Jeff Keleher

If there’s one thing marketers have in common, it’s that they are inundated with content marketing buzzwords. We hear them daily in blog posts, meetings, webinars and just about anywhere else that the finer points of marketing are discussed. We all have personal favorites – crutches, really – to go along with our pet peeves.

At one point, these phrases actually stood for something in the context of a marketing strategy, but over time, they’ve been co-opted and abused to the point of signifying virtually nothing at all. This is particularly prevalent in the realms of digital marketing and social media marketing.

It’s easy to fall into the habit of relying on overused marketing buzzwords to convey your marketing brainchildren and sell your strategic vision. But by doing so, you’re basically saying, “I don’t have any fresh ideas of my own.”

That can all change, though! Remove these buzzwords from your personal lexicon once and for all, and focus more on customer interaction and genuine brand awareness to get new ideas.

1. Low-Hanging Fruit: Rotten Marketing Apples

Content marketers did not invent the term “low-hanging fruit,” but they can probably take credit for driving it straight into the ground, especially in the realm of digital marketing. We hear it all the time in reference to quick site changes that immediately increase the number of website visitors, sessions and impressions on various social media platforms.

It’s not that “low-hanging fruit” is misused, inaccurate or vague – it’s just a cliched way of saying something’s easy, and often used in content marketing strategies. No need to dress it up with a marketing buzzword we’ve all heard a million times before, just say “easy.” You can probably throw “quick wins” onto the pile of discarded buzzwords as well, as they no longer resonate with the target audience.
*Did you know? Variations of “low-hanging fruit” date back to the 17th century. The marketing community has successfully killed a 400-year-old phrase due to overuse in marketing campaigns. That’s got to count for something.

2. Snackable Content: Empty Calories

There’s something about describing content as “snackable” that just gets on your nerves. For one, the issue that you’re really getting at here is accessibility and readability. When we talk about snackable content, we mean blogs, videos and infographics that can be digested quickly during the course of your target audience’s busy day.

Do we really need a separate category for that? Isn’t most marketing content designed to be quick, easy reads? Is any brand out there trying to corner the market on “War & Peace”-style tomes in their marketing efforts?

True, a white paper will never be considered snackable, but it doesn’t have to be a dry, boring slog to get through, either. It can be a vital part of a well-rounded content marketing strategy that aims to engage potential customers without overwhelming them.
Snackable isn’t just irritating; it’s kind of stating the obvious. Nothing is snackable because everything already should be, and as the downfall of Quibi showed us, not everything brief holds value or interest for the audience.

3. Omnichannel Marketing: Why You Should Never Let Academics Coin Marketing Terms

If you weren’t already aware, “omni” is a prefix derived from the Latin “omnis” – meaning “all.” So, omnichannel is just a very sophisticated way of saying all of the channels, a term often thrown around in digital marketing buzzword discussions.

You don’t need a special, academic-derived term to discuss your marketing strategy channels like they collectively come together to form a separate entity. It’s not a Megazord, nor does it need to be a point of contention in marketing team meetings.

And let’s not delve into the unnecessary debates between “omnichannel” and “multi-channel” strategies. In the grand scheme of things, what matters is creating a cohesive customer journey where your brand seamlessly interacts with the customer across various platforms, be it through social media marketing or email marketing. Let’s focus on enhancing the customer experience rather than getting bogged down with jargon.

4. Influencer Marketing: Social Distortion

At its core, influencer marketing makes perfect sense: You partner with a renowned, popular personality in your industry and orchestrate a marketing campaign where they spotlight your products or brand on various social media platforms. They spread the word to their followers, and suddenly, your brand awareness has gone through the roof, potentially reaching a massive target audience.

So, what’s the problem? Well, part of the issue with influencer marketing is how often it goes wrong – and when it does, it goes very, very wrong. A glaring example of influencer marketing gone wrong is the infamous Fyre Festival. Promoted extensively by influencers, it promised a luxurious festival experience but ended up being a logistical nightmare, leaving attendees stranded with inadequate amenities. This incident not only tarnished the reputations of the influencers involved but also showcased the potential pitfalls of influencer marketing when not executed with authenticity and responsibility.

More than that, though, it feels like a copout – a shortcut to creating a brand identity. Why spend your time and energy crafting a brand image and building up a core of dedicated followers, when you can just piggyback off of someone else’s brand and built-in audience? Although somewhat cynical, this tactic seems to be gaining traction in the marketing world, even for marketing efforts aiming to cultivate genuine customer interactions and build a solid customer relationship management foundation.

