Digital Vs Traditional Marketing: What’s The Difference?

Why are people talking about traditional vs digital marketing? And who cares about marketing anyway? Marketing itself is the ancient practice of promoting your business. It began as early as 1500 BCE when vendors stamped their products with the world’s first logos. The seals were used to identify who was selling the product and acted as a quality control method. 

Since then, promoting your brand and business has evolved into many traditional vs digital marketing types. Company branding is splashed over print mediums and social media platforms alike. But what is the difference between digital vs traditional marketing types? Is digital marketing better? This article will explore the differences between these two marketing types and help establish which is best for your business.

What Is Traditional Marketing?

Traditional marketing is the offline marketing of a brand or product. Think billboards, magazines, and even TV. Anything that isn’t seen on the internet is traditional marketing. The Starbucks logo on your coffee cup sleeve is traditional marketing, and so is that radio jingle you hear on the way home from work.

The different types of traditional marketing are:

  • Print media: Adverts in books, journals, magazines and newsletters all count as print media. So do logos or adverts printed on physical objects like coffee cups or t-shirts.
  • TV & radio: Adverts on TV and radio also count as traditional marketing. The same advert is usually repeated to multiple audiences.
  • Outdoor advertising: Any form of marketing you can see outside – like billboards or banners. Think about that billboard you see on your drive home; that’s outdoor marketing.
  • Telemarketing or SMS marketing: Marketing via text messages or phone calls to potential customers.
  • Mail advertising: Advertising in print media that is sent to a potential customer’s mailbox. Think brochures, flyers, catalogues, and letters. In mail advertising, one whole printed item is a form of marketing. The advert will only be a small part of print media’s magazine or book.
  • Word of mouth: Word of mouth, or referral marketing, refers to marketing where one client endorses that product to a friend or relative looking for a similar service.

What Is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing refers to any form of marketing done through the internet. Digital marketers use online platforms like Google or Instagram to market their products to a digital audience. The adverts will reach potential customers on whatever digital format they used, be it a smartphone, a tablet, or a laptop. You might see the same advert when you scroll as you drink your morning coffee and turn on your work laptop in the morning.

Common types of digital marketing include:

  • Content Marketing – Content marketing is sharing videos, blogs, webinars or social media posts. They may not directly market a product but are used to raise brand or company awareness.
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – using particular headers or keywords to help your content rank higher in the search engines. This is known as organic traffic, as you are not paying to direct users to your site.
  • Affiliate Marketing – affiliate marketing involves collaboration with another business, e.g. by having them write a guest blog post with links to their own site. The affiliate will receive a commission when the customer clicks on the links or pages.
  • Inbound Marketing – attracting potential customers to your website via social media posts or content marketing. 
  • Social Media Marketing – promoting your brand or products on social media platforms to increase lead generation and conversions.
  • Email marketing – marketing to your customers through an email campaign straight to their email inbox.
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) – a type of paid advertising where you only have to pay if customers click on your ads online.
  • Native advertising – an online advert that adapts to the format it appears on, e.g. a mobile app, website or tablet. It will fill the space of available advertising content on that page.
  • Marketing automation – the use of technology to assist in your marketing campaign – e.g. a platform that helps you send out all your digital marketing from one place.

Why Choose Traditional Marketing?

Traditional marketing is primarily used for local campaigns. It can raise awareness of a particular business nearby or even nationwide campaigns for larger franchises in multiple areas. The key benefit of traditional marketing is that it has a larger reach in the physical world than digital advertising. Physical foot traffic may walk or drive past your local billboard every day. 

Unlike digital marketing campaigns, viewers cannot skip or ignore your ads with traditional marketing. They are right in front of their line of vision and, therefore, tough to avoid. Even if you crumple up a direct mail advert for your local bank, you’ve still seen the logo before you threw it away. 

Traditional marketing is also a more established marketing practice than digital marketing. You don’t have to rely on someone having an internet connection to see your advert, and you can store physical copies of the advert rather than relying on something that exists in the digital world.

Why Choose Digital Marketing?

Even physical businesses need a digital marketing strategy in today’s modern world. Digital marketing has an incredible reach worldwide, reaching anyone with a mobile device or internet connection. Just some of the benefits of digital marketing are below.

It’s More Cost-Effective

Digital marketing is affordable for multinational and fledgling businesses. Organic content marketing is free, allowing services like blog posting or video sharing to yield a potentially high conversion rate without financial backing. 

Digital marketing, like PPC, is even more cost-effective the less successful your campaign is. You can learn from your mistakes easily; if no one clicks on your ads, you’ve lost less money than the upfront costs of printing a newsletter or brochure.

It’s Traceable

It can be difficult to prove that your TV ad has directly converted to a purchase. But online metrics allow you to track everything from post reach to conversion rate, so you can directly pinpoint which platform converted into a purchase. You can easily measure your return on investment with a digital marketing campaign.

You Can Compete With Big Companies

Smaller companies can be far more agile with a digital marketing strategy than via a traditional marketing medium. A solid social media campaign, well-placed digital ads, and content marketing can significantly impact your desired audience – no matter how big the company. There are also more affordable websites where smaller companies can place ads for a minimal fee.

You Can Tailor Your Campaign

Traditional media requires you to pay the upfront costs of printing or producing an advert. Those costs will go to the producer. The advert won’t change unless more money is paid and a new circulation is delivered. With digital marketing, you don’t have to part with a fortune before you learn from your mistakes. It’s never been so easy to tailor and redeliver a campaign than with marketing technologies and social media platforms.

A Wider Reach

Your ad can go worldwide with digital marketing. Anyone can log in and see your social media posts on their phones. You have a network of potential customers at your fingertips with digital advertising. And the ultimate benefit is that you can reach more customers without additional costs.

Is Digital Marketing Better?

So in the battle of digital vs traditional marketing, is digital the winner? It has a broader variety of marketing options, a wider audience reach, and fewer upfront costs. Traditional marketing has greater success in local campaigns. However, that’s logical because you are placing physical objects like billboards in the real world. With digital marketing, you can pop a digital banner, ad or well-placed blog post in multiple places in the online realm.

The key pros and cons of both marketing types are:

Traditional MarketingYou cannot skip adverts like digital marketingYou can reach people without relying on an internet connectionIt’s easier to reach multiple people in real-timeIt’s more expensiveYou cannot adjust adverts It’s hard to measure successYou cannot tailor campaignsHarder for smaller companies to afford
Digital MarketingMore cost-effectiveCan tailor to the customerCan reach people worldwideYou can measure successYou can tweak advertsAnyone can use digital marketingYou can automate multiple campaigns at onceYou can only reach people via the internetPeople can skip your adsLess physical presence in the outside world 

Digital marketing has more pros than cons, although no one can argue that traditional marketing allows you to create a physical presence in the outside world. You cannot skip a physical billboard or newsletter. But digital marketing is the future of streamlining campaigns, tracking success, and reaching a wider audience.

Final Thoughts

So, who wins in the battle of traditional vs digital marketing? Traditional marketing is an established medium for promoting businesses and their brands. However, digital marketing is the next step in the evolution of marketing, with new tools, strategies and mediums available daily. 

Successful brands can optimise their successes from both traditional and digital marketing methods. However, digital marketing creates more chances for smaller businesses to thrive. Even physical businesses like food outlets or coffee shops can generate traffic from a successful digital marketing campaign.

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