What is the difference between Digital Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing?

Hafiz M. Ali

Hafiz M. Ali

difference between digital and traditional marketing

You might be wondering how much digital marketing differs from traditional marketing. Here’s the deal: digital marketing is huge, but it hasn’t completely replaced traditional marketing…at least not yet.

What’s the bottom line? Most companies benefit from a combination of digital and traditional marketing. We’ll learn what are they, difference, pros and cons and scope of these.

What is Digital Marketing?

what is digital MarketingDigital marketing includes every type of online promotion for a brand, including website creation, social media marketing, banner advertisements and video content. Digital marketing can be very similar to traditional advertising – ads, for example – but they’re contained online instead of in print.

The more technology advances, the more the world of digital marketing advances as well.

What is Traditional Marketing?

what is outbound marketingTraditional marketing isn’t any one thing. It’s a combination of marketing methods, many of which include tangible items, such as magazine ads or business cards. Other elements of traditional marketing include billboards, TV ads, radio ads and brochures.

Basically, traditional marketing includes all types of marketing and advertising that are not digital or online. Sometimes, referrals and networking are also considered traditional marketing, so long as they’re not occurring online.

Difference Between Digital and Traditional Marketing

The main difference between digital and traditional marketing is that digital marketing’s goal is inbound marketing. That means that customers will find the company instead of the company finding customers.

Traditional marketing, on the other hand, has a primary goal of outbound marketing, meaning that the company reaches out to the customer.

With inbound marketing, digital marketing campaigns are designed to help consumers find what they’re looking for – i.e., your company, products, or services. Additionally, digital marketing helps to create brand awareness.

The more consumers see your brand information in front of them, whether it’s your ads, social media posts or blog posts, the more they will remember your brand, particularly when they’re in need of whatever it is you offer. This repetitiveness can help to increase trust in your brand, even in consumers who have never chosen your brand in the past.

Digital Marketing Costs Less

Digital marketing strategies are incredibly affordable. While it’s possible to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on digital marketing every month, it’s not necessary, something that’s good news for companies that are just starting out. Traditional advertising channels, like listing a company in the Yellow Pages or taking out an ad on TV or the radio, are much more expensive than digital advertising.

Also, since digital marketing is done completely online, you won’t need a team of people to send out into the field to connect with consumers – everything can be done from a computer by one person or a small group of marketers.

That doesn’t mean that traditional advertising methods aren’t worth it, just that digital marketing can be highly cost-effective whether you’re just launching a marketing campaign or you’re looking to expand your reach.

Digital Marketing Levels the Playing Field

Digital marketing is available to every business, no matter the industry or company size. Digital marketing can be inexpensive or even free at times, making it possible for small businesses to compete with big brands.

In the past, it was more difficult for small brands to stand out by using traditional marketing. Online marketing, however, can provide a wonderful customer experience no matter how well known the brand is at the moment.

Digital Marketing is Easy to Measure

The cornerstone of any successful marketing campaign is measurement – tracking analytics is how you know what is and what is not working. Digital marketing can be quite a bit easier to remember than traditional marketing.

Digital marketing results can be tracked in real time, giving brands the ability to immediately respond and improve. Practically every digital marketing platform has built-in analytics, too, from your website and blog to social media accounts and newsletter management. Take a look at the results of this email campaign a non-profit launched, which resulted in high open and click-thru rates.

Being able to track engagement is one of the best things about digital marketing. With traditional marketing, it’s very difficult to know if someone is going to your website after receiving a flyer in their mailbox. With digital marketing, though, you can track clicks to find out exactly who is engaging with your content.

Digital Marketing Can Increase Exposure

If your business can cater to customers all around the world, there’s no reason to limit yourself to a specific geographical area. Digital marketing can give brands worldwide exposure, something that would cost an extreme amount of money to do via traditional marketing.

Thanks to things like auto-translation services and ads that can reach international audiences, people around the globe can learn about your brand.

Digital marketing isn’t just for global brands, though. It can also be used to target local audiences. For example, Facebook ads can be designed to reach people in certain geographical locations and in time frames based on their time zones.

Google Ads can be set up to target people who are searching in a specific location, whether or not the name of that location is used in their search terms.

Digital Marketing Reaches Digital Devices

One thing that traditional advertising cannot do is reach digital devices. People are spending more and more time on their laptops and mobile devices. Digital marketing strategies are specifically designed to target people while they are on these devices.

Additionally, digital audiences are online around-the-clock. While they may not be able to get a flyer in their home’s mailbox at midnight, they can learn about a new brand while they’re browsing on their smartphone in the middle of the night.

Digital Marketing Can be Narrowed Down

When you market through traditional methods, you don’t always know exactly who you’re reaching. A radio ad could reach single mothers in their 30s or it could reach large families; young couples or the elderly; college students or entrepreneurs.

