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This site is currently under construction. We are, however, pleased to say that the SMU 102 Digital Copywriting Unit is now open. We've also added Marketing Principles and an Intro to Public Relations. Our Content Marketing Unit is currently in development.

SMU 105 - Session 1: Why the link between content marketing and business strategy is so important

the relationship between business strategy and content marketing

Purpose/Aim of this session

In this session you will be exploring the critical relationship and link between digital content and a business strategy. The theme of this session is all about 'intelligent content'. What's intelligent content? Digital content that is audience-focused, links back to a clear and value-based business strategy and is published online at the right time, using the right brand messaging channel - and published for the right reason.

Learning Aims for this session:

  • You will develop an understanding of the core principles of content marketing
  • You will learn the links between business strategy and content marketing
  • You will explore value creation, and how value creation is a direct output of a business strategy informed approach to content marketing

Learning Outcomes for this session:

At the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the links between business strategy, content marketing and value creation
  • Explain the difference between strategy and goals, and objectives
  • Demonstrate a professional approach to researching and planing content
  • Outline an effective approach to embedding value creation in the content marketing planing process

How this Session Works:

  1. Read through the "Session Overview" that accompanies this session. This provides an overall context for the session
  2. Work your way through the items on the "What is Content Marketing?" section that accompanies this session
  3. Work your way through the items in the "What is Strategy?" section that accompanies this session
  4. Work your way through the items in the "Content Marketing & Business Strategy" section that accompanies this session
  5. Work your way through the items in the "Value Creation" section that accompanies this session
  6. Listen to the lecture materials in the "Lecture" section
  7. Work your way through the content marketing scenarios in the "Scenario" section.  Scenarios are practical activities to develop your critical thinking and apply your knowledge to a specific component of CM
  8. Work your way through the template in the "Template" section.  The template will support you as you take the first steps in developing your own content
  9. You can browse through some carefully selected material in the "Reading Room" tab.
  10. Familiarize yourself with the key industry terminology via the "Glossary" tab.

SMU 105 Session 1 Study Activities

  • Session Overview
  • What is Content Marketing?
  • What is Strategy?
  • Content Marketing & Business Strategy
  • Value Creation & Strategy
  • Lecture
  • Scenarios
  • Template
  • Glossary

So what is Content Marketing? Coming up with a definitive definition for the term 'content marketing' is a bit contentious. Like any professional field, there are quite a few interpretations and variations. We think the Content Marketing institute's definition is the best. So we're going to go with it:

"Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action." - Content marketing Institute

So...what's so great about content marketing?

Content marketing exists to serve an important purpose: to attract and retain an audience. We attract - and keep - this audience by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content. We create and share this content with the intention of changing or enhancing that audience's behavior with our brand - and by extension, with our business, service or organization.

By it's very nature, content marketing is an ongoing process. It's a process that is best integrated into our overall marketing strategy.Since our marketing strategy is linked to our business strategy, content marketing is directly linked to, and exists to serve, our overall business strategy.

It's audience-focused

The essence of content marketing is about sharing. This could be sharing brand values. Or it could be other forms of sharing: education, entertainment, etc. At it's simplest, content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling.

It is also audience-focused. Because it is audience-focused, it is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.

Go back and read the Content Marketing Institute's definition for content marketing one more time, but this time remove the words 'relevant' and 'valuable'. That’s the difference between content marketing and the other informational rubbish you get from companies trying to sell you "stuff."  Companies send us information all the time – it’s just that most of the time it’s not very relevant or valuable (can you say spam?). or it's downright disruptive in its interference (can you say pop-up windows? can you say silverlight - you know, that annoying overlay screen that obscures content that requires you to click in order to get rid of it?)

That’s what makes content marketing so intriguing in today’s environment of thousands of marketing messages per person per day. Good content marketing makes a person stop…read… think… behave… differently.

Why study content marketing before social media marketing, blogging, website building, etc?

No surprises here then when we say we 100% agree with the Content Marketing Institute's appraisal of where content marketing falls within the marketing mix.

Regardless of what type of marketing and brand messaging tactics you use, content marketing should be part of your overall business strategy and marketing process, not something separate. Quality content is part of all forms of marketing:

  • Social media marketing: Content marketing strategy comes before your social media strategy.
  • SEO: Search engines reward businesses that publish quality, consistent content.
  • PR: Successful PR strategies address issues readers care about, not their business.
  • PPC: Pay-Per-Click - For PPC to work, you need great content behind it.
  • Blogging (Inbound marketing): Content is key to driving inbound traffic and leads.

Some important statistics

  • 80 percent of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement (Roper Public Affairs)
  • 70 percent say content marketing makes them feel closer to the sponsoring company (Roper Public Affairs)
  • 60 percent say that company content helps them make better product decisions (Roper Public Affairs)

Still not convinced? Check out some relevant content marketing research here:

Given all of the above, a strategic approach to content marketing is critical. 

Now that we have introduced the overall concept, please proceed to the What is Content Management tab, where we'll delve a more deeply into the overall concept of content management.

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Caption: How and Why companies use content marketing infografic. For the full image, please visit: Marketo

1. Establishing a common frame of reference for the term 'Content Marketing'.

What, exactly, does Social Media U mean by Content Marketing?

There's a little confusion of what content marketing actually is. We know it has something to do with Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Vimeo, Tumblr, Dig and blogging stuff that everyone and their mother seems to be doing these days. Brands, regardless of size or years established know they need to be a part of. And here the story stops.

To really represent your brand online effectively through content, you need to know what you're doing, when to do it - and where you need to do it. This includes knowing the true meaning of content marketing if you're going to do it...and for you to stand any chance at all of maximizing its benefits. Or stand any chance of any meaningful return on your (time and.or money) investment - what we refer to as ROI.

The phrase "content marketing" doesn't stop at the word content. Yes, blog posts and tweets are a part of what this strategy is - but it's only the very, very beginning. You have to get past the word "content" and understand what we're looking at as a whole.

The video below covers this subject. Amy Schmittauer provides an excellent introductory overview. We apologise in advance if English is your second language. Amy speaks very fast. We mean really, really fast. if English is your second language. we suggest pausing the video and moving the video layer's slider back a little bit in order to re-hear what sh is saying. We ordinarily wouldn't include a video where a speaker is speaking so quickly. However, in this instance, Amy's points are good ones.

As Amy covered in the video above, content marketing is the plan for creating value for your brand or the brand of a potential client. Content is indeed a part of that equation because it's a medium for how to deliver that message. So what does that content look like and how is it valuable to to your brand or your client's brand?

We need to take the definition a step further to get to a return for your efforts.

What's valuable for your brand - or client's brand - is important. There is no denying that. However, true content marketing is providing an audience with what's truly valuable to them - so much so that it drives an emotion that makes them want to act in some capacity. That action could be a lot of things - subscriptions, purchases, donations, etc - and hopefully it's what you planned for.

But most importantly content must become an advocate for your brand.

2. Going deeper into what we mean by Content Marketing: The Art of Giving

At this point in our conversation about content marketing, please read the article below:

Content marketing is the art of giving away and/or sharing something valuable (content) in order to sell something that's related to that content in order to meet a clearly understood business goal. And, of course, all of this is directed by a clearly established business strategy.

Clark's article covers how content marketing, in its simplest definition, involves giving away something valuable in order to sell something related.

Clark, B. 2010. The Grateful Dead 4-Step Guide to the Magical Influence of Content Marketing, copyblogger.

3. Content Marketing: The Link Between Content Marketing & Strategy

Building on Clark's concepts, please read the article below:

In this article, Brooks introduces the concept of strategy in relation to content marketing.

Brooks, L. 2010. Why Content is No Longer King (And Who’s Taking His Place), copyblogger.

Challenges faced by content marketers. Image source: Marketo.

Image source: Marketo

4. The Process of Copy Marketing

Like many of the aspects of marketing that we've covered to-date, Content Marketing is a process. We've provided the video below, which does an excellent job of giving you an overview of what that process is. It also covers what content marketing isn't.

In the video below, Rand Fishkin delves more deeply into the points raised by Schmittauer, Clark and Brooks. He also stresses the fact that content marketing takes time to become effective.

Don't panic if you don't understand the terminology and lingo that Rand uses. You'll find definitions for all of them in the Glossary section for this session.

At this point, we don't expect you to fully understand every aspect of what Rand covers. At this point, we want you to understand just how important a content marketing strategy is - and how content marketing fits into an overall brand strategy. I many ways, this video acts as  a summary of all of the topics we;ll be covering in this unit. We guarantee you, if you come back and watch this video after you finish Session 10, you'll say "oh, that's what that guy was was talking about in Session 1!"

Part of learning is learning what you don't know. There's an old saying in higher education that goes something like: you don't know what you don't know until you learn that you don't know it. This video is also provided for this purpose. It will help you identify the specific areas of content marketing that you don't know. It will focus your attention when we reach that specific area, or subject or topic in the course.

To make things easier, we're providing 3 very short videos that cover three terms that Rand uses quite often: Conversion, SEO and Keyword.



We'll cover how this relates to content later in this unit. For now, we need you to understand that SEO is important - and what it basically is.


Now, on to Rand's video, which you will find below:

5. Copy Marketing Is Not Social Media Marketing

One misconception that we want to clear up is that content marketing is the same as social media marketing. These are two fundamentally and very different processes. The article below covers the differences between the two.

Murdock, T. 2012. Content Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing: What’s the Difference?, Content Marketing Institute.

So, at this point, we've given you a working definition of what we mean by content marketing. We've also given you a tiny glimpse into its application. Now we want to quickly touch upon the concept of strategy.

Please head over to the What is Strategy? tab, for some videos and reading on the subject.

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1. Establishing a common frame of reference for the term 'Strategy'.

So what is this strategy thing then?

We do a lot of consulting with start-up companies. Everything from fashion brands to record labels to app developers to technology companies. One of our top 10 questions we asked every company we consult with is: "So what's your strategy?" Invariably, we get variations on a theme:

  1. We want to have a turnover in excess of $5 million by Year 2
  2. We want a market share of 15% by Year 3
  3. We want to sell to company for "X" amount and retire by the age of 35 or 40
  4. We want to dominate our sector/industry
  5. I want to move out my mom's basement because she's on the verge of killing me

While all of the above are admirable aims or goals (we love #5 just for its simplicity and honesty), these are goals and/or objectives. A goal or an objective is not a strategy. That's so important that, yep, we're going to say it one more time. A goal or an objective is not a strategy.

Even major international business and organisations get muddled up with this notion. So don't fret. you're in very good company.

OK, so we've told you what isn't a strategy. So what is? At the core of its being, a strategy always has a value proposition. If you're strategy statement doesn't convey a clear value don't have a strategy.

Let's hand you over to Michael Porter, who tells it like it is in under 2 minutes:

To give you an example, at Aardvark Records, your tutor Alex's goal was for Aardvark to gain more market share and exposure in order to sell more music. Just like any other record label. His strategy, however, was something quite different. Sure, it incorporated market share and increased music sales, but it never states either of these things.

