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Marketing Blog


The evolution of digital marketing

Originally published on July 20, 2015. Updated on March 4, 2020.

Back in the 1960s, marketing was relatively straightforward. Let’s be real, you’re probably picturing the orange tones and box pleats of the advertising world featured in the TV show Mad Men, complete with boardroom discussions, concept presentations and an expensive media buy.

The industry was turned on its head with the emergence of the Internet in the 1990s. The past 20 years have seen drastic changes, with advancements in technology and the development of social media. Let’s quickly compare traditional marketing and digital marketing.

From bricks and mortar to online

THEN: Most businesses only had physical locations. This meant it was much more difficult for new customers to find businesses they had never heard of, that is, unless they saw an advertisement somewhere. They couldn’t look up anyone for reviews. And what were you supposed to do when you needed to contact a business? Remember their phone number? Or use a PHONEBOOK? Word of mouth was king and reputation was everything when it came to owning a local market.

NOW: Many modern businesses no longer require physical locations, operating completely online. Many have both. Some have physical locations only. As time passes, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do business the old-fashioned way, because having on online presence means missing out on a huge potential expansion of customers. Customers want convenience and trust. By that, we mean they want to be able to find you easily when they need you, and they want to be able to look you up in advance to make sure you offer exactly what they’re looking for and that you’re reputable.

Having an online presence is critical in 2020. Schedule a free consultation today to talk about your website needs.

From monologue to dialogue

THEN: Marketing was a one-way street, informed by gut-feel and educated guesses. Companies would give snippets of information to potential customers, trying to persuade them to buy or use their products or services. To a large extent, customers were unaware that other options existed. If someone bought a car from Ford, for example, they were likely to continue buying from Ford because that’s what they had used in the past and they knew it to be trustworthy and reliable.

NOW: Engagement is crucial to success in a digital world. Customers feel like they can trust a company that engages with their customers, because that reminds them that they’re dealing with real people. It’s a two-way street, because businesses can utilize the feedback given via the Internet to come up with new ideas and solve problems. Furthermore, positive reviews go a long way to encouraging other potential customers to take the plunge. These are marketing gold.

Read more: 10 tips for optimizing your social media presence

From outbound to inbound

THEN: Traditional marketing focused on the idea of taking your business to your customers. Huge amounts of money and time were invested in buying advertising space on billboards, newspapers and magazines, as well as commercial slots on television and radio. Sales people would cold-call people and go door-knocking to find new business. Essentially, information was forced upon the public, casting a very wide net in the hope of getting a few bites from the right buyers.

NOW: Digital marketing focuses on the idea that customers will find you when they want you. As such, the idea is to make yourself as easy to find as possible. This means an active digital presence, quality content on your website and social media channels and a strong focus on search engine optimization (SEO). Rather than shouting, “buy this!” you can think of it as saying “enjoy this information we’ve provided.” Your content needs to be educational, helpful or funny to build trust with potential customers. A stellar website is key to helping your company reach its potential.

Ready to get started? We are a digital marketing agency based in Anchorage, AK, and Reno, NV. We work with clients all over the United States. Schedule a free consultation!

Next-level digital marketing

Every successful digital marketing strategy requires three basics: a website, a social media presence, and quality content. You can spend as much or as little as you like when it comes to establishing your digital presence and getting started. The most important thing is simply that your business exists online so that potential customers can find you easily.

Here’s how to take your digital marketing strategy to the next level:


Your website sets the foundation for your entire strategy. Good design can lead to stronger connections, more sales leads and a better conversion rate. If you’re transferring to digital from a traditional marketing strategy, it might help to think of it as an online brochure that showcases your products and services and gives customers an idea of what your business is about.

Here are the most important things to keep in mind:

  • Lead generation: Didn’t think you could get a measurable ROI from a website? Yes, you can.
  • Automation: Your website will act as a virtual sales rep, qualifying leads while you sleep.
  • User experience: Guide your prospects on a journey that leads to doing business with you.
  • SEO optimization: Gain more customers because they can find you online when they need you.
  • Mobile optimization: Most web visitors use mobile devices. Use that to your advantage.
  • Multimedia optimization: Videos and graphics create human interactions with customers.
  • Professional appearance: Bring in the right customers by creating the right first impression.

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Social Media

Social media is the best way to connect with the people who want to do business with you. The key is to prioritize genuine customer engagement. There are lots of different theories about how to do this best, but we think it’s simple: remember you’re talking to HUMANS. Lots of companies fall into the “sell, sell, sell” trap, but the truth is that prospective customers are real people with real problems.

Here are some things to consider in developing your strategy:

  • Team brainstorming: Good ideas can come from anywhere, so utilize your full team.
  • Campaign objective: Define a clear and measurable goal for every campaign to stay consistent.
  • Campaign budget: Run your ads at the budget that will receive optimal ROI and save.
  • Target audience: Delivering your message to the right people will make sure they take action.
  • Editorial calendar: Know what’s coming up next in your social media content and promotions.
  • A/B testing: Test your ads and audiences to learn what works and optimize messaging.
  • Creative media: Show people interesting content that encourages them to engage.
  • Reporting: Daily monitoring and regular reporting is critical to success.

Not sure where to start? Learn more about our social media marketing service.

Quality Content

Imagine a world where you’re at the top of every Google search. Sounds good, right? It all comes down to content marketing. Quality content generally comes into two forms: articles and videos. The idea is to create content that is wonderful to consume while being full of keywords that will help you rank on search engines, working hard to flood your business with qualified leads.

Here are the basic concepts you’ll need to get started:

  • Editorial calendar: Make sure you cover your bases and stay inspired for the future.
  • Best practices: Trends and algorithms change, so stay up-to-date with the latest advice.
  • Headlines: Get clicks with headlines that have been approved by a title optimization algorithm.
  • Subject matter experts: Interviews with experts will position you as a thought-leader.
  • Research: Make sure you share good information that is accurate and interesting.
  • SEO: Use keywords, metadata and backlinks to make sure your content ranks in search.
  • Multimedia: Good images and videos go a long way to increasing engagement and trust.
  • Calls to action: Your content needs to create results, so include a strong call to action.

We get it, this is a lot to take in. Learn more about content marketing and video marketing.

To go ahead and get started, book your free consultation today!

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