Digital marketing has come a long way over the past 30 years. I am reserving this blog article to retell the origins of the practice, explain how it developed, and give some insight into today’s best practices that never grow old:
The early days of email marketing
The first digital marketing campaign didn’t have social media and email at its disposal. At the time, desktop computers and floppy disks were all the rage.
And that’s exactly what the first digital marketing campaign made use of. According to the Wikipedia entry, people sent in letters and received floppy disks in the mail:
“The term digital marketing was first used in the 1990s, but digital marketing has roots in the mid-1980s, when the SoftAd Group, now ChannelNet, developed advertising campaigns for automobile companies: People sent in reader reply cards found in magazines and received in return floppy disks that contained multimedia content promoting various cars and free test drives.”
Could these companies communicate with millions of people within seconds? Maybe not, but they explored the role of technology in marketing. At its most basic level, digital marketing hasn’t changed much when considering these early campaigns.
The emergence of the Digital Age
Of course, the way businesses approach digital marketing couldn’t be any more different. There were a few … minor … events that happened in the following years, such as:
All of this in less than twenty years. You can imagine why some businesses have trouble keeping up.
Let’s consider how far digital marketing has come. This Forbes article talks about the top campaigns of 2015 and explains how HP reached an incredibly large audience with its Bend the Rules campaign:
“Using Vine Stars, they have created content around the use of their products, transcending social media networks and interacting with consumers on multiple mediums. In the 2015 edition, content creators are “Going Epic” and are given big budgets to pull off stunts, ranging from monster truck trick shots to being set on fire to breaking through glass.”
Vine, yet another social media platform that exploded in growth. It’s a good example, however, that not every trend sticks. Snapchat, on the other hand, has kept its users engaged for several years.
Digital marketing today
Nowadays, it’s best to approach social media holistically. You can break it down into these major subgroups:
Search engine optimization
This is how you get your site to show up in Google’s search results. It’s tricky but well worth the effort since most users don’t make it to the second page.
This is the process of bringing users to your website through content creation and other marketing efforts. If you’re lucky, it ends in conversion, where the user gives you his contact information.
Pay per click ads
A supplemental practice to generate more leads. Google, Facebook, and all the other sites make money off of ads, so they want you to buy them. It’s an effective way to supplement your organic efforts.
Social media marketing
Either a goldmine or a costly rabbit hole. It’s not easy to plan for, but with solid content and consistent interaction, you can engage followers in your brand and establish customer loyalty.
This often forgotten practice is ironically the most effective of them all. Engagement and interaction are nice but at the end of the day, you want prospects to buy your product, and that’s what email marketing accomplishes.
In 2028, the way businesses approach digital marketing will be vastly different, but the principles behind their strategies will remain the same. To talk more about digital marketing, or anything else, contact us today.
Also published on Medium.