By Justine Bromley
My great Grandfather, we called him Pake (pronouced: Pack-a), used to tell us stories of what life was like when he was growing up. He was born in 1910; lived to be 100 years old. It always amazed me how much he lived through. Pake would recount when people started using cars more often than horse and wagon. He remembered when machines became more readily used than other means of farming. He even saw the invention of air travel and the internet. My Pake and the older generations watched as technology shaped and formed the world that the rest of us are more familiar with. They had a willingness to learn and adapt with society through these changes, including when the internet was introduced in 1983.
I remember when dial up was introduced; but now internet usage is exponentially greater than when it first started booming when Wi-Fi was born in 1997. Today, global usage is up to 59.5%; 4.66 billion active users worldwide. At the click of a button, almost everything is readily available. No more grocery store line ups or TV commercials taking up your time. One can book a trip instead of using an in-person travel agent; video games could be played right on the computer at home instead of at the arcade down the street; and electronic mail could be sent instead of buying stamps and posting mail at the post office, the way our grandparents did.
With the increase of internet usage, marketing needed to adapt and evolve; just like the older generation. During the Covid-19 lock downs, many people turned to technology to aid in visiting with friends and family (aren’t you glad zoom hang outs are a thing of the past?), work from home, and even do their regular grocery shopping (I love the invention of click-and-collect!). With the increased use of the internet came a much higher demand for companies to use targeted digital marketing. Customizing how marketing reaches potential clients. Somehow I suspect that if this trend had been able to function in the day of my Pake, I’m not sure it would have succeeded in the same way. However, younger generations are so plugged in; speakers, phones, and smart watches are listening all the time; it has become normal and convenient to send signals to these digital marketers who then send the ads and information directly. More and more over the last few years, digital marketing has been the direct link – just a click away – to accessing a company or product instead of just encouraging people to visit the brick and mortar store.
As a consumer, I’ve noticed content-based marketing where ads are starting to appear like another TikTok video, or Instagram story. Direct marketing has become far more widely used. I don’t know about you, but even my friends are selling products directly to consumers, filling Facebook feeds, Instagram posts, Reels and TikTok with catchy songs and cute videos that grab attention. It’s likely in the best interest of digital marketers to approach their consumers in a similar way. Creating content that is more immersive with regular browsing habits so potential customers are not interrupted as frequently with pop-ups or click trap style marketing; already becoming a thing of the past. Unfortunately, the increase in internet usage, will leave some, who are reluctant to conform, behind. As for others, who are willing to adapt, like my Pake; with society evolving, they will find definite benefits for modifying habits to fit these changes. I realized this as I was chatting with a realtor friend, who advertises homes on his social media, was explaining his experience with digital marketing. He posted a teaser, an up and coming listing; not yet on the market. Another realtor, who followed him, had contacted him; seen the property with her clients; and made an offer before the property was even officially listed. Two other, older realtors, who do not have social media accounts, had very disappointed clients when they discovered this property was already conditionally sold before they even had a chance to see it.
Social media is – and will continue to be – an incredible source for digital marketing. I predict this trend only continues to increase in value. Friends of mine and I agreed that there will be more emphasis on interactions with the organization or company. The marketing team might use polls, likes or comments on social media to increase visibility and produce organic traffic to their sites. Likely, the need for the business to become more approachable and genuine and humorous, in the absence of the physical presence will continue to increase over time. Especially coming out of a pandemic, where many interactions with others were at arm’s length; people are craving more meaningful interactions. If a company can provide an experience that feels infused with personality, and is funny, significant and genuine, I have a feeling more people will be interested in making purchases there.
It blows my mind how far the digital world has come, especially how humans consume advertisements and information. Have you ever taken the time to reflect on where things were when you were young? Like how vastly different things were prior to the internet, like my Pake’s childhood? Or maybe you remember using dial up, like I do? Marketing has come such a long way, and I think it will continue growing and trending as internet use continues to increase. But, I think the speed at which it has grown won’t be quite as explosive as the last decade. Marketing will change and morph as people adapt to how they absorb information. Individuals are becoming increasingly more self-aware and in-tune with ways they don’t appreciate being targeted. So, digital marketing companies will need to get really creative and adjust how they approach each group of consumers; tailoring their methods to consumer’s preferences. Becoming more personable and relatable very well could be the quickest way to see success with reaching consumers in a digital world.