Buyer's Guide … the one with the Encyclopedia!

Glossary of Photonics and Laser Marketing

Here we explain frequently used terms in the marketing of products in the area of photonics, optics and laser technology.

A/B testing

The effectiveness e.g. of navigation elements on a website for inducing the desired traffic flow can be measured by comparing statistical data e.g. for two different versions of that element (A and B). The results of such A/B tests can be used for optimizing the page performance, e.g. in terms of conversions.


Activities for making a company and/or its product better known in a positive way, usually with the primary goal of increasing the sales revenue. Advertising can directly aim at sales or at least lead generation, but it can also work indirectly by creating a good and well recognizable image of a company and its products (branding), which may support later sales.

anchor text

The anchor text of a hyperlink is the text of that link which is displayed and on which users can click.

application note

A document describing in some detail how a certain product can be applied for a certain purpose. It may increase the confidence of the reader that the product is suitable for the intended application. Carefully offered application notes can thus be important tools for the product marketing, apart from giving useful support to existing customers.

attention span

The attention span of a person is the amount of time within which a person is able and prepared to pay attention e.g. to a certain message. It depends on the person itself, e.g. its capabilities and interests, but also substantially on the situation, on the message to which the person is exposed, and on other messages reaching the same person. Particularly persons who are currently pursuing a certain goal may have a very small attention span for messages which are seemingly not related to their current goal.


Advertising should always be directed to a well defined audience – sometimes a relatively broad audience, such as all professional working in optics, photonics and laser technology, and sometimes a very specific audience like professionals reading encyclopedia articles on certain topics.


inbound link


A graphical element, usually in rectangular form, used for display advertising on websites. The effectiveness of a banner advertisement depends on many factors, including the qualities of the banner itself (convincing message, appealing visuals etc.), the number of impressions (displays) per month, on its visibility on the pages on which it is placed, on the presence of other advertising banners at that place, on the quality and reputation of those pages, and not least on the characteristics of the reached audience. The cost model is typically either pay per impression or pay per click. See our article on photonics marketing, which has a section on banners, and our offers for banners.

bounce rate

The bounce rate corresponding to some Internet traffic (e.g., referrals from an advertising website to a supplier website) indicates the fraction of visitors who do not request any web pages beyond the first visited page. That may for certain pages be an indicator for a kind of traffic which is not useful. However, if visitors already can obtain all required information on the first page, the lack of further movement is not a bad sign. Bounce rates are relevant only for pages where relevant information is only provided by clicking on further links.


Presenting a company or its products to a suitable audience in a way which contributes to the creation of a well recognizable brand image and corporate identity. Ideally, it connects the brand with positive perceptions, e.g. concerning competence or reliability.
Effective branding can support future sales, even if it does not directly generate sales leads. It can also be valuable for getting attractive investment deals and acquisition offers, and for retaining valuable staff who prefers working for a well respected company.
The brand recognition can be supported with a consistent graphical appearance, including a characteristic company logo and possibly other graphical elements, at suitable places.
Particularly valuable branding effects result from being seen in a particularly positive way, e.g. by sponsoring of something which people greatly appreciate.

buyer's guide

A resource for reliably finding suppliers for certain products. Typically, suppliers can be registered for free, but paid entries with much improved visibility are available, which can have a substantial effect not only in terms of branding, but also for lead generation. See our article on buyer's guides and in particular the RP Photonics Buyer's Guide – the only one linked with a famous encyclopedia!

call to action

In texts for marketing purposes, e.g. in printed form or on a web page, one often includes a “call to action” (in the form of text or sometimes a graphical element) which is designed to motivate readers to perform a certain action, such as doing a purchase or something at least leaving in that direction – for example, registering for a newsletter, downloading a document or analyzing something.


A circulation number indicates the typical number of copies of some printed item which are distributed. Circulation data are relevant for advertisers. For increased trust, the data can be independently certified by certain agencies.


The action of a website user to click on a certain element in the browser display. In most cases, a click on an HTML link is meant. Such a click may cause a visit on another website, e.g. that of a supplier.

content marketing

A kind of online marketing which involves the creation and distribution of certain useful and free content, for example an article, white paper, application note or video on a topic related to the advertised product. Sometimes, such content is marked as sponsored. Sponsored webinars can also be considered as content marketing.