His strategy was, with the resources at hand within the label, to create a likeable, trusted and totally approachable record label for 'left of centre' music (un-pop music); a record label that openly shared quality music entertainment experiences where barriers to exploration were totally removed. And it was a record label that spoke genuinely, honestly and transparently with its audience - rather than just liking customers for their money.  

In a crowded music marketplace defined by faceless and aloof labels, or music selling brands that really only liked consumers for the contents of their wallets and purses - this was a powerful value statement and strategy. It's cheesy to say but it was a strategy that genuinely won hearts and minds. it was a strategy supported by freely shared content online - content that supported two way online conversations between the label and its audience. It was a strategy that fostered loyalty and brand advocacy.

That is what a true strategy can achieve.

2. Going deeper into this strategy thing....

The video below covers developing a strategy.

3. Definitions and Meanings of Strategy

The paper below examines various definitions and meanings of the term strategy and related terms (e.g., policy, tactics, ends and means). Its aim is to clarify and make those terms more useful. It poses very specific questions which you should contemplate regarding strategy for your own business - or your client's business.

Nickols, F. 2012. Strategy: Definitions & Meanings, Distance Consulting LLC.

4. The Essence of Strategy

An important aspect of strategy is owning and delivering a value proposition different from all other competitors in your market - and communicating the value from your audience's perspective and not yours.The article below delves deeply into this subject.

Porter, M. E. 1996. What Is Strategy?, Harvard Business Review, November 1996.

5. The Five Components of a Business Strategy

In the video below, Ian Heller present the five components of a valid business strategy.

6. The importance of strategy

Now if this is all starting to sound like Business 101. it kind of is. Clearly understood business consideration lay at the heart of effective content marketing.

In the video below, Professor Richard Rumelt from the London School of Economics and Political Science, discusses developing and implementing a strategy. He also covers some of the pitfalls that can occur along the way within that process.

Now that we've given you an overview of what we mean by content marketing and why we mean by strategy, it's time to give you an overview of the relationship between content marketing and strategy.

Please proceed to the Content Marketing & Business Strategy tab.

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Key terms for this section:

B2B: Business to Business marketing. It's exactly what it sounds like. B2B is communication and/or transactions between businesses. If my business supplies water coolers to businesses, and I email my local accounting firm with a brand message about my water coolers - that's B2B communication.

B2C: Business to Consumer marketing. Like the above, this is exactly what it sounds like. I've created a new bubble gum. So I create a Facebook page to promote it to the public. That's B2C communication.

1.A Content Marketing Framework

There is two things that directly impacts on the quality of content marketing and business strategies: Research and Planning. We're going to tackle planning first. We start with planning because the process of planning highlight specific areas we need to research. Planning first, and then researching, will save you valuable time. It will also streamline the content marketing and business strategy processes.

In the article below, the Content Marketing institute covers the importance of creating a content marketing framework through planning:

Content Marketing Framework: Plan (Plan the work then work the Plan):

2. Going deeper into planning.

In the article below, Joe Pulizzi provides important thinking and action points to consider during the content marketing planning process:

Pulizzi, J. 2013. 2 Foolproof Methods for Getting Content Marketing Buy-In, The Content Marketing Institute.

3. Research.

One area of research is investigating how people in general use the social media spaces we might use to share our content. Another is how other brands are engaging with content marketing This is a subject covered in the article below.

Pulizzi, J. 2013. 2014 B2B Content Marketing Research: Strategy is Key to Effectiveness, The Content Marketing Institute.

4. Mapping Content Marketing Goals to Business Strategy.

When reading the article below, think about ways business goals and objectives link back to a business strategy. Think about ways content - from blogs to emails to ideas - can be used to deliver specific goals that map back to a genuine business strategy.

Marketing goals and the connected role of content marketing, i-Scoop.

5. Mapping Content Marketing Goals to Business Strategy.

Smart marketers know they can't do everything and be everywhere. But how do you determine your priorities?

Developing a content strategy that tells a consistent story to a specific audience serves as the first step. But that strategy requires a relevant, contextual approach and sustainable storyline that reflects the social nature of business today.

During the presentation below, which was delivered to the Business Marketing Association, Carla Johnson covers:

  • Why a content strategy matters
  • How strategy affects the success of a content marketing program
  • Specific steps to create a content strategy

6. Strategy-informed goals.

Content marketing goals, when linked to a business strategy, are good things to have. However, they must relate back to your business strategy in order for your goals to be effective.

The article below gives you some thinking points about content marketing goals you may want to form to deliver your business strategy.

Simone, S. 2012. 10 Content Marketing Goals Worth Pursuing, copyblogger.

Please proceed to the Value Creation & Strategy tab.

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Value creation is the primary aim of any business entity. Creating value for customers helps sell products and services, while creating value for shareholders. This value differs from industry to industry. However, using a broad brush explanation, 'value' can take the form of increases in revenue, awareness (particularly for the non-for-profit sector), stock price, etc. Value is important as it insures the future availability of capital or resources to fund operations.

Moving away from the traditional revenue/profit based explanation of value, we agree with this quote from "Traditional methods of assessing organizational performance are no longer adequate in today's economy." goes on to say that "Stock price is less and less determined by earnings or asset base. Value creation in today's companies is increasingly represented in the intangible drivers like innovation, people, ideas, and brand."

The first step in achieving an organization-wide focus on value creation is understanding the sources and drivers of value creation within the industry, company, and marketplace. Understanding what creates value will help focus resources and talent on the most profitable opportunities for growth. "If customers value consistent quality and timely delivery, then the skills, systems, and processes that produce and deliver quality products and services are highly valuable to the organization."

Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton wrote in their book Strategy Maps: Converting Intangible Assets into Tangible Outcomes: "If customers value innovation and high performance, then the skills, systems, and processes that create new products and services with superior functionality take on high value. Consistent alignment of actions and capabilities with the customer value proposition is the core of strategy execution."

The intangible factors that drive value creation differ by industry. Yet, some of the major categories of intangible assets include technology, innovation, intellectual property, alliances, management capabilities, employee relations, customer relations, community relations, and brand value.

According to Kaplan and Norton, the link between these intangible assets and value creation is business strategy. It is important to note that investments made to enhance intangible assets (research and development, employee training, and brand building, for example) usually provide indirect rather than direct benefits. In this way, focusing on value creation forces an organization to adopt a long-term perspective and align all of its resources toward future goals.

1.Simple Rules: The Three Logics of Value Creation

In the video below Donald Sull, Associate Professor of Management Practice in Strategic and International Management, elaborates on the three core logics of value creation. These are three core concepts that have been covered in the Branding, Digital Copywriting and Marketing units. However, these concepts we're now directly applying these to content marketing.

2. Simple rules: Strategy as simple rules.

In this second strategy as simple rules video from Donald Sull, Associate Professor of Management Practice in Strategic and International Management, he explains what simple rules are and how managers can make them work in their organisations. While the video discusses processes at an organisational level, apply what he is saying to the process of a content marketing process.

For instance, when Sull covers opportunities, think of the myriad of social media platforms you might use to publish your content. And think about the different forms of content that you might use (these are brand messaging opportunities to!)

3. Simple rules: Common mistakes with simple rules.

In the third video on strategy as simple rules Donald Sull, Associate Professor of Management Practice, discusses the five common pitfalls that are likely to derail strategy as simple rules in organisations.

4. Value Propositions

image illsutrating value disciplines

In the article below, Vincent van Vliet writes about the subject of value proposition. A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered and acknowledged and a belief from the customer that value will be delivered and experienced. A value proposition can apply to an entire organization, or parts thereof, or customer accounts, or products or services. Again, it is a core component of the brand messages we deliver through content marketing. And, of course, it is linked to business strategies.

While reading this article, think about how a value proposition influences not only the content that we create but the messages we deliver through that content. And how it relates to the topic of Sull's Simple Rules.

van Vliet, V. 2014. Value Disciplines (Treacy and Wiersema), toolshero.

5. Creating customer value through content

The first 90 seconds of this video delivers a perfectly articulated business strategy and value proposition. It really doesn't get any better than this with regards to those two concepts. And look at how effortlessly Kevin Green from Dell delivers both.

It’s easy to find product specs, case studies and white papers, but what really helps customers make critical buying decisions? Who do they trust and how can a large enterprise or small business tap into the power of owned digital platforms and content to provide value and utility to a nomadic customer. Green covers this brilliantly in the video below.

Just a note: Big Data and micro sites are things we'll be covering later on in the Content Marketing study unit.

6. Establishing Audience Intimacy Through Value

Companies that excel in customer intimacy combine detailed customer knowledge with operational flexibility so they can respond quickly to almost any need, from customizing a product to fulfilling special requests. This is is something that content marketing can assist in delivering.

Aardvark Records went from an unknown label to an international brand with a high level of customer intimacy. With a virtually non-existent marketing budget to begin with. how did Aardvark create, foster and develop this intimacy? Through content.

Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema's article below is the perfect synthesis of all of the themes and subjects we've covered so far in this session.

Treacy, M. and Wiersema, F. 1993. Customer Intimacy and Other Value Disciplines, Harvard Business Review, January 1993.

7. Getting Noticed in a Crowded Marketplace

Why do we spend so much time giving you a basic grounding in strategy and value creation?  Well, we'll let the video below answer that question. See how Voodoo Donuts and Zip Car stood out in a crowded marketplace by absolutely owning strategy and value creation.

Now that we've explored the relationship between content creation and strategy, we've prepared you for all of the main subjects and themes covered in this session's lecture.

Please proceed to the Lecture for this session.

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The lecture for this session is in the form of a video from Coca Cola and and a video from the content marketing thought leader, Joe Pulizzi.

1. Coca-Cola Content 2020 Initiative Strategy

The video below introduces us to the Coca-Cola Content 2020 Initiative (C2020I). It covers Coca-Cola's emerging content marketing strategy as they transition from one-way messaging via advertising excellence to content marketing excellent that makes their marketing content optimized for audience interaction (customers, partners, employees, enthusiasts, stakeholders, etc.).

As you watch the video, pay particular attention to how Coca Cola embeds its business strategy and value creation throughout its content marketing process.

We also suggest having your Brand Value Canvas and Empathy Map nearby. Think about these two things as you watch the video.Part of your Template activity will be updating these documents based on what you have learned in this session

Yes, we appreciate that the value of sugar water is problematic, if not contentious. And yes, we appreciate that Coke's marketing budget resembles the GNP of a developing nation. However, we can all learn from Coke's approach and example - scaling what they do to a size suitable for our own companies, services and organizations.

Before you watch the video, there are some storytelling terms we need to cover first. They are mentioned in the video. In order to understand their significant, you first have to know what they are.

