The Evolution and Impact of Digital Marketing on Local Business
In September 2018, a milestone was celebrated marking two decades in the industry for an SEO company who have observed the rise and development of digital marketing. This reflection on where the internet and digital advertising stand today, and their potential direction for the future, gives us all a unique insight.
Looking back twenty years ago, amidst growing layoffs in companies like Agilent Technology which was spun-off from Hewlett Packard, many individuals chose to take control of their destiny by launching SEO companies. These ventures turned out to be life-changing decisions as they navigated through uncharted territories in a time when the internet was still young, untapped, and very misunderstood.
Back then, it was Yahoo, Alta Vista, Lycos and Excite leading the way. HotBot, Ask Jeeves, and DogPile were also in contention. Google had just been founded in 1998 but it remained beta until it started gaining significant attention towards the end of that year. Goto.com was a pioneer offering Pay Per Click services before being acquired by Yahoo. Google responded by launching AdWords in 2000.
Despite its promising potential, digital industry faced several obstacles:
(1) Security Concerns: People were initially scared to shop online due to perceived risks associated with online transactions. However, over time we have managed to overcome these fears as is evident from the success of platforms like Amazon.
(2) High Speed Internet: It took concerted efforts to avail fast and affordable internet across most parts of USA. Without high speed Internet connectivity streaming movies or even loading websites like Amazon felt arduous.
(3) Dot Com Boom: The internet was considered sketchy in its early years. The Dot Com Boom further fueled this perception. However, despite these challenges, the internet managed to prevail and gain momentum.
The impact of the internet and digital marketing has been nothing short of a revolution. It has completely disrupted traditional marketing channels such as TV and Print. While businesses like Sears and Toys R Us fell, Amazon rose spectacularly. Newspapers and magazines saw a decline while platforms like YouTube and Google gained prominence. As digital marketing became the primary means to monetize the Internet, its importance for local businesses grew exponentially.
Today, having a professional website is as important as maintaining a clean storefront for local businesses. Often, potential customers discover your website before they step into your store or meet you in person. Thus, paying attention to your online appeal becomes crucial.
Amazon may be considered one of the greatest achievements of the internet era so far. It is remarkable that it has become the 7th largest retailer without having a single physical store front.
So what does the future hold for digital marketing? It will continue to evolve with advancements in internet technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is already being used by Google in their product RankBrain but will soon spread to sectors like finance, retail, automotive among others. AI-powered websites will become smarter and more personalized delivering unique user experiences based on individual preferences and interests.