The History and Evolution of Digital Marketing

The History and Evolution of Digital Marketing

Last updated on 06th Oct 2020, Artciles, Blog

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What is digital marketing? In short, it encompasses all things that involve electronic devices and the internet.

Over the years, businesses of all types have switched gears to leverage digital channels like search engines, social media, email and other websites, for many reasons.

Most commonly the goal of investing in digital marketing is to boost engagement, increase sales and profits, create brand awareness and connect with their current and future customers.

In this article, we’ll explore what digital marketing is and more in-depth information on the different constituents.

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How Does a Business Define Digital Marketing?

While the terms digital marketing, internet marketing, online marketing and e-marketing are used interchangeably, digital marketing is what’s most often used today.

So exactly what is digital marketing?

In practice, digital marketing involves managing various forms of a business’ online presence such as websites, mobile apps, and social media company pages. This is in conjunction with online communication methods including search engine marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing.

These techniques are used to support the objectives of growing your customer base and providing services to existing customers that help nurture the client-company relationship.

Why Digital Marketing? What are the Benefits?

Regardless of size and industry, digital marketing offers businesses of all stripes an affordable and efficient way to obtain leads that rivals traditional marketing methods.

Take pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, for example. Whether you’re looking to spend $500 or $5,000, you define the budget that works for your company. This is a unique benefit of digital marketing.

With digital marketing, you are also able to easily track the results of your campaign in the form of measuring impressions, clicks, likes, comments, shares, and conversions. These performance metrics give you valuable insights, allowing you to make informed decisions about your business.

And unlike the olden days of marketing, where you couldn’t alter a billboard or flyer once it was up, digital marketing enables you to modify your campaign as you go. This means you can adapt as needed to drive the best possible results.

over the last decades, the marketing department has had to keep up with technological advancements. To keep up with these changes, the marketing professionals are using digital technologies to reach out to a large customer base.

Businesses no longer use traditional marketing agencies to reach out to target customers. Introduction of the internet, big data, and smartphone technologies have influenced marketing resulting in digital marketing using electronic devices. Digital marketing involves the use of the internet or electronic media to promote the company’s products and services. Electronic devices like tablets, mobile phones, PC, and other digital mediums are used to market the products over the internet. Marketing channels like content marketing, Social media, email marketing, and mobile marketing are used to generate traffic for the business.

How the Internet Has Revolutionized Digital Marketing:

 Digital marketing was introduced back in 1990 after the introduction of search engines which was commonly referred to as Archie. The web 1.0 platform enabled internet users to search for information over the web but couldn’t share the information over the web.  Back then, web indexing wasn’t (Archie) much used since the web hadn’t evolved.

 In 1993, digital marketing achieved his first milestone through the introduction of clickable banners. Later HotWired Company purchased banner ads to advertise through the web. This marked the beginning of the online advertisement.

 In 1994, Yahoo established the first search engine and people started using the Yahoo search engine to look for information on the web. After a year of its launch, more people were using Yahoo to access information. Companies started optimizing their web pages to increase their rank in the search engine. Amazon E-commerce site was established in 1994 whereas eBay site was established in 1995. Increased use of search engine optimization led to the launch of other search engines like HotBot, Alexa, and LookSmart in 1996.

 During this time, marketing professionals started using Search engine optimization, SEO to ensure their website content appears on the top results of the searched information. SEO techniques like keyword stuffing and backlinks were commonly used to increase site rankings.

 In 1998, Google was established. This is another search engine Company and over the years, it has become the most popular search engine across the globe. Google started penalizing sites using backlinks and keyword stuffing to create traffic with the establishment of the Google algorithm. During the year, Microsoft launched MSN search engine whereas Yahoo introduced Yahoo web search.

 The year 2000, saw the wipeout of the smaller search engines. Many internet startup companies were also closed down. Businesses that took time in studying the market leverage on the use of the internet to improve their businesses. Google established AdWords in 2000 to help marketers in advertising their products and services. The google ads became a major player in the digital marketing world and improved sales of businesses.

 Web 2.0 was also established which opened many doors for digital marketing channels. Interactive websites were also established which enabled marketers to publish dynamic content and allow the target audience to interact with the site.

The History and Evolution of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing presents the type of marketing that utilizes the internet to promote products and services, and for a while now, it has been in full swing.

Ads can be found on almost every website, especially social media platforms, which have become companies’ favorite way of promotion.

Influencers, social media ad services and email marketing are especially popular digital marketing strategies, but we didn’t get to where we are right now overnight.

Digital marketing has a history of 3 decades and its evolution has been nothing short of impressive.

Since it is such an interesting topic, today, we are bringing you the history and evolution of digital marketing. Let’s begin.

Digital marketing in the 90s

If the 90s didn’t bring the popularity of personal computers, digital marketing would have started years later. The 90s were when the term digital marketing was coined and when it kicked off into popularity.

People started buying personal computers and using email, and in only two years, between 1994 and 1996, the number of people using the internet went from 16 to 70 million. What caused this explosion of new users was Netscape, the first successful browser.    

The first ever clickable banner ad appeared in 1994, and about 44% of people who saw it clicked on it. It was owned by AT&T and it was placed on the HotWired website.

