past-present-future-digital-marketing

The Past, Present & Future of Digital Marketing

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Have you ever wondered where digital marketing got its start? Believe it or not, it hasn’t always been around. It may be hard to imagine, but there was actually a time when virtual reality didn’t exist. The history of digital marketing is relatively young when considering the big picture of marketing.

However, in its short history, digital marketing has proven itself to be a driving force in the marketing and advertising industries. You might be asking yourself, “So, when did digital marketing first begin?” And that’s a good question. Let’s take a look back and see how it all started.


The Early Rise & Fall of the World Wide Web

Also known as the ‘dot.com bubble,’ this period of growth began in 1995 and continued until about 2001. The early 90’s ushered in the phenomenon known as the ‘world wide web’ with the 1993 release of the Mosaic web browser. Come 1995, companies and investors began to see potential and the dot.com boom officially began.

As the internet continued to grow through the latter half of the 90’s, investors jumped on board and rode the wave of success until about 1999 when the bubble began burst. BY the early 2000’s many dot.com companies began to go under. However, a handful of them survived and thrived, leaving us with life changing entities such as Amazon, eBay and Google.

While the bursting of this bubble was a difficult time for America’s economy, industry leaders learned some hard lessons and, in some cases, were able to turn things around for their companies. One venture capitalist, Fred Wilson, had this to say regarding the aftermath:

A friend of mine has a great line. He says ‘Nothing important has ever been built without irrational exuberance. Meaning that you need some of this mania to cause investors to open up their pocketbooks and finance the building of the railroads or the automobile or aerospace industry or whatever. And in this case, much of the capital invested was lost, but also much of it was invested in a very high throughput backbone for the Internet, and lots of software that works, and databases and server structure. All that stuff has allowed what we have today, which has changed all our lives… that’s what all this speculative mania built.

Out of the ashes was born the internet that we know today, and it is surely life-changing. Think about how often are you on the internet. Most of us will admit to being on the internet practically all day. Most of us would even agree that we have become dependent on the internet in both our personal and professional lives. It’s this evolutionary change that has fostered the development of an entire industry that did not exist prior to the internet: Digital Marketing.

The Digital Marketing Industry, Now.

Digital marketing is the industry term for promoting business objectives online. As the influence of the internet continued to rise in the early 2000’s, the concept of online marketing grew right along with it. Businesses began utilizing this technology as a means of reaching their target audience.

At the forefront of internet integration in everyday life, is search engines. Not only have they become the driving force in internet innovations, but also in digital marketing. Today, many business owners, CEOs and marketing professionals are familiar with the terms Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). These are the original foundations of digital marketing. For those of us who are part of the industry, these terms are the core of our careers. Let’s get a little more in depth.

SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION

This is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results.  This can also be known as “organic” search results. Typically, the higher a business ranks on search results and the more frequently it appears in searches the more traffic that site will receive. In fact, most marketers report that organic traffic is typically their highest traffic source with the strongest close rates and engagement.  Here at lodestar marketing group,  we implement a number of elements that are proven strategies to help our clients achieve higher rankings. For every client, we do a site structure analysis to ensure that search robots can crawl it effectively.

We research what keywords and keyword phrases, relevant to each page, are searched on most in the major search engines. Based on these factors, we develop an SEO strategy to achieve the desired ranking goals.  We write all the elements from URLS to H1 tags to ensure search engines understand what the page is about and can rank it appropriately and we develop content that will round out the strength of your SEO.

SEM-SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING

The goal of Search Engine Marketing is the same as that of SEO, the difference however is that SEM is primarily “paid online advertising” or “paid search.”  SEM incorporates SEO; it uses both paid and organic search results. SEM uses paid advertising with Google AdWords or Bing Ads.

Pay-per-click is an internet advertising model used to drive traffic to websites. The advertiser pays the publisher (website owner or network of sites) when the ad is clicked.  Here at lodestar marketing group, we believe PPC allows advertisers to connect with potential customers at the very moment of interest. PPC supports all other marketing campaigns both online and offline to close the funnel and improve overall ROI. Our strategy for strengthening PPC starts with campaign development to include audience research, keyword research and bid strategy as well as Text Ad Copy, Banners and Landing pages that will drive qualified traffic and generate action.