The completion of a desired activity of a user on a website, e.g. an online purchase, a visit on another webpage, or a document download. The fraction of visitors to a certain page whole do a certain conversion can be called a conversion rate. This is often taken as a measure for the effectiveness of a page in producing certain desired results. One should not overlooked, however, that website visits can have multiple beneficial effects, some of which are not measurable; looking at conversion rates only may therefore be misleading.

core value proposition

value proposition

corporate identity

The corporate identity, also called corporate image, is the image of a corporation which is achieved in the public. A positive corporate identity can be built up with various measures such as a carefully crafted and consistent style of communications on all channels and the use of specific branding measures. Obviously, it can be helpful for further sales if the corporate identity as perceived by the public and by specific user communities creates an impression of high value products, fairness and reliability.

cost per click

The cost of an advertising campaign divided by the number of referrals (clicks) which it generates. This value can give an indication on how expensive an advertising tool is for generating website visits. Note, however, that a website visit is not necessarily a lead; the quality of traffic needs to be taken into account.

cost per lead

The cost of an advertising campaign divided by the number of sales leads which it generates. This value can give an indication on how expensive an advertising tool is. However, lead generation is usually not the only function of an advertising tool; one should not overlook other functions such as branding. Also, the quality of sales leads can vary a lot.


cost per click


call to action

e-mail campaign



An event where certain items – for example products of a certain industry – can be showcased. Large exhibitions are organized in the form of trade shows, but there are also smaller exhibitions associated with technical and scientific conferences. See our article on marketing with exhibitions.


After some interaction e.g. with a potential customer, one often does not simply wait for further actions of that person, but rather contacts the person again after a certain time. For example, one may ask whether there is still an interest in the product, whether they are remaining questions or doubts, etc. One may also ask for feedback, offer a present or undertake something else to strengthen the contact. Follow-ups are often systematically applied in marketing. For example, they may be automatically scheduled after an interaction with a potential customer. Of course, there is a risk of irritating potential customers with too frequent or inappropriate follow-ups, which may substantially depend on the cultural context.


The presentation of online advertisements to people only at specific locations, for example in certain countries. This can be useful particularly for suppliers who are selling only in certain countries. For example, RP Photonics offers advertising banners which can be displayed only in certain countries.

HTML link

A hyperlink in a web document, realized with HTML code. (Most hyperlinks are realized with HTML, but one might also use JavaScript code, for example, to obtain the same functionality.) Links to a supplier website may not only lead traffic to that website, but also be interpreted by search engines as an endorsement, which may lead to an increased search engine ranking if it is not a nofollow link.


page view

inbound marketing

This term refers to marketing activities where instead of actively contacting already known specific persons (→ outbound marketing) the marketer publishes materials which will hopefully motivate yet unknown people to contact the company for inquiries and possibly sales. In the area of online marketing, possible methods are optimization of the own website (including search engine optimization), paid listings in buyer's guides and content marketing.


An element in a text on a webpage which functions as a reference to some other page or document, to which the user can usually get simply by clicking on the hyperlink. Most hyperlinks are realized as HTML links.

inbound link

A link from another website to the own one; also often called “backlink”, even if there is no link in the other direction (explaining “back”). Inbound links do not only lead direct traffic to a website, but may also enhance its search engine ranking if certain conditions are fulfilled (number of such links, authority and relevance for the topic of the other pages, anchor texts etc.). Therefore, they may also indirectly lead to enhanced web traffic.

lead generation

Generating an interest of potential buyers such that they contact the supplier – not necessarily with direct orders, but also with inquiries expressing a concrete interest. See also sales lead.

landing page

A web page to which visitors from a certain advertising campaign are sent. Frequently, this is a custom landing page, i.e., a page used only for that campaign.


HTML link

list rental

The use of a large database of contacts e.g. from a publisher for mailings. Typically, an advertiser gives the message to the publisher, who will send it to selected contacts from a database, but without giving the used e-mail addresses to the advertising customer. It is also possible that the publisher later sends additional messages to the same people, where the content and subject line may depend on whether the addressed people have opened the mail or clicked on any links therein. List rental is a method for generating contacts outside the own database, thus reaching out to a larger audience.


