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Jargon Busters

Little Artists – Cartwheel Arts, Photo © Katie King

If you are new to the digital world or just to some of the specialisms handled by our Tech Champions at the Digital Culture Network, you may need help understanding the many terms and acronyms used by digital professionals. It can often feel like learning a new language, which can be confusing and daunting, especially if your role means working across many digital disciplines. 

We regularly work with individuals who don’t have a grasp of all the terms used by digital professionals when discussing the digital workings of their organisation. Let’s be honest, is there anyone who can keep track of every piece of jargon in the digital world? We’re not surprised to find that this is the case, even as digital professionals ourselves, new terms take us by surprise quite often. If you’re working with a digital professional who is using unfamiliar pieces of jargon, consider stopping the conversation to ask for clarification – this could be the only way for you to remain involved in the conversation and if you’re struggling to grasp what’s happening, it’s likely that you’re not the only one. Even our Tech Champions regularly use these kinds of terms, and it is like second nature to them to do so – they might not realise that you do not understand what they are talking about unless you tell them, although, at the Digital Culture Network, we like to keep ourselves in check! 

In this tea break chat, we asked some of our Tech Champions about their early experiences working in digital, by the end, you might realise that you are not alone when it comes to learning the digital ropes.  

This jargon-busting article should give you some clarity of the terms you are likely to hear and can be used as a reference tool to help you understand what digital professionals are saying when they’re detailing the latest digital project they’re working on with you or your organisation.  

When you first started working in your digital specialism, what were the most-used pieces of jargon that you did not fully understand and how would you now explain them to someone at the start of their journey?  

James Akers – Data Analytics and Insights Tech Champion 

I quickly learned that there is a distinct difference between goals, KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and metrics. A lot of the time they are misused in the wrong context, and it is easy to focus on the wrong one. 

Goals are the top-level things you may wish to achieve, based on your organisational vision. Why do you exist? What do you need to do to make that happen? 

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the way to measure your progress towards your goals. How can you prove your success? 

Metrics are the bits of data and numbers you collect as an organisation. You may have hundreds of them across the different systems, platforms, and tools you use. Not all are useful and only some should be used to inform your KPIs. 

Jacqueline Ewers – Email Marketing Tech Champion 

There were metrics and formulas which made sense, but which were not necessarily being used as part of the KPIs. These metrics were used frequently but rarely with any context given.  

ROI – Return on Investment, to benchmark the return on your marketing spend. The below calculation shows you how to determine the return on your investment by subtracting marketing costs from revenue and dividing that by the marketing costs. 

(Revenue – Marketing costs) / Marketing costs =ROI 

If you would like to express ROI as a percentage, you can use the below formula.

[(Revenue – Marketing costs) / Marketing costs]  x 100 = ROI

CPC – Cost per Contact, used to show how much each customer costs in marketing spend and enables you to look at cost of retaining your customers versus acquiring new customers.  Below you can see how to calculate the cost of each customer contact using a simple calculation.  

 Marketing costs / Number of contacts = CPC 

Emily Ditsch – Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Ticketing Tech Champion

Moves Management – Referring to the interactions your organisation makes to engage a member or donor.  Like a marketing pipeline, members move from having an initial awareness of your organisation, as a lead or a prospect, through to stewarding that relationship, as a member or donor. It can be helpful to mock up user journeys your members take through those various stages to develop standardised policies for communications and data practices at each level. Across each stage, the tools required to bring members into your CRM, or communicate out of it, and the staff members utilising that data, might vary dramatically.  

Segmentation – Referring to grouping your members by shared characteristics, such as geographic region, visit frequency, and contact preferences.  By identifying meaningful segmentation categories and consistently capturing this information (such as through required fields on event registration or membership sign up forms) you can develop a more complete view of your membership in your CRM.  By understanding patterns of engagement, it allows you to tailor your content more effectively to specific audiences and meet your members where they are. 

Nicola Barratt – Social Media Tech Champion 

Viral – You are bound to have heard the term but just how much engagement quantifies a post as having ‘gone viral’? I have heard some people refer to a post as viral when it has had over 3,000 engagements, while others would say it should be over 10,000, 100,000, or even a million. Well, the answer is… it does not matter. Every industry is different so what a library may consider a viral post won’t be the same as a Broadway show. Going viral is a lovely boost but it is not a strategy. Building up an engaged audience who return to interact with your posts and help you meet your objectives is far more important.  

