Buzzwords are like bed bugs for B2B SaaS websites.
Prevalent, hard to get rid of and they make my skin crawl.
Every Tom, Dick and Bankman-Fried is offering a cutting-edge, seamless, trailblazing turnkey solution for modern businesses.
As someone who writes for B2B brands, you can probably tell I am beyond sick of them.
At their best, they’re completely meaningless and signal a lack of ability to clearly explain your offering.
At their worst, they’re deliberately meant to obfuscate and confuse the reader, or flat out lie about the technology they’re promoting, like a smoke screen of tired cliches.
In my war against the vile buzzword, I built a Chrome extension called BuzzCut, which lets users scan web pages and copy to get a percentage score based on how many buzzwords it contains.
However, highlighting buzzwords is only half the battle.
I realised that I could use the tech I created to scan the top 300 B2B websites, find out what the top buzzwords being used are, and suggest different ways to communicate the points the buzzwords are trying to make.
Now I’ve completely explained the blog for some reason, let’s dive right in with the 10th most used buzzword amongst the top 300 B2B tech darlings.
I don’t know why, but this is my least favourite buzzword in the world.
For me, there’s nothing worse in copy than when a brand or person positions themselves on a side that literally everyone and their dog is on.
It’s 2023 for crying out loud, who isn’t data-driven in some capacity?
I’ve never seen a brand say “we don’t use data at all, in fact we get Jerry from finance drunk on moonshine and have him chuck darts at different options at the wall to make our business decisions”.
It’s 10 wasted characters on any page it appears on.
Describe what exactly you use data for, and give examples.
Instead of just saying “We’re a data-driven marketing platform” for example, you could say “Our data capture improves your ROI & our creativity improves your brand”.
Data is incredibly important in the modern world, but your reader needs to know exactly what they get from all the number crunching, otherwise you are wasting your breath.
Again, this falls victim to the “who on earth would describe themselves any differently” rule.
“Innovative” is just wasted copy space, especially for technology brands.
If you aren’t innovative, you may as well pack up, go and buy some silver body paint, and pretend to be a robot on the South Bank.
Really try and work out whether what you are doing is actually innovative or not.
Simply whacking “innovative” at the start of a sentence describing a feature that literally all your competitors have is lazy.
Instead describe exactly how it’s innovative and why it’s unlike your competitors.
For example “our social-media inspired recommendation feature brings the feel of your favourite platforms directly to your learning experience” or even just “social-media inspired recommendation feature” is better than just saying “innovative recommendation feature”.
Whilst it’s a valid word, “leverage” is overused now.
It’s a buzzword that people chuck in when they think the word “use” is too simple.
It’s the copywriting equivalent of saying your greatest weakness is you are too much of a perfectionist and a slap in the face to the Homo Habilis who worked so hard to develop verbal language 2.31 million years ago.
Just stop it.
As I mentioned, “leverage” usually just means “use” in B2B technobabble.
So you could go the route of making your copy simpler by using the word “use”.
Or you could explain why anyone should care about all your fancy leveraging in the first place.
Instead of “we leverage multiple data sources to give you real-time indicators of your financial health”.
Explain the benefits of “leveraging” this data.
“Combining multiple data sources means you get the most up-to-date picture of your business’ finances”.
This turns something from a “look at us with our fancy features and words” to “look at us with our fancy features that help you”.
Simone Biles is agile. Novak Djockovic is agile. The gibbon that escaped its enclosure and got me in a headlock when I was 7 was agile.
I hate to break it to you, your team is probably not actually that agile.
Agile is a completely valid word (as I suppose all of the words on this list are), especially when describing the specific software development methodology.
However, it’s now used to describe basically every software platform or team.
The point of B2B copywriting is to stand out.
The reality of B2B buying cycles is you are likely to be considered in conjunction with your sworn enemies, and it’s important to not use the same words as them to describe yourself.
Here’s a chance to get really exciting with how you describe yourself.
Instead of saying “agile team”, push the boat out and say something like “our team of fast-movers and campaign-improvers deliver results in the bucketloads”.
Life is too short to just say “agile” (just ask the Homo Habilis or most likely by now, that gibbon) so you may as well go for something memorable instead.
Literally every piece of B2B software is designed to help grow other businesses.
That’s the entire point.
Saying “we help you grow your business” is essentially saying “we do good stuff”.
Once, I told someone at a pub I could run from Tooting Broadway to Tooting Bec (about a 0.7 mile journey) quicker than the tube could get there.
And then they asked me to prove it, and my confidence immediately withered as I realised I get out of breath eating cereal.
The “prove it” mentality of this tavern dweller is exactly the perspective your readers are going to take with this buzzword.
Instead of using “grow your business”, use this space to highlight the exact impacts you have had on other businesses, and use concrete data.
If you don’t have the data, then don’t make the promise (yet).
The dictionary definition of “empower” is “give (someone) the authority or power to do something.”
Which technically B2B SaaS does, but so does my morning coffee, in that it "empowers" me to not dropkick people who stand on the left side of the escalator during rush hour.
It just feels a bit like an overpromise to me, a bit like when sports gear adverts show someone running a sub 10 second 100 metre dash.
Like yes, I understand that some can do that with the product, but realistically, it’s overkill and grandiose.