The distribution of some message either in printed form by regular mail or in electronic form, usually by e-mail. Mailings can be effective marketing tools, but only when they are optimized in various respects. They can be done based on an own address pool or through certain services providing many addresses of a hopefully suitable audience. See our article on marketing with mailings.

marketing communications

Activities for the marketing of a company which can include advertising, direct marketing, sponsoring and public relations.

media data

Data which characterize some tools used for advertising. Beyond solid data such as circulation number and web statistics, they can contain descriptions of the medium and its audience, as are relevant for advertisers.

mobile-friendly web design

responsive design

native advertising

The attempt to improve the effectiveness of advertisements (print or online) by embedding them into related editorial content in a form which is matched to that content. For example, online advertisements may be placed close to editorial content without graphically distinguishing them much from that content. This method may reduce detrimental effects like “banner blindness”, but it can have inappropriate manipulative effects with ethical implications, particularly when the line between advertisements and editorial content is blurred such that advertising messages can be wrongly perceived as an endorsement by the author of the actual article. Our article on print advertising contains some further thoughts on that method.


A regularly appearing publication, which is sent to people who have subscribed to its distribution list. Companies may build up their own distribution list, but it is also possible to add paid advertisements to newsletters of certain publishers. See our article on mailings.

nofollow link

A HTML link with the attribute rel=“nofollow”, which indicates to search engines that the link is not to be interpreted as an endorsement. The link will then have no influence on the search engine ranking of the target page. In buyer's guides, links to supplier pages are often realized as nofollow links (or not even as HTML links), since search engines may “punish” websites for paid links.

organic search results

Traffic from search engines can be obtained through paid advertising, but it can also be obtained based on the natural search engine ranking of the own website. In the latter case, one obtains organic search results in contrast to paid results. Obviously, it is desirable to obtain a lot of organic search engine traffic, since that is likely to last without further expenses.

outbound marketing

This term refers to marketing techniques where one actively contacts already known persons or organizations, for example via telephone calls or mailings. This is the opposite of inbound marketing.

page impression

page view

page speed

This is basically the speed with which web pages can be displayed by the user's web browser. It is important because users hate to wait long for pages to be seen, and search engines also take that into account. There are sophisticated metrics for page speed, assessing various dimensions of it, e.g. in the context of Google's Core Web Vitals: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID) and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). Optimizing such parameters for a website often requires sophisticated technical work on the software system. The performance of the used server hardware and its connection to the Internet also matters, but less than the software architecture.

page view

Each time when a web page is requested by a browser program, this is counted as a page view. For obtaining meaningful data, page requests from search engine robots and the like need to be filtered out.

pay per click

This is a frequently used cost model for online advertising, where the cost of the advertising depends on the number of clicks on certain hyperlinks which typically lead users to certain landing pages. In addition to the cost per click (CPC), there may be an agreed maximum daily or overall budget in order to create an upper boundary of the possible cost.


pay per click

print advertising

The use of printed materials for advertising – either for direct use e.g. as handouts in exhibitions or for mailings.

privacy regulations

Online marketing can easily collide with regulations concerning the privacy of users, particularly when trying to implement very targeted advertising. For example, privacy regulations are often violated on social media platforms, when using user tracking on website, and when collecting e-mail addresses for mailings. RP Photonics can offer very targeted advertising, for example in the form of special promotions placed in encyclopedia articles, but never touching the privacy of users.


A measure which is intended to make a product better known and to subsequently increase the number of its sales. Product promotions can be realized in many forms, including banner advertisements, targeted communications through special websites or social media, and mailings.

quality of traffic

The value of Internet traffic, for example coming from a buyer's guide to a supplier website, depends not only on the number of visits per month, but also on the quality of traffic. For example, it would not serve the purpose to obtain visits from many users for whom the website is of no interest. Common metrics for the quality of traffic can include the bounce rate and the average number of page views within a certain time interval. Note, however, that such metrics can be highly misleading. For example, you will register less traffic per user on your site when users are directly sent to pages with specific product information, rather than to your homepage, from where they have to search what they need. However, that is of course not a sign for poor traffic quality. Quantities like a bounce rate are relevant only for pages where a lack of further movement is truly a sign of lacking engagement.