During the same year, the first eCommerce internet transaction took place, and Yahoo! launched, as well. It grew rapidly, going public in April 1996 and being the most popular starting point for web users by 1998.    

 Digital- marketing- in- the- 90s

The banner on top is what the first the first clickable banner ad looked like 

Amazon also launched in 1994, and eBay followed and launched a year later. Email marketing started being used widely, and it remained one of the most effective digital marketing strategies even in 2020.

The year 1998 was of huge significance for digital marketing: that was the year Google launched, after the domain name for it was registered on September 15th in 1997.

The launches of Google and Yahoo! caused marketers to use what today are considered illegal SEO techniques – keyword stuffing, bad backlinks, and excessive tagging.

The -Google- logo -from -1998

The Google logo from 1998

Using them, they managed to boost their websites onto the first pages of search engines and gain a ton of clicks, sales and engagement.

Today, search engines are much smarter and are able to detect any foul play, which results in website bans.

Digital marketing in the 2000s

The number of internet users only continued to grow, and there were 361 million internet users in the year 2000. The 2000s were prolific and a large number of influential platforms appeared during that time period.

LinkedIn launched in 2002 and this professional social media platform is going strong to this day. A year later, WordPress and MySpace appeared.

 Digital- marketing- in- the -2000s

Here’s what MySpace looks like today

News Corporation acquired MySpace in 2005 for $580 and it was the most visited social media platform in the world in 2008, with over 75.9 million users.

WordPress remains the most successful and best content management system, and, despite many other more successful social media platforms appearing, MySpace is still active and had 50.6 monthly active users in 2015 (fun fact, MySpace surpassed Google as the most visited website in the United States in 2006).

The year 2004 brought the launch of Gmail, as well as Facebook. Gmail offered 1 gigabyte of storage, which was significantly more than what the competitors offered at the time. This made it stand out from all other email platforms. Just a year later, the storage limit doubled to 2 gigabytes.

 Digital- marketing- in- the -2000s

One of the first Facebook layouts 

If you aren’t familiar with the history of Facebook, it initially started off as a student directory featuring photos and personal information.

It was at first only available to the students of Harvard, and then expanded to most of the universities of the United States and Canada.

In 2006, everyone above the age of 13 with a valid email address could create a Facebook account. At the end of 2007, there were 100.000 pages where companies could promote themselves, a significant part of the evolution of digital marketing.

As you can see, the 2000s brought the launches of today’s biggest and most important platforms for digital marketing: Google and their Google Ads and Facebook with their Facebook Ads.

 Digital- marketing- in- the -2000s

Google Ads was formerly known as Google AdWords

But, the evolution of digital marketing didn’t end there.

Digital marketing in the 2010s

In 2010, there were 1.97 billion internet users in the world, a significant increase from 361 million in 2000. People started using smartphones and small devices more in general, which enabled them to browse the internet anywhere anytime. The social media platforms that launched in the 2000s and Google set a foundation for digital marketing in the 2010s.

Companies started paying more attention to their customers’ interests, wishes and needs, and creating more emotional and personalized ads that they then started posting using social media platforms’ and services.

 Digital -marketing- in- the -2010s

Device browsing overtake desktop browsing 

These ad services developed fast and were successful right off the bat. Facebook Ads is still thriving, and Instagram caused the rise of influencer marketing, the new popular digital marketing strategy.

2012 was a great year for social media. Facebook was the most used social media platform, with Blogger and Twitter behind it. Pinterest appeared the same year and was a huge hit immediately, causing brands to come up with new strategies of how to promote their content on this unique platform and learn more about their customers.

 Digital -marketing- in- the -2010s

Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest were the most significant social media platforms in the 2010s 

In 2014, the number of mobile and smartphone users was higher than the number of desktop users.

What about the present and digital marketing?

Today, more than 3.5 billion people use social media, which is about 45% of the population (stats from 2019).

Facebook is still the most used social media platform, with over 2.45 billion monthly active users. When it comes to digital marketing, 94% of Facebook Ad revenue comes from mobile. Facebook has released the information that over 3 million businesses actively advertise on their platform.

A large number of 54% of people use social media to learn more about products and brands. When it comes to online shopping and eCommerce, their users are growing by the day. Experts think that by 2040, about 95% of all purchases will be made online.

 What- about -the -present- and -digital- marketing?

Because of the growing number of internet users, more and more businesses are creating their own online stores 

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Wrapping up

Digital marketing is continuing to grow, and by the looks of it, its evolution hasn’t stopped.

The 90s brought the popularity of the internet and the first ever uses of digital marketing, which includes the first clickable banner ad. Their significance also lies in the fact that Amazon, Yahoo! and Google all launched during this time period, as well.

The 2000s brought us a significant increase in internet users and the launches of MySpace, WordPress and Facebook, all platforms extremely significant for both digital marketing and eCommerce.

The 2010s were marked by mobile and smartphone users being more numerous than desktop users. Facebook became the most used social media platform, and Blogger and Twitter were almost as popular. Today, the number of social media users is more than 3.5 billion people all over the world, which makes digital marketing an even more appealing marketing option.

There are new marketing trends appearing every month and new marketing strategies, as well. Who knows, maybe in a few years we might see the launch of the new Facebook, that will change the social media and digital marketing game forever.

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