Algorithm – Algorithms get a bad rap and are often talked about as some mysterious force intent on ruining your social presence. An algorithm is a system of rules used by a platform to prioritise what it thinks the audience is most likely to engage with. The bad news is that platforms are constantly updating and evolving their algorithms, so as marketers we are always playing catch up to try to work out what the new rules are.   

Ollie Couling – Digital Marketing Tech Champion 

CPA – Cost per acquisition 

CAC – Cost of acquiring customers 

When I first started working in digital marketing it was the paid marketing terms that took me the longest to get to grips with. There are so many terms out there and some that appear remarkably similar to each other, although when you scratch beneath the surface, they have significantly different outcomes. 

Both CPA and CAC are widely used and incredibly important for painting an accurate picture of how your marketing channels are performing, however if confused could raise a few concerns when it comes to reporting. In essence, CAC considers all your marketing and sales activities to determine the total cost of acquiring a customer across a given period. CPA on the other hand, allows you to determine the cost of attracting a customer for a specific action (e.g., signups, downloads, ticket sales etc.).

Dean Shaw – Video and Digital Content Tech Champion 

360 Campaign – As the video content creator I would often sit in meetings with other creatives being briefed on a particular campaign and the person leading the meeting/briefing would always go on about this campaign being 360.  Eventually it dawned on me that they were not referring to some AR/VR world that it simply meant it was a big comprehensive campaign designed to reach audiences on multiple platforms and channels. From traditional marketing to digital marketing. 

Kath Brown – eCommerce Tech Champion 

Conversion Rate – Tells you what percentage of your users do a particular thing you want them to do, such as make a purchase, or fill out an online form. 

Retention Rate – Tells you what percentage of your users come back and shop again. Nurturing existing customers to encourage further sales is often a lot easier and cheaper than trying to win new customers. 

Payment Gateway – Is a service used to accept payments from customers via credit and debit cards.  

Front-end – The front-end of the website is the view your users and the public see. 

Back-end – The back-end of your website is the view that you see when you login to your website as an administrator or content editor. It will have a quite different set of functions and enable you to manage and update your website. 

Acronyms are peppered throughout the tech and digital worlds; acronyms are used frequently by digital professionals who could be of guilty of assuming that everyone understands them. Below you will find our acronyms guide – suitable for use by creative and cultural organisations and individuals looking to grow their digital skills.  

AMA Ask me anything. A question-and-answer session typically done over a live stream. (Not to be confused with Arts Marketing Association!) 

AOV Average Order Value. This is an important metric in eCommerce as it gives a sense of how much customers are spending on average. 

CMS Content Management System. A place where data – usually text, images, and video are held and used to publish online. A common CMS is WordPress. 

CPC Cost Per Click. A model of digital advertising where the advertiser pays a fee each time one of their ads is clicked on by a user/customer. (See PPC) 

CPL Cost Per Lead. An online advertising pricing model, in which a particular advertiser pays for a signup from a customer who is interested in the offer being promoted.  

CPM Cost Per Thousand. The price an advertiser pays for 1,000 advertisement impressions on a webpage 

CR/CVR Conversion Rate. The rate at which your users complete a task you hope they will complete such as making a purchase.  

CRED Create, Read, Edit, Delete Permissions. A process used in systems to determine the permissions granted to each user to protect the integrity of the data held in the system.  

CRM Customer Relationship Management. Software used to manage the interactions with customers or potential customers. 

CRO Conversion Rate Optimisation. Optimising your website to encourage more conversions. (See CR/CVR) 

CTA Call to Action. A specific action you want users/customers to take, for example – ‘Subscribe to our Newsletter.’ 

CTR Click Through Rate. The percentage of users following a link to view a webpage, this could be in paid advertising or organic 

DM Direct Message. An instant or private message sent from one user to another user, typically used on social media platforms. 

ePOS Electronic point of sale. Used as a byword for your till. The software that you run to take payment from your customers 

ERP Enterprise Resource Planning System. A piece of software used by an organisation to manage its inputs and outputs. 

ESP Email Service Provider. A technology company that allows its users to create and send emails to its database of users/customers. 

FPS Frames Per Second. The frequency at which a device produces consecutive images to produce a moving image. 

FYP For You Page. TikTok’s name for your personal feed of content. 

GA Google Analytics. An analytics service provided by Google to track and report website traffic. The latest version is GA4. 

GTM Google Tag Manager. A management system that allows you to add snippets of code or tags to your website or app.  

KPI Key Performance Indicator. A measurable value that demonstrates the performance of a company or organisation against its goals.  

LTV Lifetime Value. The expected amount of money a user will spend across all the visits they make to your website or online store.  

