When it comes to marketing, the actions and methods used may have changed from the pre-digital era to now, but the objectives remain the same. The ultimate goal is to create demand for your product or service. The digital era has not only more accessible channels of communication and information but also a number of different marketing opportunities that weren’t available before. However, there are some distinct differences in how marketers approach their strategies today compared to in the past. Given that we are still transitioning into this new age, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when one period ended and another began. But we can look at the way marketers conduct their activities as well as their underlying principles to see where we are heading.
Pre-digital era (Before 2000)
Marketing prior to the digital era was largely focused on the product or service itself. Companies would build their marketing campaigns around the product they were trying to sell. The methods they would use would be based on trial and error as well as the availability of accessible tools and channels. Traditional media channels like TV, radio, print and outdoor were used to reach potential customers. Marketing budgets were heavily focused on the production and development of product-focused advertisements. New product launches could be extremely costly since there were few ways to gauge interest. It was a time where scale was everything. Marketing teams often worked on a seasonal or quarterly basis. There was little to no emphasis on the customer journey or activities outside of the traditional sales funnel. Customer data was extremely limited and often relied on basic contact information, product return rates and calls to customer service.
Digital era (2000 – 2010)
The early 2000s witnessed the advent of the internet, which was quickly adopted for marketing activities. The internet was a great new channel that offered many advantages over traditional media. With the internet, marketers were able to reach a wider audience at a lower cost. Moreover, they could track the customers’ behavior and provide personalized services. Marketers primarily used online channels like search engine optimization (SEO), email, social media, and online advertising such as paid search and display advertising to reach potential customers. Digital channels allowed companies to gauge interest in their products much earlier and more efficiently. This new way of working allowed marketers to have a more integrated approach to their campaigns. Digital has also played a significant role in changing the way companies design their products. The advent of technology has made it easier for companies to design, manufacture and distribute their products. This has resulted in a wider variety of products being available. This availability of products has made it more difficult for marketers to stand out in the crowd. In order to make their products visible, marketers need to adopt new marketing strategies and find new ways to market the products online.
Post-digital era (2010 – Present)
The post-digital era has witnessed a wide adoption of technology, which has transformed the marketing landscape once again. Marketing strategies have moved away from a product-centric approach to customer-centric strategies. The post-digital era has seen the growth of CMOs and a rise in customer experience as a top priority for marketers. It’s about giving customers what they want and retaining them through regular communication. Marketers have shifted from focus on product development to growth hacking and customer acquisition. The channels available have evolved to include social, big data, and artificial intelligence. Marketing budgets are now focused on customer experience and the growth of data and analytics teams. The advent of AI-driven marketing has been the most significant disruption that has taken place in the marketing landscape since the advent of the internet. The use of AI has broadened the ways marketers can reach customers, while also allowing them to analyze customer behavior in real time. The use of AI has also created opportunities for marketers to build stronger relationships with customers through personalized interactions.