Understanding the Differences Between Traditional and Digital Marketing

Marketing. That’s a term that can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. While we have reviewed what marketing is before and taken you on a deep dive, we didn’t really get into the weeds as to all the options you have when it comes to advertising for your business, and trust us, there are a lot of them. We are going to review the differences between traditional and digital marketing and talk about some of the key elements for both.

What is Marketing?

We know we have covered this before, but for those with their heads on their desks in the back, we thought we would briefly review again.

According to Oxford Languages, marketing is “The action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising”. Nowadays, marketing seems more like an art than this formal definition. With banner ads, out-of-home, online video, etc., marketing is filled with endless possibilities, all with the same goal in mind; to attract your ideal audience and create and strengthen brand loyalty and sales.

Marketing ultimately means sales, and sales should mean profit and revenue. With the right marketing, it should lead to repeat sales at a much lower cost than the initial sale.

Now that we have gotten everyone on the same page, we will move on to review the differences between traditional and digital marketing.

What is Traditional Marketing?

Traditional marketing is pretty self-explanatory, it is marketing that involves using traditional methods and channels, like billboards, TV and radio commercials, newsstand advertisements, and printed media. To many, traditional marketing is considered the old way of marketing. Traditional marketing is basically any type of marketing that can be done without using the Internet.

What is Digital Marketing?

Unless you have lived under a rock for the last couple of decades, you are likely well aware of digital marketing. Digital marketing, also called online marketing, involves the promotion of products or brands via one or more form of electronic media. Advertising mediums that might be used for digital marketing include websites, banner ads, social media, mobile devices, search engines, online video, electronic billboards, and other similar channels. Digital marketing involves marketing to consumers through digital channels (also pretty self-explanatory).

What are the Differences Between Traditional and Digital Marketing?

While you may understand the differences between traditional and digital marketing in terms of what they are and the mediums they use, we are going to review what makes them different outside of those things, and why businesses select one or the other, or both.

  • Cost: Digital marketing is generally the more cost effective of the two methods. Traditional marketing can be pricey and you can’t guarantee that the people you are reaching are actually the right audience and will convert to customers. It is also typically much more expensive to change traditional advertisements than to make adjustments to digital ads.
  • Speed of Reach: With traditional marketing, it can take weeks or months to yield results. Generally, traditional marketing advertises to people in places where they can’t take immediate action and make a purchase. With digital marketing, the results are much faster, as the consumer can immediately make a purchase in just a few clicks.
  • Measure of Success: When using digital marketing, it’s easy to track and measure results. If something isn’t working, it can be changed on the fly. Traditional marketing is hard to measure and sometimes impossible. You could spend tons of money on a billboard and never actually know if it pays off.
  • Demographics: Traditional marketing allows businesses to reach a demographic that is not online. It has been reported that audiences ages 50 and more spend almost twice as much time reading the newspaper and watching TV as compared to those ages 21 to 34 (GlobalNewsWire). If only using digital marketing, you can miss that entire demographic. On the flipside, by not using digital marketing, you can miss those people who are only online and rarely interact with more traditional sources.
  • Permanence: Traditional marketing materials are usually more permanent than their digital counterparts. Not only can they be something a person can physically hold and go back to, they are harder for a person to click off of or ignore than digital advertisements. Digital marketing items may be skipped through or blocked (i.e. clicking “I don’t want to see this” on social media ads, or skipping through ads before YouTube videos).
  • Reach: Digital marketing allows for a much larger reach than most traditional marketing forms. A business can easily and cost effectively be found globally, when using digital methods. With digital marketing the audience can be highly targeted, something that is next to impossible to do with traditional advertising.

While there are many differences between traditional and digital marketing, your marketing will be more successful if you use a mix of both. A solid marketing plan coordinates both online and offline advertising efforts to get your business maximum exposure.

At Water Bear Marketing we understand that advertising is not one size fits all and believe that both digital and traditional marketing efforts can make a business successful. We offer a variety of marketing products to suit your business needs.

Contact us for a free advertising consultation today.