Words have an enormous impact on how we communicate with each other. Words communicate more than their textbook definition, they communicate subtleties and connotations that help you (as the reader) understand context—emotion, time and place. For marketers, words are our most powerful tool (followed closely by visuals). There are terms that stick around, whether they offer real value to a sentence (or to the reader) or not. Then there are words can have a shelf life with an uncertain expiration date. This blog is going to explore those words.

We set out to see what words marketers are planning to retire in 2016, and we got some surprising results. From buzzwords to industry terms that marketers believe are fading, the list of answers we received runs the gamut. Let’s take a look at some of the jargon, marketing-focused and otherwise, that marketers would like to retire in 2016 and why.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 9.08.00 AM

So what words do marketers want to say sayonara to in 2016?


Some of the responses we received focused on shifting trends in marketing and industries. We got more than a few responses that illustrated that marketers are ready to say goodbye to “email blast” and “Big Data”.

Email Blast

Email blasts are a “go-to” mass email marketing tactic of the past—essentially, it’s a massive email send to a large database, offering the same message and experience to everyone at the same time. Marketers look to 2016 as the year to kick impersonal, mass email marketing to the curb, instead opting to implement email marketing that addresses people based on who they are and what they are doing. This is heartening news because the more personalized an email is, the better it performs.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 8.56.46 AM

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 8.57.07 AM

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 8.57.20 AM

Big Data

Like “cloud”, Big Data seems to be an omnipresent term in the marketing and descriptions of many companies, solutions, and services. The collection, parsing, and usage of huge amounts of data has become a fact of life for businesses today, and I think marketers who are ready to be rid of this term may be thinking: At what point does our access to vast amounts of data become unremarkable and, in fact, assumed?

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 8.57.48 AM

B-School Jargon

Whether you went to business school or not, there is definitely a vernacular, with specific terms, that gets thrown around in that environment. A focus on entrepreneurial success and the ability to “hit the ground running” brings out some of the terms that marketers are ready to retire.

Low hanging fruit

It makes sense to accomplish the easiest tasks that make the most impact, first. Using terms like low hanging fruit might make you sound good in a meeting, but because it’s a pretty logical next step—isn’t it often assumed? I think the marketers looking to retire this term might be challenging us to look at how much real value it offers to your audience, whether in-person or digital.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 8.54.21 AM


Similar to “low hanging fruit”, hacks could easily be translated to simplify or shortcut. A shortcut offers users the ability to get to their result faster and hack has become the defacto term in the internet age—and I don’t know about you, but when I hear hacks, I think it should be not only a shortcut, but an innovative one. Are the hacks that we offer living up to that meaning?

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 8.55.11 AM

Say What You Mean

Sometimes the words that irritate us are those that mask the true meaning. We had a couple responses that chose terms based on this, such as:


Gamification is a relatively modern word, popularized as the adoption of mobile devices skyrocketed. The concept is that by incorporating the principles of games, you can get users to engage more rapidly and deeply with your app/product/solution/offer. Like some of the terms before, gamification is probably something that will eventually become a seamless part of the development and promotion process, but until then, I think it’s here to stay.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 8.54.45 AM

Thought leader

Have you ever worked for a company that didn’t want to establish itself as a thought leader? Most likely, no. Thought leadership and the development of it is an almost universal goal of every organization. Whether that is industry thought leadership by developing cutting edge products (think back to when Apple introduced the first iPhone) or individual thought leadership that changes and challenges how people think about a topic or theme (think Ariana Huffington and the Third Metric)—all of these are inherently promotional. I think what the marketers who sent this term in are thinking is: just say what you mean. Instead of “build a thought leadership platform”, maybe you really mean “get more coverage for our brand”.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 9.52.05 AM


So what do you think? Did you see a word you’re going to actively remove from your vocabulary? Do you have some more to add to the list? Whether or not you’ll be retiring these words, I think we can all agree how important words and their context are in how we succeed (or don’t) in communicating and engaging with our target audience.

Published with permission from Marketo.

Image courtesy Marketo.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.