The Often-Updated Tech Marketer Terms To Know

The tech space is fast-paced. Heck, in the time it takes you to read this, approximately 50 new buzzwords were created by tech companies you haven’t heard of — yet.

As tech marketers, we’ve all been in a meeting thinking to ourselves, “Wait, what is this guy talking about?” No? Just us? 

Fear not, because we’ve got a cheat sheet. This bad boy covers anything from common marketing practices and terms to the more esoteric. We’ll be updating it as new terms roll in and if you’ve got any you’d like to submit, give us a shout in the form below. 

For now, jot a few of these terms on your palm before your next big meeting and you’ll fit right in. 

A/B testing: Simply put, this refers to running two versions of a single variable — web pages, ads, etc. — simultaneously, and taking the data that comes with it to inform future decisions.

Adjacent market: If you hear someone refer to an area of potential growth as an adjacent market, this is a space where your company and the prospective market have some overlap in customers, product and applications. They’ve got their eyes set on a somewhat “easy” target.

Angel investor: Despite what the name suggests, these aren’t individuals that drop from the heavens with a wad of cash. These are members of the entrepreneur’s network that see a company or idea with potential, and invest the capital necessary to get it off the ground. 

Antifragile: If you’re assuming this is similar to calling something resilient, you’re not too far off. Antifragility refers to something that not only withstands the test of time, but it comes out the other side totally unscathed and stronger than ever. So, think resiliency on steroids.

Attack vector: Hackers use attack vectors as a means to exploit cyber security vulnerabilities to gain access to a network server or computer. This actually happens quite frequently (PlayStation’s 2011 Network outage, anyone?), which is why companies have entire teams dedicated to cyber security.

Biohacking: Fasting, dermal microchips, and nootropics just scratch the surface of biohacking. Sometimes referred to as DIY Biology, this methodology takes the hacker ethos and applies it to the human body in an effort to achieve higher performance. Why stop at optimizing SEO and internal processing when true optimal performance lies within the vessel that is you?

Bootstrap: In business, bootstrapping means self-funded. No angel investors, bank loans or crowdfunding — just your piggy bank and a whole lot of grit.

Burn rates: Burn rate is just a more interesting way of referring to a negative cash flow. 

Churn rate: This rate is the percentage of people no longer using a brand’s offerings. Think of all the times you’ve unsubscribed from something, in that moment you were a blip on their churn rate.

Cohort analysis: When you hear this phrase, the topic has turned to behavioral analytics. Cohort analysis measures the behavior of a specific, unchanging group over time.

Cost of goods sold (COGS): If you hear someone going on about COGS, they’re just referring to the amount spent on all aspects of goods sold; raw materials, direct labor and the factory overhead required to turn raw materials into the product sold. 

Cost per acquisition (CPA, also cost per action): The amount spent on your company’s endeavor to convert a customer on a specific marketing channel is the CPA. The more effective your ads are, the lower the CPA will be. 

Cost per click (CPC): Much like your CPA, this refers to the amount your company spends on each click your campaign scores. The more effective your PPC campaign, the lower your CPC.

Cost per thousand (CPM, also cost per mille): When you hear this term, you’re looking at the amount of money spent per 1,000 impressions (appearances) in the ad space of choice.

Counterfactual thinking: This mode of thinking is applied by looking at changes that can lead to a different outcome. Based on factual observations, these explanations are often used to make algorithms more democratic.

Cross-selling: When you hear someone talking about cross-selling, they’re just saying we could be suggesting a product or service that compliments whatever the client has already invested in. Think of a meal deal. When offered a burger with fries and a shake next to just a burger, that meal deal seems a lot more appealing, right?

Customer acquisition cost (CAC): Sometimes referred to as the cost of customer acquisition (COCA), this metric is calculated for new customers by taking their total marketing cost (even down to the cost of human resources and related overhead) and dividing it by the number of new customers acquired in a given period of time. 

Customer lifetime value (CLV): You may hear this term thrown around when a company is discussing their prediction of profit that can be generated from an individual in their lifespan as a customer.

Customer relationships management (CRM): In short, the CRM is a system of practices, strategies and technologies used to manage a company’s relationships and interactions with both potential and existing customers. 

