ATYPICAL

A Decade of Milestones: A Look Back At How Digital Marketing Evolved Since 2010

Sarah Malcolm
Can you believe it's been 20 years since the start of the new millennium? And what a ride it has been! When looking at predicting trends for the next ten years, I started reflecting on where we started and came across some important milestones in digital marketing I think are worth pointing out. It really gives you some perspective on how our industry has grown and changed. 

Can you believe it's been 20 years since the start of the new millennium? And what a ride it has been! When looking at predicting trends for the next ten years, I started reflecting on where we started and came across some important milestones in digital marketing I think are worth pointing out. It really gives you some perspective on how our industry has grown and changed. 

Social exploded

A lot of fun things happened in the social media world over the last decade. Here’s a rundown:

If anything defined the decade in social media, the Cambridge Analytica data scandal brought personal data and privacy concerns to the forefront. The result has been a more careful approach to how social platforms collect, utilize, and protect their subscribers’ information.

As individuals, we have more control over what our social world sees. As advertisers, it’s been harder to attract organic traffic using social media. We have increased our paid spending to reach our client base. In addition, winning consumer trust has been a big part of the last few years and will continue moving forward.

Nom, nom, nom: the cookie and GDPR

Advertisers started using cookies to track, and browsing has it and usage patterns as a way to enhance their targeted marketing. But cookies weren't without their controversy. This came to ahead and 2011 when the European Union decided to start legislating cookies. Now websites have to ask their visitors for consent to leave cookies to track people. 

Right on its heels was the GDPR regulations that aim to protect the personal data of EU citizens. It set a new standard for how we collect consumer information.

Mobile’s on the up

Mobile exceeded personal computer use for the first time in 2014 and never looked back. The average American increased their time on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) from 46 minutes in 2011 to 258 minutes in 2017.

This means digital marketers now take a mobile-first approach when designing and implementing their strategies. 

Did you predict this? 

Marketers used to pay huge bucks to do market research or just take a guess at what people thought about their products. No more. Predictive analytics have grown increasingly sophisticated and easy to access thanks to big data and new processing power. We can see advertising performance in real-time. 

AI got really smart 

Some businesses used to hire content marketers for the sole purpose of writing social media copy from their long-form content. Now we have digital marketing tools that automate this task. 

AI’s growth has really been incredible across all industries. In digital marketing, it’s analyzing back links, the quality of content, and website performance. Without it, we wouldn’t have the powerful predictive analytics used to understand consumer behavior. AI is enabling chatbots and creating optimized content. These tools are helping digital marketers be smarter and wiser about how they are spending their time. 

Digital marketing is more important than ever

Sales teams used to play a vital role in educating and closing deals. It’s not that the importance of sales staff has waned, but that it’s shifted. By the time someone reaches out to discuss the product, they are 70percent of the way through the buyer’s journey. The everyday consumer is more educated thanks to online reviews, websites, and online content.

As we tell our ATYPICAL clients, digital marketing plays a huge role in bringing people to your door. As search engine algorithms and consumers have become smarter, the need for authentic content has risen. People want content that provides real value. They can tell when they’re being sold. 

The field is also incredibly nimble. The strategies we used in 2010 are obsolete today. And it will probably be true in 2030. What we’re doing now will look incredibly old school.

Hey, Alexa!

If the decade has an underdog that is rising to the top, it's voice search. This is a field gaining momentum. Millions of people are already using intelligent devices to perform searches. One source projects that half of all searches in 2020 will be voice searches. And, it'll probably be the leading thing into the next decade. 

As digital marketers, this means we have to tailor what we're doing towards voice search. We have to think about how people speak and what it is that they're looking for in their search request.

The camera adds clients, not pounds

Video’s power to grow brands and win clients grew over the decade. We saw live-streaming hit social media platforms, and YouTube had phenomenal growth. Research shows consumers are more likely to act after watching a video.  

That's not to say blogging and photos don't have their place, it's just that video is really a powerhouse when it comes to digital marketing. That trend will continue into the next decade.

What exciting things do you think are in store for the next decade? We have some ideas - check out our upcoming trend predictions.

Need help with your marketing strategy and execution for 2020? Let's start the conversation on how we can help.

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