The storytelling terms are:

  • Serial Storytelling
  • Multi-Faceted Storytelling
  • Spreadable Storytelling
  • Immersion & Discovery Storytelling
  • Engagement Through Storytelling

For definitions and applications for these brand storytelling styles, please read:

Dietrich, J. 2014. Content Marketing Strategy & Storytelling on Google Plus: Let’s Talk about What Content Connects!, G+ Plus Geek.

2. Some wise words from Joe Pulizzi

The video below is a recording of a talk given by leading author, speaker and strategist for content marketing and social media, Joe Pulizzi. This talk was presented to the Hudson Library & Historical Society.

During the course of his talk, Pulizzi touches on all of the major themes of this session. He also briefly covers topics we will be exploring in the other sessions of this study unit.

3. Managing Content Marketing for Successful Outcomes

While most marketers intend to embrace the benefits of content marketing, many are struggling with issues including strategy development and integration, process management, and structure.

Speaker Darren Woolley, Founder and Managing Director of TrinityP3, discusses his approach to the development and implementation of a successful content marketing strategy. He  outlines the issues and the requirements to set up a content marketing strategy for success.

4. The Content Marketing Revolution

In the video below, Ed Pank presents key themes and case studies from Warc's (World Advertising Research Centre) Content Revolution Trends Report. The presentation will cover key trends in content marketing with a focus on how brands are using digital content formats.

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The essence of content marketing is having a well-researched strategy. This is something we will explore much more fully in the next few sessions. However, for now, you need to be aware of what you need to be thinking about in terms of content marketing. This is the essence of the scenarios in this session.

Before we get to the scenarios, there are two terms we want to quickly revisit: B2B and B2C.


B2B is shorthand for 'business to business'. The products and services of a business are marketed to other businesses. Examples include advertising agencies, web hosting and graphic design services, office furniture manufacturers and commercial/industrial landlords who lease office and retail space.

Business to business relationships are developed and ongoing, and the sales processes involved take longer than business-to-consumer relationships (B2C). B2B decision making may take place at more than one level. For instance, the salesperson meets with the departmental manager, who then has to get approval from the business owner before the sale is closed. Emotions have no place in B2B sales.


B2C is shorthand for 'business to consumer'. Housecleaning services, restaurants and retail stores are examples of B2C companies. Websites that offer consumer products are B2C. The B2C sales cycle is shorter. The consumer is encouraged to buy the product immediately.

For example, a mother is looking for educational toys. She finds the site, reviews the product and buys the toy. Purchases are made on an emotional basis as well as on the basis of price and product. It gets a little confusing when the product is marketed to consumers but goes through several steps to get to the customer.

B2B and B2C

An industry may include both B2B and B2C companies.A record label or music publishing company is a perfect example. Recording artists market their music to record labels and music publishing companies. Both the recording artist and the record label are in a B2B relationship. The record label manufactures and sells the artist's music to the public, both online and in retail outlets (which is B2C). The record label also 'rents' the artist's music out to television  production companies to use in TV shows, film companies to use in movies or other companies in order for the music to be played in malls, gyms, pubs - anywhere in public (these are B2B examples).

A music retail outlet sells the music to people in its store - this is an example of B2C.

Book publishing and fashion design are additional industries that have both B2B and B2C.

Scenario Preparatory Activity

To better enable you to complete the scenario activity, let's look at an excellent real world Marketing Strategy that involves digital content. As you read through this marketing plan:

  1. Note how the marketing strategy maps back to a keenly understood business strategy

  2. Identify the clearly articulated Value Proposition

  3. Understand the role of content in delivering this strategy

Please read: Melbourne City Marketing Plan 2013-2106.

Scenario Activity 1:

Read the following booklet, and answer as many of the questions as you can.Note the questions that you can't answer. These will tell you areas you need to focus on during this study unit - or research.

Please read: The Essentials of a Documented Content Marketing Strategy: 36 Questions to Answer, Content Marketing Institute.

Scenario Activity 2:

Read the booklet below, and answer as many of the questions as you can. Note the questions that you can't answer. These will tell you areas you need to focus on during this study unit - or research.

Please read: The Content Marketing Strategy Checklist: A Big fat Roll-Up-Your-Sleeves Guide for B2B Marketers, Velocity.

When you have finished both scenarios, please go on to the Template exercise. 

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We have stressed, again and again, the importance of a concrete business strategy. A business strategy and informs and directs every aspect of marketing. Nowhere more so than in content marketing, especially in conveying a business strategy-linked Value Proposition. Each piece of content that we produce needs to relay this Value Proposition in one way or another - and must link back to the business strategy.

The template exercises below are provided to assist you in fine tuning your business strategy - which will allow you to more fully understand the kinds of content you can produce to deliver your Value proposition through content in answer to your business strategy. It will also inform the various social media platforms you may select as to best deliver your brand messages through the appropriate social media platforms.

PART 1. Porter's Five Forces

Porter's Five Forces image

What is it and how do we use it?

Porter's Five Forces is a model that helps marketers and business managers look at the 'balance of power' in an industry or business sector between different types of organisations. It's also used to analyse the attractiveness and potential profitability of an industry sector.

It’s a strategic tool designed to give a global overview, rather than a detailed business analysis technique. It helps review the strengths of a market position, based on five key forces.

We're introducing this model to you because it forces us to ask questions or perceive problems or issues that the content we produce need to answer or solve. When it comes to content marketing in highly competitive industries or sectors with numerous similar business or organizations - we need to be absolutely certain about our unique Value Proposition - and how this needs to be conveyed in the content we produce.

The video below outlines why asking these questions is important.

How can I use Porter's 5 Forces?

To apply Porter's Five Forces, you need to work through these questions for each area:

Force 1: Threat of New Entry?
Force 2: Buyer Power?
Force 3: Threat of Substitution?
Force 4: Supplier Power?
Force 5: Competitive Rivalry?

Threat of New Entry

If a new businesses can be easily started up in your sector without substantial investment - then this is a threat. The Internet has made this a reality in many sectors, especially the music and publishing industries! Power is also affected by the ability of people to enter your market. If it costs little in time or money to enter your market and compete effectively, if there are few economies of scale in place, or if you have little protection for your key technologies, then new competitors can quickly enter your market and weaken your position. If you have strong and durable barriers to entry, then you can preserve a favorable position and take fair advantage of it.

So ask yourself the questions:

  • What’s the threat of new businesses starting in this sector?
  • How easy is it to start up in this business?
  • What are the rules and regulations?
  • What finance would be needed to start-up?
  • Are there barriers to entry which give you greater power?

Buyer Power

Where there are fewer buyers, they often control the market. Here you ask yourself how easy it is for buyers to drive prices down. Again, this is driven by the number of buyers, the importance of each individual buyer to your business, the cost to them of switching from your products and services to those of someone else, and so on. If you deal with few, powerful buyers, then they are often able to dictate terms to you.

Questions here include:

  • How powerful are the buyers?
  • How many are there?
  • Can the buyers get costs down?
  • Do they have the power to dictate terms?

Threat of Substitution

If there are available alternatives then the threat of substitution increases. This is affected by the ability of your customers to find a different way of doing what you do – for example, if you supply a unique software product that automates an important process, people may substitute by doing the process manually or by outsourcing it. If substitution is easy and substitution is viable, then this weakens your power.

  • How easy is it to find an alternative to this product or service?
  • Can it be outsourced? Or automated?

Supplier Power

Markets where there are few suppliers means the suppliers retain the power. Here you assess how easy it is for suppliers to drive up prices. This is driven by the number of suppliers of each key input, the uniqueness of their product or service, their strength and control over you, the cost of switching from one to another, and so on. The fewer the supplier choices you have, and the more you need suppliers' help, the more powerful your suppliers are.

An example would be iTunes, which sets the pricing structure for purchasing music, films and television episodes online - it has that much power.

  • Examine how many suppliers are in the market?
  • Are there a few who control prices?
  • Or many so prices are lower?
  • Do your suppliers hold the power?
  • How easy is it to switch, what’s the cost?

Competitive Rivalry

Markets where there are few competitors are attractive but can be short-lived. These are highly competitive markets with many companies chasing the same work reduce your power in the market. What is important here is the number and capability of your competitors. If you have many competitors, and they offer equally attractive products and services, then you'll most likely have little power in the situation, because suppliers and buyers will go elsewhere if they don't get a good deal from you. On the other hand, if no-one else can do what you do, then you can often have tremendous strength.

  • What’s the level of competition in this sector?
  • What’s the competitor situation? Many competitors and you’re all in a commodity situation or a few?

The model has a standard layout format, which you see in the image below:

image showing a Porter's Five Forces diagram

To use the tool to understand your situation, look at each of these forces one-by-one and write your observations.We've provided links to templates for you to use.

Brainstorm the relevant factors for your market or situation, and then check against the factors listed for the force in the diagram above.

Then, mark the key factors on the diagram, and summarize the size and scale of the force on the diagram. An easy way of doing this is to use, for example, a single "+" sign for a force moderately in your favor, or "--" for a force strongly against you (you can see this in the example below).

Then look at the situation you find using this analysis and think through how it affects you. Bear in mind that few situations are perfect; however looking at things in this way helps you think through what you could change to increase your power with respect to each force. What’s more, if you find yourself in a structurally weak position, this tool helps you think about what you can do to move into a stronger one.

Porter's Five Forces Reading

Hausman, A. 2011. Porter’s 5 Forces in the Age of Social Media, Hausman Marketing Letter.

Rose, R. 2015. Is Content A Sustainable Competitive Advantage?, Content Marketing Institute.

Porter's Five Forces Mini Lecture


Joe Bloggs is deciding whether to switch career and become a farmer – he's always loved the countryside, and wants to switch to a career where he's his own boss. He creates the following Five Forces Analysis as he thinks the situation through:

Porter's Five Forces example using Farming

This worries him:

  • The threat of new entry is quite high: if anyone looks as if they're making a sustained profit, new competitors can come into the industry easily, reducing profits.
  • Competitive rivalry is extremely high: if someone raises prices, they'll be quickly undercut. Intense competition puts strong downward pressure on prices.
  • Buyer Power is strong, again implying strong downward pressure on prices.
  • There is some threat of substitution.

Unless he is able to find some way of changing this situation, this looks like a very tough industry to survive in. Maybe he'll need to specialize in a sector of the market that's protected from some of these forces, or find a related business that's in a stronger position.

Porter's Five Forces Templates

We've sourced some great templates for you to complete your own Porter's Five Forces model. Look at each and decide which will be easiest for you to work with.

Google Docs Template:

WikiWealth Porter's Five Forces Generator:

Creately's template:

PART2: SWOT Analysis

After completing your Porter's Five Forces Model, we advise that you update your project SWOT Analysis. If this doesn't change at all after doing your Porter's Five Force - then you haven't really engaged with the Porter's assignment.

PART 3. Revise Brand Value Canvas and Empathy Map

You will also need to update your Brand Value Canvas and Empathy Map based on your new insights. You will be needing both throughout this study unit. Now would be a good time to revisit both of these - and update them according to your new insights.