Generally, a referral on a website means that a reader is motivated to visit a page on another website by clicking on a hyperlink. In the case of advertising, the number of referrals in a month is an indicator for the effectiveness. However, the quality of the obtained traffic is also very relevant.

request for information

If people start exploring whether a certain product might fit to their needs, they often make a request for information (RFI), possibly amended by technical questions. This demonstrates a concrete interest and often leads to the first initiation of a direct contact, including detailed contact information and often also details on what is required. RFIs may result from website visits or from personal contacts e.g. in exhibitions. In the case of a positive response, an RFI may be followed by a request for quotation (RFQ).

request for quotation

If people start considering to buy a certain product, which has normally been confirmed already to fit their needs, they often make a request for quotation (RFQ or RfQ), possibly amended by technical questions (a request for information). This demonstrates a concrete interest and often leads to the first initiation or to the strengthening of a direct contact. RFQs may result from website visits or from personal contacts e.g. in exhibitions. They may be encouraged by inquiry forms and by buyer's guide listings.

responsive design

A website design which automatically adapts to work well with very different devices, particularly concerning the size of the display window of the browser. Responsive web design is normally also mobile-friendly, i.e., usable with mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.

sales funnel

Sales funnel is a term in the context of sales process engineering. When sales are regarded only as the task of a specific person or department in a company, sales opportunities may be lost e.g. when the information does not get to the salesperson(s). Therefore, one should carefully create a system where arising sales leads can end up with real sales no matter where or how exactly the original contact started – just as water hitting a funnel will find its way through the opening at the bottom.

sales lead

A sales lead is a contact to a potential customer. For example, product inquiries via e-mail or a contact form on a web page can be considered as sales leads. The quality of sales leads is essentially related to the chances that a later sale can indeed be realized with the given contact person, and it can of course vary a lot. For example, the quality of sales leads generated in the form of website visits through HTML links on another website strongly depend on the audience of that website. Sales leads are often managed in a systematic way (lead management). For example, leads of a certain type are registered for follow-up messages after a defined time delay. See also lead generation.

search advertising

A method of improving the chances of a website or particular web pages to be found in searches with Internet search engines. The most widely used service of that type is Google Ads. See our article on search marketing.

search engine

An Internet search engine contains (a) so-called search engine robots, which collect huge amounts of information from web pages, (b) a large database (search index) storing such information, and (c) an interface for accepting search inquiries from users and delivering the search results. They use sophisticated algorithms for deciding which of the many web pages containing certain keywords are listed with what priority in the search results.

search engine optimization (SEO)

The application of various methods with the goal to improve the search engine ranking of a website for certain keywords. Some “black hat” SEO methods aim at manipulating search engines for their purposes, but search engines are employing better and better algorithms for detecting such attempts. Nowadays, the volume and quality of the content of the website – together with external endorsements in the form of inbound links – are the primary factor for search engine ranking. Search engine optimization should thus primarily be work on the content, plus the observation of various issues such as the proper use of important keywords.

search engine ranking

The ranking of a certain website or a particular web page in the search results of search engines in general or some particular search engine. That ranking is often a vital factor for obtaining traffic to a website. It depends on many aspects of the website, in particular of its volume and quality of content. Search engines use many criteria for determining such rankings, including the number and quality of links to a website from other websites.

search engine robot

A computer software which is used by an Internet search engine to collect large amounts of information on web pages. Such reports are also called search engine spiders.

selling proposition

In order to convince possible customers to buy your product, you need to present convincing arguments. These can be centered on the product, but ideally they address the conceived needs of the other party – the value generated there (→ value proposition). The best is to have a unique selling proposition (USP), letting the offer stand out against those from any competitors.


A set of data characterizing a product in some detail. For example, laser specifications may contain details concerning output power, wavelength, beam quality, pulse parameters, intensity noise etc. Technically sound, understandable and helpful specifications can be essential for convincing potential buyers.

social media

Social media are based on complex websites which allow users to interact with each other. Typically, users enter substantial information on themselves and can therefore be found and addressed by others. Social media can also be used for targeted online marketing. See our article on social media marketing.


