it wasn’t always this way. We at Local Blitz Marketing have researched the explosive evolution in digital marketing technology, and have explored the factors, companies, and innovations that fueled it.
The 1980’s: The Beginning
The beginnings of digital marketing technology can be traced back to the 1980s, when computers became sophisticated enough to store huge volumes of customer information. This shift in technology corresponded with a shift in mindset from pushing product to “relationship marketing,” which prioritized customer interactions. Marketers abandoned their limited offline techniques, such as list brokering, in favor of database marketing. By 1986, a contact and customer management company introduced the first database marketing software to the business world. Which was essentially a digital Rolodex, only it could store a much higher volume of customer contact information. The digital databases of the 1980’s transformed buyer-seller relationships. It allowed brands to track their consumers like never before. The process was still a manual one however. The popularity of personal computers and the creation of server/client framework at the turn of the decade paved the way for an explosive growth in revolutionary marketing technology in the 1990’s.
CRM software is a system for tracking interactions with current and future customers, exploded in the 1990s. In it’s earliest form, CRM, during the 90’s, called Sales Force Automation (SFA) automated the features of database marketing. This included interaction tracking and inventory control, providing companies with more useful customer information. CRM went through a massive overhaul in the late 1990’s when larger volume vendors entered the market. This competition compelled vendors to expand their services to include marketing, sales and, and service applications.
In 1999, the CRM landscape was congested and was downsized significantly due to a number of high-value buy-outs. With the birth of the Internet, came the creation of eCRM vendors, which allowed marketers to support vast amounts of customer data online. With this advanced new technology came new challenges. Marketers quickly discovered that they were data rich and information poor. They could track and store a lot of customer information, but didn’t have the support to make sense of it all. That trend changed in 1999 with the birth of the first Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company, Salesforce.com. Salesforce was the first company to deliver business applications from a website, now commonly called “cloud computing.” This web-centric model served as the blueprint for the future of marketing technology.
Over the past decade, consumers have transformed from being “tech-savvy to tech-dependent.” As a result, they expect a seamless user experience from brands across every device and every digital channel. This expectation has prompted both a diversification of marketing technology and a consolidation of it. Big corporations like Adobe, Oracle, IBM, and Google have acquired hundreds of smaller technology companies in a race to become the most comprehensive solution. Although that has not deterred new marketing technology companies to continue to flood the space every day. Serving the younger subcategories of video, social, search, paid ads, influencer marketing, content management, etc. Currently, the diversification rate far-surpasses the consolidation rate.
In just three years, the number of marketing technology vendors has grown from 100 to over 1,800. Marketers are now plagued with a paradox of choice. Despite the plethora of solutions at their disposal, they’re more stumped than ever over what tools to incorporate into their marketing technology stack, why they’re important, and how to organize around technology to deliver meaningful results. Many marketers make their decisions based on the technologies they have already invested in. With these marketing issues, Integration has emerged as the most desirable feature of marketing technology. According to research by leading marketing research companies, 96% of marketers said that a fully integrated marketing technology would have a positive effect on their goals, and 88% said it was crucial to helping them continue to innovate.
Products marketed digitally are available to customers at all times. Statistics collected by the Marketingtechblog for 2014 showed that social media interaction is the top online activity in the United States. The average American spends 40 minutes a day on social media. 99% of digital marketers use Facebook to market, 97% use Twitter, 70% use Google+, 69% use Pinterest and 59% use Instagram. 67% of Twitter users are far more likely to buy from brands that they follow on Twitter. 83.8% of luxury brands have a presence on Pinterest. The top three social networking sites used by marketers are LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. With this information, it’s easy to see why digital marketing has grown so rapidly over the past few decades. With the rise of smartphones and mobile technology improving every day, businesses need to accept that the future is digital marketing and they need marketers who know how to navigate the ever-changing marketing world.