How The Internet Has Changed Marketing (in the past 5 years)

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how has the internet changed marketing

Most people believe that marketing is only creative thinking related to copy and graphic design in advertising. However, you might be surprised to understand that marketing goes beyond the process of promoting and selling a product.

There are four key elements that belong under the marketing umbrella: product, price, distribution, and last but not least promotion.

Despite this, the vast majority of people associate marketing with television, billboards, radio, and social media advertisements.

Thus, in this article, we will use the word marketing as a synonym for advertising/promotion and compare how marketers promoted products and customer services before the Internet and how they do so today; thus highlighting the key areas that the Internet has changed in the marketing sphere.

Marketing before the Internet

In the pre-Internet era,  marketing was primarily done in newspapers, on TV, radio, billboards, and by mail- methods that are known as traditional marketing (traditional advertising) or offline marketing in today’s day and age.

Even though digital marketing has overtaken offline marketing, many good aspects of offline marketing are often overlooked.  

Unlike on YouTube and other streaming services, ads on TV cannot be skipped or eliminated by paying for a premium plan. Viewers can’t tap ‘Not Interested‘ on your ad, so regardless of whether or not they are concerned, they will still see the ad once they turn on the TV. 

Offline marketing is fantastic for increasing product or brand awareness. Giving away inexpensive stuff like pens, stress balls, and notebooks is a great way to make people remember your brand. 

Moreover, personal contacts will never be outdated though it may seem that way in the digital world. Therefore, hosting live events, conferences and gatherings can help you increase the awareness of your product or brand more authentically. 

In addition, being promoted in mainstream media can help you build authority and credibility for your product or service. 

Marketing in the Internet era

Digital marketing originated in the 1990s when Web 1.0 was in its infancy and became popular around 2010 when social media overtook our lives

It was in 1993 that the first clickable banner was introduced, and in 1994 new technologies entered cyberspace. 

In 1996 users started optimizing their websites to reach higher SEO positions. As time went forward the first social media platforms like Myspace and Facebook appeared allowing users to advertise their products and services to millions of users without the need for building websites, hiring marketing professionals, and investing tons of money for a single commercial. Thus social media marketing was born. 

The power of online marketing and e-commerce became even more evident during the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 when people worldwide were prohibited from engaging with each other in close proximity; making the Internet the only thing that made the world work again.  

Since then, the usage of the internet for promotion and sales has increased dramatically. According to Marketing Evolution’s article 100 Digital Marketing Statistics to Support Your 2022 Strategy“:

  • Shoppers who can check inventory online are 80 percent more likely to visit a brick-and-mortar store.
  • 76% of mobile users who search for a store on Google Maps visit a related store within a week.
  • Searches for “nearby” or “near me” end in purchases in 28 percent of cases. 

6 ways of internet promotion and consumers’ purchasing decisions in the digital era

Here are the 6 most common things that have changed marketing in today’s digital era:

1. Websites

Websites have become a substitute for physical locations. More and more small and big businesses decide to migrate to the world wide web and offer their product and services online. 

Technology has progressed so much that almost all physical interaction can be perfectly mimicked and digitally transformed. 

Many websites have incorporated bots, AI technology that assists users through their customer journey. In addition, all the information about the products and services is available online, so users can educate themselves about the things that they want to purchase from the comfort of their homes or on the go. 

2. Online reviews

Building trust is the brands’ biggest challenge. 

There is still a strong suspicion among internet users about the quality of the products and the credibility of the vendors because these products cannot be seen in person.

That’s why many users turn to product reviews on the internet and rely on other people’s experiences with the products and services. Word of mouth and UGC (user-generated content) has been one of the most powerful factors that influence people’s online purchasing decisions. 

Brands became aware of this, so many of them incorporate their customers’ reviews in their digital marketing strategy as proof of their products’ quality, and in hopes of getting more customers. 

3. Social media

Social media networks are the number one place for business promotion. 

These platforms have generated billions of users who spend hours scrolling through huge amounts of content that appears on their News Feeds. 

Social media platforms also offer their advertising system, which is intuitive enough for anyone to use.

Furthermore, users heavily use social media to search for brands and inform themselves about their physical addresses, opening hours, products, and services. 

