From the growth of the World Wide Web to today’s voice-enabled searches, digital marketing has significantly changed over the past few decades.

In this article, you will learn which events set the scene for digital marketing. Moreover, you will discover the trends that dominate the industry in 2021.

The Rise of the Internet

In the 1980s, marketers used computer technologies to improve print marketing. However, they did not understand the full potential of these technologies. The creation of the World Wide Web changed their approach.

The mass adoption of the internet is one of the most prominent events in the marketing world. The World Wide Web project was rolled out by Tim Berners-Lee back in 1991. The first successful mass-marketing browser, Netscape, was launched in 1994. The number of users started growing at a staggering rate. According to statistics, there were 248 million users in 1998, up from 16 million in 1995.

As the digital landscape started evolving, new search engines were born, including Yahoo! (1994) and Google (1997). The launch of Amazon (1994) and eBay (1995) announced the humble beginnings of the online retail landscape.

Back then, digital marketing resources were limited. Email became an efficient outbound marketing tool, joining traditional advertising channels.

With the number of searchers using search engines to seek brands and products, marketers started using early SEO techniques, such as lots of low-quality backlinks and keyword stuffing, to boost rankings.

Google algorithm updates changed how marketers optimize their websites. Today, keyword stuffing does not cut it. Search engines now consider a wide range of factors, such as the quality of backlinks and site Domain Authority, when ranking websites.

Big Data Has Gained Momentum

Over the past few decades, digital information has been rapidly growing. That is not surprising at all, given that the internet and the cloud have replaced physical content materials, such as paper, DVDs, CDs, and film.

Marketers started to understand the importance of Big Data. With the introduction of social networks, such as LinkedIn (2002), Myspace (2003), Facebook (2004), and Twitter (2007), users started sharing more personal information, such as their location, age, gender, education, income, and personal preferences.

With access to this customer information, it is easier for marketers to deliver personalized user experiences. For example, big data allows you to track patterns in human behavior and individualize your campaigns based on them.

AI, VR, and Interactive Content

In the beginning, digital content was promotional. The purpose of short-form (and often spammy) blog articles was to rank high on Google and attract website traffic.

However, customers’ demands have changed. They prioritize content that is valuable, purposeful, and authentic. To address searchers’ needs, Google introduced a series of algorithm updates. It now focuses on user intent, ensuring every searcher is served with quality and relevant content.

Visual Content

From infographics to videos, visuals are an essential element of your content marketing strategy. They engage audiences and make the content easier to digest. Most importantly, they resonate with customers and build trust with them.

For many brands, high-quality website photography is a solid starting point. Big brands like Swarovski and Mac collaborate with Norbert Kniat, a London fashion photographer, to tell their story.

Videos are a perfect storytelling tool, helping you evoke audiences’ emotions and inspire them to take action.

By combining imagery, charts, and minimal text, Infographics provide a clear overview of a topic. They use engaging visuals to help users understand and memorize information faster.

Interactive Content

With the rise of artificial intelligence and virtual reality tools, content has become more interactive. Its goal is to keep audiences actively engaged rather than forcing them to consume content passively.  

Using VR in Content Marketing

Virtual reality and augmented reality help brands minimize the gap between online and offline marketing. Ecommerce brands use these tools to promote their products and build trust with audiences.

Sephora, for example, has developed VR platforms where users can upload their selfies and virtually try on different makeup products.

IKEA Places is another powerful platform, allowing customers to upload photos of their homes and place the brand’s items in their space.

The Mobile-First Era

Smartphones have a major impact on the digital marketing landscape.

Mobile-First Indexing

Having a gorgeous desktop website is not enough. You need to ensure it looks and feels the same across various screen sizes. That is because Google rolled out Mobile-First Indexing, meaning it predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking.

Voice Search

Another trend that has shaken up the digital landscape is the growth of AI-driven voice search. Smartphone users now rely on their voice assistants when performing searches. Therefore, to appeal to these audience groups, digital marketers need to optimize content for voice searches. Voice search optimization includes a wide range of tactics, such as investing in local SEO and targeting natural, long-tail keywords.

Social Networks

Social networks are an opportunity to connect with target audiences on a more personal level.

For example, stories on Facebook and Instagram are an opportunity to appeal to younger audiences, gain their trust, and evoke FOMO.

Shoppable posts are another valuable addition to the digital marketing landscape since 60% of users discover products on Instagram.

Personalized Customer Experiences

Tech-savvy consumers place a big emphasis on personalization. To deliver relevant and targeted user experiences, brands first need to invest in reliable customer relationship management (CRM) solutions.

CRM tools keep customers’ demographic and behavioral data in a central location. They capture their interactions with your brand across various channels and make them visible from a single dashboard.

With this information at their fingertips, marketers can deliver more relevant campaigns. For example, they can break the customer base down into narrower segments based on various criteria, such as their gender, geolocation, age, past purchases, content interests, etc.

Over to You

We do not need to have a crystal ball to predict what the future holds. In 2021, digital marketing has shifted from brand promotion to user-centricity. They help markers increase a strong brand reputation and build long-term relationships with target audiences.

I hope these insights will help you!

About Eve Anderson
I'm a marketing specialist turned blogger. Interested in sports and exciting travel destinations. Love to share content that can inform people.