NLE Non-Linear Editing. A video editing process that allows the editor to edit the project without regard to the timeline, working on any clip in any order.  

NPS Net Promoter Score. A score used to assess how likely a customer is to recommend an organisation to a peer or colleague for example, gathered in post-service surveys.  

PAA People Also Ask. Suggestions on a search results page showing questions asked by people who have also searched the term you have searched. 

PIM Product Information System. A piece of software designed to hold all the information about your products. This is particularly relevant for eCommerce and retailers who will hold lots of information about each product from its barcode to photos. 

PPC Pay Per Click. A model of digital advertising where the advertiser pays a fee each time one of their ads is clicked on by a user/customer. 

ROAS Return on Ad Spend. A direct measurement of the effectiveness and performance of a marketing campaign. 

ROI Return on Investment. A direct measurement, the amount of return on a particular investment, relative to the investment’s cost. 

SEM Search Engine Marketing. Internet-based marketing associated with the researching, submitting, and positioning of a website within search engines to achieve maximum visibility and increase your share of paid traffic referrals from search engines. 

SEO Search Engine Optimisation. A set of practices designed to improve the appearance and positioning of web pages in organic search results. 

SERP Search Engine Results Page. A list of relevant web pages generated when a term is searched for in a search engine. 

SMM Social Media Marketing. The use of social media platforms to grow a brand, increase sales and drive website traffic. 

SQL Structured Query Language. A standard language for storing, manipulating, and retrieving data in databases. It facilitates retrieving specific information from databases that are further used for analysis. 

TBT Throwback Thursday. A trend where old photos, posts and other content is shared. It is nostalgic and done, not surprisingly, on Thursdays. 

TL;DR Too Long; Didn’t Read. Used to complain about the length of a piece of content by a reader/viewer.  

UGC User Generated Content. Any types of digital content created by a consumer or fan but used to promote a brand.  

UI User Interface. Most operating systems have a user interface, often a user-friendly graphical environment for the user to interact with the system. 

UJ User Journey. The steps followed by a user to get to their end goal. From discovery, to learning, to purchase, for example. 

URL Universal Resource Locator. An address of a webpage. 

UTM Urchin Tracking Module. Additional parameters added to a URL to track campaigns in analytics platforms. 

UX User Experience. Designing products based around the journey and feel of the product for the end user.  

If you could point our readers in the direction of a great resource for beginners interested in your specialism, what would it be and why? 

James Akers – Data Analytics and Insights Tech Champion 

There are three principal areas in my specialism – defining the data you need, getting the data right, and learning how to interpret what you have. With that in mind, I recommend looking at the following: 

Jacqueline Ewers – Email Marketing Tech Champion 

I find this independent, easily digestible, guide to email marketing to be a great resource for someone looking for a good place to start.

Emily Ditsch – CRM and Ticketing Tech Champion

I would recommend our ‘CRM: A Diagnostic Checklist’ resource.  CRMs (Customer Relationship Management) connect many existing systems and people across your organisation and this resource helps identify those many moving parts to consider when implementing a new system.  It is always worth revisiting how effectively existing CRM systems are working for you as your team, processes, and programming changes over time. 

Nicola Barratt – Social Media Tech Champion 

There are some great free social media resources out there. I would recommend looking at the free articles and guides from some of the big social media management platforms, such as: 

Ollie Couling – Digital Marketing Tech Champion 

Smart Insights, is normally a go-to for me, as they have a great depth of resources around digital marketing strategy and often use infographics to articulate concepts, which I, as a visual learner myself, find very useful.   

Dean Shaw – Video and Digital Content Tech Champion 

I love the effort and detail that Studio Binder puts into their videos on YouTube. Sometimes it might go over your head like Maverick busting the tower but it is a really-well put together series of content that helps demystify film and inspire your content creation, even if it is just a small piece of content for Twitter.  

Next up would be Indy Mogul, for fun, light-hearted, content that inspires and can be produced using prosumer cameras and on a budget this channel is superb at delivering the goods. 

Kath Brown – eCommerce Tech Champion 

This is an excellent book on web usability: 

Hansel McKoy – previous SEO/SEM Tech Champion 

This blog post by Brian Whalley covers everything from the basics of SEO through to more complex concepts. I find it’s a great resource to signpost SEO enthusiasts to, it serves as a detailed and accurate glossary of the terms most widely used in my specialism. 

The current Digital Culture Network Tech Champions for Search Engine Optimisation and Search Engine Marketing are Monica Thomas and Muhammad Momin.

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