42 B2B Marketing Acronyms and Abbreviations

Some days B2B marketing discussions seem more like a reading of alphabet soup. With lines like “we need SME commitment before developing DDMs for the ABM program”, it is no wonder marketers often struggle to communicate internally.

If you are new to B2B marketing, or just have to work with a B2B marketer, these acronyms and abbreviations may help decode the conversation.

Is there an abbreviation or acronym you see regularly in B2B marketing that isn’t listed here? If so, add it to the comments (and please define it!), this list will be updated with your additions.

The Basics

  • B2B: Business to business. You definitely already knew that one.
  • SME: Subject Matter Expert. On occassion it may mean Small and Medium Enterprises.
  • SMB: Small and Medium Businesses. In the US, research generally considers businesses with less than 100 employees to be small businesses and those with 100 to 1,000 employees to be medium buisnesses.
  • F500: Fortune 500. Other Fortune list abbreviations like F50 and F2000 are also used. Most frequently used to indicate the general size of target companies versus the specific list.

Marketing Program and Concept Acronyms

  • DM: Direct Mail
  • DDM: Dimensional Direct Mail. Boxes or other larger packages that stand out and get more attention from recipients.
  • EM: Email
  • ABM: Account Based Marketing. A marketing approach that treats every company individually rather than as a mass of similar companies
  • TAP: Targeted Accounts Program.
  • SEM: Search Engine Marketing. Includes both SEO and paid search.
  • SEO: Search Engine Optimization. Activity intended to improve organic search rankings.
  • PPC: Pay Per Click. May refer to paid search or other CPC priced media programs.
  • SMM: Social Media Marketing.
  • UX: User Experience

Online Marketing Acronyms

  • CTR: Click Through Rate or Click Rate. Calculated as clicks divided by impressions.
  • CPC: Cost per Click. Generally used for paid media programs and calculated media cost divided by clicks. May also refer to media buys that are paid for based on the number of clicks (as opposed to CPM).
  • CPM: Cost per 1,000 Impressions. The most common pricing model for online banner advertising.
  • CPN: Cost per Name. Used for pricing email, telemarketing or postal list rentals or purchases.
  • CPA: Cost per Action. Used for performance-based online advertising buys, the cost is based on the number of actions (such as a registration or purchase) delivered.
  • CPL: Cost per Lead. Used both as a pricing model for lead generation media buys and as a performance measurement to compare the cost of leads from various sources. Calculated as cost divided by leads.
  • LPO: Landing Page Optimization.

Online Advertising Technology Acronyms

  • BT: Behavioral Targeting. Targeting people based on recent online behavior, such as visiting an automotive site.
  • RTB: Real Time Bidding. An auction approach to buying and selling online advertising inventory in a real-time impression by impression auction.
  • DSP: Demand Side Platform. A system for managing all aspects of online media planning, buying and reporting, including RTB inventory, data and direct media buys.
  • DMP: Data Management Platform. A system that manages data from a variety of sources and makes it available for purchasing media through RTB sources or creative targeting rules.
  • 3PAS: Third Party Ad Server. The advertiser’s ad server.

Marketing Technology Infrastructure

  • CMS: Content Management System. A system for managing and publishing content, often on the web. Includes relatively simple systems like WordPress to complex systems running the largest sites.
  • CRM: Customer Relationship Management. An approach and technology solution to managing communications with customers and prospects.
  • MAP: Marketing Automation Platform. A technology approach to automating elements of marketing communication, lead scoring and lead distribution.
  • SFA: Sales Force Automation. Salesforce.com.
  • PURL: Personalized URL. A URL created for a single person, allows both a personalized first impression as well as personalized messaging on a landing page or site in 1-1 marketing programs.
  • BI: Business Intelligence.
  • GA: Google Analytics.

Marketing and Sales Pipeline Acronyms

  • MAL: Marketing Accepted Lead.
  • MQL: Marketing Qualified Lead.
  • AQL: Automation Qualified Lead
  • TAL: Teleprospecting Accepted Lead
  • TQL: Teleprospecting Qualified Lead
  • TGL: Teleprospecting Generated Lead
  • SGL: Sales Generated Lead
  • SAL: Sales Accepted Lead.
  • SQL: Sales Qualified Lead. Occasionally (in marketing) it refers to Structured Query Language.
  • ULD: Universal Lead Definition. A single definition, as an alternative to providing separate definitions for a “lead” at various stages of the sales process.

