ellipsis flag icon-blogicon-check icon-comments icon-email icon-error icon-facebook icon-follow-comment icon-googleicon-hamburger icon-imedia-blog icon-imediaicon-instagramicon-left-arrow icon-linked-in icon-linked icon-linkedin icon-multi-page-view icon-person icon-print icon-right-arrow icon-save icon-searchicon-share-arrow icon-single-page-view icon-tag icon-twitter icon-unfollow icon-upload icon-valid icon-video-play icon-views icon-website icon-youtubelogo-imedia-white logo-imedia logo-mediaWhite review-star thumbs_down thumbs_up

IM for DM


Direct response marketing online or offline is a test-and-invest matrix of methodologies. The core statement “embrace change or you will fail” is what my “’tweenage” daughters would refer to as “No duh, Dad.”

Since our online vehicles consistently reach rapid maturity, we’re forced to reinvent what works today in order to enjoy success tomorrow. 

So where’s the big issue? How do you inspire your diverse client base to accept new technology and direct response tools such as instant messaging (IM) or chat? No matter the corporate culture, cool or conservative, it’s always a small battle to get them to walk a new path, even if it’s the road to riches.

The new tool: direct response chat

There is some supporting research to suggest that companies' successful use of IM will only get stronger than it is. According to The Radicati Group’s research,  IM use will grow exponentially by 2007, with 349 million IM corporate accounts sending many of the one trillion plus IMs projected to be sent every day.  

Our group uses a diverse mix of IM brands for a diverse range of discussions, including campaign status reports, vendor Q&A and, of course, the ever popular “gossip groove,” which has become widely distinguishable by the very telling “IM laugh.” However, as this medium continues its maturity process the sales and marketing channel will evolve at a greater clip.

Several years ago, SendTec built a proprietary technology that lets us know what offline marketing vehicle ultimately caused a customer or prospect to appear on the Web site, where they went within the Web site, and how much time they spent in the site/sections.

If a person surfs with interest (validated by active pages viewed over a pre-determined period of time), we reach out to them with a pop-up message, not unlike a retailer walking over to a person browsing a rack and asking if they can help them find their size. Our online version initiates contact ,and tries to convert a browser to a buyer with a simple “Hi. My name is Sally. Is this your first time to [the names have been changed to protect the innocent.]” 

So is it an invasive tool, a cool tool… or both?

How’s your IM "hip factor?"

It depends on how integrated IM is in your lifestyle. For people under 25, IM is often their preferred mode of communication.

Being a father of two ’tweenage girls, I engage in a dinner table debate almost on a nightly basis. The topic stems around the use of IM as a communication vehicle for my daughters to talk to their friends. I ask why they can’t  just use the phone. I'm easy prey for my girls, who know exactly what Dad does for a living. “But Dad,” my daughters counter, “all of our friends whose parents are clueless about technology use it!” Is that an “ouch!” or more like an “exactly!”? 

MTV has done it, Nickelodeon has done it, and Disney has done it. These huge brands integrate IM responses as a lifestyle and entertainment tool. It makes complete sense to those 'tweenagers and teenagers watching TV who thrive on using their IM to rapidly communicate their thoughts on everything from fashion faux pas to cartoons and music.

Like it or not, IM is the new phone in the home. As a parent, I am completely frightened, but as a marketer, I am inspired to find innovative, effective uses of this robust communication tool. The marketing challenge boils down to creating an IM campaign that is cool enough to engage interest, prompt discussion that will scale, and drive an action yet also maintain responsibility and accountability.

It’s easy to use shock tactics or creative language. However, those tactics quickly invite government scrutiny, and could potentially ruin what is a great new marketing frontier.

According to The Radicati Group, 62 percent of the 590 million worldwide active IM accounts belong to users under the age of 30. Heck, 34 percent are under the age of 20. If IM is the next home phone and email has presumably skipped this generation, then how are you prepared to responsibly generate a response from this demographic?

Yahoo! has a great IM tool for marketers called IMV. IMV integrates chat into a brand-based template or skin for their IM. So if I am a tweenage girl with a strong desire to express my individuality, I might accessorize with a “Choco-Kitty” brand skin on my IM software. Once set-up is complete, the brand appears in the IM screen as wallpaper with links ready to enable me to buy merchandise or send to my friends. The opportunity to tie brands to skins is vast. However, the key is to integrate the opportunity to transact.

According to Yahoo!, they have 18.5 million unique IMV users a month, and they are seeing growth of between 433,333 and 500,000 downloads per month. While AOL leads the IM space and MSN continues to close the gap, it is with great interest that Yahoo! has chosen this path -- due to the obvious appeal for direct marketers. The challenge is to capture this marketing channel in a responsible, effective fashion.

Avoiding CAN-SPIM

While I was in radio, we hired a hip program director whose style was to play popular songs into the ground. During one casual verbal exchange, I asked him why he churned and burned his play list. He profoundly responded that a single is only a hit until something new comes along, then it becomes a classic, and he wanted to be known for playing more hits than classics. 

My soon-to-be-fired friend failed to recognize that creating demand for a tune by playing it less often over a longer period of time essentially stretches time spent listening to our radio station and sequentially adds advertiser value to the station. 

We have a future marketing hit on our hands in IM/chat as it connects many worlds to each other in a responsive interaction. By avoiding spimming we can stretch IM/chat‘s effective life and add advertiser value to the medium for the long haul. 

