The Past, Present, and Future of Online Marketing

future ahead

One of the fascinating elements of working in new media is that our tools and capabilities are moving as rapidly as the innovation of hardware, bandwidth and platforms. Many moons ago, while working in the newspaper industry, it was such a challenge to measure or predict response rates on advertisements. We overcompensated every effort by simply throwing more and more numbers at it. The bigger the top of the funnel, the better the bottom.

Database marketing hit and we were able to merge external behavioral, customer and demographic data to better target our efforts. While the work was much more accurate, the time it took to measure the response was grueling. Testing and optimization had to precede the campaigns and delayed the final efforts even further. As well, we depended on coupon codes to accurately track conversion data. Our clients would often see a lift in sales, but not always see the codes utilized so credit wasn’t always provided where it was due.

The current phase of marketing efforts for most corporations nowadays are multi-channel efforts. It proves difficult for marketers to balance the tools and compaigns, learn how to master them, and then measure the cross-channel responses. While marketers recognize that some channels do benefit others, we often disregard the optimal balance and interactivity of the channels. Thank goodness that platforms like Google Analytics offer some multi-channel converson visualization, painting a clear picture of the circular benefits, cross benefits, and saturation benefits of a multi-channel campaign.


It’s exciting to see the largest companies in the space like Microsoft, Salesforce, Oracle, SAP, and Adobe making aggressive purchases of marketing tools within the space. Salesforce and Pardot, for example, are a fantastic combination. It only makes sense that a marketing automation system would utilize CRM data and drive the behavioral data back to it for improved retention and acquisition of customers. As these marketing frameworks begin to seamlessly meld with one another, it’s going to provide a stream of activity that marketers can adjust on the fly to turn up and down the spigot in the channels they wish. That’s very exciting to think about.

We have quite a ways to go, though. Some amazing companies are already aggressively evolving predictive analytics models that will provide accurate data on how a change in one channel will impact overall conversions. Multi-channel, predictive analytics are going to be key to every marketer’s toolkit so they understand what and how to leverage each of the tools within it.

Right now, we still work with many companies that are struggling. While we often share and discuss highly sophisticated campaigns, many companies are still enlisting batch and blast weekly campaigns without personalization, without segmentation, without triggers, and without multi-step, multi-channel drip marketing campaigns. In fact, the majority of companies don’t even have an email that’s easy to read on a mobile device.

I speak about email since it’s the linchpin of every online marketing strategy. If you’re doing search, you need folks to subscribe if they’re not going to convert. If you’re doing content strategies, you need folks to subscribe so that you can get them to return. If you’re doing retention, you need to continue providing value by educating and communicating with your clients. If you’re on social media, you need to receive notifications of engagement. If you’re using video, you need to notify your audience when you publish. I’m still amazed at the number of companies that don’t have an active email strategy.

So where are we? The technology has accelerated and is moving faster than the adoption. Companies continue to focus on filling the funnel instead of recognizing the distinct paths to engagement that customers actually take. Vendors continue to fight for percentages of the marketer’s budget that they may not deserve given the cross-channel impact of their platform. Marketers continue to struggle with the human, technical, and monetary resources they need to succeed.

We’re getting there, though. And the frameworks that the larger corporations are establishing and the likes are going to help us move the needle effectively, efficiently, and faster.


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    In my opinion, I think that businesses should treat every interaction as a point of contact for their audience. Simply put, not all channels are the same and each delivers a different type of experience. The biggest mistake is to post everywhere without a cohesive message or worst, not delivering value that will empower your customers.

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      @seventhman:disqus solid point. Syndication without understanding how and why the user is at the device or screen they are at is not too great. I find that with Twitter and Facebook. Although we publish and promote on each, Facebook is more of conversation while Twitter is more of a bulletin board.

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