Social media platforms allow businesses to reach a broad number of people or target a specific target audience ( through social media ads) to have a free online space for promotion without paying for additional maintenance like they would with e-commerce websites. 

4. Email marketing

Email marketing is still one of the most used methods of communication. Meanwhile, it became one of the most used methods for promotion too. 

Through, email marketing businesses can send promotions, and updates about their product straight to users’ inboxes. This way, you can promote your product to users who have already purchased from you, who are interested in your product, and who may be likely to buy from you.

5. Search engine marketing SEM and SEO

Before the Internet, users would search for information in newspapers, listen to the radio, or by watching TV. 

However, now, everyone uses Google. 

Search engines aim to serve the things people are looking for. Therefore, many businesses are trying to position their websites in the first position in the SERP results, gain more clicks and hopefully convert potential customers into actual customers. 

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a free method of getting your website in front of billions of Google users. 

In addition, SEM (search engine marketing) is another way to position your website quickly on place number one, but through paid marketing efforts. 

6. Digital analytics

Customer data is something that can be easily obtained and tracked thanks to the latest technology

With the many efficient online tools, users can track the customer journey on their websites, find out what were they looking at, their age, sex, and even what made them purchase or give up purchasing your product. 

You can use all of this information to craft your marketing message and strategy, target the right audience, and create a loyal following.

One of the best tools for this purpose are Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics.

Digital vs. offline marketing

While traditional marketing is still practiced by many businesses and even now gives great results there are many setbacks to this type of promotion compared to internet marketing. 

For instance, offline marketing is not cost-effective and not accessible for small businesses. A TV or radio commercial requires hiring marketing professionals who can create the ad and paying extra fees for media space on programs with the highest viewership. 

In addition, marketing your products on TV, radio, or newspaper cannot reach the number of people that digital marketing can. Analyzing offline marketing results is harder since there isn’t a direct way to determine how many people have seen your commercial while watching TV or whether it has influenced their purchasing decisions. 

There is no doubt that digital marketing is an easier and cheaper method of product promotion. But, despite its advantages, digital marketing is not without its drawbacks. 

It may take time and effort to get the hang of all the platforms needed for creating a good digital ad if you’re not tech-savvy.

Additionally, competing with social media algorithms, following trends, and getting more internet exposure is not an easy task especially if you are a beginner. 

Nevertheless, digital marketing is overpowering offline marketing in many aspects. It is significantly less expensive and time-consuming to target thousands of potential customers at once, segment them using social media channels’ advertising systems, incorporate SEO tactics and reach customers who use Google to search for solutions to their problems.

How to win at marketing today?

The key to successful marketing today is using a wide range of marketing tools and using almost all social media platforms to promote your business. However, each social media platform has its dominant demographics and is used for a different purpose, so you need a separate marketing strategy for each

For example, if your product or service, is targeted at an older audience, your digital marketing strategy should be focused on Facebook, since more and more users above the age of 50 are using Facebook. The same social media strategy might not work on TikTok – the short-form video app mostly used by teenagers. 

So, before starting your Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest profile pay attention to these questions:

  • Who is your targeted audience? 
  • Which social media platform are they using the most?
  • How old are they, and what are their interests?
  • How your product will solve their problem?

By answering these questions, you can create relevant and relatable marketing campaigns, and thus earn the trust of your potential customers to generate leads for the sales team or convert them into actual customers.

What the future holds for marketing?

In the coming years, digital marketing will become more dominant due to the rapid digital transformation as well as the rise of technically literate and informed generations. This includes the high usage of mobile devices such as smartphones in everyday life.

With time, users will become more and more tech-savvy and more informed, so building and gaining trust might be even more challenging for brands. 

While it is still early to say what the feature holds, business owners need to be aware and keep an eye on all important trends and adapt to the new technology trends that are coming.

Let’s not forget that one of the crucial benefits of a marketing team is vital communication with the sales team.

Wrapping Up

In the age of social media and the Internet, marketing has taken on a whole new dimension.

Users can create social media profiles for their businesses and reach a wider audience, build websites as a substitute for a physical shop, promote them with the help of SEO and save money on hiring a marketing team. 

While some offline practices are still beneficial for many businesses and shouldn’t be forgotten the future is digital and businesses must adapt to the new digital trends that are coming.

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