Digital Marketing: Then and Now

Jul 7, 2017 | Web Development

Forty years ago, digital marketing did not exist. Today, it is a leading component of all businesses. Here is a brief history from the launch of the first personal computer to where we are today.

A History of Digital Marketing

Forty years ago, digital marketing did not exist. Today, it is a leading component of all businesses. Here is a brief history from the launch of the first personal computer to where we are today.

1981 – IBM Launches First Personal Computer

Digital marketing as we know it today began to take shape in the 1980’s, shortly after IBM launched the first personal computer. Following this technological innovation, computers quickly became sophisticated enough to store large volumes of data.

1986 – ACT! Launches First Database Marketing Software

A contact and customer management company, ACT! introduced the first database marketing software in 1986. This software was able to store large volumes of customer contact information, making customer relations management easier than ever before.

1990s – Introduction of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software

The database marketing software of the mid-1980’s paved the way for the revolutionary marketing technology known as CRM software.

1996 - 16 Million Internet Users Worldwide

A far cry from today’s numbers, there were just 16 million internet users worldwide in 1995. Additionally, Americans spent an average of 30 minutes online per day.

1999 – The Birth of

Up until the birth of, marketers found that they had a lot of data from their CRM software but they did not have a way to make sense of it all. was the first Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company and served as the first company to deliver business applications from a website.

2000 – Dotcom Bubble Burst

On March 10th, “the dotcom bubble hit its peak then burst the following weekend” (Kapost). While many CRM companies of the 90s were hit hard, the burst prompted SaaS leaders to re-think their business models. By the mid-2000s, digital behavior dramatically altered the power dynamic between consumers and marketers.

2000s – Google and the iPhone Hit the Scene

As of 2002, the number of internet users worldwide had climbed to 558 million, up 3,388% in just 6 years. In 2004, Google went public, bringing the power of search to our home computers. And in 2007, the iPhone was born. Additionally, social media sites were beginning to emerge:

  • LinkedIn was founded in December, 2002
  • Facebook was founded in February , 2004
  • YouTube was founded in February, 2005
  • Twitter was founded in March, 2006

2007 – Marketing Automation is Born

Users began researching products online and making purchasing decisions before speaking with a salesperson, bringing a new challenge to marketers. In 2007, this challenge was met with marketing automation, software that enables marketers to launch multi-channel campaigns, segment audiences and serve up highly personalized content.

2010s – Transition from Tech-Savvy to Tech-Dependent

As of 2014, Americans spent an average of 11 hours online per day and came to expect load times of 250 milliseconds. Mayur Gupta referred to these changes of the past decade as a transition from “tech-savvy to tech-dependent”. Today, the marketing technology available is endless. There is officially an over-abundance of tools available, causing many marketers to feel overwhelmed. In fact, 68% of marketers feel more pressured to show ROI on marketing spend.

A lot has changed for digital marketing over the past few decades. If you need assistance keeping track of all the new technology and using it to your advantage, contact Informatics Inc. Our Digital Marketing team is well-versed in selecting the right tools and putting them to good use. Give us a call to learn more!


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