Customer segmentation: We gotta keep ‘em separated, right? Customer segmentation is the process of taking customers with shared characteristics and dividing them into groups. Whether that be by demographics, buying habits, gender or interests, this helps companies market to each group more effectively.  

Decacorn: If you’re picturing a horse with 10 horns on its head you’ve gone too far. Decacorns are startups that have been valued at more than $10B. Not as wild a horse with 10 horns on its head, but still pretty impressive.

Deprecated: This is a way of describing a software feature that hasn’t been updated, won’t be updated, and will likely be phased out and replaced with an alternative in time. Rest in peace, Clippy.

Disrupt: Whether it’s by inventing something completely new or by ignoring the rules of an old market, a company that talks about disrupting an industry has set their sights on ways to shake sh*t up.

Early adopters: In short, a hype man.These are the people who see a great concept and are willing to take a risk on less-than-perfect products. They’re also the same people who are likely to help you work through obstacles that arise before launching into other, less-forgiving segments of your market.

Earned media: Is your company’s latest TikTok going viral or have SEO efforts propelled blog posts to the top of search results? That’s earned media for you. Each share, retweet, and mention is free exposure generated by other users at no cost to you.

Exit strategy: In business, it’s not uncommon for there to be discussions of exit plans. The plan usually revolves around how to sell the business and make it advantageous for both the company and its investors.

Experiments: In a startup, if someone is suggesting you run a few experiments, they’re wanting you to test strategies and designs to identify new, innovative ideas. Go ahead, let your inner Bill Nye fly and run concepts through objective pass/fail tests.

FAANG: This acronym refers to the highest performing tech companies — Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google — but has evolved into a term used to denote a certain amount of status.

First-mover advantage: The company that is first to introduce a product or service in an unoccupied market has the first-mover advantage. Does this equal success? Not exactly, but it’s a good starting point.

First principle thinking: This mode of thinking comes from a place of simplicity. Sometimes looking at a problem or proposition as if it’s the first time you’re seeing it can help uncover an effective strategy.  

Gamification: To gamify is to add game-like elements to an otherwise non-game product. If someone suggests certain applications would benefit from gamification, they’re looking for ways to boost engagement.

General data protection regulation (GDPR): To put it simply, this set of laws was designed to create more consistent protection of personal data for customers of European and American companies. Though the safeguards don’t apply directly to people outside Europe, the measure may push companies to step up their privacy efforts everywhere.

Growth loops: In a growth loop, the actions of one user can create an output that is then reinvested back into the system. Pinterest is an excellent example. Users sign up, they save pins, and then other users engage with those pins — the platform is continuously fed thanks to avid “pinners.”

Heuristic: When someone makes the observation that a problem solving method is heuristic, they’re saying it’s a way to make quick decisions but it isn’t necessarily an optimized solution.

Incubator: Ah, the incubator — this is a cozy place to be. Basically, you’re looking at a parent company that takes baby companies under its wing until they can make it on their own.

Initial public offering (IPO): Once a company has reached a certain point of growth, they may take the opportunity to open up shares to public investors in an effort to raise additional capital.

Limbic resonance: You know those moments in a conversation where you and the other person are on the same page and it’s like you’re both energized by the discussion? That’s limbic resonance. In tech, there is an ongoing discussion about how our online behavior has shifted social interactions and the ways we can achieve limbic resonance in these spaces.

Logo wingman: If you notice a sudden change in your pal’s wardrobe — namely him being totally swagged out in corporate merch — and his incessant need to bring up the pre-IPO status of the company he works for, consider him a logo wingman.

Market penetration rate: This measurement reflects the percentage of your product’s sales volume relative to the total sales volume of all competing products in your market; basically you’re mathematically sizing up the competition.

Monthly recurring revenue (MRR): A product or service’s MRR is its regular monthly income from customers – the ultimate metric for subscription and SaaS based businesses.

Minimum Viable Product (MVP): These products are nearly what you had envisioned, just with fewer features and more bugs. While not perfect, they’re usable enough to gain customer feedback that can be used to inform future product development.

N of 1 trial: The company is setting out to uncover subtle results that would more than likely get lost in a large-scale study through multiple randomized and often blinded crossover trials.

Network effect: When a service or product gains value as more people use it, the network effect is in…effect. The internet is a prime example of this.

