You’d have to think for some time to come up with a segment of life that hasn’t changed to at least some degree due to the internet. The natural world could make the list, but even that has been impacted — nature visitors experience the great outdoors in a different way today than they did in the pre-internet era, after all.

Of course, some impacts have been more significant than others. Marketing, for instance, has been changed almost beyond recognition. The fundamental intent is the same as it was 50 years ago — get customers — but how that’s done is vastly different. In this article, we’ll unpack some of the many ways that the internet changed marketing forever.

Testimonials and Reviews

In the olden days, you’d have to personally know someone who owned a product in order to get a review of that item. Today, you don’t even need to personally know someone who’s even heard of the product. They’ll be someone on the planet who owns it and has given their two cents about its usefulness. Companies with positive testimonials and reviews make sure to publish those texts on their site, and for one very simple reason: they work. Studies have shown that people trust the review of a stranger almost as much as they trust a recommendation from a friend.

Standing Out From the Crowd 

Companies have always offered deals, discounts, and offers to get new customers on the hook. But it’s nothing like today when virtually every company offers something enticing to get the public interested in their products or services. You can find deals for just about everything on the web. Companies offer deals on everything from sports betting tips with leading companies as FanDuel and music streaming subscriptions to international flights and home appliances, with everything in between. They do this to get noticed in a crowded marketplace, and that’s good news for consumers, who are able to make more savings than ever before.

Engaging with Audience

Companies used to use marketing as a “we talk, you listen” device. But that’s no longer the case. Today, it’s more of a dialogue. Social media marketing isn’t just about showing or telling the world what the company has to offer. It’s a way to actively engage with their audience, who can give feedback, make complaints, get help, and much more.

A Shift Towards Trust

Back in the mid-20th century, it was common for door-to-door salespeople to go around neighborhoods and actively demonstrate products to homeowners. That sounds quaint by today’s standards, but it did have one important benefit: it helped to build trust. Consumers could see what a product was first-hand and decide if they wanted to own it.

In the early days of web e-commerce, there was little of that trust, thanks to scams, shoddy products, and other behaviors that corrupted consumer trust. Internet marketing had to evolve to bring the public back on board. In the process, an entirely new type of marketing — inbound marketing — was born. This is a slow-burn marketing approach that educates a potential customer about the benefits of the company’s product.

The internet caused a problem for marketers initially, but this was soon resolved.

Access to Data

Perhaps the biggest marketing shift has been the move toward greater specificity. In the pre-internet era, companies would publish advertisements in newspapers, magazines, television, and on billboards.

The problem was that this “catch-all” approach often meant that companies wasted money advertising to people who had zero interest in their products. Internet algorithms and data allow companies to publish well-crafted advertisements directly to the people who are likely to be interested in their product. This helps companies save money and allows the general public to see more relevant advertisements.

The internet brought about great change for marketers. And given the speed of marketing development, it’s likely that we’ll see even more marketing evolution in the future.