Your Turn

What other acronyms would you add to the list to help out people coming into B2B marketing today? Share your additions in the comments below with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

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  • Great list. I reminded me of the old days at Intel when they gave all employees a dictionary they’d developed, mostly because they always talked in acronyms and we were so clueless at first. I’m going to keep this as a handy reference. Thanks. 

  • If you add a channel distribution list you might add VAR (value added reseller).

    This list made me chuckle as it reminded me of my time in the army, which I think loves acronyms more than the business world does. There were so many acronyms that occasionally people would ask what an acronym “stood for” (meaning the specific words from which the acronym was derived). What was funny to me was when the person using the acronym didn’t know the answer, but could describe in a few sentences what the acronym meant.

    • Yeah, that is a whole category, VAR, VAD, ISP, … ok, good catch, and probably highlighting the fact channel marketing doesn’t get the attention it deserves so often.

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  • Nice value add here. I’d DM you a couple other suggestions but I don’t know your mailing adress…tee hee hee.

    • DM me and I will send it to you. Oh, wait…. 

      Yeah, that one threw me a bit as well, it means Direct Message about 99% of the time that I use it. Thanks for the comment!

  • Susan

    I am the CEO of a small company that provides a niche service to Fortune 100 & 500 companies, and I am looking for assistance with B2B marketing. What should I be looking for in an agency? So far I’ve wasted precious capital with little or no success.

    • Hi Susan, I would be happy to talk to you more about your previous experiences and the kinds of challenges you need help with. Without more information, I would venture that you need to work with an agency that is more focused on B2B sales, not on B2C or lead generation metrics. As a smaller company targeting large accounts, a very targeted account based marketing approach is worth considering as a starting point, and many agencies haven’t embraced these kinds of programs and capabilities yet.

      • Susan

        Thank you for your reply. My company is a boutique firm and niche player in a vast promotional products industry. We have fewer than 10 people, yet we have been able to attract clients like SAP and HP. Our target audience is made up of marketing executives who manage top tier field marketing and global sponsorship programs. Their audience is the C-level executive.To date, though we’ve hired firms that claim to have B2B experience, the results have been dismal.
        Best, Susan

        • Susan, promotional products are definitely a difficult space, so many people it seems believe they are essentially a commodity and they look to other firms for the higher value advice.

          I would be happy to discuss some of what you have done to date if you want (with no sales pitches for any agency). You can email me at eric at b2bdigital.net.

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  • That’s a great ELLOA! 

    – Extra Long List Of Acronyms 🙂

  • What about KPI?

    • Oops. Yes, that definitely belongs in the list, thank you for the addition!

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  • Ellis Feibush

    There is an abbreviation or acronym if you will, that is used by manufacturers and/or retailers that describes “prices established by manufacturers that authorized dealers are allowed to sell their merchandize for, ie that only these MSR prices can be used if so-called authorized dealers want to sell such products; for instance: if a manufacturer selling a product on line for $100.00, then an authorized retailer must sell that same product for same price. That if the dealer decides to sell such products at a discount lower than that which the manufacturer allows, he will lose the franchise allowing him to sell those products. It is a slick way for manufacturers to control the prices for certain products they sell.

    Aside from prices that allow online and store front retailers to compete offering discounts to motivate more sales, people won’t buy these rather expensive item because they can no longer buy them at competitive prices.

    I am specifically referring to the Camera business. For the last couple of years, online photo supply retailers are no longer able to discount high end digital cameras, but rather sell them for exactly the same price as the online manufacturer, Amazon and every other authorized dealer for those products. Whereas in the past this type of equipment was highly discounted, but no more. I can see where manufacturers are trying to protect the small store front retailer. I respect that, but on the other hand it has rally affected the willingness and ability of potential buyers to purchase that type of digital equipment.
    There is an acronym or abbreviation for this type of price controlling. I just can’t for the life of me remember what it was. Perhaps you could help me. Than k you.

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  • Acronyms are a natural fit for social media networks…It makes sense for people to rely on abbreviations, especially for common phrases.