HomeResourcesThe evolution of Digital Marketing: 25 years in review

The evolution of Digital Marketing: 25 years in review

21st September 2022 - 8 mins


By Charlotte Symcox

, Content Marketing Executive

It’s hard to believe that just twenty-five years ago, only a fraction of the world’s population had access to the internet. And of those who did, even fewer used it for anything more than email and simple web browsing.

Today, there are over five billion internet users around the globe — and that number is only going to continue to grow.
With such a vast and ever-evolving audience, it’s no wonder that businesses have increasingly turned to the web to reach new customers.
But the internet is a very different place than it was even a decade ago. And as the landscape has changed, so too has the way businesses market themselves online.
The indisputable fact is that the digital marketing terrain has undergone a massive transformation in just a quarter of a century—and Red Eye has been there to see it all.
From the early days of email marketing and banner ads to big data, artificial intelligence, and marketing automation, we’ve seen firsthand how the industry has changed and evolved.
And we’re so proud to have been at the forefront of many of those transformations, helping our clients stay ahead of the curve and adapt to the ever-changing landscape.
As our 25th anniversary is just around the corner, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to look back at the evolution of digital marketing.
So, join us on a journey through time as we explore how digital marketing has altered—and what the future might hold.

The Early Days: Email Marketing and Simple Web Browsing

When the internet first began to enter mainstream use in the early 1990s, businesses were quick to cotton on to its potential as a marketing tool.
One of the earliest and most popular forms of digital marketing was email marketing, which allowed businesses to send mass-produced messages directly to their customers’ inboxes.
Of course, email marketing has come a long way since those early days. Thanks to advances in marketing automation software, businesses can now send highly targeted and personalised email campaigns that are far more likely to result in conversions.
Alongside email marketing, the early days of digital marketing were also characterised by simple web browsing.
 The world’s first website was created in 1991, and within a few years, businesses began to develop their own sites as a way to reach a wider audience.
However, these early websites were typically little more than digital brochures, providing basic information about a company’s products or services.
Old BBC style computersNowadays, businesses recognise that their website is one of the most critical tools in their digital marketing arsenal.
A well-designed and optimised site can be the key to generating leads and boosting sales – and thanks to the rise of mobile browsing, it’s more important than ever before to ensure that your site is responsive and user-friendly.
The late 1990s were fantastic for RedEye. In 1998, Redeye was the first to introduce the power of behavioural data. It revolutionised post-click-through banner activity, enabling a marketer to measure a customer’s full range of online activities.
Back then, this was a pretty big deal. Hence, we can say that we have been data-driven from the very beginning.

The Rise of Social Media Marketing

The mid-2000s saw the advent of social media, and with it, a whole new world of marketing opportunities for businesses.
Social media platforms like Facebook, MySpace and YouTube changed how people communicate and interact with one another – and as more and more people joined these platforms, businesses began to recognise their potential as a marketing tool.
In the early days of social media marketing, most businesses simply used these platforms as a way to broadcast their messages to a broader audience. However, it quickly became apparent that social media could be used for much more than just broadcasting.
Thanks to the two-way nature of social media, businesses were able to build relationships with their customers and create a dialogue that was not possible before.
Think back to the last time you interacted with a brand on social media. Chances are, it wasn’t just a one-way conversation—you were able to give your feedback and engage with the company in a meaningful way.
This is the power of social media marketing, and it’s something that some businesses have only just begun to scratch the surface of.
Back in 2007, RedEye began adapting to the mobile revolution. Seeing the development of customer engagement with brands on smartphones, we became one of the first to create mobile-friendly emails and enable a marketer to track customer interactions across devices.
This meant that marketers could see the full customer journey and understand how their engagement differed on each device.
Again, we were one of the first marketing automation software companies to truly adopt mobile-first — an approach that is now more important than ever, given the increasing popularity of mobile devices.
Playing pong on old computer

