Lost in translation: The problem with inconsistent language in marketing

Ricky Abbott | August 3, 2022 | 75 views | Read Time : 03:36 min

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Inconsistent language in B2B marketing is becoming a growing hurdle for collaboration.

I attended a workshop recently that brought together members of different marketing functions to train them on ABM. The task was simple enough: Act as the agency and put together an ABM brief. We didn’t have any trouble understanding the assignment. We just couldn’t seem to speak the same language.

We were discussing the same topics and working toward the same goal. But the variations in how each of us used established B2B marketing terms made collaboration harder. And so, it got me thinking. How often have you sat in a meeting and understood what someone has said but not what they’ve meant? Sure, you understand that impressions measure how many times someone’s seen your ad. But why does it matter? How does it contribute to revenue growth and the overall performance of the campaign? What does it mean to me?

I was reminded of when we were learning a foreign language in school. You could try directly translating a sentence to English, but chances are it wouldn’t make much sense. A translation would only add up when you understood its grammatical and syntactical context. So, if we (no matter how humorously) consider B2B marketing a language of its own, why aren’t we as rigorous in policing our use of terminology?


Growing pains

In the past, B2B marketing departments were seen as single-focus, cost center arms of a business. Since then, the Marketing remit has grown considerably. Tools and technology allow us to work on everything from insights and analytics to bespoke, hyper-personalized 1:1 ABM programs. Sales and Marketing alignment is helping prove our contribution to the bottom line. And we’re finally becoming a revenue center.

But I think there’s a catch. The same increased responsibilities that allow us to connect our marketing activity to revenue have made the language we use more inconsistent. Teams are more specialized than ever. And the size of the marketing department has expanded massively. There are even employees in the same functions who’ve never said a word to each other.

This creates bubbles of intradepartmental dialects. Linguistic nuances that create collaborative hurdles between teams, departments, and even organizations. Time that should be spent planning, producing, and activating is lost to soul-destroying email chains and inane meetings clarifying points of uncertainty. Things I’m sure we’d all be happier without.


The effects on business

Then there are the impacts inconsistent language has on your business. Brief your teams unclearly and budget/resource that could be used more productively is squandered on multiple revisions. Chains of stakeholder questions that could have been easily avoided with greater context can result in strained working relationships. Levels of employee stress can increase out of fear of asking a question and sounding stupid. And perhaps the scariest of all – misunderstandings of key deliverables that find their way through to your final outputs.

Standardizing our use of language can help alleviate these challenges. Key performance metrics will always differ between functions. KPIs like leads generated and engagement will be valuable to your Marketing or social teams, but not Sales whose sole focus is accelerating pipeline. But it’s context that helps tie everything together.

It saves you questioning why everyone’s talking about split testing and not A/B testing (before realizing they’re the same thing an hour into the discussion). It clarifies why certain conversations are happening, sets clear expectations of what needs to be done and by whom, and breaks down siloes between departments. It stops important points of discussion from being lost in translation.

Speaking the same language

Driving revenue through a more unified marketing and sales function is becoming core to what we do. But we need to take a step back and evaluate our use of terminology. Before considering Sales and Marketing alignment, our marketing teams have to speak the same language.

Collaboration is a product of good communication. But siloes across your marketing department can stand in the way of productivity. Making a concerted effort to convey the scope and role of specific marketing functions, core metrics necessary for success, and ways of working for each team helps promote a more collaborative work culture.

It’s our responsibility to ensure we’re all on the same page before starting group projects or aligning with other branches of business. Recognizing the inconsistencies in our language and addressing them in advance helps reduce wasted time and resource. It sets us up for success by reducing the number of roadblocks in the way of our work and path to revenue growth.

Marketing departments in B2B industries will likely continue to grow. And for organizations like B2B tech enterprises, the challenges associated with inconsistent language are only exacerbated by teams spread by geo, mother tongue, and culture. Creating clear and consistent rules for the language we use as B2B marketers can help overcome these barriers, allowing us to focus on creating exceptional marketing.


Some ways forward

So, how do we create guidelines for more consistent marketing language? I won’t say I have all the answers. But I do think there needs to be a shift in employee education and training with a view to standardizing nomenclature. Glossaries that include company-specific frameworks can be a great way to provide context and meaning to your business’ use of terminology. 

Pre-recorded video resources with your subject matter experts can be paired with an intranet site to offer a more interactive, always-on education and training solution. Or, better still, regular workshops across departments to promote cross-functional understanding of why terms are used at certain times.

I’d also recommend reviewing your corporate team structures to see which stakeholders have a seat at the table. Changes in how your teams communicate can only come from the top down. And a reflection on how your use of language affects those you work with, through researching communication processes/best practices or otherwise, can be a step toward fostering a more collaborative work culture.

