4 Digital Marketing Terms You Should’ve Stopped Using Yesterday (And How to Replace Them)

Believe it or not, the Internet as most of us know it has been around for 20 years.

Perhaps that doesn’t sound like a whole lot of time, so let me put it into perspective for you: Windows 95. Netscape. Napster. AOL Instant Messenger. Dial-up. Live Journal.

Can you even remember the last time you thought about any of these things, let alone used them?

The Web Then and the Web Now

We digital marketers divide up the World Wide Web into two phases: Web 1.0 and Web 2.0.

The first phase — Web 1.0 — was the rise and widespread use of personal and company websites, email communication, basic advertising and eCommerce, and a handful of content publishers (like bloggers and traditional media outlets). Depending on who you ask, this phase lasted until 2008 or so.

Then came along Web 2.0 — the current phase — in which we experienced mass adoption of social networks and social media, the democratization of content publishing, content diversification and consumption on steroids, a multi-billion-dollar online shopping industry, and highly sophisticated advertising tools.

Even though we’ve been immersed in Web 2.0 for quite some time now, an overwhelming amount of companies are still using digital marketing terms that were introduced 10, 15, even 20 years ago.

Here are four that you should’ve stopped using yesterday, plus ideas for replacing them and catching your company up to speed.

1. Email Newsletter

Do you really think that anyone wants to read your company’s “email newsletter?” In fact, do people even want to read any newsletter — regarding of if it’s offline or online? Really, ask yourself: When was the last time you were totally psyched about signing up to receive a newsletter via email? (Yeah, me neither.)

Get rid of the term “email newsletter” and come up with a more sophisticated way to describe what you offer in your emails. Better yet, come up with a value proposition (a promise of real and/or perceived value) that actually entices people to give you their email address. (And then deliver on that promise of value, of course.)

Below is an example of how we positioned an “email newsletter” for one of our clients. While the verbiage isn’t superb, it still enabled us to grow their email list from 4,000 to 6,000 because we offered a value proposition that we knew would entice their prospective and current customers.


2. Blog

This one might catch you by surprise, but it’s another term that needs to go. (I’m not referring to the term “blog” as a technical or internally used term; I’m talking about the word “blog” that is probably sitting in your navigation bar, or somewhere else on your company’s website.)

If your company isn’t truly committed to creating content for the emotional and/or practical benefit of your customers — content that is so good, people would actually pay for it, as Jay Baer says — there’s really no use for a blog anyway.

However, if your company is committed to true content marketing — that is, the art of communicating with your prospective and existing customers without selling — now you have something worth featuring on your website. Just don’t call it a blog. You’ll drive more traffic with more sophisticated terms like:

  • Content Hub (like this example from Uberflip)
  • Resource Center (if you’re actually providing some kind of resources)
  • Knowledge Base (if you’re actually providing some sort of knowledge)
  • Digital Concierge (for hotels or tourism companies that create content with travel recommendations, similar to what an actual concierge would recommend)
  • Forum (like Open Forum from American Express)
  • Guide (like the W Tel Aviv-Jaffa Luxury Travel Guide that we helped conceive for one of our clients)

If you can’t come up with a creative replacement for the term “blog,” focus on giving your blog a name. As an example, for the restaurant in the email newsletter example you see above, we named their blog The Dish.

Even though we’ve been immersed in Web 2.0 for quite some time now, an overwhelming amount of companies are still using digital marketing terms that were introduced 10, 15, even 20 years ago.

3. Follow / connect with us social media

Unless you’re an immediately recognizable brand that has invested a ton of time and money in developing brand equity, the average person doesn’t want to follow or connect with your company on social media just because you added that call-to-action to your website (or to any other marketing materials) with a few social media icons next to it.

The fact is, most consumers don’t really care that your company is on social media because that’s expected of every company today. Plus, our News Feed is already plenty full, so unless you can consistently provide something of substance to it, keep out.

In order to get people to actually follow your company on social media, you need to provide a clear value proposition — like your “email newsletter” — that entices them to click “like” on your Facebook page and “follow” on your Twitter and Instagram accounts. (In The Social Media MasterCourse, we walk you step-by-step through the process of developing a value proposition that will attract social media followers and give you the opportunity to attract new customers, while maximizing the lifetime customer value of existing ones.)

As I wrote about in one my recent columns titled “Why No One Cares That Your Business Uses Social Media,” Zumba does a terrific job of providing a clear value proposition that accentuates their brand and generates new social media followers:


4. SEO (search engine optimization)

By definition, SEO is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results. The term was introduced in 1997, and while parts of it remain relevant today, SEO is largely outdated (with some exceptions, like companies that have conquered a unique niche).

Except for major changes and PR stunts, the folks at Google stopped telling us when they make an update to their algorithm a long time ago, mainly because they just want you and every other website to rank on Google by creating content the way it should be created: authentic, relevant, value-driven, responsive (naturally viewable on any device). That’s the way Google retains its credibility as the world’s most trusted and used search engine.

As John Wooden used to say, if you focus on the tricks of the trade, you’ll never learn the trade. Translation: If you focus on trying to game Google’s constantly changing algorithm, you’ll never learn how to create authentic, relevant, value-driven, responsive content — which isn’t only beneficial for your ranking on Google, but it also enhances the customer experience on your website.

Josh Hoffman (better known as Social Media Josh) is an international social media consultant, instructor and speaker, as well as the creator of The Social Media Freelancer. Connect with Josh on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, and sign up to receive his weekly column.