Greg Morey is account services director for DirectNet Advertising, a division of SendTec, Inc. SendTec provides end-to-end services for direct marketers that drive businesses and ROI both offline and online. Morey's responsibilities include managing clients' campaign strategy, execution and delivery through online performance paths.


Whoa -- slow down! Did you say "mobile"? Mobile's a great buzzword; everybody and their dog are on mobile these days! Mobile means we can reach the consumer whether they're at home on their couch or on the sidewalk looking for a restaurant. Mobile is where we have to shrink our ads and forfeit our click-through metrics. Mobile puts the "Mo" in SoLoMo.

The problem with "mobile" is that it's restrictive. You automatically think of a smartphone, a tablet, or a mini-tablet. Trying to sum up and address all of those in one word might cause you to cut your efforts short. A more flexible and accurate alternative for addressing "mobile" efforts is "multi-screen." There's definitely a time and place to use "mobile." It's just not as frequently as we see it now.


We've optimized everything from advertising campaigns to waffles. According to Merriam-Webster, "optimize" means "to make as perfect, effective, or functional as possible." Wait a second -- so all of that other work you've been doing hasn't been to make things as functional as possible? Non-optimized campaigns haven't been pulling their weight? Non-optimized waffles have been made with a less-perfect syrup-to-butter ratio?

Face it, guys: "Optimize" is getting burnt out. Give it a break, or someone might decide that everything you haven't called "optimized" isn't as effective as possible.

Game changer

I admit, this article might be a real game changer in its own right, but please stop using this term for every little update, release, startup, feature, and cat meme that comes across your desk. (Though I must admit, Grumpy Cat was a game changer.) If we don't reserve this buzzword for actual game-changing innovations, Grumpy Cat is just one in a sea of equally amusing cat memes.

Digital ecosystem

I get it. We need a term to distinguish all of those things we do online in the digital ecosystem from -- the non-digital ecosystem? The outernet, maybe? But the term "digital ecosystem" actually has a more substantial meaning than what it's so often used for. For example, it's helpful terminology when defining specific online communities or processes, such as the "Twitter ecosystem."

So go ahead. Say "digital ecosystem" when you mean it. But make sure there's a meaning attached to your usage, and stop tossing it about when all you really want to say is "online."

[Insert noun] marketing

Tablet marketing, mobile marketing, Facebook marketing, app marketing. Where do we draw the line here? Mini-tablet marketing? The reality is that while it's sometimes helpful to note distinct efforts or platforms (see: mobile), we don't need a special marketing term for each screen or platform we're operating on. It's a slippery slope that ends with you having to write a mile-long list just to say "marketing."


Unless you think society is going to en masse abandon its devices and online connections, hyperconnectivity is a somewhat worthless concept for digital marketers. It describes current and future audiences that every business needs to learn to target and communicate with. Primarily because of this sheer inevitability, we need to just get over this term and move forward. It's not hyperconnectivity that we can address. But we can address changing online behaviors and decision-making patterns. Being connected is not the future; it's the present.

Data visualization

This is one of those buzzwords that just needs to be re-appropriated. While it means a visual display that communicates information clearly and effectively, it's come to be more synonymous with "infographic." And yes, infographics and data visualization go hand-in-hand, but they're not synonymous.


Yes, Apple does some cool stuff. But as recent patent battles have demonstrated, it doesn't have claim to everything hip and innovative. Do we really need an entire adjective to blame other companies for mimicking Apple? This really speaks to the industry's penchant for setting Apple apart from the standards it applies to everyone else, and for believing no-questions-asked that Apple did everything first. (It didn't.)

Apple has sometimes very successfully combined features into something innovative and progressively useful. I know, right? But the problem with buzzwords like this is that they're part of an innovation-stifling culture. Apple wouldn't be the Apple we love today without some borrowing and tinkering along the way, and we shouldn't punish other companies trying to improve existing products or processes by labeling them "Apple-like," and therefore copycats, not innovators.

Social media guru

Also known as the master-ninja-keeper-of-the-social-media-secrets. The whale tamer of Twitter, the pin master, the filtered photo virtuoso.

No, you don't want to label yourself "social media butterfingers" on your LinkedIn profile, but these unconventional titles have been repeated far too often to retain much originality. And many of them have little to no meaning, which in any other industry would be unacceptable. ("What did you say your job title is? I'm sorry, we're not hiring for a plastic surgeon grand master.")

A little shameless self-mockery and true originality are always welcome. Just don't use your job title or Twitter handle as an opportunity to be as unique as everyone else.

Low-hanging fruit

This term was such a low-hanging fruit that I couldn't leave it off the list. It's annoying, overused, and sells some of your best efforts short. It's an acceptable way of saying that something is so obvious and easy that it requires almost no thought or effort. Is that really what you want to be saying? That you're going after the easiest -- not the ideal -- target?

Which buzzwords would you deem worthless?
To be fair, all of the terms on this list mean something and can be useful -- if and when used appropriately. But they go from conveying industry-specific knowledge to being worthless buzzwords when they're overused or thrown around as easy alternatives to solid explanations.

Which buzzwords do you think are overused, vague, or utterly worthless?

Kaitlin Carpenter is a marketing associate at Carousel30.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

Described by co-workers as a thought leader and astute change agent, Morey pairs his creative side with a functional relevancy acquired from years of experience with data analysis and consumer messaging. His practical business acumen and a highly...

View full biography


to leave comments.