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How Digital Marketing Changed In the Last 10 Years

Digital marketing

In 2010, everything was much simpler. There were only a few smartphones available, and all you had to do to make a decision was open a couple of websites. Fast forward to 2020, and you have thousands of choices and sites about any given product.

The digital space has evolved to the point where potential customers assess your brand based on your website and your digital marketing efforts. You can bet that they know all about your company way before they even contact you.

Over the past decade, the digital marketing industry has had to keep up with technology and people’s relationships with devices. So, without further ado, let’s discuss exactly how and why digital marketing has changed in the last ten years.

Growth of Social Media Platforms

smartphone with social media apps

Only ten years ago, social media was less complicated. Sponsored posts were not that common, and the term ‘social media influencer’ was not coined yet.

But, in just a decade, it went from a place where you can contact your friends and relatives, to a media outlet where we can brand ourselves and our businesses.

From Facebook’s ‘poking’, we went to posting a series of memes and stories on our feeds. The influence of social media began to compromise elections and has wholly transformed our communication and our concerns regarding online privacy.

Without further ado, let’s look back at the significant social media networks and how their advancements have marked the past decade:


At the beginning of the decade, Facebook’s key feature was the Wall, a place where you could leave a message status or a media post. Subsequently, Mark Zuckerberg switched the Wall in favor of the Timeline.

From that moment on, the social network went through several redesigns throughout the years.

More recently, Facebook has been marred by privacy issues, data leaks, and accusations regarding political and “fake news”.


The microblogging platform introduced its app in 2010, and since the beginning, the posts were restricted to 140 characters.

Twitter app on an iphone

Over the years, Twitter’s interface has evolved to the point of effortlessly allowing videos, GIFs, and photos to be integrated within posts. The favorites (stars) were changed into likes (hearts), and the character limit has now increased to 280.


When the video-messaging platform was introduced in 2012, audiences were presented with six-second video content, which immediately sparked Vine’s users’ creativity.

Twitter purchased the platform, aligning the short videos content strategy with the short text in tweets. However, with the introduction of videos on Instagram, in 2016, Twitter pulled the plug on Vine.


When Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion back in 2012, the image-sharing platform was hardly two years old. However, as Digital Marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuck would put it, it was a steal!

People started creating photo-collages, using a filter, and posting them on the app. It reached a million downloads in the first three months since its launch.

Currently, there are more than one billion active monthly users on the app. Celebrities are using it, and virtually every influencer has built a career on it.

Today, Instagram has “adopted” features straight from Snapchat (SNAP) and TikTok to align with its current user behavior.

Snapchat (SNAP)

Snapchat was a real turning point in social media, introducing the Stories content that disappears 24 hours after it’s posted.

snapchat logo displayed on an iphone

In 2012, the app reached 1 million daily active users, in spite of privacy issues. After Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram launched their editions of Stories and filters.


Since its launch in 2016, the amateur music videos platform TikTok has reached more than 1 billion installs in 2019. The app embeds music like no other social network.

TikTok is still emerging, ranking just behind Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger when it comes to downloads.

The platforms above have all become an integral part of digital marketing strategies. With more than three billion active monthly social media users in the world, the opportunity for brands to reach their target audiences will only continue to grow.

Content Marketing Transformed into More Than Blogging

person browsing the internet using a tablet

It is surreal that only a decade or so, there weren’t many podcasts or videos. At first, content marketing appeared as just a decorative phrase for blogging. However, content marketing has become so much more.

Nowadays, people consume content on social media, open different websites, and read emails that interest them. To ensure that you’re reaching them at the right time, you should always keep up with current content marketing trends.

The way brands post content is not the only thing that has changed in the world of content marketing. The types of content have evolved as well.

Content marketing has changed because the way users engage with content online is constantly changing. People are using different social media apps, and specific content is expected from brands in every niche.

For instance, younger people have drifted away from Facebook throughout the years. Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok are where their attention has been gone. So, any content intended for young people shared on Facebook will not perform as good as on Instagram or Snapchat.

When thinking of modern-day content marketing, we should think of catering to the individuals on the go. People are busier than ever before, and they need content that can be incorporated into their tight schedules.

For example, if people are commuting or working out, podcasts became an excellent choice.

Audiences can listen to a podcast while running, getting ready for work, or during lunch.

That doesn’t mean that only audio and video content will work nowadays. Sure, people’s attention span today is much lower. But, in reality, as the content marketing space has become more saturated with short videos and quick posts, an extensive content piece can be like a breath of fresh air.

Businesses that produce high-quality blog posts are 13x more likely to experience an increased ROI. Furthermore, regular blogging can help you generate up to 67% more leads.

High-quality content is the main ingredient of every content marketing campaign. As a brand, you must stay on top of every change and always have a relevant content strategy at hand.

Search Engine Optimization Has Matured

Google search engine mobile version

Only a decade ago, SEO was a very different practice than the one we’re used to today. Back then, there wasn’t anything specific that Google could do to eliminate keyword stuffing. However, things changed with the Panda update in 2011 when Google finally labeled Black Hat SEO tactics.

The Panda update started rewarding companies that provide value for their audiences. SEO became all about content, and companies that publish the best content win the top rankings on Google.

