The Evolution of Digital Marketing and Its Impact on Local Retail

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The Evolution of Digital Marketing and Its Impact on Local Retail

In 2018, we recognized the 20th anniversary of our origins as a digital marketing entity. Over these two decades, we've seen the rise and evolution of digital marketing. This piece offers some reflections on where the internet and digital advertising are today and how it's shaping our local retail landscape.

Twenty years ago, I made a huge career turn. Surrounded by layoffs in my previous job at a tech company, I decided to take control of my destiny and venture into digital marketing. It was the best decision I ever made.

Back then, SEO was not a term in people's vocabulary. We didn’t even have an industry description to file insurance paperwork under. Skilled workers were hard to find, broadband was underdeveloped, and the concept of "Googling" didn't exist yet - Facebook was still six years away from its inception! The internet was young, uncharted territory but I saw potential in this "digital" frontier.

Digital Marketing Changed the WorldIn those early days, Yahoo, Alta Vista, Lycos and Excite were our primary resources for information gathering. Google had launched but remained in beta mode till it began gaining some traction during 1998-1999. Around this time introduced Pay Per Click which later evolved into Overture before being acquired by Yahoo. Google followed suit with AdWords in 2000.

The journey of digital industry has had its share of obstacles:

(1) Security Concerns: Initially people were apprehensive about online shopping due to potential security breaches but gradually they warmed up to it as demonstrated by Amazon’s success story.

(2) High Speed Internet: Ensuring fast and affordable internet connectivity across most parts of the USA was a significant hurdle. Without it, features like movie streaming or smartphone use would not be possible.

(3) Dot Com Boom: The internet's reputation took a hit during this time as many innovators and investors backed out, further stalling development and adoption.

Despite these challenges, the digital revolution was unstoppable. The internet and digital marketing made its mark as a game-changing player, revolutionizing traditional marketing methods. As the likes of Amazon have flourished, others such as Sears and Toys R Us unfortunately faded away. Digital platforms have seen exponential growth while traditional newspapers and magazines have struggled to keep up.

As we adapt to the internet-driven world, digital marketing has turned out to be an essential tool for monetization. Your online presence is crucial for your business; a professionally designed website serves not just as an online storefront but also the first line of customer interaction even before they step into your physical store.

While Amazon represents one of the biggest successes of the digital age without operating any physical storefronts, there are innumerable local businesses that are also successfully leveraging digital marketing strategies to augment their operations.

Looking ahead, the future of digital marketing lies with AI. Google has already incorporated AI into their product RankBrain which is greatly influencing search results. This technology will soon permeate other sectors as well offering unbeatable convenience in terms of personalized customer experiences. These websites will literally rearrange themselves based on individual preferences offering unique experiences to every user - something which brick-and-mortar stores might find challenging to implement.