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Intro Text

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

A / B testing

Also referred to as "multivariate testing", A / B testing is an evidence-based evaluation method often used to compare two versions of a web page. For example, users might be sent to either the new or original version of a web page to determine which version people prefer.

Above the fold

A term borrowed from the newspaper industry to describe the area of a web page that a user can see without scrolling down. Around 80% of eyeball time is above the fold. This is the part of the page seen first and is considered to be one of the most valuable areas of the page.


An accessible web page is one that works for every visitor, no matter what browser or device they are using.


The operation performed by a visitor, such as clicking a link, buying a product, or forwarding an article. Good content is written with these actions in mind.


A service from Google that provides targeted, revenue-generating advertising for websites.


An advert that is written in the style of an editorial feature.


Google’s search engine advertising platform. Advertisers can bid to have their advert appear in the "paid" or "sponsored" results for relevant keywords.

Affiliate marketing

A revenue model that allows website owners to earn revenue by sending visitors to a third party website. Payments are usually on a cost-per-click basis.

Aggregated content

Content that has been compiled from various sources. There are several flavours of content aggregation, from simple reuse of external content (often frowned upon, especially if content is uncredited), to news aggregation services, to content curation, in which internal content is compiled and consolidated.


An idea taken from Agile project management methodology in which flexibility and responsiveness are prioritised. Agility is important in content marketing, enabling quick responses to new opportunities and news events.


Short for "alternative tag". This is a short text description, normally of an image on a web page. This text may be used by search engines to find images, and may also used by text-to-speech tools that allow visually impaired people to access a website.This tag is used by Google to rank and index pages containing images. 


Often used as short-hand for "Google Analytics", analytics in general refers to the analysis of data to obtain information and insight. Google Analytics is a service from Google that provides data and statistics on various measures of website success, such as visits, traffic and sales.

Anchor text

The displayed text in a hyperlink – users click on this text to visit a new page. Anchor text is used by search engines and should be relevant and used naturally, otherwise it may be penalised by the search engine.


A type of written content, normally an informative piece on a particular topic. Feature articles are generally longer, more detailed or more subjective than news articles.

Article marketing

A marketing strategy in which articles are created to provide website content that attracts visitors and/or generates external links to the content, helping increase search engine rankings. Also the practice of writing or commissioning articles and getting them published on third party sites in order to acquire brand or anchor text links. Article marketing has some brand and direct traffic benefits, but the priority is usually to acquire "follow" links that help boost search performance.


The use of faked or covert user comments, reviews etc to promote or market a product or idea. This is a controversial technique which has been legislated against in several countries.


The process of breaking down, reformatting and targeting content so that it can be distributed through various outlets and at various stages in the user journey. For example a long whitepaper might be broken down and the pieces distributed via blog posts, emails or social media.


The process of identifying the actions or marketing channels that led to a successful outcome (e.g. a conversion). Once identified, these actions or channels can be monitored and evaluated, further refining the marketing strategy.

Audit and Mapping

A stage in the content strategy process which involves auditing current content and mapping content against buyer stages and personas to identify gaps where new content is required.

Author rank

The value added to a piece of content by the reputation of its author. The impact of author rank is limited right now, but Google is expected to make greater use of it in the future.


Often used as short-hand for "Google Authorship", authorship in general refers to crediting the creator of written content. While much online content is ghost-written, authorship can help give credibility to content. Google Authorship is an aspect of Google+ in which authorship is verified, increasing credibility.


A blog in which the posted content is gathered from other sources and posted automatically.


Sends replies automatically when emails or texts are received.

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B2B marketing

Short for "business to business marketing", i.e. where one business markets its products or services to another business rather than to the public.

B2C marketing

Short for "business to consumer marketing", i.e. where a business markets its products or services to the public rather than to another business.


Also called inbound or incoming links, these are links that point back to a website from other external websites. Backlinks may be used by search engines to assess a website’s popularity and will affect a site’s ranking.

Bad neighbourhoods

A website that uses dishonest SEO techniques such as link farming or cloaking and has therefore been heavily penalised by search engines. Linking to bad neighbourhood sites can hurt the ranking of genuine website.

Big Data

Datasets that are too big to be analysed using traditional tools and methods. Big data is a consequence of the expansion of technology and digital products. For example, huge numbers of data points are being collected daily on millions of internet users.

Black hat SEO

Dishonest or disreputable SEO tactics that are designed to fool the algorithms used by search engines when assessing a website’s ranking. Such tactics are penalised by search engines.


A list of organisations or websites (often identified via IP address) that have been identified as being spammers or malicious. Emails sent from such IP addresses would normally be rejected by email service providers and not received by the intended recipient.


Originally called "weblogs". Originally, blogs were most frequently used by individuals as a type of online diary. Nowadays, blogs are commonly used by both individuals and organisations as a short-form publishing platform for sharing news, opinions, images and other items of interest.


The collective term for the blogging community, consisting of its blogs, blog writers (aka "bloggers") and blog readers.


Standard reusable text often containing company details such as the company’s registration number that is commonly inserted into the footer of documents and web pages.

Bottom of the funnel

A section of what is commonly referred to as the "sales funnel": an idea representing the stages of a lead’s relationship with a company from prospect through to purchase. The bottom of the funnel is the last stage, where leads become customers.

Bounce rate

The number of people who leave a website after only viewing one page. A high bounce rate is undesirable: the intention is normally to interest a visitor so that they stay on a website and explore more pages.

Brand awareness

A measure of how well a brand is known by the general public. An indication of brand awareness might be gained by measuring how many visitors arrive at a website by searching for the company name rather than general terms. E.g. "Hoover" rather than "vacuum cleaner".

Brand building

The process of trying to increase brand awareness and brand popularity.

Brand engagement

The attachment (either emotional or logical) that a customer has for a brand. This includes their associations, perceptions and opinions.

Brand evangelist

A customer who has strongly positive feelings for a brand. Companies may encourage such customers to share their views and act as word-of-mouth advocates for the brand.

Brand journalism

A content creation strategy in which journalistic content is produced by a particular brand. The normal aim of brand journalism is to position the brand as an authoritative voice in their sector.

Brand terrorist

An individual who has strongly negative feelings for a brand and attacks the brand publicly, either online of via word-of-mouth. Compare to "brand evangelist".

Brand visibility

The degree of exposure a brand receives. A good content curation strategy can increase brand visibility, for example by making the most of opportunities presented by topical industry news.

Buyer’s journey

A representational device used to understand the different stages a new website visitor goes through, from first discovering a company to becoming a customer. At each stage, a visitor may have particular needs which need to be met in order to facilitate their journey.


The collective excitement and interest generated by, for example, the launch of a new product or a dramatic news item. Such excitement is often spread by word-of-mouth and social media.

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A snapshot or copy of a web page stored by Google. Cached pages are used to speed up the process of searching the internet and navigating web pages.


A conversion opportunity, such as a sign-up box, form, download or enquiry button. Often abbreviated to “CTA”, calls-to-action are an important technique in online marketing. They are the trigger used to convert leads into customers or new visitors into leads. Design content with CTAs in mind: what is the goal of the page? What is the desired outcome?

Click bait

A disparaging term for a link that is deliberately eye-catching and intriguing and designed purely to persuade people to click on it. The content they lead to is often not as interesting as promised.

Click fraud

A dishonest technique, often using an automated script, which produces “clicks” on a pay-per-click advert in an attempt to generate income.

Click paths

A record of the path a user takes through a website, including the page they entered the website on, all the links they clicked on while browsing the website, and the page they left the website from.

Click tracking

The process of using tools or scripts to follow the click path of a website visitor or email recipient.

Clickthrough rate

Referred to as CTR. A measure of how often users perform the desired action when presented with a piece of content such as an email or web page, based on whether the user "clicked through", i.e. followed the desired link.


A dishonest SEO technique in which the web page that is presented to a search engine for indexing purposes is different to the web page that is seen by visitors. Such techniques prevent accurate indexing and are penalised by search engines.

CMS (content management system)

A platform used to create and manage content published on a website, often referred to as the “back-end” or "admin area". Popular free CMS examples include Joomla, Mambo and Drupal.

Content aggregator

A service or website that compiles content from various sources, making it easily available to a subscribed user or site visitor. See “RSS”.

Content brief

An important stage of the content creation process. The content brief is a document created before content development begins. It outlines various details, such as why the content is needed, who it is for and how its success will be measured.

Content curation

The active management and promotion of an organisation’s content assets.

Content curation portal

An online platform designed specifically for the curation and publication of content, such as a blog or news page.

Content farm or Content mill

A disparaging name for websites that publish a high volume of low-quality search engine optimised content. Such websites are normally designed to produce income by using this content to attract visitors to pages on which adverts are displayed.

Content marketer

A creative and talented individual who spends his or her time producing, planning, editing, optimising and strategising in this exciting, expanding industry.

Content marketing

The strategy of creating and publishing high-quality content assets to support and enhance marketing activities, build audiences and develop consumer trust.

Content shock

The idea that high volumes of content may lead to web users being exposed to more content than they can absorb, potentially devaluing the use of content in marketing.

Content strategy

The strategic planning and management of content creation and distribution for maximum effectiveness. Content strategy involves elements of user experience – designing content that is user-friendly and meets user needs.

Contextual advertising

A technique commonly used in pay-per-click advertising in which the adverts displayed on a web page are related to the content of that web page. For example, a web page about gardening might display adverts for gardening products.


An important consideration in content creation, dissemination and website design. Conversation involves engaging with a website visitor or customer, and so options for interactivity need to be built into the website.

Conversion funnel

An idea representing the stages of a lead’s relationship with a company from potential prospect through to purchaser. Leads are channelled through a funnel using various marketing techniques, with the intention of producing a desired outcome, such as the purchase of a product or registration for a service.

Conversion rate

A measure of how successful a web page or marketing activity is. For example, the number of website visitors that were converted into leads by completing a contact details form.

Copyright infringement

Misuse of copyrighted material. This can be an expensive mistake and one that content marketers need to have a very tight handle on.

CRO (conversion rate optimisation)

Tactics and strategies used to increase the conversion rate on a website or a particular web page. The conversion rate refers to the percentage of visitors who complete a desired action (sign-up, download, call etc).

CTR (click through rate)

The percentage of users who click on a particular link or advert. Click through rate is usually calculated by taking the number of times the link has been clicked and dividing that figure by the total number of unique views it received.

Custom news marketing

Tailored news articles written in line with an editorial brief and keyword strategy to support specific marketing objectives. 

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Data mining

The process of analysing a company or organisation’s database to determine statistical patterns in behaviour. This information is often used to segment customers based on location, buying habits or other behavioural attributes in order to deliver personalised messages.

Data-backed content

The use of data to support claims made in content. This can help to build authority and trust. The source of any statistics or figures used in content should be provided.

