Four tech trends that transformed noughties digital marketing and why you should care

Rachael Kotadia | Head of Marketing
People sat on a bench looking at their mobiles, laptops and tablets
Marketing trends come and go, but digital marketing is one exception that has dominated traditional formats like TV and print for decades. It became a primary marketing channel for brands because of the rapid pace of tech innovation during the early noughties (2000 - 2010).

Since then, from online ads, podcasts and live streaming, tech trends have helped smart businesses to improve sales, customer loyalty and brand awareness. But in spite of digital marketing’s current popularity, some tools and principles were not readily adopted by cautious marketers.

Here we take a look at how four tech trends changed digital marketing in the noughties, and why their respective pros and cons are still relevant to today’s marketer...


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User Generated Content

User Generated Content (UGC) is a form of content marketing that enables brands to create a personalised bond with their current consumers and reach new customers. The increased popularity of social media platforms has led to the rise of not only influencers, but a wide range of creative user generated content on brands’ own websites and platforms.

Brands like GoPro have been on board since the early days, and its Photo of the Day social media campaign, where it features a customer’s photo every day to prove the qualities of the camera has been a success since launch. The public vote for their favorite photo on the company’s website also drives engagement and incentivises other customers to send in their photos.

A study found that 84% of millennials said that UGC on company websites have at least some influence on what they buy. This suggests that UGC could be an effective format to drive with younger audiences from social platforms to your own website.

In addition to the advantages of reaching younger demographics, UGC can also help to build online brand awareness where sales aren’t the only marketing objective. As more companies strive for their marketing content to go viral, UGC enables marketers to engage with their customers at scale, but on a more nuanced, personalised level.

This is because the featured customer becomes a trusted collaborator and curator of stories that persuasively convey the brand’s message and identity to fellow customers.

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Search Marketing

Search Marketing is a tactic used to gain online presence and traffic via paid and unpaid strategies on search engines such as Google or Bing. Search engines like Yahoo! (1994) and Google (1997) were launched in the nineties, but it was in the early noughties when businesses realised it was crucial to be seen by the millions of online consumers using search engines to find a product or a service.

This led to the popularity of the two main branches of search marketing: SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) - gaining search engine listings via unpaid tactics - and PPC (Pay-per-click or paid advertising) - gaining search engine listings via paid tactics.

Today, the popularity of mobile and voice services like Amazon's Alexa suggests that search marketing is moving away from search engines and to voice search. According to Google, mobile searches are over 50% [of total searches].

Within this figure, voice searches currently make up 20% of mobile searches, which shows that it is only a matter of time before voice activated search and advertising becomes the norm.

Although voice search is a recent trend, the sheer numbers of consumers who enjoy the ease of using the technology on their mobiles or home smart speaker devices means there's a higher chance of customers accessing your content marketing material via voice search in 2020.

This means that digital content teams will have to alter their content strategies to ensure that it is fit for purpose. The tone, clarity and personality of brand messages must still translate/resonate over voice devices and deliver a meaningful customer experience. 

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Data Analytics

Leading brands across all sectors have proved that combining data analytics and marketing automation delivers success. All industries have combined behavioral analytics to serve up the right offer or message at the right time based on specific customer behaviors for years.

However, before the value of data driven insights to drive future consumer trends was understood, businesses mainly used data to retrospectively analyse campaigns, often with performance metrics in mind.

The spectre of GDPR compliance finally propelled some businesses to make sense of the data they already had. During this exercise, many found that it went beyond basic demographics.

The data included consumers' online and offline behaviours, geographical location or purchasing history. The realisation that they already had access to this wealth of information allowed brands to further customise messages across channels, even down to the household level.

Data analytics can be used across all areas of marketing, but the crucial next step that makes this approach successful is doing more than just gathering data. The information needs to be meaningful enough to improve personalisation in marketing campaigns. This process can be pushed even further after brands have uncovered all the data - and create their own Single Customer Views (SCVs).

The future looks bright for data analytics, as it becomes more likely that it will involve using AI and machine learning to enhance data even further. Innovative marketers like many of our clients are already predicting their customers' future behaviours and reacting to them strategies that strengthen customer relationships.

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Social Media

Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn launched early in the 2000s, but it took several years before they amassed large user bases that made them viable as potential marketing tools (Facebook didn’t even open to everyone over the age of 13 until 2006).

As time passed and more and more people signed up, marketers began to see these spaces as opportunities for engaging new audiences (especially a younger demographic.) Before ads and business pages and complex display networks, marketers had to learn what worked by trial and error in these spaces.

In the early days of these platforms, there were no algorithms that limited a brand’s reach or exposure, so there was an opportunity to reach target audiences for free (with organic traction)

Social media can provide a way to thoughtfully connect with consumers in these uncertain times. By tracking the engagement levels and performance of posts, brands will be able to map out what kind of content that their consumers prefer to receive at such times.

The Ecommerce element of social media is now more important than ever. Before, it was just a posting channel and most marketers didn’t know about its true potential for targeting audiences at scale. Now, more businesses are utilising social to segment audiences.

And let’s not forget that social media also delivers great results within a multi-channel marketing strategy. This can be achieved by expanding outside of your traditional subscriber base and engaging with those customers on social media.

You can then utilise your current customer base to then find lookalikes on social that match what your best customers look like for more effective targeting.
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