Google, as the authority in the search engine industry, regularly makes changes to their algorithm. These changes are more beneficial for companies that execute SEO properly and filter out black hat SEO practitioners.

Local searches also became one of the main SEO focuses throughout the decade. With Google’s Pigeon update in 2014, local search was reshaped for good. Google started rewarding well-optimized websites with an advantage over competitors in local SERPs. That also improved location-specific searches and location-based mobile browsing.

In 2014, Google algorithms also started to prioritize HTTPS websites. Since encryption guarantees data integrity, and the user’s confidential information, HTTPS became a positive nexus with higher search rankings on Google’s SERPs.

Today, a safer website means that users will trust you, and Google will rank you better, which in turn, boosts your SEO.

Mobile-Friendliness Became a Priority

a person holding an iphone

Today, people carry their smartphones with them everywhere. They take pictures, message their friends, and shop on their devices.

The global smartphone revolution has also had a profound effect on digital marketing over the years. Since the iPhone was introduced, the world of marketing and the people’s ability to access the Internet has gone through a dramatic shift.

By introducing apps and mobile browsers, content for desktop computers had to be made accessible for mobile screens. Consequently, mobile advertising has evolved as well. Today, it’s nearly impossible to open your Facebook or Instagram feed without stumbling upon an advertisement.

SEMrush sponsored Facebook post

Last year alone, Facebook reported ad revenue of $16.6 billion, mostly driven by Instagram and the Stories feature.

Mobile-friendliness was strengthened in 2015 when Google started including it as one of the crucial search engine ranking factors.

In 2018, Google started deploying mobile-first indexing, which means that Google now sees the mobile version of any website as the primary version of that site. To stay competitive, businesses had to adapt to these changes.

With the mobile-friendly updates, Google started to rank optimized websites that deliver a well-balanced UX for mobile users.

For websites that failed to achieve that, Google established penalties to ensure that website owners did more to comply with the mobile-first indexation.

Additionally, since July 2018, Google started using mobile page speed as one of the crucial ranking factors in mobile search results.

Digital PR Became Incredibly Powerful

group fist bump

The world has evolved, and public relations don’t quite work as before. Today, brands can’t just call a press conference like they used to. With technology and social media advancements in the past decade, PR professionals must stay up-to-date with innovations in the digital marketing world.

Social media changed the way reporters are interacting with their sources. Journalists no longer have to wait for press releases or spokespeople to get information out of brands. Today, they can follow brands and institutions on social media to get the information that they’re looking for.

If reporters are using social channels to their benefit, it’s fundamental for PR professionals to do the same. By monitoring social media profiles and digital news, knowledge that can be gathered to help you gain a competitive edge. When you gauge what the hot topic is that revolves around your brand, your spokespeople can address people’s questions much better.

Personalization Became the Key to Success

three men looking at a laptop

Personalization is everything! It became an important part of the new Internet landscape and how the information is perceived and shared.

Generation Z, as a genuinely mobile-first generation, puts great importance on personalization and the interaction with data-dependent smart devices.

This is where big data stepped in as one of the biggest differentiators in today’s digital marketing world. In terms of marketing, it is used to create unique experiences for consumers, as well as user-generated content that attracts new customers.

Personalization in digital marketing means an endless reserve of original content while strengthening the relationships between the brand and the consumer. Millennials are particularly interested in user-generated content, with 84% reporting that it influences their buying decisions.

A good example of a modern user-generated campaign is GoPro’s Photo of the Day social media campaign. GoPro posts a customer’s photo on social media every day, which tells the audience even more about the advantages of using the camera.

People can then choose the best photo by voting on the GoPro Award page. That encourages users to send their best photos, which drives even greater interaction with the brand.

Transparency Matters More Than Ever

businessman wearing a headset

Transparency is the name of the game! In general, people trust people they know and their recommendations are highly respected. Earning the trust of consumers is one of the biggest marketing and branding goals, and it’s more important than ever in today’s digital era.

However, the social media sphere, unfortunately, evolved from a friendly to a distrustful one. The Cambridge-Analytica scandal against Facebook for failing to protect the data of the users is something that was not even imaginable ten years ago!

Additional security breaches have helped the users to gain a better knowledge of privacy laws. Customers are now more intelligent and faster when searching for products. They are comparing brands and customer reviews, and learning all about the products in the process.

For sales and marketing professionals, this transition is a challenging one, as 70% of the buyer’s journey is completed before the buyer contacts the sales team. 19% of consumers can easily tell the difference between marketing, advertising, branded, and non-commercial content on social media.

In this current age, where customers are in control, you need to transparently engage with consumers, developing real relationships and brand loyalty along the way. The more transparent you are, the more you will enjoy the rewards of being open with your users.

Wrapping Up

It will be fascinating to see how digital marketing will continue to develop in the upcoming years. The number of companies with web and social presence has grown rapidly in the last ten years, which means that you need to stay on top of the trends and best practices, and continuously come up with fresh digital marketing strategies.

Changes in digital marketing are always good, and they can become your greatest advantage. There are more opportunities in the marketplace than ever. But, you must remain responsive as a brand, as things are evolving faster than ever. Make sure your brand keeps up with the progress!