Resources Hub » Blog » Do You Remember These Unforgettable Marketing Trends of the 2010s?

This is a guest post from Rada Abdo at Venngage.

Digital marketing has been through a lot in the past decade. Things like social media, domain authority, and content marketing have completely evolved.

There’s been so much change, from smarter use of data to global use of mobile, that marketing trends from the early aughts are almost unrecognizable to us now.

Before we can even make predictions for the future, we have to delve deep into the past and explore all the different events leading up to it.

Marketing trends of the early 2010s by year

Read on to discover some of the biggest changes to digital marketing in the 2010s, along with predictions for the year 2020.


2010 was a big year for marketing trends., kicking off a number of the big marketing game-changers. Youtube was building its biggest momentum, Instagram launched, and search history started getting way smarter.

The world was ready for the internet to expand with communication, entertainment, and answering every problem imaginable.

Biggest events:

  • Apple releases iPad
  • Instagram launch
  • YouTube hits 2 billion views
  • User’s search history was introduced into Google Ads

Youtube hits 2 billion views a day (May 2010)

Can you imagine that, only a decade ago, it was a novelty to see video marketing? It was during 2010 when video marketing began to really gain the most popularity, setting it for the future. Having 2 billion views was an unexpected growth for video at the time.

Instagram launches

Instagram today is such a powerhouse for marketing. Twenty-five million brand accounts exist solely on the social platform.

You can’t even think about influencer culture without acknowledging the role that Instagram plays.

Marketers take advantage of the platform to try to pull in as many users to buy their products. Brand awareness is also huge.

Google uses search history to inform ads

Google began using search history to create more personalized news feeds. This set the stage for the power Google would have in marketing and informed how highly targeted marketing would be necessary.

Google also updated its algorithm to penalize websites that provided bad user experiences. Businesses then had to optimize their sites so that they weren’t penalized.

Growth hacking takes off

Growth hacking as a term was coined in 2010 by Sean Ellis. Marketers were also focusing on the marketing funnel. Backlinks, highly targeted paid marketing, and user intent were important to growth hacking.


For the first time, the credibility of your site determined how well you ranked, because of major updates from Google. Snapchat launched and introduced us to direct and disappearing visual communication.

Biggest events:

  • Snapchat launches
  • Domain Authority

Snapchat launches

In 2011, Snapchat gained its popularity for being a visual-first platform. Brands rushed to target the huge youth market on the social media app.

Brands could also create content that’d directly hit their audiences in their inboxes for the first time, instead of posting or tweeting for thousands of followers.

Moz develops domain authority

SEO is now second nature to digital marketers. Moz were the first to create the concept of “domain authority.” Now the concept of importance of website ranking is one that digital marketers live by.


2012 was all about evolving. Brands start to recognize the importance and full potential of social media. By this time, company websites weren’t only about selling products, but a place to gain knowledge and insight.

Biggest events:

  • Rise of content marketing
  • Brands using social media to be more personable
  • Twitter use up 40%

Old spice and taco bell brand twitter scuffle

This twitter beef is worth mentioning because it’s known as one of the first moments where brands show how they can use social media to be more personable. Today, brands try to be as personable as possible so that they can grow customer relationships.

Content marketing takes off

The term “content marketing” increased by 50%. Brands started recognizing that, in order for their customers to give them value, they must give their customers something of value. Information began to be presented in many different ways, such as blogs, infographics, email newsletters, video, etc.


Out with the old and in with the new internet. Monetization was more important than authenticity. This has helped pave the way for influencer marketing.

Biggest events:

  • Introduction of advertising to Instagram
  • “New” internet replaces “old” internet
  • Online mobile shopping apps skyrocket

Yahoo acquires tumblr

Tumblr had a great run before 2013; it just didn’t manage to make money. Many people were concerned when Yahoo bought it out in 2013, that authenticity would be replaced with monetization. Today, twitter is similar, but it has advertising.

Should all digital marketing have an end goal of revenue?

“All digital marketing should have an end goal… in general. An era where we were just doing things for the sake of it is gone. Without having a clear goal—let it be revenue—our efforts are in vain, and even the most creative campaigns need to have that revenue factor attached to them.”

-Kinga Odziemek, Brainy Bees

Instagram launches advertising

It took three years for instagram to introduce advertising for select brands in 2013. Today, you wouldn’t be able to imagine social media without ads and sponsored posts. Sponsored posts allow marketers to hyper-target audience who’d be receptive to adverts.


This was the year where customers had more of a voice. Companies had to be more responsible. The chances of messing up online and facing backlash from users was much higher. Everyone had a voice, both brands and customers.

Biggest events:

  • Mobile usage exceeds desktop usage
  • Facebook introduces trending topics
  • User reviews

Mobile usage exceeds desktop usage for the first time

We can’t imagine a world today where we don’t use our mobile devices for everything. 2014 was the year where mobile usage exceeded desktop usage.

Now we browse websites, engage with social media sites, online shop, and read on our mobiles. Marketers had to add in layouts, fonts, CTAs, load times, and popups to be optimized to mobile experiences.

Authenticity and user reviews

Social media clapbacks started being popular. If a brand was offensive or out of line, users would drag them for it. Google Reviews also were a big part of customers’ engagement with a brand. This was all a new challenge for businesses.


Marketers at this point have been learning and adapting to the many changes in the marketing world, but there’s still more to come. User journeys and funnels had to be restructured for companies to stay ahead in 2015.

