can be placed anywhere in your marketing as they are an ideal way of directing your visitors exactly where you want them. But approach with caution! An effective call to action must be strategic from what it says to how it looks to where it’s placed.

Learn how to create an effective call to action that drives conversions and gives you the results you want!

3) CTR = “Clickthrough Rate”

CTR is the percentage of your audience that progress (or clicks through) from one stage of your marketing campaign to the next.

Our Product Management Leader, Ashley Nelson, breaks it down like this:

clickthrough rate definition - marketing terminology

You can calculate your CTR by taking the number of total clicks on your page, call to action, or ad and divide that by the total number of opportunities that people had to click. For example, let’s say you sent an email to 150 people with a call to action to read your blog post. Of the 150 people you sent it to, 24 people clicked “READ THE BLOG” (this means they clicked-through… YAY!). You now have enough information to figure out your click-through rate!

24 / 150 = .16 = 16%

This means you have a 16% click-through rate on that email campaign. Nice! Generally, the higher the CTR the more effective your marketing campaign was at guiding people where you want them to go. For more information on data you should be tracking as an affiliate, check out this blog

4) SEO = “Search Engine Optimization”

Ever wonder why some sites show up as the first result in your search, but yours is pages and pages deep? SEO can help! SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it refers to techniques that increase the visibility of your website in search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. While ClickBank mostly deals with direct traffic sources like emailing, paid ads, and social media, you shouldn’t be ignoring organic traffic from search engines and SEO. By improving the SEO for your site, you can improve your rankings, drive organic traffic, and increase awareness in the search engines.

There are a ton of different elements that go into measuring and improving your SEO. Not only does our Business Development Manager, Thomas McMahon, set the bar for stylish animal t-shirts, he also provides 3 tips for improving your SEO:

improve your seo

  1. Onsite Optimization- Make sure Google can crawl your site easily and understand it. The basics need to be covered from optimized title tags to clean internal linking. Check out the On-Site SEO guide at Moz for more help!
  2. Earn Backlinks- you should always be looking to earn quality links to your site from other relevant sites around the web. Check out Page One Power and their awesome guides on link building 
  3. Create Great Content Regularly- Publish informational content that is targeted around search terms related to your business. This will help earn more traffic from search engines, and it will give you “linkable assets” to earn more links to on your site. Start by discovering exactly what your consumers are searching for in their search engines and provide content around that.

5) SLA = “Service Level Agreement”

An SLA, or a Service Level Agreement, is basically as it sounds: an agreement between two parties, typically a service provider and a client, that agrees on the standard (or level) of service that is to be provided. The service provider and the service user agree on aspects of the service such as responsibilities, availability, timing and quality of the service being delivered.

SLAs can be used for any service being provided between you and a client or even between your own team. For example, ClickBank’s Business Services Team has an SLA agreement with both our clients and our Sales Team that product approval requests will be reviewed within 3-5 business days of being submitted. This means that if you submit your product for approval to ClickBank, the Business Services Team will review your request and respond back to you within 3 to 5 business days of the date you submitted it, as promised.

A well-defined Service Level Agreement should cover the following components:

  • The type of service being provided
  • The desired performance level, reliability, timeline, and responsiveness for the service
  • Monitoring process and reporting
  • Steps for reporting issues with the service
  • Response and issue resolution time frames
  • And what will happen if the service provider does not meet their commitments

6) CSS = “Cascading Style Sheets”

Where are all my coders at??? These next two should be easy for you. CSS is computer code. But a cooler way to think about it is basically as the computer language that manages the look of your page (color, feel, etc.). It works hand in hand with HTML (see HTML below) which controls the content and structure of your page. Some good imagery to help you get a grip on this is to think of HTML as the skeleton of your webpages and CSS as the clothing.

cascading style sheets (CSS)

With CSS, you can create rules that tell your website how you want it to show your information. You can keep the rules for style elements such as fonts and colors separate from the HTML rules that control your content and structure. The “cascading” in cascading style sheets exemplifies that you can have multiple style sheets, with one style sheet acquiring elements (“cascading”) from others.

7) HTML = “Hypertext Markup Language”

HTML is CSS’s PIC (partner in crime).

HyperText is basically just how you move around on the internet: by clicking on text called hyperlinks which takes you to a new page.

Markup is what HTML tags do to the text inside them. Italicized text and bold text are examples of markups.

Similar to CSS, HTML is just another computer language

HTML is the “hidden” code that describes the structure of your web page.  When writing HTML, you add “tags” to the text to create the structure. These tags will then tell the internet browser how to display the text or graphics within the document. This browser reads the file and translates the text into a visible form, hopefully translating the page as intended.

Here is an example of what the back-end code would look like:

HTML code

And here is what it turns out as once the web browser has translated the code into the visual representation:



Though HTML and CSS are seemingly impossible to master, there are a ton of resources online, both paid and free, to help you acquire and practice these new skills! Free Code Camp is an online community that helps you learn code for free and even earn coding certifications.

8) ROAS = “Return on Ad Spend”

Return on ad spend is one of the easiest revenue metrics you can measure and it’s exactly as it sounds: calculating how much you are spending on your marketing ads and how much revenue you are gaining in return. If you are not making enough in return to cover your costs, you may need to think your strategy.

Here’s how you can measure your return on as spend:

ROAS = Revenue from Ad – Cost of Ad

Simple as that! For example, let’s say you spent $100 on a PPC ad with Google. From that ad, you generated sales resulting in $300. Let’s plug this into our equation:

ROAS = $300 – $100 = $200

Congratulations my friend you have generated $200 of revenue on this ad which means you earned DOUBLE what you spent.

return on ad spend (ROAS)

Marketing Terminology Conclusion 

Once you master the practices behind these crazy letter combos and fit them into your own business, it could lead to substantial positive results. You could increase organic traffic, conversions, the number of customers you have, and ultimately increase your profits!

If you don’t have a ClickBank account and you want to put all of your new acronym knowledge to use, you can sign up for a free ClickBank account right here!

And to jumpstart your digital marketing career, check out Spark Certification – the ONLY education platform that is endorsed by ClickBank!