Sponsors are financially supporting some event (e.g. a webinar), a person or organization, or a website, and in return obtain recognition which can strengthen their brand. RP Photonics offers sponsorships for its famous encyclopedia.

targeted advertising

Advertising can be more effective and efficient if the advertising message can be sent dominantly to the right audience, i.e., to those who are more likely to respond to it positively and who ideally also make the purchase decisions. This is possible particularly for some kinds of online advertising, e.g. if ads are presented to a carefully selected audience in social media portals, or if they are displayed only in specific encyclopedia articles. RP Photonics offers such special promotions on pages of encyclopedia articles.

technical writing

The creation of technical information in written form, e.g. providing descriptions of technical products and their applications. Technical writing can result in different types of documents, including product descriptions, application notes and white papers.

time to market

When a company decides to bring out a new product, it takes some time from the original idea to the point where the product can be sold; this is called the time to market. That time can be substantial when a sophisticated product development process has to be performed. The marketing of a product often needs to be started before the development is finished, since the market may have to be prepared for the new offer. See also our Spotlight article on time to market.

trade show

A large exhibition which allows companies of a certain industry to showcase their products. Suppliers can register for a booth, giving them some space to install their advertising displays and place their personnel for interacting with visitors. The participation in tradeshows is often expensive, but can be an important element of a marketing strategy, since it can contribute to branding, can generate leads and provides insight into the market. See our article on marketing with tradeshows.

traffic data

website statistics

unique selling proposition

selling proposition

unique visitor

Within website statistics, not only the number of page views is relevant, but also the number of unique visitors. This quantity, however, is not easy to determine reliably; it requires that one can distinguish different visitors e.g. based on their IP address (which however may be shared by multiple users) and user agent string. There may also be issues with privacy regulations e.g. when IP address data need to be stored for that purpose.

user tracking

Websites often try to track their visitors, but this can happen in rather different forms. In some cases, they tried to track visitors is such that tailored advertisements can be presented to them; such techniques raise issues concerning privacy. In other cases, the purpose is only to track the traffic flow while keeping the data fully anonymous.

value proposition

In marketing, a value proposition is the promise of a certain value obtained by the customer (or his or her organization) through the purchase of a good or service. The chances for sales can be substantially improved by developing a value proposition which is relevant for the potential customer, unique and credible. For that purpose, it is important not only to develop a good product, but also to well understand the needs of potential customers. Further, it is important to clearly communicate the unique value proposition such that it can have an effect within the limited attention span.


unique visitor

web server

A computer which delivers web pages, typically to browser programs used by human readers. Most operators of a website use a web server of an external website hosting provider. A web server should operate very reliably (i.e., with a very short downtime per year) and deliver the requested web pages quickly. (Note that his performance depends not only on the used hardware, but also very much the used software.) Further, a web server can collect statistical information on the traffic flow.

web traffic

The use of web pages, usually by human readers. Web traffic is often quantified in terms of page views or website visits.


A presentation on a certain topic, typically in the form of a slideshow presentation, which is delivered to some audience through the Internet. See our article on marketing with webinars.


A set of web pages, which may e.g. describe a certain company and its products. The quality of a website is often of high importance for the success of the company, since it contributes to its image, informs readers on their products and attracts potential buyers (lead generation). A website can have further important functions, such as providing access to a database (e.g. a buyer's guide). See our article on website optimization.

website statistics

Statistical information on the operation of a website. Such data can be used by a website operator to identify problems and further improve the website. Traffic data are also relevant for advertisers, who need to judge the potential of a third-party website for effective advertising. As an example, see the website statistics of RP Photonics.

website visit

If a web user is directed from one website to another, it is counted as one visit, even if it leads to multiple ]page views:#pmgl] thereafter.

white paper

A white paper is a document which is meant to inform readers about a certain issue with some complexity. In the context of marketing, white papers usually do not simply describe products, but for example explain how certain products can be used for certain applications. That type of white paper would be similar to an application note. See our offers for targeted special promotions for white papers.

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