Demystifying 16 Marketing Acronyms and Terms

In Texas, we have a saying:

“If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it’ll change”

That feeling of constant and quick changes is where marketers live. We spend time learning a platform or software and just as we get comfortable with a concept or best practice, the next “big thing” comes along.

If you’re responsible for marketing in healthcare, you’ve experienced it.

But what about those that are in sales or administration and only occasionally wear a marketing hat? Many of the concepts and acronyms marketers throw around can go right over your head.

Here’s a primer on 16 marketing acronyms and terms that marketers use daily and what they mean within the context of healthcare marketing.

Marketing Acronyms and Terms

B2B:  Business to Business

A “B2B” company provides products or services to other businesses. In the healthcare context, this is a company that works with healthcare facilities, providers, etc. They don’t work with patients or consumers directly.

B2C:  Business to Consumer

A “B2C” company provides products or services directly to consumers. In healthcare, this would be a business, like a hospital, clinic group, or physician that works directly with patients.

ROI:  Return on Investment

In a marketing sense, it’s the revenue on the entire investment for a specific element of marketing or advertising.

ROAS: Return on Ad Spend

Where ROI looks at the return on the entire investment, ROAS looks at the return on the cost of the advertising only. In the real world, ROAS would only include the cost to run a television commercial and the revenue it generated, while ROI would also include the cost to produce the commercial itself.

CPM: Cost per Thousand

An old advertising metric that measures the cost for 1,000 (Roman Numeral “M”) impressions. Calculating the CPM for various ads allows to make comparisons and gauge the cost of various ads and platforms. To calculate CPM:  1) Divide the cost by the total number of impressions, and 2) Multiply that number by 1,000.  

CPC: Cost per Click

Ad networks and platforms charge advertisers each time a user clicks on a link or ad. The CPC is sometimes determined by a bidding process. Marketers use CPC to compare ads and platforms and work to optimize CPC.


The action or goal that a marketing effort asks a customer or patient to take. (Typically used in the digital space.)

CR: Conversion Rate

A calculation of the number of conversions divided by the number of visitors to a website or landing page expressed as a percentage.

CRO: Conversion Rate Optimization

All of the activities that are focused on improving conversions on a website or landing page.

CTA: Call to Action

The next step that the audience is asked to take. Examples: to make a phone call, download a resource, fill out a form.

CTR: Click-Through Rate

The click-through-rate measures the effectiveness of an online ad or CTA. It is calculated by dividing the number of impressions by the number of clicks.

CPA: Cost per Action

The cost of a user taking a qualifying action, such as a sale or a form submission.

LTV: Lifetime Value

What an average customer will spend with a company over their lifetime.

Inbound Marketing

Marketing efforts such as blogging, social media, and content distribution to attract customers.

SEM: Search Engine Marketing

Digital marketing efforts with a goal of increasing and improving the visibility of a website on the search engines, through SEO and advertising.

SEO: Search Engine Optimization

The technical aspects of increasing a website’s rankings using keywords, links, site structure and content.

There you go, a primer on the basics.

Now that you can understand the lingo and jargon marketers use, throw a few of these out in your next meeting and let them know you’ve been doing your homework.

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About the Author Casey O'Quinn

Casey founded Gravity Digital in 2000 after serving as the Internet Services Director for a Nashville-based Ad Agency. He's a rare breed that operates both left and right brain, so along with oversight of the company he's active in the creative process for our clients.

Follow Casey O'Quinn: LinkedIn |

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