Deep link

Usually an internal link directing users to a page further down a website’s hierarchy.


The act of attacking the reputation of an individual or organisation without evidence. In the world of content, it is important that any claims made about a competitor are backed up with recognised sources.

Device detection

The identification of the device used to visit a website. This is often used to determine what type of content to display to a user (e.g. mobile or desktop version) or to help understand how a website is being accessed and what content to develop.

Disavow tool

As part of Google’s Penguin update, webmasters were given a new tool to disassociate themselves with links from weak domains. The idea was to help website owners that had been targeted by negative SEO and encourage anyone involved in black hat link building schemes to confess their sins before Penguin hit their rankings.

Domain authority

Sites with stronger domain authority tend to perform better in search. There are a variety of tools to measure domain authority and a number of contributory factors from the age and size of your site to inbound links and social footprint.

Double opt-in

Asking a user to confirm their email address twice: once when they complete an online form and again through a validation link in an automatic email sent to the email address given. This ensures the email address is valid and that the account holder intended to sign-up.

Duplicate content

Text content that appears on more than one URL may be considered duplicate by Google. Since the Panda update, Google has been trying to purge its index of duplicate content in an effort to improve the user experience. This makes unique content, whether it’s a news story, blog article or product description, an essential part of building an engaging, search-friendly website.

Dwell time

The duration of a user’s visit to a website. Dwell time is a useful measure to help determine a site’s "stickiness".

Dynamic content

Content that changes depending on who is visiting the website. For example, a user who has previously purchased an item may find similar products are displayed next time they visit the website, while a first-time visitor will see a different set of products.

Dynamic keyword insertion

An advertising tactic in which the search terms used in a query are placed into adverts shown on the search results page. This can help increase the relevancy of the adverts seen.

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Earned media

Sometimes called “free media”, this is publicity gained without paid-for advertising. For example, a piece of high quality content that is shared via word-of-mouth or social media.


A book published in digital form and often consumed on an eReader device such as a Kindle or Nook. eBooks are a long-form content type, often used as promotional items to generate lead.

Editorial Brief

A document outlining what is required for a particular piece of content. Briefs are normally given to writers to help ensure they produce the content that is required. A brief can be specific to one piece of content, or can be broad, forming part of an overall content strategy.

Editorial Calendar

A tool, often a document or software product, that is used to outline and plan the creation and publication of content within an organisation. For example, what content is needed and when and where it will be published.

Email marketing

The use of email to deliver a marketing campaign. Often there will be a website supporting the campaign. Email marketing may be short term, or long term, nurturing leads by providing content over months or even years.


The addition of blocks of code to a web page so that videos, images or other content that is hosted externally can be viewed by visitors to the page. For example a YouTube video could be embedded, allowing visitors to watch it without visiting the YouTube website.


An important consideration in content creation. Good content engages people’s emotions.


A content type delivered by email that normally includes news and information with few overt sales messages. eNewsletters may be used to cultivate leads over time or produce customer loyalty with the intention of getting repeat business.

Entry page

The page that a user “lands on” when visiting a website – i.e. the first page that they visit.


Short for “earnings per click”. A measure of affiliate marketing success in which the amount earned is compared to the number of clicks made – usually this refers to the clicks made on an advert.


An important consideration in any kind of marketing activity. Unethical practices may not only have legal consequences but they are also likely to be penalised by search engines, as well as causing reputational damage.


This should be part of any marketing or content strategy. It is important to think about how the success (or otherwise) of any marketing activity will be evaluated.

Evergreen content

Content that remains of high value and quality over time, normally because it contains information that does not go out-of-date.

Exit page

The page that a user “leaves from” when visiting a website – i.e. the last page that they visit.

Experimental content

Content that is created in a style that departs from what is “normal” or expected of the company, or that is in a new and untested format. Such content may present both risks and opportunities.

External linking

Links that are made between different websites. This kind of link is important for SEO as they are used by search engines to determine a page’s ranking.


Short for “electronic magazine”. Ezines are magazines that are published online, and can either be delivered via email or through a website.

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Facebook marketing

Strategies and tactics designed to promote and brand, product or service via the world’s largest social media site. This may include creating or enhancing a Facebook profile and the active sharing of appropriate content.


A content type that is normally long-form, often delivering subjective views and/or detailed analysis on a particular topic.


A term taken from printed newspapers that refers to the top half of a page – for a web page, this is the portion visible on a screen without scrolling down. The top half, or "above the fold" area, is considered to be the most valuable part of a page.


It is useful to consider format when creating content. Different formats (long-form or short-form text, images or video for example) may be appropriate at different times and for different audiences.


A type of website that is designed to facilitate conversation by allowing users to post and respond to messages.


An important consideration of content strategy: How often should content be published?

Fresh content

It is important to have the resources to produce fresh content, encouraging readers to return more often and ensuring your website remains relevant. Fresh content may also be rewarded by Google and improve a site’s ranking.

Freshness algorithm

A Google algorithm that returns the most recent content in response to a user search query. For example searching for "World Cup" in the year 2014 would return results relevant to the 2014 World Cup rather than previous competitions.


Sometimes called the "sales" or "conversion" funnel, this is an idea that represents the stages of a lead’s relationship with a company from prospect through to purchaser. The goal of most marketing is to attract new people to the funnel and then move them through it.

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Geographical targeting

The analysis of where website visitors are located in the world, and the use of this information to provide them with geographically tailored content or products.

Google AdWords

An advertising service from Google that shows relevant adverts on the Google search results page.

Google Analytics

A service from Google that provides data and statistics on various measures of website success, such as visits, traffic and sales.

Google Hummingbird

A major update to the Google search algorithm made in 2013. The Hummingbird update aimed to improve the relevancy of search results by looking at the context in which keywords were used in the phrase entered in the search query.

Google juice

An informal term for the value assigned to inbound links by Google’s search engine algorithm.

Google Panda update

An update to Google’s search algorithm that targeted low quality web pages containing thin or duplicate content. Panda was launched in March 2011 and attracted criticism from some website owners due to the dramatic impact it had on their traffic.

Google Panda

An update to the Google search algorithm originally made in 2011 and periodically updated since then. The Panda update aimed to differentiate between “high-quality” and “low-quality” websites by penalising websites with poor or duplicated content.

Google Penguin

An update to the Google search algorithm made in 2012. The Penguin update was designed to penalise websites that use "black hat" SEO techniques.

Google search algorithm

The complex mathematical formulae and rules developed by Google to provide users of its search engine with the most relevant search results.


Google’s social network (pronounced "Google Plus"). Members can create "circles" of associated contacts, e.g. family members, and can use functions such as “Hangout” in order to communicate via video.


A name for Google’s "robot" or "crawler" which discovers and indexes web pages.

Grey hat SEO

SEO practices that push the boundaries of what is considered to be honest in SEO. New updates to search engines mean "grey hat" techniques may quickly become treated as "black hat" and penalised by search engines.


An uprising or change in public feeling or sentiment, often related to external events but occurring without leadership or outside direction. New technologies such as social media can both cause and communicate a groundswell, for example the switch to online or mobile communication.

Guest blogging

The publishing of blog posts that are written by people who do not own or normally contribute the blog, often industry experts.

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H1 tag

The HTML tag that identifies the primary heading on a web page, normally the title of the page. Heading tags are used by search engines to find pages with content relevant to a search query and to rank the page.

H2 and H3 tags

If the H1 tag is the header, title or headline, think of H2 and H3 tags as sub-headings. Unlike H1 tags, H2 and H3 tags can be used more than once on the same page. Your H1, H2 and H3 tags should form a hierarchy, flagging important text for Google and other search engines.

Halo effect

The positive effect conferred upon other products by a consumer’s positive feelings towards another product by the same company or brand.


Frequently used on Twitter and other social media, hashtags enable users to tag tweets, comments and content by prefixing descriptive words with the hash symbol (#).

Heading tags

Heading tags are HTML elements identifying heading text on a web page. Ranked from H1 to H6 (where H1 is the main heading), heading tags are used by search engines to find pages with relevant content and to rank pages, making them an important consideration for search engine optimisation (SEO).

Head-to-head competition

A type of business competition in which businesses compete directly, perhaps because they produce the same product or target the same demographics.

Heat map

A useful tool in web design that shows how users interact with a web page. Colours and patterns show which areas of the page are used most intensely.

Hidden objection

A sales term describing a consumer’s unvoiced reasons for not purchasing a product. Part of a salesperson’s skill-set is being able to understand hidden objections.

Hidden text

Text that is disguised on a web page by being the same colour as the background. Hidden text is a "black hat" SEO technique that attempts to make pages more visible to search engines by adding a high volume of keywords. It is now penalised by most search engines.


A visit to a particular web page. In the earlier days of the internet, hits were counted to assess the number of times a page had been visited. More complex analytical techniques are now used to assess a website’s success.


The main, central page of a website which is normally the page first seen by visitors following the site’s main URL. Homepages generally form a basic introduction to the company and have a menu of the main website sections.

House style

An internally agreed set of rules dictating the branding and tone that should be used in a company for all external content and communications. Normally these rules are gathered together into a document called the style guide.

HTML (hyper text mark-up language)

Short for "hyper text mark-up language". This is the computer language that web pages are built with.

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Refers to each "view" of a web page or advert by individual people – i.e. the number of times it is seen. Some advertising models charge per impression.

Impression fraud

The process of falsely generating impressions of an advert.

Inbound link

A link from an external website to your website. Inbound links are extremely important as they are used by search engines to help determine a website’s importance and therefore its ranking in search results.

Indexed pages

Web pages that have been visited by a search engine’s "robots" or "crawlers". Web pages that have been indexed in this way are then able to be retrieved by the search engine in response to a user query.


The use of infographics as part of an integrated marketing campaign. Infographics can be used to attract inbound links, encourage social media engagement and drive on-site conversion.

Integrated marketing

A marketing strategy that aims to unify various marketing mediums and techniques, helping ensure a brand is presented consistently and allowing different marketing activities to complement and reinforce each other.


An important aspect of content creation. Focusing on producing trustworthy, high-quality content is likely to pay off in the long term, producing value that is recognised both by visitors and search engines.


A key feature to keep in mind when designing websites and content. Create ways in which visitors can interact – both with the company and each other.

Internal link

A link between pages within the same website. These links can be used by search engines to discover content when indexing a website.

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Specialised words that are used within a particular industry or sector and which are unlikely to be known by members of the public. Accessible content should avoid the use of jargon.


A commonly used programming language that is often used to create online applications.


A commonly used scripting language that is often used on websites. NB JavaScript and Java are not the same thing.


Short for “just in time”, an approach often used by retailers and manufacturers to avoid over-stocking and reduce waste. Products or raw materials are created or ordered only when required.

Joint demand

Demand for a product or service that is affected by demand for another product or service: As demand for one increases or decreases, so does demand for the other.


Another word for spam: Unsolicited marketing emails that are sometimes malicious in nature, for example containing malware.

