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From WTF to ROI: Understanding Digital Marketing Acronyms

Quick quiz, do you know what all these acronyms represent: ROAS, IKYWT, CTR, OOTW, PTB, RFI? If you guessed that some of these were digital marketing terms, you are correct. On the other hand, if you guessed that others were Taylor Swift songs, you are also correct. Such is the world of corporate nomenclature- an often confusing, jumbled mess of letters thrown together, representing many different facets of business. And not always recognized by everyone.

During my first week in the world of digital marketing, I thought everyone was speaking Greek. The sales team was throwing around ‘ROAS’ numbers, the media guys were talking about their ‘CPA’ and our designers were saying we needed a stronger ‘CTA’. At this point the only acronym that I was using was ‘WTF’. It seems that if I wanted to drink the Ouzo with the rest of them, it was time to learn Greek!

For anyone else out there up to their proverbial ears in acronyms, let me help you out with a quick-and-dirty cheat sheet:

SEO: Search Engine Optimization

    • This is the practice of optimizing a website so it ranks higher in search engine results pages. Pages with more visibility in search results have a higher likelihood of being found and visited.

SEM: Search Engine Marketing

    • A more encompassing term that includes activities such as SEO, paid listings, and other search engine-related tactics. Delving into Google Ads, for example, can help businesses reach many more new customers.

PPC: Pay-Per-Click

    • This is also commonly used in platforms like Google Ads and other online advertising platforms. In Pay-Per-Click, the advertiser pays a fee each time their advertisement is clicked on.

CTR: Click-Through Rate

    • The number is expressed in a percentage: how many people clicked on your ad divided by the amount of times your ad was presented. This ratio can help show how effective advertisements are.

ROI: Return On Investment

    • This can also be expressed as Return on Costs. It is a performance measure that shows how profitable an investment is, calculated as the gain or loss from the investment relative to its cost.

CVR: Conversion Rate

    • This is typically expressed as a percentage; the number of users who take the desired action (i.e. complete a purchase) divided by the total number of users who visited the site.

UGC: User-Generated Content

    • This is content that is created by people (usually customers), rather than the brand. This can include reviews, testimonials and social media posts of images and videos. 

CTA: Call to Action

    • This is the term used for a prompt that is used to elicit an immediate response from the audience, encouraging them to take a specific action. Typical examples include “Buy Now” or “Sign Up”

CPA: Cost Per Acquisition

    • How much a business pays for each desired action (sale, lead, form submission) as a result of their marketing efforts.

ROAS: Return On Ad Spend

    • In digital advertising, this metric measures the amount of revenue generated for every dollar spent on advertising.

Acronyms in the digital age are ubiquitous. While they pose their own challenges, they have also become a necessity. Learning acronyms can take some time and I’ve found that repetition certainly helps. I have also found that I was able to overcome my confusion by simply pausing the conversation to ask for clarification- I try to never let my fear of looking stupid get in the way of learning something important!

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