Establishing clear definitions for common language allows us to work closer together. It breaks down barriers to collaboration and lets us focus on common business goals. If Marketing really wants to become a revenue center, we need to start speaking the same language.

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Lola.com makes Agile Travel Management real by providing a super simple way to manage, book and report on business travel, saving employers and travelers time and money. Happy employee travel experiences within a policy can be set up in five minutes. Lola.com uses machine learning and 24/7 support to help travelers easily book trips, while empowering managers to create policies, view budgets and expenditures, and monitor their globetrotting team efficiently. Based in Boston, the company was founded in 2015 by Paul English, co-founder of the travel booking site KAYAK, and is led by CEO Mike Volpe, previously CMO at HubSpot.

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Intent HQ Launches AI-Guided Campaign Audience Builder - Audience AI - and Drives 51% Higher Marketing Uplift for Verizon

Intent HQ | September 22, 2022

Intent HQ, the customer AI analytics platform company, launches Audience AI, the first AI-guided dynamic audience builder for telco marketers. Audience AI is designed to help telcos identify new hidden opportunities within their customer base and achieve significantly improved campaign performance. It uses machine learning to find target consumers based on behavioral similarity indicators without needing data scientists or business intelligence (BI) intervention. Intent HQ believes telco marketers are missing out on many new revenue-generating opportunities because they cannot achieve the right level of relevance when it comes to audience selection. Due to a lack of appropriate tools, campaign building takes too long, and existing practices fail to identify the best audiences for each marketing message. These lead times and suboptimal audience selection lead to missed opportunities, greater opt-outs, and customer brand fatigue. Audience AI was designed to solve these problems. Audience AI delivers outstanding revenue growth for Verizon Protect campaign. Audience AI was used by the Verizon consumer marketing team to better target and expand the audiences for Verizon Protect, the company’s leading device insurance product. Protect is offered periodically during time-limited “open enrollment” campaigns and is targeted to customers who had not elected to add Protect at the time of their device purchase. Audience AI achieved outstanding results for the campaign: 51% incremental take rate from the campaign compared to the existing audience selection model $378k incremental revenue generated Three key features of Audience AI As a self-serve audience-building tool for increasing campaign relevancy and ROI, Audience AI offers the following essential features: Simple. Audience AI has an easy-to-navigate user interface. Any member of the marketing team can feasibly turn around effective campaign audiences without the need for specialist support. Responsive. Marketing users can query a range of predictive indicators in real-time to identify their target customers. Audience building has been a complex and time-consuming job that relies upon human intuition supported by data analyst teams. Audience AI makes the process much easier, taking the guesswork out of audience development and saving campaign managers hours of time. Safe. Audience AI bypasses the need for extensive legal approvals by utilizing the Intent HQ SafeSignal engine to deliver privacy-safe audience data. How Audience AI works Audience AI is a machine learning tool that uses behavioral and/or event-based inputs to create an audience ‘seed’. Intent HQ’s proprietary data science algorithms create a viable and relevant campaign audience at a statistically significant scale. What the industry thinks about Audience AI Patrick Fagan, Head of Behavioural Science at Kubik Intelligence says, “Audience AI is the only audience creation solution that harnesses the power of machine learning to analyze weblogs and other behavioral data. This allows telco marketers to build targets of behaviorally similar customers that would not otherwise be easily identifiable. Most importantly, it has full consumer privacy baked into the design.” Andy Herz, Director, Value-Based Marketing at Verizon, says, “We wanted to see if we could take our audience targeting to the next level by leveraging behavioral insights developed with Intent HQ’s platform. Our goal is to create marketing that is so relevant to our customers that they view our messages as helpful suggestions as if we were a friend. Audience AI is helping us do that by giving our marketers fingertip access to human-level insights and making them truly actionable. The results have been exceeding expectations, sometimes by a very wide margin.” See Audience AI in action at Digital Transformation World. Intent HQ will launch Audience AI at TM Forum’s Digital Transformation World in Copenhagen, 20 – 22 September 2022. Visit booth 249 in the Quad to see this unique martec solution in action. About Intent HQ. Unlocking customer intent. Intent HQ is an AI analytics platform company that enables service providers, such as telecommunication companies, to leverage previously untapped subscriber data to significantly improve marketing campaign lift and generate new revenue streams through data monetization. Unlocking customer intent, our proprietary privacy-safe platform uses advanced AI and machine learning to draw on detailed insights gathered from diverse behavioral data sets. This allows our clients to take marketing and customer experience to a new level of personalization while completely preserving privacy and compliance. Nominated as one of the fastest-growing companies on the FT 1000 ranking, Intent HQ is a global team of 100+ data scientists, digital marketers, CRM experts, and psychologists with operations in London, New York, Barcelona, and Lisbon. To learn more about Intent HQ and its range of products, go to www.intenthq.com.

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