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A word or phrase that relevant prospects are likely to search for.

Key performance indicator

Often abbreviated to "KPI", these indicators are measurements used by organisations to determine how well they are doing. What is being measured will vary depending on the organisation, but could include values such as sales figures, income in a time period or customer complaints.

Key phrase

Similar to a "keyword" but consisting of more than one word, this is a phrase that is expected to drive traffic to a website or be indexed by search engines.

Key prospects

Potential customers who hold a great deal of buying power.

Keyword density

A measure of the number of keywords used in a piece of content relative to the total number of words. Overuse of keywords can lead to unreadable content that may be penalised by search engines.

Keyword frequency

A count of how often a keyword is used in a piece of content.

Keyword ranking

The position at which a keyword ranks when queried in a search engine. The higher the rank, the better.

Keyword research

The process of identifying appropriate keywords, most commonly for an SEO or AdWords campaign. Keyword research typically looks at factors such as search volume, competition and relevance.

Keyword stuffing

Attempting to fit as many keywords as possible into a web page. This can result in low-quality, unreadable content. Using keywords naturally is preferable, and more likely to be rewarded by search engines.


The word or words typed into a search engine by a user to find web pages of interest. These are of critical concern for online marketers as they are the main way customers find a website. Content marketers should aim to create content that reflects what users are searching for.

KISS principle

Short for “keep it simple, stupid”, or more politely “keep it simple and straightforward”. The KISS principal is a reminder that simpler solutions are often better than complicated ones. It is helpful to keep in mind when creating content.

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Landing page

A web page specifically designed to capture a visitor’s contact details (e.g. through a form) or produce a particular desired behaviour (e.g. signing up). Landing pages are often standalone pages designed to capture leads produced by an advertising campaign or other promotion.


A prospective customer. Also see "qualified lead".

Lead generation

The activity of finding new prospective customers. Lead generation can either be performed in-house, or by a third party.

Lead management

The process of assessing and organising leads.

Lead nurturing

The process of communicating with leads and attempting to convert them into new customers.

Lead scoring

The process of assessing and ranking new leads to determine the likelihood that they will become new customers. May also involve deciding on the best method to approach them.

Lean content

An approach to content creation that prioritises minimisation, clarity, impact, responsiveness and effectiveness. Lean content may be produced iteratively, with "lessons learnt" fed back into the content creation process, increasing the quality and effectiveness of future content.

Lifecycle stages

A framework for understanding and managing a customer’s relationship with a company, for example from their initial contact through to purchase and beyond. Content should be created with different lifecycle stages in mind – i.e. it should be context specific.


A clickable website address that, when clicked, takes the user to a new web page. Links are normally presented as underlined and/or differently coloured text.

Link bait

Content that is designed with the specific aim of encouraging readers to link to it from other websites or social media. Such content may be deliberately provocative or just designed to produce maximum interest.

Link building

The set of activities and techniques used by online marketing professionals to generate inbound links (i.e. links from other websites). Having many of these links should help a website rank more highly in search engine results.

Link exchange

A marketing technique in which a group of similar websites agree to place links to each other on their pages, normally in the form of banner adverts.

Link farm

A website designed to increase the ranking of a particular web page by holding many inbound links to that page. This is a dishonest or "black hat" SEO technique and is penalised by search engines.

Link popularity

A measure used in search engine ranking that is based on the quality and number of inbound links to a website. Recent updates to Google mean that reciprocal links are no longer included in this measure.

Link profile

All of the inbound and outbound links for a particular website. A website’s link profile is used by search engines to determine the website’s “importance” and how well it will rank in search results.

Link reclamation

The identification and correction of inbound links that may have been broken due to changes in the address of the page being linked to.

Link rot

The process by which links may stop working over time, for example when web pages move locations or get deleted meaning the address that has been linked to is no longer correct.

LinkedIn marketing

Strategies and tactics that use LinkedIn, the world’s largest social network for professionals, as part of a marketing campaign. This may include creating and optimising company pages; sharing relevant pieces of content; and using individual profiles to promote a brand, product, service or topic.

Long-tail keywords

Long, and therefore often more specific, keyword phrases. For example "second hand garden furniture" is a more specific keyword phrase than "furniture" or even "garden furniture". Long phrases are searched for less frequently, but tend to produce more relevant traffic.

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Marketing mix

A marketing concept that normally focuses on four critical elements of marketing: the product, its price, the place it will be sold, and how it will be promoted.

Marketing plan

A document (or set of documents) outlining a company’s overall marketing strategy and the objectives that are to be achieved.


Occurrences of the use of a company or brand name, for example in online conversations or articles. Many companies monitor their mentions, allowing them to respond, especially if they are mentioned in a negative context.

Meta data

A general term for data that is describing data. Meta data or meta tags can be used to describe non-text-based content types such as images and videos that would otherwise be difficult to search for.

Meta description

A meta tag describing the content of a web page. It will not usually be visible to users, but Google will crawl this tag and use it to summarise the page when it is returned in search results.

Meta element

A piece of structured data that provides information about the content of a web page. Meta elements may be used by search engines to better categorise a page’s content.

Meta keywords or keyword tag

An attribute of a web page’s meta element. In the early days of SEO, the keyword attribute was frequently used, however today search engines are unlikely to give much consideration to this tag, taking keywords directly from the page instead.


A measure that is used to evaluate success. For example “unique visitors to a website” is one of several metrics used to evaluate the success of a website or marketing campaign.


The sharing of short but usually frequently messages or news items. An example is Twitter, a microblogging platform that limits messages to 140 characters.

Middle of the funnel

A section of what is commonly referred to as the "sales funnel": an idea representing the stages of a lead’s relationship with a company from potential prospect through to purchaser. The middle of the funnel is the intermediate stage, where leads are assessed and qualified.


Refers to various aspects of accessing online content via wireless handheld devices such as smartphones. “Mobile” can describe both the devices themselves and the behaviours related to accessing content in this way.


The ultimate aim of most marketing: How will income be generated from an activity or product?

Multipurpose content

Content that has been designed to be reused and reformatted, perhaps by structuring it (for example with XML) so that it can be easily transferred and manipulated.

Multivariate testing

Unlike A / B testing. which only compares one aspect of a website at a time, multivariate testing uses more complex statistical methods to allow multiple aspects to be compared at the same time.

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Narrow and deep

An approach to content in which a narrow range of topics are covered but in great detail.

Native advertising

An advertising strategy in which online adverts are designed to be less intrusive, for example by feeling like a natural and native part of the website on which they appear.

Natural search

Also called “organic search”, this refers to search engine results which appear as a natural consequence of the user’s search term rather than paid-for placement.


The act of moving around a website, for example moving from one page to another by following links. Understanding how users navigate a website can improve web design and ensure they find the content they require.

Need profiling

A report of customer requirements, often gathered during discussions with a customer about their needs.

Negative SEO

A malicious form of SEO which is often undertaken in order to damage a competing website’s search ranking. For example, deliberately creating inbound links from “bad neighbourhood” websites such as link farms to the competing website will damage that website’s search ranking.


A word made by combining "net" (as in "internet") and "etiquette". Netiquette refers to online social conventions and rules that do not exist “offline” – for example the use of capital letters in online messages indicates shouting, but does not normally have this meaning in printed content.

New media marketing

A form of marketing which focuses on social media and marketing via online communities.

New visitor

A visitor to a website who has not previously visited the website (either in the time period being analysed, or at any time).

News reader

A service that aggregates news from various sources and presents them to a subscribed user. See "RSS".


A discussion forum that exists online for the purpose of discussing a particular topic. Messages are posted to the newsgroup and distributed to the group’s subscribers, often by email. Newsgroups have generally been superseded by other forms of online communication such as social media.


Producing content that relates to a breaking news story in order to take advantage of the additional publicity gained by public interest in that story.

Newsletter marketing

A form of email marketing in which emails containing news and company information are sent to leads and customers. See "eNewsletter".

New-to-the-world product

A new product which is unlike any other already existing product.


Normally used to refer to small and specialised markets or demographics. Content produced for these groups will often be created by writers with expert or specific knowledge.

Niche marketing

Marketing that focuses on niche areas and audiences.

Niche product

A product that appeals to a small or specialist audience.

NoFollow link

An attribute that can be assigned to the HTML element of a link. NoFollow links tell search engines to ignore the link when calculating page rank, however the link can still be used by search engines to discover and index the page.


An attribute in the HTML meta element of a web page that instructs a search engine not to index a page. NoIndex links might be used on pages that a website owner wishes to be less visible, or to prevent the indexing of irrelevant pages.

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Incentives, for example a content asset such as an eBook, that generate leads by persuading website visitors to enter their contact details on a landing page form in order to receive the content.

Online press release

A press release that is released online and may therefore have undergone search engine optimisation. These may be read by members of the public as well as by journalists.

Online press room

A section of a website dedicated to information for journalists such as press releases and PR contacts.

Online reputation management (ORM)

The management of a company or brand’s online profile by monitoring and responding to mentions (especially negative mentions) of the company or brand in external media such as blog posts and reviews.

On-page SEO

SEO techniques that are applied to a web page, rather than externally (such as the creation of inbound links to the page). On-page SEO may include appropriate keywording in high-quality content and use of HTML page meta tags.

Open Graph

A protocol used by website developers that adds tags to images and other content on web pages, allowing these web pages to be understood by social media platforms such as Facebook.

Open rate

A measure of how many emails sent in an email marketing campaign are actually opened (and hopefully read) by recipients.

Open source

Source code that is freely available to be used and adapted by other developers, often under a Creative Commons or similar license.

Operational CRM

The use of a customer relationship management (CRM) product to facilitate public-facing operational aspects of a business such as contact liaison and customer care.


A way for a website visitor or customer to explicitly subscribe to a service or contact method, such as email newsletters. Contacting people who have not opted-in may breach the marketing guidelines of the Information Commissioner’s Office (in the UK).


A way for person on an email mailing list or other contact list to unsubscribe from receiving future communications. Continuing to contact people who have opted-out may breach the marketing guidelines of the Information Commissioner’s Office (in the UK).

Organic search

Web pages returned by search engines because of how well they match the keyword or keyword phrase searched for, as opposed to web pages that are returned because of paid-for advertising.

Original content

Content that is new and unique. High-quality original content is an important element of online content marketing. Such content is not only more useful to website visitors, but is also favoured by search engines, with duplicated content often being penalised by most search engine algorithms.

Original referrer

The website address from which a visitor arrives at another website for the first time.

Outbound links

Links that point to a different website.


Actively engaging with visitors and prospects, for example by asking for their feedback or opinions. This can be a useful tactic to nurture relationships with new and existing customers.

Owned media

Content that is delivered through a company’s own marketing channels, such as their blog, emails or website.

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Page exit ratio

A measure of how many people leave a website from a page in relation to how many times that page is viewed. People may leave because they have found what they were looking for or because the content was not engaging, so this metric needs to be interpreted with care.