The Wild West of Digital Marketing

The late 2000s and early 2010s saw the rise of another essential digital marketing tool: search engine optimisation, or SEO.
The basic premise of SEO is simple: by optimising your website for Google’s algorithms, you can make it more likely to appear at the top of the search results for relevant keywords.
Well, the internet took this, and ran with it. And we mean literally ran with it. What started out as a simple way to improve your website’s visibility quickly morphed into a complex and often confusing world of backlinks, keywords and Google penalties.
To make matters worse, the SEO landscape is constantly changing, with Google regularly tweaking its algorithms in an attempt to stamp out black-hat practices.
People began to keyword stuff their articles, filling them with so many keywords that they became difficult to read. Others bought backlinks from dodgy websites in an attempt to game the system.
As a result of all this, SEO quickly became one of the most controversial and polarising topics in digital marketing.
Now, don’t get us wrong — SEO is still an important part of digital marketing, and it’s definitely something that you should be paying attention to. After all, appearing at the top of the search results is a surefire way to boost your website’s traffic.
However, it’s important to approach SEO with caution, and to make sure that you’re using ethical practices that will stand the test of time. Only then can you be sure that your website will still be ranking high in the years to come.
Brain and laptop

The Present Day: Data-Driven Marketing and Personalisation

Ah, the present day. Marketing in the here and now is a far cry from the days of print ads and TV commercials.
Thanks to advancements in technology, we now live in a world where marketing is more data-driven than ever before—and personalisation is the name of the game.
Data-driven marketing is all about using customer data to make informed decisions about your marketing strategy.
By analysing your customer’s behaviour, you can gain valuable insights into what they want and need – and then use this information to create more targeted, personalised campaigns that are more likely to resonate with them.
Data-driven marketing is particularly important in the current climate, as businesses need to be able to adapt their campaigns quickly to respond to changes in customer behaviour.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a dramatic increase in online shopping, for example, and businesses that are able to react quickly to this shift will be the ones that succeed.
At RedEye, we believe that data-driven marketing should be at the heart of every campaign. That’s why in 2021, our Customer Intelligence suite began to enable clients to not only see campaign performance, but even more insights into the customers powering the brands we know and love.
We understood that for brands to grow and scale, they needed more granular insights, so the launch of our Customer Intelligence suite helped provide just that.

Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality

Of course, we can’t end this blog post without mentioning two of the most exciting advancements in marketing: artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR).
Artificial intelligence is already starting to change how businesses operate, and it’s set to significantly impact marketing in the years to come.
AI can be used for tasks like predictive analysis, which can help businesses to anticipate changes in customer behaviour and adjust their campaigns accordingly. AI can also be used for personalisation, as it can help businesses to create targeted campaigns that are more likely to resonate with their customers.
Augmented reality is another exciting technology starting to change how businesses operate. AR allows businesses to overlay digital information in the real world, and companies are already using it to create beautiful, immersive customer experiences.
AR is still in its early stages, but it has enormous marketing potential. We expect to see more and more businesses using AR in their campaigns in the coming years, as it’s a great way to make your brand stand out from the competition.
2018 saw the start of the AI evolution at RedEye. We began extracting value from big data through our AI and ML predictive model suite that utilises a brand’s data to predict customer behaviour. Today, it’s one of the most comprehensive suites in the market, offering models across all stages of the life cycle, including acquisition, repeat purchases, preventing churn, recognising a VIP and many more.
We mention all this not to brag (okay, maybe a little) but to show that we understand the power of big data and how it can be used to drive marketing campaigns.
We also understand that not all businesses have the same needs when it comes to big data, which is why it’s so crucial to have a flexible platform that can be customised to your specific requirements.
AI generated face from pixels

Marketing in the 2020s: The Future is Bright

Digital marketing is evolving at a rapid pace, and the next few years are set to be even more exciting than the last.
We can’t wait to see what the future holds for marketing, and we’re looking forward to helping our customers stay ahead of the curve.
Are you interested in learning how RedEye can help take your marketing campaigns to the next level? If you’re looking for a marketing automation platform that can support you in creating data-driven campaigns, RedEye is the perfect solution. Our platform is flexible and customisable, so we can tailor it to your specific needs.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can introduce data-driven marketing into your campaigns—we obviously know a thing or two about it. ;-)
What trends do you think will shape marketing in the 2020s? Let us know in the comments below! And don’t forget to wish us a happy 25th birthday on social media using the hashtag #RedEye25.
We’ll be sure to give you a shout-out!

Enjoyed this article? Sign-up to receive updates

About the author

Charlotte Symcox
Charlotte Symcox Content Marketing Executive
Charlotte is our Marketing Executive and RedEye’s content creator. Working across multiple platforms to create engaging and data-led campaigns.

Start driving more intelligent marketing automation today

Request a call and one of our friendly experts will be in touch to find out a little more about your business and its challenges. We’ll show you how RedEye can help you achieve your marketing goals.

It looks like you’re using Internet Explorer, which is no longer supported. You might experience issues, please click here to use chrome or here to use Firefox.
Close Bitnami banner