Digital marketing has come a long way since its beginnings in the late ‘80s. With everyone online, this type of marketing has changed the way companies devise of schemes targeted at their niche markets. Changes in technology and in the lifestyles of people have also affected its evolution.
Online marketing can be categorized into the following phases:
Digital marketing phase 1
The birth of digital marketing was sometime in the 1980s. This was the decade when IBM introduced the first personal computer. Companies back then used computers primarily for adopting and maintaining database of customers and prospective clients. In the mid-80s, a customer management firm, ACT, launched the first database marketing software.
By the beginning of the next decade, customer relationship management (CRM) software became popular. It tracked customer interactions. One early form of this software was Sales Force Automation which provided companies with important information about inventory and interaction tracking.
Digital marketing phase 2
The second phase of the digital marketing evolution began when the Internet came into the picture. This was around the late 90s when emerging Internet-based CRM vendors stored huge volumes of client data online. These eCRM vendors allowed marketers to update customer information, leading to an enhanced customer experience.
In 1999, Salesforce.com was rolled out. The first software as a service (SaaS) company, it introduced the concept of ‘cloud computing’ which would become the future of online marketing.
This phase also saw a change in customer behavior as people started to go online to search for products and services. Several firms took advantage of this opportunity by introducing marketing automation which enabled marketers to segment the markets, introduce multiple-channel campaigns, and deliver personalized content.
Digital marketing phase 3
The third phase of the digital marketing evolution can be summed up in two words– social media. Social networking sites, including forerunners like MySpace, Friendster, and Facebook opened new opportunities for marketers to reach out to their niche markets. These social media sites provided a venue for marketers to run ads and promote their products and services.