Evolution of Digital Marketing
Over the last couple of decades, marketing has been challenged by constant advancement in technology and the way marketers have been coping with it. The rise of digital marketing has been affected by people spending less time on legacy media (TVs, radio, newspaper) in favor of the Web, apps and messaging. Given that the advertising budgets reflect the preferences of the audience, the marketing budgets increasingly focus on digital media. The question arises as to whether the astounding increase in digital marketing budgets truly reflects the shift in the audience.
Brands are spending enormous budgets on digital media with the trend expected to continue in the coming decades. The fact is that digital marketing is associated with unique benefits that cannot be found in legacy marketing. In traditional marketing, brands were reliant on intermediaries (media companies, retailers…) to reach their customers, which was costly and deprived them of much control over the process.
Although the majority of brands consider marketing spending critical to brand awareness, loyalty and, ultimately, sales, the direct return on investment is rather difficult to predict or calculate. Namely, most marketing professionals feel a great deal of uncertainty regarding their future and consider digital marketing the key to successful life of their organization in the next period.
Nevertheless, 68% marketers in the USA and 61% in the UK assume that the current form of their digital role will definitely or probably remain the same in the next 30 years. One has to be a wizard or a fortune teller to see what the future holds, but to cope with the future, we need to understand the past and three core technological developments that have forever changed the perception of marketing: the internet, big data and smartphones.
The Rise of the Internet
The mass adoption of the internet, launched by Tim Berners-Lee and his team in 1991, into everyday life is the single biggest event that has affected marketing over the last thirty years. The increase in users brought about evolution from email to search engines like Yahoo! (1994) and Google (1997) or e-commerce sites like Amazon (1994) and eBay (1995). Traditional media, including TV, print advertisements or radio faced the harsh competition from new marketing tools that enabled users to quickly find the information, products and services they desire without leaving their home.
The entire online activity of hundreds of millions of users is stored as digital information, the fastest growing type of unique information produced, with most text-based information “born digital” – big data. Big data has become an irreplaceable resource for marketers because of its capacity to store enormous data quantities, including paper, film and optical.
The dot-com emergence in 2001 has made big data even more important for marketing tactics, especially in terms of inbound marketing – user-centered design, information sharing and collaboration. With the introduction of LinkedIn (2002), Myspace (2003), Facebook (2004) and Twitter (2007), more and more personal data was shared online. Big data enabled marketers to track patterns and trends of human behavior and their critical role in the development of marketing strategy.
Try to imagine your life without a smartphone or a tablet. Pretty rough, hugh? These devices have so dramatically changed our lives in the last decades that both individual users and marketing departments are still trying to catch up. Today, smartphones have become the primary digital device for going online with the daily time spent on media amounting to 291 minutes in 2019.
After the first true modern smartphone that supported email, text messaging, phone calls and web browsing was produced by BlackBerry in 2003, and especially after the release of the iPhone, smartphones entered the mass market, with 2.71 billion people owning a smartphone globally. Our lives have moved online and the whole world can now fit into our pockets and the only way from here is through personalization, transparency and agile marketing.
Marketing used to be about creating a myth and selling it and is now about finding a truth and sharing it. Customers themselves have evolved and are capable of researching products at an enormous speed, comparing competitors and reviews and unearthing myths along the way. This represents a serious challenge for sales professionals, with 70% of the buyer’s journey complete before a buyer even makes a decision to purchase a product or a service.
Thanks to the advancement of SEO, keywords and spammy backlinks have moved to the history shelves, leaving room for real value and good content as the new and far more effective marketing style. In the time when customers hold the key to a marketing strategy success, marketers need to engage them as much as possible to be able to create real relationships and brand loyalty.
Finally, the new generation of digital natives is transforming the way information is viewed and shared. Gen Z-ers are largely driven by personalization and relevance and unlike Millennials, who generally use three screens on average, Gen Zers use five: a smartphone, TV, laptop, desktop, and iPod/iPad.
Big data and user generated content represent the key tools of personalization by creating a unique experience for customers and empowering them. Millennials specifically value user generated content campaigns with 84% reporting that user generated content on company websites affect their purchasing decisions.
Agile marketing measures the efficiency of an organization in terms of achieving the marketing goals. An agile marketing team is capable of developing and implementing strategy with the focus on ROI as a key factor and new business. Basically, it refers to the speed of product development or its improvement that will help a company seize the opportunity and drive a business forward.
Social media is one of the key drivers of agile marketing, with brands already mastering the ways to communicate on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Social media provides insight into what can work and the type of content that will reach the customers. Moreover, many renown brands have a personality on social media with specific tone and voice and the ‘must-have’ transparency.
Agile marketing is on the rise and given the consumers’ expectations in terms of immediacy, it is a valuable tool in cultivating conversations (such as real-time dialogues) with the customers and creating a user-brand relationship.
Regardless of the revolution caused by the Internet and the growth in digital advertising, traditional forms of marketing, like TV, are still widely used. Adopting digital trends does not mean giving up on traditional marketing approaches – successful marketing campaigns can still leverage the integration of the new and old marketing methods.
Digital marketing has certainly reduced the use of legacy media, both with the new way of execution and pricing. Moreover, it provides a direct connection between a brand and customers by allowing brands to know their customers and interact meaningfully and efficiently with them. Unlike traditional marketing, digital marketing also allows brands to target the audience depending on the goals and create campaigns to match a predefined budget (newsletters, website, digital ad on Google or social networks…).
Finally, digital marketing provides you with an amazing opportunity to boost your business through digital platforms, increase conversions and generate higher revenues in minimum possible times. The question is – are you ready to be digitized?