You can veritably say that when the internet was invented, it soon changed the world, but it wasn’t always the international phenomenon we know it as today. It is important to understand the history of the internet, and how it has effected business to fully utilize it in your marketing. It’s Erik again, here is my take on using the internet for business.
The internet was originally designed as a messaging network between computers at universities to share research. But it wasn’t before (Sir) Tim-Berners Lee developed a network that could be remotely accessed from any node on the network, that the truly expansive, World Wide Web as we know it today was first used. It grew and grew, in 1993 represented 1% of communications, but by 2000 it was already 51%, and then in 2007 it encompassed almost all at 97% (You may be wondering what are the other communications you see shrinking so fast, well before the advent of the internet, the majority of data was communicated through radio, telephone and telegraph, and before that pigeons! How things have changed) The effect on culture, and especially business is very clear when you look at some interesting statistics, for example, 81% of shoppers now conduct research online before making a purchase. Obviously, it is very important to have an internet presence, make sure customers can easily find what they are looking for, and that online reviews are positive. Since the creation of social media, it is now critical as one of the most unique and important ways modern businesses market to their audience.
Did you know advertising on the internet got its start in 1994 when the first banner went live? An example of a vintage ad can be found on this fascinating website dedicated to memorializing what the internet looked like back then, go check it out! Another breakthrough was the advent of Google adwords, allowing ads to be directed to users based on their search habits and common words, never before had advertisements been so accurate in reaching their target audience.
An image of the first ever banner ad – what a difference from today!
There are several important factors at play with online marketing that differentiates it from traditional marketing in addition to how directed ads can be. For one thing, it is much less expensive – to mass produce millions of letters directly mailed to each and every door would be a massive campaign. However, you can type out an email and send it to every contact you have for next to nothing. And that’s the great thing about the internet, anyone can use it, and anyone has the same opportunities as somebody else. Another difference is the speed at which ads can change, and be responded to. Being digital, a banner for example, can be edited and changed, and a customer can respond to it within seconds of seeing it, compare that to seeing a billboard on the side of the highway. Marketing is about first impressions, being able to act on something on impulse is very important.
All of this combines to create very fluid and efficient marketing. Think about this example my friend told me, she recently changed her Facebook profile status from in a relationship, to engaged and the effect was instant. Wedding, jewelry and dress ads starting popping up everywhere! Maybe it’s creepy these corporations can read you so well, but in some cases, it is convenient too.
It seems we are at a crossroads, with the internet being so young it is still to be seen what it’s lasting influence will be. Will net neutrality survive and the internet survive as an oasis of benevolence and opportunity for all? Or will big business own it as the information superhighway of commerce? The internet has the potential to make the world flat again but it can still be used as a tool in a customer centric business world. The internet is simply a new medium to play with, you have the power to create a better future for everyone.
If you’re interested in some of the numbers behind business and the world wide web, check out the amazing list of stats we found on Bargainfox.co.uk