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Internet Marketing Time Warp at Warp Speed

Updated on December 29, 2017
heidithorne profile image

Heidi Thorne is an author and business speaker with over 25 years of experience in sales, marketing, advertising, and public relations.


I love used book sales. Yes, though I run my business on the Internet, I love rummaging through stacks of old physical books, especially business books. Some are timeless. Others are stuck in a time warp that will cause me to chuckle and pause to reflect on how far we've come on the Internet marketing path... and how we've been moving forward at what seems like warp speed.

One of the books I picked up recently was eMarketing: Reaping Profits on the Information Highway by none other than leading marketing mind, Seth Godin, published in 1995, a mere couple decades ago as of this writing. Here were some of the topics he addressed:

  • Fax on Demand Technology.
  • Multimedia (CD-ROMs).
  • Marketing by Fax.
  • Bulletin Board Services (BBS).

What??? Is anyone using these for marketing anymore? Well, maybe a few still are. But then the last chapter in the book, covering only about 30 pages of the 262 page book, is dedicated to "The Internet." Today's standard search engines and browsers were still a ways into the future (anyone remember Gopher or Mosaic?). Two commercial online services mentioned in the book were AOL and Compuserve.

And to think that this was just 20 years ago. Twenty!

Why has Internet Marketing Taken Off?

The reason that Internet marketing seems to be moving at warp speed is because customers have adopted web technologies at an alarmingly fast rate.

According to the fact tank Pew Internet Research Project, as the Internet turned 25 years old in 2014, 87 percent of American adults were using the Internet (Pew Research). Compare that to electricity which took 30 years and the telephone which took 25 years to get to just 10 percent market penetration (MIT Technology Review).

One could argue that the infrastructure for the Internet required both electricity and the telephone to even exist, making the Internet's phenomenally fast market adoption rate dependent on the development of earlier technologies. As well, when the Internet was born, people were already much more technologically savvy compared to earlier generations. When the telephone and electricity were becoming commercially available, the Industrial Age was still in progress. So it might not be a fair comparison. However, there is no argument that the adoption of Internet technology has been extremely rapid.

Internet marketing has become a necessity for many businesses who want to stay connected with customers that have embraced the web and abandoned older technologies.

It's All About the Weather?

What's interesting as I read the now antiquated eMarketing book is that the things that businesses wanted to offer using "new" technologies are essentially the same as the things they offer today. Some suggested new tech uses included:

  • Weather reports and forecasts.
  • Updated price lists.
  • Ticket availability.
  • News releases.
  • How-to instructions.
  • Catalogs.
  • Appointment reminders.
  • Samples.
  • Sports scores and team information.
  • Frequently asked questions (FAQs).
  • Keeping in touch.
  • Demonstrations.

Don't all these sound like information that websites, email and apps provide today? Of course they do! People's information needs don't change much over time. What changes is HOW and WHERE they get that information.

Need more evidence? See what websites were at the top of the Internet back about the same time the eMarketing book was written in this list and infographic from the Washington Post:

Surprised at any of the rankings? What's interesting is the types of sites that dominate the top 20 spots, year after year: News; email, search and browser services such as Google, AOL, Yahoo; and, (Weather Channel).

Yep, we're still concerned about the weather.

People's information needs don't change much over time. What changes is HOW and WHERE they get that information.

— Heidi Thorne

Keeping Up

As noted earlier, the pace at which new marketing technologies are being adapted and adopted can seem overwhelming, especially for small businesses and solopreneur micro businesses. What to do?

  • Keep Informed on Trends. Read and subscribe to blogs and news feeds that discuss not only the latest tech, but those that talk about the latest trends.
  • Don't Jump Immediately for Every "Shiny Object." It's tempting to immediately jump on board with marketing using the latest tech gadget, online tool or social media site, hoping that it will brand the business as progressive. However, that can be a huge drain on a business' finances and time. Carefully develop an integration plan that helps preserve precious resources while still making progress in the right direction. And ALWAYS monitor results! Just because it's the latest thing doesn't mean it's the greatest thing for every business.
  • Commit to Adapt and Adopt to Serve. Continually survey and monitor the company's audience and customer base to see which newer tech sales and service methods might be welcomed.
  • New Methods, New Markets. Sometimes adding new technology into the marketing method mix can open up new markets with new needs. Determine whether the organization is ready for that investment and if it fits the organization's larger goals before diving headlong into new marketing technology directions.

