How to Keep Up with the Digital Marketing Revolutions
When was the last time you truly assessed what era of marketing you are doing business in?
We know that change is a constant, but with the pace of business today it can be difficult to press “pause” and reflect on how far we’ve come. Ever since the radio and television first electrified the world and introduced broadcast media into the homes, marketers have been leveraging technology to reach consumers for decades.
However, as many people are now realizing with social media, the technology we use also affects how we live, work, and relate to one another. Especially after the pandemic, even the most conservative businesses now see some of the advantages of things like remote work, cloud computing, and (finally) digital marketing!
Many businesses have adapted quite well to the pandemic, but in terms of marketing technology a significant proportion of businesses, especially B2B businesses, have yet to take full advantage of the options now available. In my opinion, there have been four revolutions in digital marketing, approximately one era of marketing per decade.
The Eras of Marketing: 4 Revolutions
In each era of marketing, the way of doing business changed. And, the technologies that drove each era of marketing were dismissed by many leaders as mere fads or curiosities before they finally took hold – just think about QR codes in the early 2010s. Here’s the history of digital marketing as I see it:
Revolution #1: The Internet
Although computers had long been in use to improve office productivity, it wasn’t until the internet that the pace of business was really able to take off. In this era of marketing companies that embraced digital technology, like email and websites, realized gains in productivity and sales while discovering new ways to work and collaborate. Although many younger employees, born after this era, might take technology for granted, those of us around in the days of Pentiums and AOL remember how exciting the internet was when it was new.
Revolution #2: Permission Marketing
Once the internet really got going, people figured out how to create mailing lists. The idea of getting someone’s permission to send them marketing content was an extremely powerful one, and this era of marketing is where marketing guru Seth Godin honed his philosophies and techniques. Much like its predecessor, direct mail, email marketing provides a wealth of data and allows for sophisticated A/B testing of different kinds of content and messaging. As opposed to the age of broadcast marketing through television and radio, the early days of permission marketing allowed businesses to build lasting relationships with individual consumers.
Revolution #3: Social Media
Several years after the turn of the millennium, social media began to appear – and as we all know, it spread like wildfire. The high-stakes, public, direct-contact nature of the medium proved to be highly attractive for consumers, and the “marketplace of ideas” philosophy of mediums like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest created a space for content marketing to really get going. Today, it is routine for businesses to post original content on a corporate blog, and then share that content to followers and consumers via social media. However, before about 2012, most companies were not convinced of the power of social media and ended up scrambling to implement social strategies in the 2010s.
Revolution #4: Marketing Automation
One of the key digital revolutions we are currently experiencing right now is with marketing automation. The ability to track customer data and personalize experiences at scale, as well as linking that data to a CRM, is proving to be a major force multiplier for both small and large teams, and with the ongoing progression of artificial intelligence it’s only going to get better. Given the exponential power of AI and machine learning technology, it is possible that the adoption of marketing automation could largely determine a business’ ability to compete in the inbound space.
What Era of Marketing Are You Doing Business In?
If you’re not sure what era of marketing you are in or are worried that your marketing function isn’t up to date, we’ve created a very short self-assessment for you to determine where you stand. This will help you identify high-priority projects that will transform how you do business and connect with consumers.
Don’t Miss Out on Marketing Automation
For years, Marketing CoPilot has worked with businesses, particularly in the B2B sector, to transform their approach to digital marketing using technology. We offer a suite of marketing services, live coaching programs, and have published a book on digital marketing strategy for marketing leaders.