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Marketing jargon: Top 21 marketing buzzwords in 2021

For most marketers, 2020 was a year where...well, let’s just say it was a year of surprises for everyone. But as we put the past year in our rearview mirror, we continue to look forward into the future to see how the industry will evolve in 2021 and beyond. 

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of marketing buzzwords that you’ll likely hear quite a bit in the new year, if you haven’t already. It doesn’t matter if you’re working in digital, content or traditional marketing, you’re sure to encounter these terms in 2021.

And don't feel ashamed if there are marketing terms or acronyms you don't know. Your friends at Emplifi have an entire social media terms glossary that's here if you ever need it.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence’s place in marketing has already become an essential aspect of marketing, as it’s played a huge part in numerous campaigns and strategies. Properly employed, AI can make the personalization of marketing campaigns a lot easier. By creating better, more accurate buyer personas, AI can drive conversions as well as reveal patterns that lead to important marketing insights. While AI is the general term for smart machines being able to carry out tasks, machine learning (listed below) is the application of AI in giving machines decision-making power.


Customer relationship management, or managing relationships with existing and previous customers, is an integral role that will continue to be pivotal in 2021. The customer journey will become even more important, and a well-positioned CRM is essential to enhancing that journey


Conversion rate optimization involves a variety of tools and tactics, but it comes down to one primary goal, which is right there in its name – optimizing the conversion rate of your visitors into leads, and converting those leads into wins.

The ideal goal is to increase the number of visitors who convert on your site. While you can aid your CRO marketing by building a website optimized for conversions, your marketing tactics in 2021 should also be focused in bringing users to your site, and keeping them there.   

Customer journey

If you want your current customer to become a recurring customer in 2021, you have to be aware of, and strategic with, the customer journey. As marketers get better and better at separating the individual steps each customer takes in their journey, we can learn what tactics drive our customers, and what repels them. The ultimate goal, of course, is for the customer to have a smooth and frictionless experience, resulting in a sale and a happy new convert to your brand or product. Start creating your ideal customer journey map today.


Much like user experience (UX) is essential for website users, customer experience (CX) is key for any marketer. In fact, in 2021, we can expect CX and marketing in general to require the same practices in many industries.

Data Visualization

Poor data visualization can ruin your efforts to connect with your audience, but properly created charts and infographics can boost customer interest and attention, and even drive conversions. In 2021, more than ever, it’s important for marketers to learn how to use visuals to support their social media efforts.


A disruptor might sound like a chaotic influence, or maybe a weapon you’d find in Star Trek. And in a way, for many marketers, a disruptor is a sort of weapon you can employ. A market disruptor is never satisfied with the status quo, and aims to defy boundaries and tackle issues in new and exciting ways, usually with the eventual goal of displacing current market leaders and taking their place. With all the changes happening in industries across the globe, expect to see quite a few disruptors surface in 2021.

Growth Hacking 

Growth hacking involves using free or low-cost tactics to drive the growth of a business in a relatively short time. These strategies are solely focused on the growth of the business, so there’s less focus on long-term and brand-building campaigns. 


One of the hottest new buzzwords in marketing – albeit a controversial one – humaning was coined by the snack company Mondelēz International. It describes an approach to marketing that doesn’t approach the customer as a consumer, but rather as a person. In reality, this isn’t too different than most integrated marketing approaches that have been steadily increasing in popularity this past decade. It emphasizes that it’s better to serve the consumer than tell the consumer what they want. That said, expect to hear this new buzzy term throughout 2021. 

Machine Learning

Of course, artificial intelligence itself is a concept, but what about the tactics that AI can employ? One of the most important for marketers is the idea of machine learning, where AI can allow systems to learn and adapt based on what they encounter – no additional programming needed. 

Marketing Automation

Unlike humaning, marketing automation, which helps save manpower while reaching your customers and audience more efficiently, has been a buzzword in the marketing world for some time. But it’s still just as crucial to businesses in 2021 as it was in 2020. 

Omnichannel Marketing

If you’re not employing omnichannel marketing in 2021, you’re going to see yourself fall well behind your competitors. By taking a multi-channel sales approach, you’re able to bring in customers from mobile devices, brick-and-mortar, online sites, and more, which helps make the customer journey seamless. With so many sales taking place remotely, omnichannel marketing is even more important than ever.


Our abilities to connect with consumers in a digital landscape have grown exponentially in the past several years, a trend that shows no signs of slowing. One of the ultimate goals of properly integrated digital marketing can be seen with the concept of phygital, or the practice of using technology to bridge the gap between the physical and digital world. The goal is to provide a unique interactive experience for the user, and we anticipate a lot of growth in this field next year. 


When someone visits your site, or views your product, they usually don’t immediately end up making a purchase. That’s the bad news. The good news is that they’re aware of you, meaning that each subsequent time they visit, they will be more likely to end up a customer. Retargeting is the process in identifying these potential customers and, typically through paid search, redirecting them to your site, hopefully leading to a conversion. In a world where more and more sales and conversions happen digitally, retargeting is more essential now than ever. 


You can’t think about digital marketing without one of the greatest facilitators of organic traffic and search – the SERP. Google's search engine results page appearance likely will see drastic changes in 2021, and as a marketer it’s always important to consider how the layout of major SERPs will (or won’t) help drive traffic to your desired landing pages. You should always optimize what you can (such as metadata and page titles) with the current SERP layout in mind. That means that if you're doing anything digital, you’re sure to hear the term repeatedly throughout the year.

Snackable Content

As marketers rely on word-of-mouth and social shares, snackable content will become crucial in the upcoming years. Snackable content refers to content of any sort (video, text, images, etc.) that is short, small, and easy to consume. When employed properly, it spreads your message quickly and efficiently, and increases WOM spread and brand interaction.

Social Media Management

Social media isn’t going anywhere, which means that proper social media management will be more essential than ever in 2021. Social media management is going to be a term that’s tossed around quite freely, especially as social ad spend continues to rise. In 2021, more than ever, it’ll be essential to find the right social media management tools to implement the most effective strategies to drive your brand through social media platforms.

Thought Leadership

Thought leaders have always populated all fields of marketing, but in 2021, with more work and events happening remotely, they’ll be even more prevalent. You don’t have to travel to a conference to hear what the top voices in your field have to say. You can virtually take in their wisdom and recommendation, and in doing so, be one step closer to becoming a thought leader yourself.


Like humaning, thumb-stopping is another term that you likely haven’t heard frequently, but will surely hear constantly starting in 2021. Unlike humaning, however, the term has been around for several years. As mobile internet use continues to rise, so too has the method in which most internet users consume their content. It’s fairly easy to scroll through massive amounts of content idly without paying attention to what you’re seeing. So if you create content that gets people to stop scrolling with their thumb, you know you’ve done something right.


Increasingly, user-generated content (UGC) has become essential for promoting brands in a way that’s both relatively inexpensive and, most importantly, authentic. Try as you might, no one can speak to consumers better than the consumers themselves. By allowing your brand to become important enough in a user or customer’s eyes that they would endeavor to create content that celebrates your brand, you can find yourself dominating the market in 2021.


We’ve all become intimately familiar with the work-from-home lifestyle in 2020. Don’t expect WFH to leave any marketer’s vocabulary come 2021.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on socialbakers.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.

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