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What is the Difference Between Traditional Marketing vs Digital Marketing?

Posted by Glen Moore on Jun 19, 2017 2:45:20 PM


Great marketing finds and keep customers.  But with so many marketing options, it can be difficult for companies to know how to allocate marketing dollars efficiently.  Now more than ever, people spend more time online than they spend reading books or magazines, or even watching TV? For this reason, marketing is shifting away from traditional to digital channels.  Digital marketing gives companies unique and powerful ways to market to prospective customers where they spend their time! Here are some basics about traditional marketing vs digital marketing.

Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing has been around forever.  These include...

  • TV
  • Magazines
  • Newspaper Ads
  • Radio
  • Direct Mail


We're all familiar with traditional marketing methods.  They're easy to understand and we've used them for decades.  Many companies continue to include traditional marketing as part of their budgets.  It's why some companies are willing to spend millions on advertising during the Super Bowl.  A single ad can reach thousands if not millions of viewers in a short period of time.  This can work if a company's target market is wide (think Coke, Doritos, and cars), and your company has deep marketing budgets.  While traditional marketing can have value, traditional marketing can feel slow paced and limit a company's ability to efficiently grow as quickly as it could by using more digital marketing.


Digital Marketing

With digital marketing, companies can hyper-target customers that most relevant to their products and services.  For example, an IT consulting company in San Francisco can hyper-target their marketing only to senior executives of health care companies in the area with 100-500 employees, annual revenue of over $50 million, and that have been looking online for relevant IT consulting services.

And compared to traditional marketing, digital marketing often produces a higher return on their marketing investment.  Digital marketing can reach and convert new customers efficiently.  For example, a digital marketing campaign can target prospective consumers on social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter and you only pay for an ad when the prospect clicks through to your website to learn more.  Through email marketing and blogging, companies can retarget and engage with their consumers on a regular basis.  And with SEO, you can have customers looking for your products and services online find you rather than the other way around.

Having a Choice

While awesome, there are a few things to consider with digital marketing. Most of us as a Facebook account and use the internet throughout the day.  This does not make you a digital marketing expert!  Digital marketing done right takes training, experience, and keeping up with trends... because the rules of the game change frequently.

Also, be aware of your target customer. If you are hoping to reach older generations, Twitter may not be your best bet. You might consider Facebook or LinkedIn better marketing methods for this audience

Measuring Results - Traditional Marketing vs Digital Marketing

Traditional marketing typical requires more manual processes, more time, and more money. Digital marketing, on the other hand, is highly automated and efficient.Technology and software take data and pull it into a user-friendly database.  By doing so, digital marketing provides real time tracking of what works and what does not work so that you can optimize your efforts.

Trying out a new ad idea? Going the digital route allows you to immediately gauge its success. If it is not performing, you can change it without wasting money. Traditional marketing usually requires a longer period of time to test. Because you have to wait to test your strategy, you may end up spending money on unsuccessful materials.

A recent survey of 295 CMOs indicated that 4 of the top 5 marketing channels for ROI were digital marketing channels.  What were they?

  • Email marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Content Marketing (related to SEO)
  • Paid Search (PPC)


If your company's marketing strategy does not include these channels, consider them.  Other promising digital channels have emerged this year that are worth considering - Facebook Messenger ads and LinkedIn advertising can also provide strong return on investment.


Traditional marketing methods like television and magazine ads can be costly, especially for small businesses.  It's wise for companies to build a marketing plan by selecting the most efficient channels for their business first and then laying on additional channels as the size and scope of their business increases.  In many ways, the lower costs of digital marketing create a more level playing field, allowing smaller businesses to compete with larger ones.

Targeting - Traditional Marketing vs Digital Marketing

As mentioned earlier, digital marketing has an advantage over traditional advertising when it comes to targeting.  Digital marketing allows for campaigns to be hyper-targeted on gender, age, interests, location, and even past purchasing behavior.  This allows companies to get their message in front of the right consumers.  Consider platforms like Google and Facebook AdWords.  They can show ads for a company's products and services that align almost perfectly with what those customers are searching for. Selling shoes? Google and Facebook ads can target people looking for shoes just like the ones you offer.

Interaction and Engagement

Digital marketing offers a great opportunity for interaction with your customers. Typically when it comes to traditional marketing, you will have basic demographic information - things like age, race, gender... and that's it. For example, if you are running a newspaper ad, they may only provide general demographic information on their subscribers.

Want to know how people are finding you? What they think of your ad or what they do after seeing it? This is where digital marketing has great power. You can receive immediate feedback on your ads, products, and business in general.

What's Right for You?

So what is the right mix of traditional marketing vs digital marketing for your business?  It depends on your business and your goals.  Be wise and remember to avoid limiting yourself to one marketing channel.  Seek help from experts.  Test and optimize your plan so that you can develop the best marketing allocation for your business.

Still have questions about traditional marketing vs digital marketing? Contact us for a free 20 minute consultation today!

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