Biggest events:

  • Emails opened on mobile more than desktop
  • Pinterest launches buyable pins
  • Google puts users first

In 2015, we began reading our emails on the go more than ever. Email marketing then had a new challenge: to get customers to interact more as they check their emails.

Pinterest launches buyable pins

Pinterest is a great example of companies providing an integrated shopping journey, from wanting a product to actually buying it. Ecommerce sites had to be better about making products more available to their customers.

Google ranks pages with bad mobile experience lower

With the rise of mobile access to the internet, Google started ranking sites lowers in search results if their mobile users didn’t have access.


Marketing was all about intelligence in 2016. Automation was the hottest trend of the year. Brands also began to see marketing in less of a traditional sense and began seeing the potential in influencer marketing and its effectiveness.

Biggest events:

  • Marketing automation
  • Influencer rise

Marketing automation

Marketing campaigns became more sophisticated and effective with the merging of technology and marketing in 2016. Marketers had to make their campaigns more personalized.

Rise of influencers

One of the biggest changes to the digital marketing landscape in the 2010s were influencers. Suddenly, anyone could be a celebrity via social media.


Just when we didn’t think technology could evolve anymore, virtual reality came to life. The limitations of space in stores became limitless. Social Justice also had a say with how brands marketed themselves.

Biggest events:

  • Ad backlash
  • Facebook and Google with the monopoly

Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad starts a conversation about online backlash

Social media doesn’t only benefit brands and their quest to monetize off their customers. It’s also a way to mobilize people quickly.

The Pepsi ad faced widespread backlash, an example of the growing power of consumer feedback. Marketers began to realize that they can’t just produce any content: People want advertising that speaks to their values.

Rise of Facebook and Google

Facebook and Google became the largest media owners. Brands had access to their competitors’ target audiences with digital connectivity.


With all the user information circulating around the internet, concern with data privacy increased. Existing platforms also began shifting to long-form content.

Biggest Events:

  • GDPR launches in EU
  • Eighty-three percent of internet users use social media
  • Instagram TV launches

Instagram TV launches

Long-form content wasn’t only for blogs. Instagram allowed users to extend the 60-second limitation on their videos with the introduction of IGTV, so users could upload any video for several minutes.

GDPR launches in EU

EU introduced the General Data Protection Regulation in 2018. It made companies responsible for their users’ data on the internet. It also allowed users to be more in control of the data companies stored of theirs.

Social media explodes

Eighty-three percent of all internet users were engaged with social media in 2018. In 2010, there were 1 billion social media users and, in 2018, 2.8 billion.


Two major developments in the marketing world in 2019 were a new social platform no one saw coming and a new search algorithm. A lot of time has been spent by marketers trying to learn and benefit from TikTok and BERT.

Biggest Events:

  • New platform: Tiktok
  • BERT Google update

Tiktok is making a global impact.

This Vine-like app began over the world of social media in 2019. Its popularity exploded, making it easy to create content and share it all over the globe.

Companies are now trying to figure out how to utilize this platform and create brand awareness in an authentic way.

BERT Google algorithm update

This smarter-than-ever algorithm not only knows what words are inside the content, but it can also detect the context of what’s being said.

What does BERT mean for marketers?

“Natural language will become increasingly important. Writing how customers speak, ensuring their questions are answered, and keeping things short and snappy are some of the ways they can do this. This will help with search rankings as Google’s algorithms continue to get smarter and prioritize search intent and user experience. Picking a keyword and adding it to a blog post or landing page isn’t enough—copy will have to work harder than ever to keep users and search engines engaged.”

Kristina Proffitt, Cronofy

The big question now is: what’s in store for marketing in 2020? Here are some predictions from experts:

“From a content marketer perspective: I believe in the next decade valuable content will take over the digital marketing scene. What I mean by that is: you need to offer your audience more than just “A list of X tips”, “How to do Y” articles. Us, marketers, we will have to run our own research and gather unique data we can present in our channels.”

Paulina Golab, CallPage

“I believe the year 2020 is for discovering more and more types of content. With the abundance of opportunities out there, marketers need to become even more creative, and agile to deliver better marketing results. In 2020, I see marketers trying out all the marketing activities out there—content reports, TikTok videos, podcast episodes, Whatsapp newsletter are all new opportunities that are yet to be discovered.”

Vlad, Planable

“I’m really excited about the ongoing developments in voice search software. I think this will become an even bigger trend in 2020 as more and more people become acquainted with it and the technology improves. That’s why I’m planning to work with my team on optimizing our website for voice search, and I’d recommend others do so as well to get ahead of the curve. I’d also say that SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) position zero will be the main goal for any SEO specialist in 2020.”

Nikola, Brosix

“More marketers are moving away from sales and into educational content. Not just content about a brand or service, but informative content that is bringing research to the consumer. They are providing them with comparison posts, reviews, white papers, etc. not necessarily in relation to a service. The goal is to save them time and give them solutions all while remaining on your website during this research period.“

Savannah McIntosh, Purplepass Ticketing

There can be so many predictions made for what’s in store for 2020. With technology getting smarter, it’s an exciting time to be a marketer. Make sure you’re staying on top of trends; they’re constantly changing and evolving!

Rada Abdo is a content writer for Venngage, an easy-to-use website where even design beginners can create stylish content for websites, presentations, ads, social media use and much more.

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