Iterate or Die: Digital Marketing and the Internet

Digital marketing is a luxury. Sure, we’re not going to get the glory of the most-talked-about Super Bowl spot, but we’re also not poring over printer’s proofs and staying up all night running press checks. We’re up late coding and watching web data come in. Digital marketing is a luxury because — with apologies to Delphic Digital’s tagline — we can build, market and optimize our client’s key messaging with astounding turnaround.

Our digital marketing practice succeeds through iteration. It’s all about the data, so it’s not enough just to review data and adjust a marketing campaign just once. Testing exposes weaknesses so we can take advantage of them to improve KPIs. Digital marketers are swimming in a space that never sits still; the digital experience is constantly evolving, as are our customers’ interactions. And so must the digital marketing strategies we share with clients.

We now have an entire generation of digital natives that expect to connect and interact directly with their favorite brands online. The little boy who softened Mean Joe Green with a Coke might today find Wheat Thins knocking at the door after he mentioned his favorite cracker in a Tweet. Consumers are still sharing favorite products — it just looks, and tastes, very different.

Beginnings of Digital Marketing

The dot com era began the democratization of the Internet. While most of us were logging into chatrooms or beginning to understand web searching through Netscape and AltaVista, companies and individuals began recognizing the opportunity in carving out a space to claim their respective identities. Marketing soon followed — throw your 2013 best practices knowledge out the window and take a look at what Gizmodo claims is the first Internet banner ad. Digital marketing has come a long way in 20 years. Thankfully.

From Outbound to Inbound Marketing

Traditional marketing now serves as a complement to digital or inbound marketing. Television, radio and magazine ads all feature a digital call to action — and probably more than one. Instead of going door to door to sell vacuums, Avon, magazines, and candy bars, companies now reach us on Facebook and Twitter.

Digital marketing allows companies to engage directly with customers, which reveals incredible amounts of data about consumer profiles and behavior. And customers are happily giving this information away every time they view a product online, click a banner ad, open an email, “Like” a company on Facebook, write a blog post or use a hashtag.

How Did Broadband Internet, WiFi, Phone Web Access Influence Digital Marketing?

Two words: speed and access.

With DSL, Cable and Fiber-Optics broadband internet services came a speed upgrade that eclipsed dial-up connections. Marketers could reach our computers and cellphones with more complex video advertising data files that weren’t possible with dial-up.

WiFi (and laptops) then untethered us from our desktops and allowed us to browse the internet from cafes, airports, schools, and even public outdoor spaces. For the convenience of browsing the internet when and where they want, businesses quickly learned that customers are willing to log-in, accept terms and services, and share information.

In 2013, smartphones finally overtook worldwide sales of feature phones. With a smartphone in hand, users are never more than a few clicks away from answering emails, shopping, watching videos and staying connected with friends. Digital marketing evolved yet again, to include smartphone apps designed especially for the mobile interface, although this “suburbanization” of the web may be disappearing as more sites adopt responsive design. Many “feature-lite” apps are available for free with ads. As the saying goes, “if you’re not paying for the service, you’re the product.”

Keyword Targeted Advertising

Until robots learn to buy goods and products online, humans will still be #1 target consumers. They’re just not always the only ones marketers communicate to.

In 1996, the head of online marketing for InterZine Productions made a suggestion to a Yahoo’s sales agent about creating ads around keywords. He connected consumer search behavior with an opportunity to make online advertising more successful and powerful through the phrases entered into search engines. Hello, keyword based marketing.

Digital marketing content now must serve two audiences: the consumer who buys, and the search engine crawler that helps the consumer find your content. By targeting specific keywords, you’re not only helping consumers find you, you’re helping the right consumers find you. People are mistaken if they believe that content is about keywords rather than relativity and excitement. Above all, interesting content floats to the top, both for users and search engines.

Digital Marketing Makes, the World Takes

Digital marketing has created a global marketplace You only need an Internet connection to buy art from Spain, watch a Bollywood film, help support a charity in Uganda, though the exchange is much deeper than just currency for a good or service — the smart marketer is also paying attention to how you found them, what else you’re interested in, and drawing you back. Thanks to digital marketing, and the prevalence of consumers’ online lives, marketers have more information than ever to inspire the next hit advertisement. Except now it’s also likely to be measured in impressions, likes, shares or Retweets.

What’s the next iteration of digital marketing and the Internet? We’re excited to find out.


Katie Sweeney is a freelance copywriter at Delphic Digital who abuses exclamation points in her nonprofessional communications. 

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