5. Growth Hacking: 2010’s Hottest Trend

Ah, growth hacking, the marketing strategy du jour for startups everywhere, now seems more like a distant echo from the past. The basic concept is pretty sound: If your small business is just getting off the ground and your main concern is creating brand awareness, then that is where you should channel all your efforts and marketing campaigns.

Right from its inception, growth hacking seemed a tad too self-congratulatory for its own good. Much like the fleeting trends of CrossFit or paleo diets, its advocates adopted an “us versus them” stance that often grated on others. Assuming the role of a revolutionary who has reinvented the marketing wheel never really casts a favorable light, does it?

As we venture further into this decade, the term “growth hacking” feels increasingly antiquated, a relic of a bygone era that now evokes more eye rolls than nods of approval. Even when Sean Ellis first introduced this buzzword in 2010, it was greeted with a considerable amount of skepticism and dismissive shrugs.

If you find yourself clinging to the term “growth hacking,” portraying it as some groundbreaking, fresh approach to digital marketing, be aware that the people around you might be mentally picturing a time capsule being unearthed from 2010 every time you utter that phrase. It might be time to update your marketing lexicon to resonate more with the current trends and audience expectations.


6. Real-Time Advertising: When Everything Needs A Name

Every marketer dreams of that pivotal moment, when they spontaneously respond to some new development as it unfolds, capturing the attention of website visitors globally. It’s the dream of capitalizing on a highly visible trend right as it’s happening, potentially turning it into a viral marketing sensation.

Major sporting events and awards ceremonies, when viewer numbers are at their absolute peak are the kinds of moments real-time advertising is gunning for. The goal is to maximize brand awareness by capitalizing on these moments when the target audience is most receptive. The more eyes, the better, especially when trying to enhance the customer experience.

Marketers should always aim to benefit from the latest social media trends, but do we really need a special phrase for being extra quick to pull the trigger? Responding to new trends as they occur isn’t good “real-time marketing” – it’s just good marketing.

Of course, you can’t talk about real-time advertising without bringing up “micro moments,” which sounds absolutely precious, but shouldn’t come anywhere close to your digital marketing vocabulary. It’s essential to avoid getting caught up in the whirlpool of marketing buzzwords, focusing instead on creating substantial content that resonates with the potential customer and steering clear of unnecessary jargon that might dilute the core message.

7. Viral Marketing: Big Risk, Probably Not Too Much Reward

There are plenty of things wrong with viral marketing – too many to name here – but the biggest problem is how many brands are willing to embarrass themselves for that slight chance to go viral. The truth is there is no magic formula to creating successful viral content and any strategy that is dependent on the whims of the internet of all things is destined to fail.

Moreover, achieving viral status isn’t always a golden ticket. Take, for instance, Audi’s #PaidMyDues campaign. Initially conceived as a brilliant concept, the execution felt disconnected from the brand’s core message, causing a ripple of confusion and disappointment among its target audience. This campaign serves as a stark reminder that even when a brand manages to capture the internet’s fleeting attention, it can sometimes backfire spectacularly, leaving a dent in the brand’s image.

Therefore, it’s essential for a marketing team to weigh the potential risks and rewards carefully before embarking on a viral marketing journey. It’s not just about creating a buzzword-filled campaign; it’s about crafting content that resonates with your audience while staying true to your brand’s essence. 

After all, in the grand scheme of things, maintaining consistent and positive brand awareness is far more valuable than a momentary viral sensation that could potentially alienate your loyal customer base.

8. User-Generated Content (UGC): A Slippery Slope

Oh, the allure of User-Generated Content in the bustling world of digital marketing. The modern marketer’s dream is to transform the customer base into a brigade of content creators eagerly sharing their brand experiences on various social media platforms. It promises authenticity, community engagement and a sprinkle of free advertising.

But here lies the pitfall: UGC is a beast not easily tamed. While it can foster genuine customer interaction and build a vibrant community, it can also spiral into narrative chaos, straying far from the brand’s original voice and message.

Moreover, the strategy comes with the risk of misinformation, potentially dragging your brand into unforeseen controversies. So, while UGC holds a golden promise, it demands a strategic approach and a discerning eye to prevent the brand narrative from veering off course.

Got a bone to pick with a specific buzzword? Let us know which marketing lingo you’d like to see go away for good.

Editor’s Note: Updated September 2023.