Disclaimer: Any examples used are for illustrative purposes only and do not suggest affiliation or endorsement. The author/publisher has used best efforts in preparation of this article. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and all parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice, strategies and recommendations presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional adviser where and when appropriate. The author/publisher shall not be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. So by reading and using this information, you accept this risk.

© 2015 Heidi Thorne


Submit a Comment

  • heidithorne profile image

    Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

    Hello ChitrangadaSharan! Good you have children to help you out with the Internet. :) They're so tech savvy. I think that's actually a good thing because it does encourage inter-generation conversation and learning. Glad you found that hub helpful. Hope your New Year is off to a great start. Have a great day!

  • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

    Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

    Excellent hub with lots of information!

    I loved your quote, "People's information needs don't change much over time. What changes is HOW and WHERE they get that information."

    Quite true!

    I started using Internet some 4-5 years back and I enjoy learning new things about it. My children are always there to explain to me, if I get stuck up somewhere.

    Internet marketing has changed everything indeed. Thanks for sharing this informative hub. Voted up as useful!

  • heidithorne profile image

    Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

    Hi teaches12345! Thank you for your kind comments! The Internet sure has changed EVERYTHING we do in business. Glad you enjoyed the thoughts. Have a beautiful weekend!

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

    Your quote should be noted by all as a top marketing tip. The internet (Social media mostly) has changed the way we market and our approach changes in response. I enjoyed your sharing of ideas.

  • heidithorne profile image

    Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

    Hi poetryman6969! Yep, the Internet is quite a story that we all have become a part of. :) Thanks for reading and commenting! Happy New Year!

  • poetryman6969 profile image

    poetryman6969 3 years ago

    An interesting viewpoint on how we got here.

  • heidithorne profile image

    Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

    Pawpawwrites, I feel your pain! The sheer volume of information on trends and tech is so overwhelming that we really have to focus on just a few relevant areas. Thanks for chiming in and Happy New Year!

  • Pawpawwrites profile image

    Jim 3 years ago from Kansas

    I tried to keep up with the latest trends for a while, but it got to be too much.

  • heidithorne profile image

    Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

    Indeed it was, tiagodamiao! Even 5 years ago it was different. Thanks so much for the vote and share! Have a great day!

  • tiagodamiao profile image

    Tiago Damião 3 years ago from Torres Novas

    Great Article! I remember 10 years ago, the marketing was kinda different that is today! Gona share and vote. :D

  • heidithorne profile image

    Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

    Hi Iris! Thanks for the kind words and sharing. Hope your first week of the New Year is starting off wonderful! Cheers!

  • heidithorne profile image

    Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

    Hi FlourishAnyway! No kidding! It's almost laughable to read some of these books. It is interesting that people are obsessed with the weather. It'll happen whether or not they check it. :) Happy First Week of the New Year!

  • Iris Draak profile image

    Cristen Iris 3 years ago from Boise, Idaho

    Great article, Heidi! I voted up, shared on H+ and Twitter.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

    I like your book examples, as they show how much technology has truly changed. I remember the first time using a fax machine and describing in awe to a friend how information on a sheet of paper was somehow sent over phone lines. You're right about the weather obsession. I totally don't understand it. I guess I check stocks like others do the weather.

  • heidithorne profile image

    Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

    Actually, billybuc, you probably use tech more deftly than many of your writer peers. So don't be too discouraged! Hey, even for those with a pretty good handle on it all, it's tough. Use what makes sense for you and your business.

    Happy Weekend to you, too. Yep, it's gonna be a cold one this week (high of -1 predicted for Wednesday). Brrrrrr!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

    my knowledge is so limited when it comes to technology, and I seem to have an innate inability to learn it easily. I would love to keep up with it all, but it really is very difficult for me. At the end of the day, I'm just a writer. I will probably lose thousands of dollars in sales simply because I don't understand all of this technology and how to use it. I'm not giving up...just stating fact.

    Happy Sunday to you. Stay warm this week.