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1990 to 2020: 30 Major Changes in 30 Years of Digital Marketing During the period, behavior of commerce markets has changed, compelling corporations to change their policies

By Ankush Mahajan

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Digital marketing has come a long way from when it started in 1990. The story of digital marketing will not be complete without giving special credit to Google. Thanks to Google's continuous efforts, we are in a golden era of digital marketing, where there are no more flashy websites, doorway pages, sneaky redirects, nor all such practices.

Major changes that have taken place in the digital marketing industry since it started:

1. Search Engines Revolution is the biggest thing in the last 30 years of digital marketing. Yahoo started it and then Google superseded it and changed the dynamics of the way people search information.

2. Responsive design changed the internet and definition of website design. Ethan Marcotte suggested the approach and has now become the standard of website design.

3. The user experience is there from the 1990s, but it was Apple that launched the UX terminology in the digital world when they launched the iPhone in 2007. From there UX became part of everything we do in digital marketing.

4. In 2016, mobile searches (51 per cent) overtook desktop searches for the first time. That was the time when business owners started thinking seriously to optimize their websites and marketing campaigns for mobile devices.

5. "Content is king," this quote from Microsoft founder Bill Gates became a success mantra for many digital marketers. However, the content was not king in digital marketing until Google released Google Panda in 2011 with a strict set of content-related guidelines.

6. Text is only one type of content. Google took 15 years to understand this. But after the universal search (2007) update, Google starting indexing videos, images, pdf files content in search engine result pages (SERPs).

7. Data-driven content marketing brought another shift in it. It was the year of 2015-16 when digital marketers frequently started creating content after analyzing their past data and industry reports.

8. How fast does your website load? Page speed came into limelight in 2006 when Amazon claimed they saw 1 per cent increase in total revenue with a mere 100-millisecond increase in their page speed.

9. Google introduced the Rank Brain algorithm in 2015 to provide relevant search results. It was one of the major steps by Google to improve user experience and crushed black hat SEO practices.

10. With the birth of Social media channels like LinkedIn (2002), Facebook (2004), Twitter (2006), etc. digital marketing took an interesting turn. Social media emerges as a competitive threat to Google and digital marketers started thinking beyond Google to advertise their products and services.

11. Social media has started to connect people but after a few years, it becomes one of the best channels to buy and sell.

12. We saw the transition phase from link building to link earning. After the Google Penguin update, people began to understand that link quality matters more than quantity. Many companies start using tools like SERPninja to create natural back links.

13. Traditional word-of-mouth marketing was replaced by influencer marketing with the advent of social media.

14. From online to offline brands, building and maintaining online reputation has become necessary. As per stats, today, 85 per cent of customer uses the internet to read reviews of a brand before making the purchase.

15. Traditional ways of collecting customer feedback (surveys or in-person) have gone, as social media becomes the number one platform to get customer feedback.

16. From 2000 to 2003 was the time when big brands nearly outranked local brands in SERPs. To revive the local brands in SERPs, Google launched Local 3-pack and the rest is history now.

17. Google launched Google Adwords (now known as Google Ads) in 2000 and from there it is ruling the world of online advertising.

18. Remarketing is another powerful form of online advertising. Google started it in 2010 and now all naming advertising platforms enable advertisers to target their customers based on their interest and behavior.

19. Google introduced Machine Learning (ML) in 2018. ML helps digital marketers to produce personalized content & provides quality data for advertising & other purposes.

20. Considering the steady growth of mobile users, in 2019, Google started rolling out the Mobile-First Indexing update to show the mobile version of pages in SERPs by default.

21. Amazon brought a change in digital marketing when it started its own advertising platform (Amazon DSP) where sellers can create campaigns to promote their products and shops. Amazon owns 8.8 per cent of the US digital Ads spend in 2019.

22. PayPal changed the way transactions have been done online. It has helped small to large scale sellers to accept cross border transactions.

23. Email marketing techniques have been around for so long. But it was MailChimp that changed the ways of email marketing and enables marketers or businesses to send millions of emails each day.

24. Multi-channel marketing started losing ground with the rise of Omni-channel marketing. Nowadays, people like to connect with a brand that allows them to buy online and return offline or vice versa.

25. About 5 billion videos are watched daily on YouTube. Due to better internet penetration and growth of Smartphone users, Video and Live Streaming content become extremely popular among users.

26. With the rise of Account-Based Marketing (ABM), B2B marketing companies started treating special to the individual customer to make them feel valued. 87 per cent of B2B marketers agree that ABM delivers higher return on investment as compared to other marketing activities.

27. Marketing Automation industry began to take shape in the mid-2000s. As per recent studies, marketing automation counts a 14.5 per cent rise in sales productivity.

28. Digital marketing changes the lives of not only businessmen but also individuals. Today, over 70 per cent of recruiters check social media and other online channels for screening candidates.

29. Chatbots have taken over the long contact forms in many organizations. 58 per cent of B2B companies have started using chatbots on their website.

30. Though Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Virtual Reality are still in the nascent stage but many successful brands such as Amazon and Apple have started using AI on their website to present relevant and personalized content for their users.

Ankush Mahajan

Digital marketer & e-commerce consultant at FATbit Technologies

Ankush works as a senior digital marketer and e-commerce consultant at FATbit Technologies, one of India’s leading custom web design/development & start-up friendly e-commerce solutions company. His expertise lies in branding and formulating marketing strategies for business of a number of industries. He has been active in online marketing services for past 5 years.

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