10 years ago, the digital marketing landscape looked much different, and new strategies began to emerge after a long reign of pay-per-click (PPC) and merciless email blasts.
The first iPhone was released in 2007 and marked the beginning of the smartphone revolution. In other words, back then, there were not so many smartphones around, and users accessed websites and their email mostly from desktop computers and laptops.
Search engine optimization (SEO) wasn’t this sophisticated, while the era of social media was just about to explode and take the world by storm.
New technologies, trends, and interests have naturally shaped the change within the world of digital marketing.
Here’s how digital marketing has evolved over the past decade.
Content Marketing Doesn’t Mean Just Blogging Anymore
This marketing strategy has come a long way since that famous 1996 statement by Bill Gates about the content being king.
Ten years ago, creating content mainly meant blogging. Podcasts were still not as big as they’re today, while YouTube was at its infancy and not nearly as indispensable in terms of marketing as it is today.
In 2020, content means so much more than informative and educational text on a website. There are new types of content, such as highly personalized emails, social media posts, videos, vlogs, podcasts, you name it.
All these new content types actually reflect the change in the way people engage with online content.
Video has become a staple of every effective digital marketing strategy. By 2022 this format will account for more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic. There’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for such a dramatic shift towards consuming video content – it’s easily digestible and can be easily incorporated into the modern user’s hectic schedule. People watch videos while commuting to work or working out on a treadmill.
Similarly, podcasts are an excellent way of learning new things during a regular morning jog or getting ready for work.
Mobile-Friendliness Is a Must
Today, people are inseparable from their mobile devices.
The latest stats say that mobile devices drive 52% of web traffic, while they make up for 2 out of every 3 minutes spent online.
Before smartphones took over the world, most websites were focused mainly on website traffic. Over the past 10 years, mobile apps and browsers have been introduced, and Google responded to this trend by introducing its mobile-first index in 2018. This means that the search engine giant will see the mobile version of a website as primary.
In a nutshell, digital marketers have to make their content accessible to mobile screens in order to improve their rankings.
Similarly, as a great majority of people check their email on mobile devices, electronic mail messages have to be mobile friendly too. In other words, among other things, the length of subject lines has to be adjusted to fit smaller screens, and the size of images should be taken into account.
Social Media Has Become an Essential Digital Marketing Tool
Facebook was conceived as a network for Harvard students, later expanding to the entire Ivy League, and finally to the whole world.
At first, this social media channel acted as a means for getting in touch with your friends and family, sharing news, photos, and stories. Later, it turned into a full-fledged marketing platform, together with highly-granular ad targeting options and analytics.
Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and TikTok followed, together with a new phenomenon – social media influencers. All this transformed not only the way we communicate but also how we look for and interact with branded content.
Every successful social media strategy has to make room and allocate a budget for proper social media promotion and lead generation. The importance of social media is immense in this regard because businesses can easily spread the word about themselves and expand their reach, given that there are approximately 3.5 billion daily active social media users, or 45% of the population.
It’s clear that brands and even small businesses have to maintain a strong online presence, particularly on social media, because that’s where their customers love to hang out.
Numerous uses of social media channels have appeared, so that consumers expect to receive customer support on Facebook, Twitter, and other mediums. Responding to their questions and requests in a timely manner is of critical importance for building loyalty and meaningful relationships with them.
We can say that social media has transformed the way people communicate with their favorite brands and made it more interactive and instantaneous.
Search Engine Optimization Has Evolved
The first Google update happened in December 2000. And although the most popular search engine’s algorithm has seen a slew of updates in the past 20 years, these became immensely more sophisticated and elaborate from 2010 onwards.
For example, back in the day, keyword stuffing couldn’t be identified or penalized by the search engine, which made it possible to manipulate and boost a page’s ranking through dishonest practices.
With the Panda update in 2011, Google finally labeled keyword stuffing a Black Hat SEO tactic.
This was just the beginning, as Google continued to fine-tune its algorithm in an attempt to make itself as helpful and relevant as possible to its users.
For example, the Hummingbird update in 2013 was designed to put an end to low-value content.
RankBrain, which rolled out in 2015, is powered by machine learning, and its role is to allow Google to understand the meaning and context behind every individual query and provide the best and most relevant results to searchers.
Fred from 2018 attempted to reduce ad-centered content.
All this ensures that only trustworthy websites that try to provide the best user experience and relevant, SEO-friendly content will score good rankings.
Personalization Has Become a Key Factor in Digital Marketing
Contemporary customers don’t want to settle for bland and generic content.
They want their every touchpoint with brands to be personalized and customized. They want to feel special.
This means that email marketers had to find a way to send personalized messages at scale. The very automation that had made their lives much easier then became an issue – email messages could be scheduled and launched automatically, but at the expense of personalization.
New, advanced tools enabled segmenting lists based on their different characteristics, interests, and preferences, and sending tailored emails to different segments. They also allowed for automatically inserting different personalized elements, such as the first name, location, title, etc. within every individual email, thus making it unique.
User-generated content is another way of personalizing content. With its help, digital marketers are able to humanize their approach and reach out to their customers on an individual level, without being overly promotional.
Digital marketing has matured significantly over the last 10 years, adapting to the needs of an increasingly demanding generation of customers that accept nothing short of perfection.
This industry is constantly evolving at a fast pace in order to find the best approach to engage customers, and only by following all these trends and novelties will it be possible for any business to keep a competitive edge.
Michael has been working in marketing for almost a decade and has worked with a huge range of clients, which has made him knowledgeable on many different subjects. He has recently rediscovered a passion for writing and hopes to make it a daily habit. You can read more of Michael’s work at Qeedle.