Breaking down the use of buzzwords

  • Opinion
  • November 16, 2016
  • Fiona Kerr
Breaking down the use of buzzwords

2016 has definitely been a year filled with lots and lots of buzzwords.

You know them. Fashionable words or phrases that drop into meetings, presentations and coffee conversations. Words that make the listener nod intently as you speak, and help you feel oh-so clever. They also appear in many, many marketing discussions.

They’re annoying, pretentious and – fortunately for marketing folk – very useful.

I’m serious. At least initially, buzzwords are an attempt to describe a new concept, an innovative idea or a required shift in thinking. They help to create or indicate a common experience amongst a group of users within a specific context. They demand attention as they break convention – they quite literally “buzz”.  

Unfortunately, their demise occurs once they become mainstream – overused, popular and clichéd. We churn through them and discard them as quickly as we adopted them, and few stand the test of time. 

For a little bit of fun, here are my top 6 buzzwords of 2016. These words may not all have been conceived this year, but man – they sure were used a lot.

1. Omni-channel:

Refers to talking to consumers along the path to purchase across multiple mediums, with various messages, but only one seamless experience. In layman’s terms, it’s basically multi-channel marketing – but done really well, so that the consumer receives the same level of brand experience across any platform they’re using.

My favourite example of this is Macy’s above. Macy’s discovered that their average omni-channel customer was eight times more valuable than those customers that only shop with them using one channel. They leveraged the power of Google Adwords and provided omni-channel customers with targeted, relevant communications that allowed them to research, buy and collect purchases through any devices on the customer’s terms. Macy’s have completely restructured their business, systems and departments to facilitate an omni-channel philosophy.

2. UGC:

More commonly known as ‘user-generated content’, UGC refers to brands showcasing any form of content created by customers through their owned media channels. UGC has become more mainstream of late, and brands are now integrating this tool into their campaigns to drive engagement, fuel interaction and gain social currency. 

According to new Ipsos MediaCT research (1), millennials are spending 30% of their media time (up to 5 hours/day) engaged with user-generated content. They also trust (35% response) and remember (50% response) of UGC – much more so than traditional media.

Starbucks is the master of this technique – back in 2014 Starbucks initiated the White Cup Contest, encouraging customers to decorate their Starbucks cups and submit photos of them to Twitter with the hashtag #WhiteCupContest

3. Jacking:

This buzzword takes many forms and may also be called trend-jacking, news-jacking, even meme-jacking – but what it refers to is the practice of taking/aligning with/jumping on a trend or piece of content and making it part of your brand agenda. In other words, ‘jacking’ something topical or timely.

Examples of jacking include #thedress and Pokemon Go. In fact, Pokemon Go was a trend-jacker’s Nirvana. Jacking is boosted by the practices of social listening and real time engagement (sorry! Couldn’t resist some more buzzwords)!

4. Micro-moments:

Mobile adoption has forever changed the way consumers demand information. Research suggests that 82% of all of smartphone users turn to their phone to influence a purchase decision while in a store. (2

Therefore, brands need to identify micro-moments within the customer journey to ensure they’re there when needed. Micro-moments occur when consumers turn on a smart device to do something – like Google a fact, buy a lotto ticket, find a store location or even watch a YouTube clip. These little reflex moments show how indoctrinated “do-now” devices are in our lives; they are intent-rich moments that shape preferences and consumer behaviour.

For example, customers usually like to test make-up before they buy – and L’Oreal discovered that they were losing sales because customers couldn’t try products while perusing the aisles of drugstores. They wanted to create a revolutionary make-up experience that addressed this pain point - enter the L'Oreal Makeup genius app.

5. Show marketing:

Visuals help you tell a story. They grab attention, then they drive the audience to engage further. The fundamental fact is that visuals help you sell more. A recent Shopify study found that the average order value of a Pinterest user was roughly $50 – higher than any other major social platform. The same study found that orders from Pinterest on mobile devices have increased by 140% in the last two years. (3)

When you consider that people retain 65% of information when shown visual reference vs 10% retained from audio alone, you can see why the right image is important when communicating with consumers. (4)

The rise of visual-based social networks like Pinterest and Instagram in the last few years are testament to how important visuals are in marketing. Hubspot quotes some compelling research detailing how colour visuals increase people's willingness to read a piece of content by 80%. (5)

6. Hyperlocal:

This is a marketing practice in which marketers use GPS data to geographically target audiences and provide location-based advertising. This allows brands to be part of a local conversation, and market to audiences exactly where they are and when they need it.

For example, Facebook has created “Place Tips”, a function which gathers useful information about a specific location, business or landmark and shows it to users when they check into a location on their mobile device. Businesses can customise this experience by serving users a welcome note or personalised message upon check-in or when they are in nearby area. 

As an additional example, Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa has been updated recently to integrate with Yelp and provide local search results and reviews for nearby restaurants when asked.

Whatever you think about buzzwords, they’re part of the marketing scene.

If you feel your eye start twitching whenever someone mentions ‘synergy’ or ‘dovetailing’, try to keep in mind that these terms – annoying as they are – evolved for a purpose.

On the other hand, if you’re keen to brush up on your buzzword vocabulary, try this buzzword generator and enjoy throwing plenty of buzz around at your next meeting,

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