Page tags

A label or descriptor attached to a web page (e.g. in the HTML page element) that helps users find content and helps search engines categorise a page.

Page title

A heading that describes the content of a page. Often enclosed within the HTML H1 heading tag which is used by search engines to categorise and rank pages. The page title is also normally visible to viewers so should be chosen with care.

Page views

The number of times a page has been seen by visitors, or more specifically, the number of times a page has been requested from a server.

Page views per visit

Often used to assess how interesting and navigable a website is by comparing page views to the number of visitors. High page views can indicate a visitor was interested in the content, or that they had trouble finding what they wanted, and so caution is required when interpreting this value.


The Google algorithm that determines a page’s ranking in Google’s search results.

Paid inclusion

Also called "pay-for-inclusion" (PFI), this is a paid-for SEO technique in which website pay to be indexed by search engines in the hope that they will rank higher in search results. May be used for large sites with many pages.

Paid search

The opposite to "natural" or "organic" search, paid search is an advertising technique in which search engine providers are paid to place adverts on their search results page. The adverts that appear are related to the search query used.

Pass on rate

A measure of how many times a piece of content is passed on or shared with other people.


A word made by combining "permanent" and "link". A permalink is a link that points directly to a piece of content, often a blog, and should remain unchanged so that the same piece of content can be accessed in the future.

Permission marketing

Marketing that takes place after potential customers have explicitly given their permission to be contacted in such a way. See "opt-in".


A useful device in planning a product, website or marketing campaign. A persona is an imagined personality type who is likely to be found in your audience. Imagining your proposed content etc from the point of view of this persona can help you to craft an appropriate product.


A method of customising content, products or communications so that they feel “custom made” for a particular person or group of people. For example, addressing contacts by name in an email is a simple type of personalisation.


A fraudulent and generally illegal practice in which people are directed to websites that attempt to gain access to their personal information such as credit card details. Phishing websites often mimic the look and content of a legitimate site.


The dishonest act of taking another person’s work and pretending it is your own. Websites that copy or plagiarise content from elsewhere are normally penalised by search engines.


An audio file made available online and which is normally part of a series such as a radio show or an educational course. Podcasts can be downloaded and listened to later.


A smaller window that appears in front of the window in which a user is browsing a website. Popups normally contain adverts or calls-to-action, that, if clicked on, will take the user to another website or page. They are generally unsolicited by the website user.


Short for "pay per click". This is a commonly used advertising technique in which websites or search engines include adverts on their pages, charging a fee to the company being advertised each time the advert is clicked on by a website user.

Press release

A specialised content type designed to provide journalists with information and the company’s official position on an announcement or news story of interest.


Press release marketing

The creation and distribution of press releases to encourage mainstream media and bloggers to write about a particular brand, product or service. Press release marketing may also use search engines, social media and email to drive traffic to a website.

Promoted content

Often used to refer to content which a company has paid to have appear on a third party website. Sometimes also called “sponsored content”.


An important part of marketing. A promotion can either refer to a marketing campaign in which an "offer" is used to attract consumer interest, or more generally to the act of drawing attention to existing content or services.

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Short for "questions and answers". A Q&A can be a useful content format for providing informative content in an engaging way. They are often used for presenting the results of interviews.

QR Code

Short for "quick response code". QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes (i.e. information is held both horizontally and vertically). In marketing, QR codes are mainly used to hold information such as website addresses. These can be scanned by smartphones to take a user to a website.

Qualified lead

The contact details of a prospective customer who has shown both an interest in a product or service and the ability to purchase it.

Qualified traffic

Visitors arriving at a website who are actively interested in the service or product offered by the website. Effective marketing should aim to attract this kind of visitor.

Qualitative data

Data that cannot be directly measured with numbers. Examples might include people’s thoughts and opinions on a product, or non-numerical properties such as colour or taste.

Qualitative forecasting

A method of predicting future sales based on opinion (e.g. from industry experts or sales staff) rather than data.

Qualitative media effect

The impact that the form of media in which a message or advert is delivered can have on how it is perceived. For example, an advert placed in a luxury lifestyle magazine may be perceived differently to the same advert placed on a freely distributed flyer.


An important aspect of content creation. High quality content increases user trust and is also more likely to be shared and linked to, helping the web page’s search engine ranking.

Quality assurance

A stage of the content creation lifecycle in which newly created content is methodically checked to ensure it is of high quality.

Quality controls

Processes and policies put in place to ensure that both content and the methods used to produce it meet a required level of quality.

Quality creep

The counter-productive process by which improvements made to a product over time increase the cost of the product beyond what is acceptable to consumers.

Quality score

Generally used in pay per click (PPC) advertising. Search engines such as Google apply a quality score to adverts to determine where they will be displayed on a page of search results.

Quantitative data

Data that can be measured numerically. Examples might include the numbers of visitors to a website or the time they spend on certain activities.


An key consideration in content creation. It is important to produce the right amount of content and to publish it at the right frequency for your audience.


The word or words (also known as “keywords”) typed into a search engine by a user to find web pages of interest. Content should be written to reflect the sorts of things that people are actually looking for.

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The position at which a web page is displayed in a list of search engine results. Search engine optimisation techniques are used to increase a page’s ranking. High ranking pages are found at or near the top of a list of search results.

Ranking signal

The set of factors considered by a search engine when deciding on a page’s ranking.

Rational appeals in advertising

An advertising strategy that highlights the practical reasons for buying a product, such as value for money or functionality.

Rational buying motives

The practical reasons behind a buying decision, i.e. reasons that are not based on emotion.


The extent to which an advert is seen by the public, i.e. the number of different people who have seen the advert.


An important aspect of content creation. Effective content should be easy to read and understand. Using simple, jargon-free words will make your content more accessible to readers.

Reciprocal linking

An agreement between two websites to provide links to each other on their pages.


A visit to a website that is obtained via an external source, such as another website or blog that recommends visiting the website.

Remarketing or retargeting

An advertising strategy that displays targeted adverts on other websites when these websites are viewed by people who have previously visited your website. This service is offered by Google.

Repeat visitors

A visitor who has previously visited the same website, normally within a defined time period.


The adaptation of existing content allowing it to be used in other places or situations. For example, converting a press release into a blog post.

Reputation capital

A type of qualitative business asset comprised of various factors such as consumer trust and perceived product quality.

Responsive design

An approach to web design that attempts to ensure websites are easily viewable on a range of devices. For example by automatically resizing content to fit a smartphone screen.

Return visitor

A website visitor who has already previously visited the same website.

Revenue share

In affiliate marketing, this refers to the earnings that are shared between affiliates. For example, a website that earns revenue from new customers might pay a proportion of those earnings to the website that originally referred the customers.


Descriptions and opinions of a product, generated either by expert reviewers or the general public. Reviews can be a useful content type, attracting visitors looking for information on a particular product before purchasing it.

Right to be forgotten

Recently implemented by the EU and Argentina, this is a privacy protection concept that allows people to request the deletion of content and data relating to them from the internet.


Short for "return on advertising spend". This is a quantitative measure of the revenue generated by a campaign vs the cost of the advertising involved.


A file which instructs a search engine’s “robots” (i.e. the code that assesses and indexes a web page) on how to search the page.


Short for "return on investment". This is a quantitative measure of the profit generated vs the cost required to generate that profit.


Short for "really simple syndication". RSS feeds gather and compile content from various sources, alerting subscribers to new content. This removes the need for users to continually visit pages of interest and manually check for new content.

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Search algorithm

The complex mathematical formulae and rules developed by search engine companies to provide users of their search engines with the most relevant results.

Search term

The word or words entered into a search engine by a user. Also known as “keywords” or “search query”.

Seasonal content

Content produced to tie-in with particular seasonal events, such as Valentine’s day or Christmas.


The initial distribution of a particular marketing message to a small group of people, often in the hope of priming the intended audience, for example by generating word-of-mouth buzz or initiating viral sharing.


The division of current or potential customers into categories with shared characteristics, for example age, gender, previous buying habits. Segmentation allows marketing messages to be targeted, increasing their effectiveness.

SEM (search engine marketing)

A broad term used to describe the various strategies and tactics designed to promote a website or individual web pages in Google’s search results. SEM includes both organic and paid search.


Normally used to refer to how people feel about a particular marketing message, product or brand – i.e. are their feelings towards it positive or negative. Sentiment could also refer to the tone of a piece of content.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

SEO is the professional discipline concerned with improving a website’s performance in search engines, making the page as easy to find and as visible as possible.

SERPs (search engine results pages)

Short for "search engine results pages". SERPs are the pages of results returned by a search engine after a search is run.


The period in which a visitor remains on a website – i.e. the length of time between a person entering and leaving a website.

SMO (social media optimisation)

The use of popular social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn to promote a brand, product or individual piece of content.


The act of passing a piece of content or website link to another person, for example by forwarding an email or posting a link on Facebook.

Short URL

A shortened version of a website address used instead of a long and unwieldy address. Both the long and short link will take a user to the same web page. Short URLs are often used on Twitter, where space is limited.


Short-hand for all aspects of using or marketing on social media platforms. The advent of social media has altered the traditional marketing landscape, with marketing often being more about engaging with customers or potential customers than talking "at" them.

Social graph

A model representing all of a person’s online social connections, often used in the context of social media sites such as Facebook.

Social media

Online platforms designed to facilitate communication and content sharing between people who may or may not be connected in real life. Social media is hugely popular and has influenced the evolution of internet technologies. Popular social media sites include Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Social optimisation

The act of designing content so that it is both easy to share and likely to be shared. Icons that allow readers to post content directly to social media websites can be added to web pages and blogs.

Social proof

The idea that people’s conceptions of right and wrong are influenced by what other people in their social circle say to be right or wrong, or by what other people do.

Social signals

The consideration of social media by search engines when determining the importance or ranking of a web page. For example, the number of "likes" a page has on Facebook may affect its ranking.

Soft bounce

The failure to deliver an email due to reason that is normally temporary, such as a full inbox or a server error. Compare to "hard bounce".


Generally used to refer to unsolicited marketing emails, spam has also come to be used in reference to any online content of low quality with an obvious sales message.


One of several names given to the program used by search engines to discover and index web pages. May also be called "crawler" or "robot".

Split testing

See "A / B Testing".


A word combined from "spam" and "blogs". Splogs are blogs on which content is artificially constructed by software that takes content from elsewhere. Their aim is to attract visitors via search engines, normally to generate revenue from advertising.

Sponsored links

A paid-for search result used as a form of advertising.


Any individual or organisation that has an interest in, or who might be affected by, the actions or plans of another organisation.

Stories or storytelling

One of the most powerful content types. Humans have told stories for thousands of years. Building narrative and emotion into your content is an excellent way to engage and motivate readers.

Streaming media

Media such as songs or TV shows that can be watched over the internet without the need to download the entire media file and store it locally.

