So, this happened today...
After 25 years in the industry I finally became a Fellow of the CIM. One of the highest accolades in the industry.
Over the last 20 years, and maybe a few more before those, I have been focused on digital marketing. Now I have made it my mission to improve Digital Marketing Apprenticeships across Manchester and the North West. So, it got me thinking what has changed over the last 25 years, sorry I mean 20.
To start off I went to university in Liverpool and studied Technology Management back in 1994. This course was meant to be at the forefront of new technologies and the management of them. My first introduction to the course was by the facility head who explained how the university. He saw the future of technology, not once did he mention the internet. Back then it wasn’t really around it had only just become something useful on the horizon, we didn't even have email addresses.
In my final year there was a module introduced called HTML for business which was a course on HTML coding a very basic website. This is where I got the bug for web. I knew from that moment that it was something I wanted to get into. I didn't think my whole career would be focused around it.
So after leaving university I spent a year and half trying to find an allusive job in web development. It was only in 1999 that the explosion suddenly happened. People started to work in search, businesses started to focus on digital.
The millennium bug. This was the start of PPC for me where companies realised through the likes of eSpotting and overtures. They could generate great positions on search engines and for a fraction of the cost. I wish it was that easy today. Advertising all of our PPC ads in one place. We had 1000s of keywords advertised across 100s of top search engines that were the Googles of their day. In fact Google wasn’t even on the horizon then. Back then I was head of ecommerce at the Co-operative Group and their focus was on digital supporting offline marketing and getting footfall into stores we were still spending millions on maildrops vs pounds on emails.
The kings on the street back then were Yahoo, Geocities, Lycos, Ask Jeeves and AOL. Also big back in the day was teletext I had a whole team posting adverts for holidays on teletext. Yes we were those people posting the holidays that if you were a millisecond too late you had to wait for it come back round.
However Digital was still playing second fiddle to traditional marketing methods. I had stand offs in marketing budget meetings trying to get people to invest more into this new form of marketing, my time would come.
Mid 2000s. This was the rise and dominance of Google. From the early 2000’s Google had just taken over the world. I remember paying £30k per year for WebTrends which was a website analytics tool. When Google bought Urchin and said hey we will give this for free, and for life, it was like hell ye lets get on. Every year they came out with ground breaking tools like Google Maps, Google Earth and Gmail and the best bit it was all free to the end user but gave advertisers the ability to target consumers with more accuracy.
Digital marketing back then comprised of how much could you spend as it was much cheaper than other offline forms. What was more I could prove what I spent and what I earnt. I remember sitting in management meetings with my offline marketing colleagues who were reporting for the £1.2m quarterly spend they were returning £8m of sales (finger in the air sort of proof). The digital team was spending £400k and getting back £5.5m and whats more I could prove it was actually happening. Management were finally sitting up and listening, the tide was turning.
Mid to late 2000’s. When Google bought Youtube I scratched my head into why. It now makes total sense but back then why would they pay so much for a 30 second personal video upload site.
However, the big change at this time was social media. I still remember the day when I first saw the source of Facebook on my Google analytics. I was instantly drawn to the name, what the hell was TheFacebook, I was asking until a young recent graduate said it was the new social media site. Back then TheFacebook was based on regions or universities so you could only sign up to the regional facebook. For me it was the Manchester group. Before TheFacebook came the sexiest FaceMash where uni kids could match photos of against each other girls and pick the prettiest looking, imagine Facebook that today!
However, along with Bebo it was Myspace that shook the market up It was the first network that got all my friends hooked but I don’t know why.
With Social media and sites like Tripadvisor the power went back to the consumer. For the first time they had access to the heart of a business. We had to rethink how we all worked with customers. The true value of a happy customer came to the forefront of everything.
Early 2000s to now. Digital was now the main focus for most businesses, not all but most. Digital marketing teams were being created and the in house focus was key. My original degree at Liverpool was renamed the e-business degree. How far had that come in just over 10 years when the Internet was never mentioned to it now being the sole focus.
For me content was now king, buying links (ssh no one ever did that) was a no go. Earn visitors not buy them was the focus. This drove creativity, along with blogging, so again it was what was on the site that mattered again.
Also what impacted my world was marketing automation. It was a passion of mine from 2009 and it revolutionised the way my sales team internally interacted with the marketing team. It was the first time that they were banging on my door asking when the next campaign was being sent.
Today we are dominated by key players in most markets but three things are important
2) Customer satisfaction
and most important
Loyalty isn’t as important anymore but engage them and especially with focused marketing on their needs and they will return. But above all even if it is not profitable keep them happy as they will shout loudest when you do the right thing.
A lot has changed over time but one thing is true marketing will never be the same since the Internet revolutionised the world