Marketing is a field rife with buzzwords – some are valuable and have merit, while others fall into the LMAO category. We’re covering the A-Z list and scoring the marketing buzzwords on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the most bearable and 10 being words that desperately need to be sent out to pasture.
Actionable Analytics. For more than just the sake of analytics, “actionable analytics” provides data and insight you can take action on and make real, significant changes based off of.
Score: 4. Shouldn’t all analytics be actionable?
Advertainment. Advertising that doubles as entertainment. Audiences want to be amused, and you’re the big top ringleader (or possibly the elephant dressed in the tutu). Often “advertainment” refers to blurring the line between product promotion and media entertainment. Examples include Red Bull’s Stratos Space Jump, or the green Hyundai that played a prominent role in several seasons of The Walking Dead, somehow managing to stay clean even amidst a zombie apocalypse. Score: 8
Brand Identity. Brand identity is the persona and reputation your company establishes through copy voice, logo, color palettes, etc. Score: 3
Big Data. Big data refers to massive collections of structured and unstructured data – so large that the data is often difficult to process through traditional means. As companies find more and more ways to collect data from users (via mobile data, web browsing activity, voice data), finding a way to store and manage such vast amounts of data is key.
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Content is King. This content catchphrase has been used plenty in the past couple years, but don’t expect it to go away any time soon. Content is key, having a content strategy is essential, you need quality content if you want to succeed in today’s digital marketing landscape. We know. This one is overplayed more than Outkast’s “Hey Ya” in the summer of 2004. Score: 10. We’re reaching code red here, as this buzzphrase has definitely jumped the shark.
Clickbait. Outlandish headlines crafted for the sole purpose of driving clicks. Now we all want to create clickable headlines, but clickbait is all style and no soul. Clickbait titles capture audience interest by driving mystery, but the content itself is subpar, making these headlines nothing more than cheap chum.
The term is almost always used in conjunction with references to Upworthy or Buzzfeed. For example, “A Man Called This Woman Fat For Ordering Large Fries – You Won’t Believe What Happens Next.” Score: 3. We need something to call these drivel headlines, and clickbait is as good a word as any other.
Contextual Marketing. Contextual marketing is marketing that is aware of its surroundings and its placement within a larger form of content. For example, when you read an article about social media strategies and see a promotion for a free ebook about Pinterest, you’re witnessing contextual marketing at work. Score: 3
Disruptor. Disruptors are rocking the boat. They’re mixing things up, breaking the rules, and riding motorcycles with aviator sunglasses. They’re the game changers, releasing a new product or service whose unique innovation throws the status quo into a tizzy. Uber is an easy example of a market disruptor, changing the taxi and car pickup landscape. It’s fine if someone refers to you as a disruptor, but don’t be the first to refer to yourself as one. Remember, the cool kids don’t call themselves cool. Score: 8
Efficiency. People are all about being as efficient as possible, making the most of your time and effort while staying productive. That’s all well and good I suppose, but efficiency is getting effing old. Score: 5
Freemium. A pricing strategy in which the basic version of a service or product is offered free of charge. Extra features and functionality requires free users to upgrade to paid versions. There are plenty of great examples of freemium products in the marketing world – HootSuite, WordPress, Buffer, and MailChimp to name a few. Freemium mobile games (which infamously are free to download but are laced with purchasing prompts) were ridiculed in a recent South Park episode, giving the term a sour taste. Score: 3
Gamification. Gamification is the process of integrating game-related elements into a service or software to encourage users to complete desired actions. Foursquare was a popular app that did a great job of incorporating gamification elements, allowing users to earn badges for checking into various locations.