Sweating your content assets

A term that refers to getting the maximum use out of existing content, for example by reusing it. Older, archived content can still have value. Good content curation should ensure this value is recognised and maximised.


Short for "search experience optimisation". This is a concept which goes beyond SEO by taking a visitor’s experience of using a website into account in order to plan pages that maximise conversion rates.

Syndicated content

Content from one provider that is made available to websites that have subscribed to receive such content. See "RSS".

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Usually used to refer to multiple open web pages in a browser (each open page has its own "tab"). Can also refer to branded company pages on Facebook. Recent updates to Facebook’s design mean tabs are less prominent.


A label or descriptor attached to a web page, blog post, image or video that summarises its content. Tags can help users find content and can also help search engines categorise a page.


A marketing technique in which marketing messages or products are tailored for a specific audience. This requires preliminary research to understand the audience and any groupings or segments that exist within it.


An approach to content or information management in which items, such as web pages, are grouped and classified in a hierarchical structure.

Tentpole content

A prominent and high-value piece of content which draws traffic to a website, potentially helping users discover other less-visible items of content.

Third party cookie

See "cookie". Third party cookies are cookies (small text files) that are saved onto your computer or browser by a website other than the one you are visiting. Third-party cookies are normally used to build up a profile of a user’s internet browsing habits (i.e. which websites they visit).


An individual or organisation with expertise in an area and the ability to produce original ideas and theories in that area, shaping its future direction and influencing other people. In content marketing, thought-leadership involves using high-quality, original content to position a company as an innovative and authoritative voice.

Title tags

The use of HTML heading tags (see "H1") to specify the heading of a web page. This header normally contains SEO keywords and is also visible to website visitors. It should clearly sum-up the page’s content and aim to entice readers.

Top of the funnel

A section of what is commonly referred to as the "sales funnel": an idea representing the stages of a lead’s relationship with a company from prospect to purchase. The top of the funnel is the first stage, normally involving a content offer to attract visitors and convert them into leads.

Touch Point

Also called "contact point", this is every interface between a customer and a company or brand. For example, websites, social media, print advertisements and telephone customer support.


Often used in blogs, this allows blog or website owners to see when another blog or website has linked to their content.


Monitoring and reporting on a campaign, for example by recording who a campaign was sent to and how they responded, or monitoring how brand awareness changes over time.

Tracking codes

Small pieces of code that are added to websites to allow analytic programs (e.g. Google Analytics) to monitor how visitors use a website.

Traditional media

Mostly non-digital or offline media (i.e. media platforms that existed before the internet), such as TV, magazines and newspapers.


The amount of data sent or received by a website. More generally “traffic” is used to refer to the number of visitors a website receives. A website with high traffic is one that receives many visits.


One of several names given to the program used by search engines to discover and index web pages. May also be called "crawler", "robot" or "spider".


A slang term for an internet user who posts deliberately provocative or disruptive content, often in the form of comments on articles or responses in discussion forms. Also sometimes used to refer to anyone who posts insulting or offensive content.


An important consideration in content marketing. Publishing high-quality, accurate content will help to build your audience’s trust.


Formed from the words "Twitter" and "webinar" (which is itself formed from the words "web" and "seminar"). Refers to use of Twitter to comment on an online broadcast or webinar, often while the broadcast is happening.


A very popular social media and microblogging platform on which users can post short 140 character long posts, including links to websites and images. Many companies have a Twitter account, allowing them to publish news quickly and interact with the public.

Twitter marketing

Using the micro-blogging service, Twitter, to promote content as part of a marketing campaign. Tactics may include optimising profiles, actively growing followers and identifying appropriate content to tweet about.

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Short for "user generated content". This is content created by members of the public rather than by employed professionals.

Ultimate user

The consumer or user of a product or service.


Marketing some or all of a company’s products or services separately. Content, for example an eBook, could be unbundled by publishing small pieces separately. For example, chapters or short sections published as blog posts.

Undifferentiated marketing

Marketing that is not segmented or tailored – i.e. everyone is presented with the same message or advert.

Unique content

An important part of content marketing. Unique, original content is more valuable to website visitors and may improve a page’s search rankings.

Unique forwarders

The number of different people who forwarded an email on to other people.

Unique visitors

The number of different people who have visited a website (one or more times) in the time period being analysed.

Universal search

A type of search that produces search results containing content from various sources and in various formats, such as news, images and video.


Short for "uniform resource locator". The address of a website – i.e. the information that is shown in a browser’s address bar. For example "".

URL rewriting

The process of using alternative URLs that are shorter and easier to read than the original. This is also done to make URL’s more search-engine friendly, for example by including keywords in the URL rather than numbers or encoded information.


An important consideration of web design. Usability refers to how easy it is for a visitor to use and navigate a website. For example, can they find the product they are interested in and easily buy it?


Content should be useful to website visitors, for example by giving them the information they want.

User acceptance testing

Often abbreviated to "UAT". This is the process of checking that new products, services or features can actually be used by the customer in the intended way. Some UAT may be done by employees before release for testing by actual users.

User advocate

In marketing, this is an individual (normally an existing customer) who is strongly positive about a brand or product and willing to act as a spokesperson. See "brand evangelist".

User experience

Often abbreviated to "UX". In general, user experience refers to the experiences and feelings a user has when interacting with a website or product. UX also refers to the professional field concerned with developing ways to research and improve the user experience.

User friendly content

A key consideration of content marketing. All content should be created with the end user in mind.

User research

Exploring and analysing current and potential users and their user experience in order to develop products and services to meet their user needs.

User testing

The process of testing that the intended end user can actually use the new product or service being developed and gathering their feedback to improve the design.


The individuals or organisations that will actually make use of the product or service on offer. What we refer to as "audience".


Short for "unique selling point". This is the aspect of a product or service that makes it different to everything else on offer – i.e. why should a person buy this product and not a competitor’s?

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Vampire effect

Occurs when themes or images in an advert distract from or overpower the product or brand being advertised. People might remember parts of the advert, but not the product of brand. Use of celebrities or sexual or unusual imagery can all distract from the brand being advertised.

Veblen effect

A seemingly irrational consumer behaviour where consumers purchase highly-priced products as a status symbol rather than buying similar but lower-priced products.


An individual or organisation that sells or supplies a product or service.


A new company or business entity.


A channel or platform on which content can be provided.

Vertical channel conflict

Disagreement between the different stages of a marketing channel, such as between the wholesaler and the retailer. For example a retailer may become dissatisfied with a wholesaler if the products ordered are not delivered quickly enough.

Vertical integration

A management strategy in which all of the functionality required to produce and sell a product is owned by the same corporate entity. For example, a manufacturer might own the facility that provides the raw materials as well as the shops in which the product is sold.

Vertical search

A specialised search engine that searches only a narrow range of content (on a specific topic) or a specific content type. This type of search should help to produce more relevant results.

Video blogging

A form of blogging in which posts consist of videos rather than text.

Video marketing

The use of video to advertise or market a brand. Video content may not always contain an obvious sales message but may be used instead to build and nurture an audience and encourage sharing via social media.

Viral marketing

The use of word-of-mouth methods to quickly spread a piece of content or an idea. Something that "goes viral" can quickly reach a huge number of people. The rapidity and connectivity of Twitter or Facebook aid the spread of viral content.


The likelihood that something will be shared virally. It is difficult to predict whether or not something will "go viral". Such events often seem to happen spontaneously and are not easy to control by marketers.

Visit duration

How long a person spends on a website from the moment of entering it to leaving it.

Visit referrer

The external website that a website visitor arrived from.

Visitor session

The period of time in which a visitor remains on a website – i.e. the length of time between them entering and leaving a website.

Visual content

Content such as photos, videos or charts.


Formed from the words “video” and “blog”. A vlog is a blog that consists of video posts rather than text.


An important element to consider when creating content. This is the tone or personality of a piece of content. The voice used should match the brand and be used consistently.

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Short for "world wide web consortium". Founded by Tim Berners-Lee, W3C is a group of organisations that aim to develop and promote international standards for the web. W3C also provide free online courses on many topics, such as common programming languages used in web development.

Web 2.0

Refers to a shift in internet technologies and usage that began at the end of the 1990s and mainly revolved around increased interactivity, the production of user-generated content and the development of social media.

Web analytics

The collection and analysis of web-related data such as website visits and navigation to provide information and insights. Analytics can be used to assess the success of existing content and plan the development of new content.

Web application

A software tool or product that is accessed and used within a web browser rather than a computer desktop. For example, Google Docs.

Web content

Any content, such as written articles, images or video files that is accessible online.

Web presence

A company’s online "real estate", for example their website and social media accounts.


Formed from the words "web" and "seminar". Refers to a seminar that is held online, often using video conferencing.

Website curation

The management of online content such as web pages and blog posts, including archived content. Curators are involved in deciding what content to promote to visitors and where to place it.

White hat SEO

Legitimate search engine optimisation techniques that will not be penalised by search engines.

White list

Normally used to refer to a list of email addresses that are marked as "safe" by an email service provider and therefore will not be classed as spam.

Whitepaper marketing

A type of long-form content that usually contains in-depth reporting on a particular topic. Whitepapers can be a useful content type for building a company’s reputation as an authority in their sector.


A small software tool that performs a specific function or provides a specific service.


An online content management system that facilities collaborative use and editing of content. Wikipedia is probably the best known example of a wiki.

Word of mouse

A spin on the phrase "word of mouth". Refers to content and news that is spread online.


The spread of information from person to person, as opposed to information that is spread from organisations to people.

Writing for the web

An important skill for any content marketing. Writing for the web differs from writing for print publications. This is something that should always be taken in account when planning and developing new content.


Short for "world wide web" and often called simply "the web". Refers to all of the content that is accessible over the internet.

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Short for "extensible mark-up language". This is a way of marking-up datasets and structured documents allowing them to be transferred between applications. It is commonly used on the web, for example to transfer data from an underlying data store to a web page.

XML feeds

This is a use of the XML language which acts in a similar way to an RSS feed, generating XML files as required. For example, an XML file of new products might be produced weekly and sent to a subscribed website, updating their product database.

XML sitemap

An XML file that lists all of the pages on a website. These can be used by search engines to assist them in indexing a website. Compare to "HTML sitemap".


A content marketing methodology that involves helping not selling, as explained in the book of the same name by Jay Baer.

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Z chart

A type of chart frequently used in business that plots sales over a year, with three breakdowns: totals for a period (e.g. monthly), cumulative totals and a moving annual total.


A German word loosely translated as "spirit of the age". The zeitgeist is a general understanding of the ideas, opinions and interests that collectively seem to define a particular time period.

Zero level channel

A marketing channel in which the manufacturer sells directly to the consumer without any intermediaries such as retailers.

Zone Pricing

A pricing strategy in which prices are affected by location, with customers in different areas being charged different prices. Prices may vary by location due to variable shipping costs or other overhead costs that are location dependent.


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