With digital marketing, however, you can target who your ads reach, making your ad dollars go farther by only connecting with the people in your specific audience. You can also differentiate your advertisements to appeal to different demographics.

Digital Marketing Can Go Viral

Going viral is a fairly new term, something that popped up when digital marketing started gaining steam. When content goes viral, it’s shared over and over by a growing online audience. You may notice that it’s trending on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

People will be discussing the content with others because eventually, just about everyone you know will have seen it. Sometimes even big news stations pick up the content and discuss it or show it on air.

Even if you develop a fantastic brochure or flyer for your business, there are going to be a limited amount of them, making it impossible for your traditional advertising content to go viral.

Also, most consumers just get one copy of the marketing material, so the most they could do is pass it along to someone they know. Share buttons on social media, however, don’t have any limit to how much content can be shared and spread.

Why Brands Have to Adapt to Digital Marketing

Technology is advancing and it’s taking marketing along with it. Digital marketing and social media are having a major impact on how consumers research and buy products and services. Businesses that aren’t able to adapt to modern advertising and marketing practices may find themselves falling behind. That doesn’t mean that every aspect of traditional marketing has to be replaced by digital marketing.

However, certain digital marketing practices should be adopted by brands that want to continue connecting with their customers. Blending strategies – digital and traditional – is often the best option for brands.

Drawbacks of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing can be cost-effective and efficient, so long as it’s planned and carried out in the right way. Handled incorrectly, it can have some pretty major drawbacks, including the following:

• Spreading the Brand Too Thin: Without having a focus, it’s easy to get swept up in any and every digital marketing platform out there. Setting up multiple profiles doesn’t help expand your reach, it just gives you more to juggle. It’s best to choose one or two platforms where your main customers hang out, set up profiles there, master a marketing strategy and then, when it’s running smoothly, add another platform.

• You Can End Up Wasting a Lot of Money: Being able to put $5 or $10 on digital ads can really add up over time. If you’re not creating your ads correctly or you’re failing to target the right audiences, all of that money can be easily wasted. If you don’t know how to create ads, it’s easy to keep increasing the budget, assuming that the problem is that there isn’t enough money behind the ad. It may be necessary to hire someone who has experience developing online ads.

• There’s a Lot of Competition: Since digital marketing is so popular, a ton of brands are doing it, and many of them are your competitors. The digital world is becoming flooded with ads, marketing messages, social media posts, blogs, etc. In order to stand out from the crowd, your content has to be top-notch, including your written copy, graphics, logo and web pages. This can take a long time to develop and may require specialists like content writers, SEO experts, website designers and graphic designers.

Traditional Marketing Benefits

Even though digital marketing is more modern and inexpensive, making it the first choice for many brands, there are still some benefits that come with traditional marketing. These benefits include:

• Targeting Local Audiences: Traditional marketing is a tried-and-true way of targeting local audiences. When a local radio station plays an ad for a neighbourhood brick-and-mortar store, it’s bound to reach people who are listening in your area. Flyers placed in mailboxes can target people in a specific neighbourhood, town or city, making it a great way to promote a local business that needs nearby customers. Take a look at this case study about a local, independent coffee shop that was on the verge of closing. Among the many things they did to boost sales and get more customers were upgrading their newspaper ads.

• Longevity of Materials: Traditional marketing materials, like business cards and brochures, can be kept by the consumer for as long as they want. By having a hard copy of the marketing material, consumers can read through it as often as they want. There are even some promotional materials that are meant to be used over and over, mainly in public, like backpacks or pens with a brand’s name and contact information on it.

• Better Understanding: Since traditional advertising has been along for much longer than digital advertising, some people have an easier time understanding traditional marketing materials. For example, older generations that didn’t grow up using digital items may not always understand what a pop-up ad is or how to properly use Google to search for an item. Familiarity is a big reason why some people still prefer traditional advertising.

Traditional Marketing Drawbacks

There are also some specific drawbacks to using traditional marketing, including:

• Minimal Interaction: Traditional marketing doesn’t include a lot of engagement between brands and customers. Instead, a brand gives information to a customer in the hopes that this encourages the customer to purchase something from the brand. Until the customer makes a move, though, there can’t be any further back-and-forth between the business and the customer.

• High Cost: Traditional marketing can cost quite a bit, especially if you want your brand to look highly professional. Ad placement and print materials are both very expensive. Plus, brands often have to hire a team just to distribute hard copy materials, adding even more to the marketing budget.

In the end, it’s important to choose the marketing methods that will benefit your business the most. For some companies, that’s solely traditional advertising; for others, it’s 100% digital marketing.

For many brands, it’s a combination of techniques. Ultimately, though, the best advertising is the one that works for your brand. Brands tend to be successful when they choose the strategy with the best reach and the lowest cost.

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