One simple and common example of gamification is the progress bar you’ll often find when creating a profile through an online service. You may find a progress bar that moves from 40% to 60% to 90% and eventually to 100% as you complete certain actions like adding a profile photo, filling out your birthday, linking your account to Twitter, etc. Users don’t usually have to fill these data fields, but companies long for that sweet data and encourage completion by adding simple gamification elements. Score: 2
badges from Code Academy
Growth Hacking. Growth hacking is commonly used to refer to bootstrap marketing strategies utilized by startups and new businesses with small budgets. This often means getting creative with free marketing methods like social media, viral marketing, SEO, and content marketing. Growth hackers are, unsurprisingly, utterly obsessive about business growth. Score: 2
Hyperlocal. Hyperlocal is all the rage these days, as marketers use GPS data to geographically target audiences and provide location-based advertising. Score: 5
Ideation. Now this is a silly one. “Ideation” refers to the process of creating new ideas. This is why people hate learning English – stupid words that are totally unnecessary. Score: 10
Innovators. Not a new word, but it’s certainly been used to beat the horse to death. Innovators introduce new ideas, products, or strategies that are just so revolutionary. Everyone and their mom is an innovator these days. I blame Shark Tank. Score: 8
-Jacking. From Newsjacking to memejacking, the –jacking movement is alive and well, commandeering content for your personal marketing purposes. In newsjacking, writers cover a breaking news story while weaving in their own brand agenda. Memejacking is a corporate takeover of a meme. Score: 7
Care of HubSpot
KPI. AKA Key Performance Indicators, referring to personally crafted goals used as a form of measurement to evaluate performance. This one isn’t quite a buzzword – it’s a common and longstanding marketing metric, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get old. Score: 4
Low Hanging Fruit. The easy wins you have to grab. Sometimes you want to snatch that perfect apple at the top of the tree because you’re all about shooting for the stars. However, you can’t neglect the obvious, albeit sometimes unchallenging, options. Score: 3
Millennials. Millennials are the generation cohort born between the 1980s-2000s. Most discussion revolves around how to work with them, how to appeal to them, and figuring out why they are do hopelessly unhappy. Score: 5
#CripplingPainOnlyMillenialsWillUnderstand, img from Thoughts On Liberty
MOOC. Massive Open Online Courses. In the past this term has primarily been associated with universities offering online courses. However, as the digital marketing landscape becomes increasingly more focused on exchanging knowledge and educational resources for customer attention and trust, many brands may want to consider the option of offering MOOC-like courses for their customers. Score: 2
Mobile Optimization. We are now living alongside our mobile devices nearly 24/7. Mobile optimization used to be a good idea, now it’s an absolute necessity. Your website and products have to have mobile options, or you’re as doomed as M. Night Shyamalan. Score: 3
Netiquette. The etiquette of the Internet. Mostly basic stuff like don’t be a troll, don’t spam people, share only on-topic stories, etc. Score: 4
Omnichannel Marketing. Basically your modern marketing blitzkrieg, assaulting audiences on all fronts across social media, brick and mortar stories, online, and mobile in one seamless experience. Score: 6
Pain Points. You’ll often hear businesses talking about finding and answering their customers’ pain points – the stuff of user nightmares. Really it’s just a more creative way of saying, “we want to solve our customer’s problems.” Score: 7
Paid Placement. Paid advertising has always been a solid choice, but as SEO and organic options become tougher places to compete, paid placement is becoming a necessity. Facebook has buried the nail in the coffin of their brand pages’ organic reaches. Whose next? Score: 2
Quality, Not Quantity. This is often used when referencing content marketing, as some brands believe posting multiple cruddy blog posts a day will somehow boost their credibility. Quality is more important than quantity, but we already know this. We’ve always known this. It’s one of those lessons we learn somewhere around middle school, and I don’t think we need to keep repeating it online. Score: 9
Real-time Engagement. This involves communicating and building relationship with customers through active, real-time interaction. Examples would be weekly #ChatSessions, texting conference attendees with live updates, posting special photos related to a holiday, or live streaming a big event. Score: 7
Repurposing Content. Now that content strategy is a cornerstone of online marketing, you may find your business inundated with blog posts, webinars, and white papers. Repurposing content is the process of recycling old content and throwing on a fresh coat of varnish to extend the life and value of past content creations. Score: 5
Retargeting. The practice of showing users ads for a product or service they were viewing earlier but failed to purchase. Retargeting is a friendly and kind of creepy reminder that the web remembers. Still, retargeting gets the job done by shepherding those lost sheep back towards your site. If done well, it can work wonders. Score: 3
Snackable Content. Short, quick and easy bite-sized content that is easy to digest and won’t leave viewers bloated the next morning. For videos, this means content no longer 2-3 minutes. Vine is a perfect example of snackable content. Score: 3. This buzzphrase reminds me of buffalo wings. How can I hate?
