The Evolution of Digital Marketing: Part 1

Ashton College
3 min readMar 30, 2022

Digital Marketing has forever changed the way we promote products and services. According to the Digital Marketing Institute, “Digital Marketing is the use of digital channels to promote or market products and services to targeted consumers and businesses.”

Until the advent of data tracking technology brought on by the digital age, marketing specialists were limited to what was conventionally understood about the psychology of consumer behaviour. The internet brought privacy to the consumer, who could now browse and buy from home. The data analysis that this allowed has brought a deeper understanding of effective marketing practices. We are going to look at some of these practices and what they mean for digital marketing today.

The Pillars of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing specialists employ these ‘pillars’, tried and tested ways to get their products in front of the right audience:

  • Websites: a home for a product/service
  • Email Marketing: bring your product/service to your audience’s inboxes
  • Social Media: a dedicated account page with additional advertising opportunities
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM): marketing practice that employs the use of paid advertisements
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): practicing SEO optimization for higher Google ranking

Digital marketing training is essential for those wanting to learn best practices; it’s a constantly evolving field, and a formal qualification like our Digital Marketing Certificate provides a foundation of valuable skills, the exchange of ideas and practices, and relevant contacts for those wishing to make inroads in this growing field. There’s also an option to take individual digital marketing courses.

Examples of Effective Digital Marketing Campaigns

The demands of an audience engaging through social media mean that marketing campaigns have had to get increasingly creative with their strategies. This 2021 list of 11 outstanding campaigns demonstrates a range of approaches for engaging with consumers.

Digital Marketing History: Some Highlights

As this timeline shows, the term digital marketing was first used in 1990, the first clickable banner was made in 1993, by 1994 Yahoo had launched and by 2000 the Internet bubble had burst, leaving a few key players. MSN, Yahoo and Google competed for users as computers became a more ubiquitous presence in the home. Internet advertising in the United States brought in just under 3 billion dollars in 2004. It was increasingly clear that the internet was the future of global business.

These advances in general internet services (search engines, email, companies building a web presence) were further aided by the advent of social media. Myspace, followed by Facebook, were the pioneers in this field. Posting online became an increasingly popular activity, generating a consumer space that could be populated by companies who understood the marketing opportunities of an expanding internet.

In 2014, mobile overtook PC internet use, and this shift in device-type has also affected the digital marketing world. Social media exploded with smartphone usage, and as apps like Instagram and Twitter grow in popularity, digital marketing has grown and evolved in conjunction with these platforms.

A Fresh Look at Consumer Behaviour

So, how has this new digital age affected marketing strategy? Until the 1990s, traditional marketing was limited by available data from studies, or sales data. It was difficult to get into the subconscious of a prospective buyer, to understand more about their true needs, habits, and desires versus what they might say if asked, or what could be assumed about them.

Current data analysis software allows us to track not only what has been purchased, but additional data such as page views, geographic reach, the background of the consumer, which products they viewed in comparison, or time spent viewing the product. These are just a few examples of data points that help product developers and marketing strategists to better find and provide for their customers. Digital marketing is a fascinating field, with abundant opportunities for career development.

Written by Nicole Durocher