It all began with the lifting of curtains for international trade. Many nations made dynamic inclusions to their foreign policies, resulting in globalization of trade and commerce. Technology kept pace with the federal developments and started focussing on targeted promotions across multiple geographies. However, in times gone by, not much was done to empower audiences and secure their informed buy-ins for brands. Though internet started impacting lives much earlier, catapulting the internet marketing function by using online vehicles gained momentum during the 1980s.
- Websites Were Mere Dispensers Of Basic Information
Web design, 10 years ago, was viewed as a cost-centre, in simple terms , wasteful expenditure and also a luxury that could be afforded to, only by big firms. In 2009, Google launched real time listings on its search engine result pages and customers flocked online to check out their brands, prices and internet marketing strategies. This left businesses confused as to how to predict their buying psychologies. Soon, intuitive technology came to their rescue. Ecommerce portals are now equipped with business intelligence and machine learning concepts. The average shopper for watches on Amazon shopping portal is flooded with convenient options to filter watches by gender, size of dial, strap material, etc., thereby urging him to shop instantly and easily.
- Targeted Outreach Was Off The Cards
By the early 2000’s, pitching to a global audience was no longer an awesome pursuit. Web based mass communication like email marketing, website marketing and ecommerce had taken centre stage. However, was the right message reaching the right people? Imagine pitching for thermal wear during summers or bacon-flavoured fries during the Ramadan season in the Middle East! The one-size-fits-all internet marketing campaigns failed to draw results. With the advent of custom web designs and ad campaigns, businesses were able to segment and profile their leads and markets. Targeted outreach resulted in cheaper acquisition costs.
- Forceful, Manipulative And Ad-Centric Content
In the yesteryears, not only were public forced to digest loads of promotional content, but also the businesses were taken a ride for, by greedy internet marketing agencies. The sales literature were overcrowded with self-centred content that created little value for the brand among customers. Naturally customers went in for brands that were readily accessible at time of purchase. Businesses did not get the required ROI on their ad spends. Attrition was worse in every business domain. Coercive content gave only temporary results with mounting costs of acquisition. But today, statistics prove that over 70% of the buying journey of a customer is complete before even loading the shopping cart. Internet users prune client testimonials, references, website rankings and third party reviews before closing in.
- Social Interaction Between Customers And Businesses Was At Infancy
Personalized attention to customers was possible only through in-store visits, maintenance or courtesy calls. This was proving ineffective for online businesses as people hesitated to buy tangible goods online. Though the term social marketing was propounded by Kotler and Zaltman as early as 1971, it was only in 1997, the first ever social media site called six degrees came into being. Staying connected was a challenge. The absence of personalized selling was felt dearly. Though huge databases of customers were poached by internet marketers for their clients, there was little interaction between them. Social media marketing has come a long way since then, with the emergence of pioneering people-friendly platforms like Tumblr, Twitter, SnapChat and Youtube. Purposeful interaction leads to formation of user-generated content. Referral marketing today is far more cost-effective and impactful, than it was in the early days of internet.
- The Evolution Of The New-Age Inbound Marketer
Big data analytics and business intelligence were unheard of, a few decades ago. Outbound marketing was so strong and all it mattered was to push products down to the market. Marketing communication was one-way and customer feedback was given little place in the marketing cycle. Content marketing of today, encourages customers to seek out your brand, through organic practices like word of mouth publicity, influencer marketing and affiliate marketing. Communication is totally interactive with automated chat options, encouraging two-way communication between the business and its customer. Using tools like CRM, the inbound marketer sends non-promotional communication like whitepapers, blogs and research reports to customers, leading to digitally empowered communities.
- The Smartphone Era That Challenged The Shackles Of Traditional Advertising
It was only in 2007 that digital marketing made use of all the online resources to the fullest, by migrating to marketing automation. As an offshoot, marketers are now no longer wedded one single channel of marketing communication. In the early years, customers needed to have internet connection at home or office and were completely offline when they were on the move. Online shopping and social media usage were severely limited to non-peak hours. Today wearable technology makes it possible even to monitor out fitness regime in a smart watch. In-app messaging and advertising are able to catch the undivided and exclusive attention of customers.
- The onset of “Customer Is King” Era
As internet advanced in terms of wider reach-out and omni channel marketing, competitors locked horns over website rankings. The decade that passed by, witnessed cut-throat deployment of black hat techniques to manipulate search engine ranking, by way of keyword stuffing, buying positive reviews and link spamming. By 2004, these unscrupulous marketers suffered a backlash with all major search engines tightening their ranking algorithms and lowering website rankings for such unhealthy practices. Enlistment on independent review sites and badges of trust from ranking organizations protected customer interests. The ad campaigns of the past accorded full attention only to product promotion and capture of market share. This turned ineffective and did not work in terms of creating long-term customer retention and branding. Pathwwway limited web content in modern times place customers first. Prosocial activities and cause related internet marketing improve business ethics and bring them closer to the emotions of buyers.