Each of these tools are essential in the digital marketing mix making digital marketing a major player in the overall marketing mix as well.

SOCIAL MEDIA

The role of Social Media in Digital Marketing continues to become more and more prominent each year.  Business Insider reports that 97 percent of online adults aged 16-64 say they have visited or used a social network within the last month. Furthermore, Facebook alone boasts 1.8 million users logged in daily. The more recognizable benefits of social media marketing such as advertising and brand awareness are an integral part in the marketing mix. However, a business’ social presence provides additional benefits in SEO and website optimization.

Consider these statistics: 76% of American Adults use at least one social media site. Social media offers a 31% global penetration with men and women equally accessing social media. It’s no small wonder then, that 58% of marketers who have been using social media for a year or more have experienced improved search rankings.

Here at lodestar marketing group, we work closely with our clients on their social media strategy helping them determine the right mix of social sites to use in order to reach their desired goals. Once a strategy has been determined, we implement it by establishing new social media accounts, and create custom designed themes where possible. We also review existing accounts and make suggestions for improvements. With 2.3 billion people using social media today, marketers cannot afford to overlook this vital piece of the overall mix.

CONTENT MARKETING

Perhaps the best way to explain how content marketing fits into the mix is to offer a clear definition. The  Content Marketing Institute sums it up best:

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

Content Marketing is, in a word, your content; the information on your website that informs the customer about your products or services. What makes up content? Blogs, White Papers, Articles, Case Studies, Memes and Social Content.  These are the elements that will not only engage your readers but also gain you visibility in the search engines. The best content will employ SEO best practices that will ensure the search engines can read your content and index it online.

To learn more about how content marketing grew to be so prominent, check out our blog: The History of Content Marketing.

WEB DESIGN

There is no doubt that the website is the key component in a digital marketing strategy.  You can’t have an online presence without a website and without a functional web design, users won’t convert into customers.

So, what makes for a great website? The 3 main components of web design are:

  1. A design focused on user experience
  2. A layout and backend that will translate on mobile devices
  3. Speed performance and optimization

Responsive web design will ensure that your website is easily viewable on a variety of devices, such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops. Usability is also important. Usability allows your visitors to easily browse your site and quickly find the information they’re looking for. Site speed is crucial for usability and search engines alike.

We offer web design here at lodestar marketing group. Our websites are built with SEO best practices to ensure that search engines can scan and rank your website.   We also ensure that your site will be built with the highest standards including back-up functionality and security features.

What Does the Future Hold for Digital Marketing?

While no one can predict the future, many digital marketing experts have made a few educated guesses on what the future looks like for this industry. We, of course, have our own predictions.

Virtual Reality

In recent months, virtual reality systems have become easily available to the everyday consumer. Industries such as customer service and video gaming are being flipped upside down with this new technological advancement, and digital marketing is no different. Not only is there an entirely new avenue for marketing, but also a new means of selling your customers on a product.

It’s unclear as to which business models will benefit the most from virtual marketing. But one thing we can count on is that it will certainly be a force to be reckoned with.

Live Streaming

Live video streams have only begun to scratch the surface in marketing efforts. You can essentially give your audience a real and organic perspective on your products and services. Social and Google users are exposed to countless ads throughout their sessions, causing many users to “tune them out.” Engaging with your audience on a natural level, such as live streaming, could be the new way to generate a lead.

Influencer Marketing

I would define influencer marketing as digital marketing’s “word of mouth” strategy. In real life, if a friend raves about an incredible restaurant they recently visited, their opinion will have an influence on you. In the digital world, if your favorite mommy blogger raves about a basinet that did wonders for her average hours of sleep, that will have an influence on your purchase behavior as well.

Digital Marketing is Here to Stay.

Digital Marketing has had a significant impact on marketing as a whole. In fact, one could argue that it has completely changed the marketing landscape simply because it’s the one means of communicating with consumers that is always “right there;” on smartphones and tablets that go with us literally everywhere. We believe the future of Digital Marketing is bright and that it will continue to move forward with every advancing step of technology. Here at lodestar marketing group, we plan to be there every step of the way.