Nontrivial: When that one guy throws this one into the conversation, he’s building up a solid humblebrag. Among programmers, this term is used to describe a task that is neither quick nor easy to accomplish.

Occam’s razor: This age-old principle implies that if there are two varying explanations for something that takes into account all of the same facts, the more simple explanation is likely the correct one. Imagine this, your grilled cheese has disappeared off the table. Maybe a burglar snuck in and snagged it, or your suspiciously cute four-legged friend helped themselves — which scenario is more likely?

One metric that matters (OMTM): Usually a high-level but actionable metric that your company focuses on and optimizes at their current stage. This is likely to change as you enter new stages of startup development.

Owned media: Wouldn’t you know it — you’re looking at a piece of owned media right now. Basically anything a company can exercise complete control over counts; websites, blogs, social media profiles, email newsletters, and forums are all examples of owned media. 

Paid media: In this world, we gotta pay to play. This form of media is exposure purchased by a company to reach its target audiences; examples include display ads, PPC advertising, sponsored content, third party direct mail.

Pay-per-click (PPC): This term often comes up when discussing campaigns where the advertiser only pays for qualifying clicks on the ad. Most often the starting point is a search engine, a display advertisement, an affiliate program or social.

Pivot: This is what brands do when they realize scaling is not achievable in the current business model without a monetization strategy. Think of Netflix. They went from shipping out weekly DVDs to, well, you know.

Problem-solution fit: If you’ve got a good idea of who your customer is, what problem needs to be solved with innovative ways to do so, and qualitative proof to support these, then you’re looking at a problem-solution fit.

Product-market fit: So your team has demonstrated the ability to create value for a customer using an initial MVP (see above) while managing to monetize part of that value to validate it? That’s a product-market fit, baby. What you’re looking at is a desirable product being presented in the appropriate market of size.

Runway: If you’re hearing the term runway thrown around, the amount of venture capital a startup has left before it’s in real hot water is up for discussion. Basically they’re assessing how much time they’ve got to monetize their product or pivot plans before the cool bean bags in the war room have to go.

Second-Order Effect: We’ve all heard the phrase, “every action has a consequence.” The second-order effect refers to this idea, and that each consequence is in-turn an action with its own consequences. Basically, once a decision is made, a series of consequences follows — aka, a second-order effect.

Serviceable addressable market (SAM): A subset of the TAM (see below), SAM is the portion of the target market that can be reached through sales channels.

Serviceable obtainable market (SOM): Obtainable is the key word in this one. Your SOM — a subset of SAM — is the share of the market that can realistically be served and is typically the market a startup targets.

Stealth Mode: This is common in startups and (as the name suggests) refers to a phase of secrecy where details of what they actually do are kept secret in an attempt to ward off potential competition.

Sticky: When someone calls something sticky, they’re saying it has a high user retention rate.

Total addressable market (TAM): May be referred to as the total available market, your TAM serves as a bird’s-eye view of revenue opportunities within your market. Basically it’s a snapshot of what your company’s annual revenue would be if 100% market share was achieved.

Unicorn: Have the higher-ups identified a startup as a unicorn? What they’re saying is this company has been valued at at least $1B. At one point, rare. Increasingly, not even that exciting.

Unique value proposition (UVP): Sometimes referred to as a unique selling proposition (USP), a UVP is a short and sweet description of the main benefits your product offers and what sets it apart.

Viral coefficient: When you break this one down, the term coefficient refers to a constant quantity (in this case, a customer) multiplied by a variable (the customer’s referrals); pair that with viral and you’re assessing the number of new customers brought in by your existing customers. If you manage to increase it over one, you’ll find your business can grow exponentially with minimal effort.

Viral loop: Within a viral loop, satisfied customers or viewers are passing along content and information to others; this creates a cycle of continuous growth. Think about all the times your friend has made you watch some wacky video his wife showed him — you two have entered the viral loop.

Expert Level Unlocked

No final boss here. Well… Maybe keep an eye on the guy who has been biohacking. 

We do hope you feel prepared to bust out some of these terms on your next presentation and wow your boss. Heck, you may even feel inspired to share this and kick off a new viral loop. 

The possibilities are endless.

If you’ve got any new terms to submit, we’d love to see them. You can give us a shout in the form below, and remember — strive for sticky, don’t settle for heuristic, and know that being a disruptor isn’t always a bad thing.

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