Y’all got any more of them snacks?
Storyscaping. It’s a concept as fantastical as it sounds, all about creating worlds for your users rather than measly old ads. Make users part of your unique world. It’s a fun and romantic, Disney-esque idea, but a bit overplayed. Not to mention not always applicable – please, please do not immerse me into the world of accounting software. Score: 5. Silly? Sure, but it’s also fun and fanciful sounding.
We can’t all be Harry Potter
SoLoMo. Social, Local, and Mobile: the epic marketing tri-force that sounds like a zip code abbreviation and makes you want to sob at the hopelessness of modern culture. Score: 10
Second-Screen. The phenomenon in which users can’t just watch TV – they have to be on their mobile devices too, for the tweets and what not. So you can proclaim your outrage at the latest Game of Thrones character kill-off.
Marketers are trying to take advantage of the second screen phenomenon by implementing strategies like overlaying a hashtag during the airing of a popular TV show and showing the best comments live. I can’t decide if this is obnoxious or a fun way to incorporate a social element into a solo activity. At least it doesn’t feel like I’m watching 6 straight episodes of Hannibal alone at 12am. Score: 2
all the screens
Transparency. Companies have been touting their commitment to transparency ever since they realized users are really against being hornswoggled. Score: 7
Thought Leader. This is the goal of many aspiring marketers – to be come “thought leaders” within their industry. Nothing wrong with the concept, as there is no shame in working to become a key point of authority, you power-hungry beast you. Score: 7
UGC. AKA User Generated Content, brands are increasingly becoming more focused on incorporating UGC into their promotions. When brands showcase their customers’ fan art and testimonials, it builds a positive relationship and shows users that companies care. Or at least they’re making the effort to pretend to care. Score: 5
user-generated content from Starbucks
Viral. Marketers love to dream of their video going viral, their infographic going viral. They dream of seeing their stuff on the front-page of Reddit, of being ripped off by Buzzfeed and of Grandma’s posting their piece on Facebook. Go ahead and keep dreaming – there’s no formula for going viral, as the webaverse is a strange and untamable creature. This used to be a fun buzzword, but too many blog posts have promised “the secret to going viral” and now the word sounds synonymous with snake oil. Score: 9
Visual Storytelling. The practice of using visual assets (whether images or video) to tell a story that moves and inspires viewers. An example of successful visual storytelling would be Budweiser’s puppy ads. Score: 6
Wantrapreneur. You dream about starting a business but you just never get there. You’re a wantrepreneur. If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride. Score: 8
Wearable Tech. Technology that you wear on your person. Google Glass, FitBit, Galaxy Gear, Oculus Rift, to name a few. Get ready, Poke-vision goggles are on the horizon (life has not yet killed the dream I dreamed). Score: 3
Web Personalization. Also known as stalking for marketers, this practice involves personalizing web pages based on prior user activity and a user’s history with a brand. Some web personalization even involves referencing a user’s interests and demographics with the help of third party data. It’s stalking done out of love. Score: 3
X-Post. Short for cross-post, which refers to posting something in more than one location. For example, you might cross-post Facebook message on Twitter. Score: 1
YMMV. Your Mileage May Vary. Basically meaning, “Hey, we got damn lucky with this one. You can try to replicate our success, but don’t bet on it.” Score: 2
Inbox Zero. OK, we had to cheat a bit on this one, but come on, I’d like to see you do better! Inbox zero is the most coveted state of being – seeing a big goose egg in the “unread emails” section of your inbox. For many of us it is the stuff of dreams, forever unattainable. Congrats to those lucky blessed few who achieve this angelic status. Score: 2
There you have it, the A-Z Guide to Marketing Buzzwords! Did we miss any of your favorite (or least favorite) marketing buzzwords? Share your buzzwords in the comments!
Megan Marrs is a veteran content marketer who harbors a love for writing, watercolors, oxford commas, and dogs of all shapes and sizes. When she’s not typing out blog posts or crafting killer social media campaigns, you can find her lounging in a hammock with an epic fantasy novel.
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