You should break this buzzword down into its constituent parts.
Describe what exactly your software can enable the user to do, and then describe how it’s better than how they were doing it previously.
For example, instead of “our software empowers your teams to create their own UGC”, say something like “with our software, users can create content up to 43% faster, enabling them to focus on distribution and impact”.
You don’t even have to have a snappy stat to hand, you could even say something like “with *insert brand name*, your users can create content at lightning speeds”.
See how it focuses more on the actual impact? That’s how you win in B2B.
This one is such an ubiquitous buzzword that one of the largest companies in the world named one of their own products after it.
Optimize is again a valid word to use, and I actually kind of like it, but it’s a bit corporate and sterile.
It just doesn’t describe anything about the action you’re taking.
I “optimized” my dog once when I was 5 years old by giving him a mohawk (with hair gel thankfully and not clippers) because I thought it could make him run faster, but the more accurate word is “traumatise” apparently.
^For legal purposes this is a joke, my mum saw what was about to happen and swept in like a secret service agent to protect poor Buddy from an impromptu makeover.
As “optimize” is quite a catch-all term, look into how you are optimizing whatever you are working on.
Are you removing parts of a process? Then focus on how that will make the process quicker and easier.
Are you adding extra steps to ensure accuracy? Then you can zero in on how this will impact your users' bottom line.
If you are improving a small part of a long process, you can use fancy science words like “tweak” or “revamp”.
This way, you give the reader the chance to visualise what your product actually does, rather than the catch-all “optimize”.
On to the podium spots now and we start with an absolute corker.
Seamless is literally everywhere and it makes me madder than a mosquito in a mannequin factory.
I never assumed software would have seams. Who would assume that software would have seams?
It’s usually describing an easy integration or some form of adoption, but it’s just such a stupid way to describe that concept, and a massive missed opportunity literally every time it’s used.
No company will ever describe themselves as having a “seamful” product, so stop using the opposite as some sort of flex.
You have to know your customer to replace this one.
Write down their five biggest pain points you think you can address and focus on that.
A great real-world example of this is the climate platform Supercritical.
When describing how their platform can give you an accurate read on your carbon footprint as a business they use the copy:
“Our best-in-class methodology is easy to get started with, using your standard accounting data.”
Instead of banging on about seams like some kind of demented garment peddler, they highlight that the reason it’s so easy to use is that it uses your standard accounting data to get started.
They’re addressing the common roadblock that their prospects may worry about: what data they need to get started.
Understand your customer, preempt their questions and leave the seams out of it.
By far one of the standouts of the crawl I completed, “automate” takes silver in our buzzword rankings.
Look, I get it, writing what your tech does without the word “automate” is difficult.
Mostly, tech automates stuff, that’s what makes it useful and desirable.
“Automate” is widely used, everyone understands it and it’s appealing.
But so is toast, and you wouldn’t make that on MasterChef.
Our goal when writing copy should be to write the best possible copy we can, not just phone it in with words like “automate”.
I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but put yourself in the shoes of your user.
Instead of hearing how you “automate” things, prospects want to know how this automation is going to help them.
It’s a great chance to flex how well you know your customer base, and how your tool can help them.
Say for example your platform automates payroll, instead of saying:
“Our software automates your payroll process seamlessly”
You could use a more personalised sentence like:
“Our software handles payroll so you don’t have to.”
You can even tie it in with more niche marketing messages like:
“Our software handles payroll so you don’t have to, giving you happier teams, deeper insights and more time to focus on new business”.
Longer, yes but also more impactful.
There it is, the king of the 2023 buzzwords, the two letters that are worn out on the keyboards of LinkedIn influencers world wide, and the most-used buzzword on matt-bristow.com, AI appears over 339 times on the top 300 B2B software homepages.
Now, AI itself isn’t a buzzword, it’s a very important technology that many (including myself) are very passionate about and will impact almost every if not all industries in the very near future.
However, when designing BuzzCut, the point behind a % score for buzzwords was that words like AI without proper explanation are buzzwords, meaning that if someone simply writes “Our solution is an AI powered turnkey platform” then that sentence has a BuzzCut score of 25%, whereas if they say “We use AI to…” followed by 96 words of explanation, that BuzzCut score is much lower at 1%.
Giving context to broad words like “artificial intelligence” is important.
Just simply chucking AI in randomly on a page isn’t good enough, you have to explain exactly why/what you are doing with AI for it to not be buzzwordy (which is a word I think I may have invented).
Exactly as written above, you have to explain what the AI is actually doing for it to be meaningful.
For example, say you use AI in the search functionality for your tool.
You shouldn’t just say “We use AI to power our search functionality”.
Instead, use something like this:
“Our search functionality harnesses AI to continuously learn what your users search for the most and provides the most accurate results possible.”
AI refers to a lot of different things. It’s like saying “we use computing to do x”. You have to be specific with what it’s actually doing for it to make any sense for the actual user.
And there we have it, the top 10 buzzwords and my attempts to expunge them from the universe.
Do you think I missed any? Anything you vehemently disagree with me on? Leave me a comment down below!
And if you want to start scanning for buzzwords in yours and your competitors websites, you can add BuzzCut to your browser here! Happy hunting!