The Key Contrasts of Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing

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Ah, the old digital marketing vs traditional marketing debate.

Some folks will fall on their sword arguing that traditional kind is the only way to move forward. They’ll stick to their tried-and-true methods–and nothing else.

Others believe that the only successful marketing strategies in the modern world rely on the internet, and nothing else.

Who’s right? It seems like there are smart people on both sides of the street.

If you’re thinking about hopping into the debate, or maybe you just want to have a good marketing campaign get underway, you’re not alone. Between 2004 and 2015, billions of dollars were spent on marketing campaigns.

If you feel a pressure to pick a side in the argument before getting started, don’t worry.

The truth is that it’s important to know how both kinds of marketing work. With the right knowledge, you’ll end up using a combination of the two kinds of marketing that works best for you.

It’s still important to know the main differences between digital marketing vs traditional marketing. Here’s what they are.

The Basics: Traditional Marketing

Between digital marketing vs traditional marketing, traditional is much older.

That’s right–the simplest of tactics, like putting up a “Garage Sale Saturday” sign on your lawn, falls into this category. Not all versions of traditional marketing are so simple, though.

The many examples of traditional marketing include billboards, mail campaigns, and flyers.

One of the methods that’s as digital as it gets under the traditional bubble is TV commercials.

Those commercials help to capture the essence of traditional marketing. It’s not about catering specifically to the needs of each individual potential customer.

That’s not to say that no research goes into TV. To realize just how much effort is put into discovering the likes and interests of the average viewer, look no further than a Nielsen report.

But it’s about the number of eyeballs on the commercial, not snagging the interest of exactly one person in general.

It’s about communicating with the general public in a efficient and affordable way. It’s been around for decades, and with good reason.

But that doesn’t mean the method hasn’t evolved for modern times.

There are still many people out there who send mailings or leave voicemails as a way to get in contact with people who might buy your service or product. Those people aren’t doing anything wrong, even if it’s a bit old school.

When you consider digital marketing vs traditional marketing, traditional is different because it relies on a network of people. Sure, everybody has to start somewhere. But once you’ve come across a trusted group of people who are interested in your product, you can keep (respectfully) coming back to them.

So, it’s important to have a client base and know what they like. Keep that in my mind–it’s kind of a theme for all kinds of marketing.

The Basics: Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is often defined differently by different people. Some argue that it should extend back to the days of television, since “digital” as a term can apply to that time.

But when you compare digital marketing vs traditional marketing, it’s easy to note the differences.

Generally, the history of digital marketing coincides with the history of the internet. That’s not to say that digital marketing was a big deal when the baby-version of the internet was invented in the 1940’s.

Instead, this kind of marketing became a bigger deal when the internet became a thing that everyone had access to.

Once everyone began using email and checking their favorite websites, a new few million became accessible targets of marketing campaigns. It happened in a way they never had before.

One of the first major breakthroughs that continues to this day was the email blast. It’s a similar concept to mailing your potential clients information or deals–anything that can get them interested in you and your company.

With email, you can create a list serve and email hundreds of potential clients at once. It’s a less personal take on marketing than traditional marketing in some ways.

That captures a big part of the heart of digital marketing, in the grand old contrast of digital marketing vs traditional marketing.

Digital marketing is designed to hit big numbers fast, often without knowing exactly who’s going to end up seeing your ad. That could mean anything from banner ads on a website to email blasts to search engine optimization, which makes your company pop up in Google search results faster than before.

And, in the last ten years, the explosion of social media has changed the game even more. Humanity spends so much time on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram–at least five hours on a smartphone–that a new platform of marketing has opened up.

Companies now spend a lot of marketing effort trying to get people to link to their social media.

The logic is a bit like a bear trap: if you can get them to come to Facebook, they’ll probably end up sticking around a while.

But seriously–it works!

Traditional Marketing Pros

That doesn’t mean there aren’t benefits to focusing on traditional marketing. One of the main pluses associated with this method is the real factor.

People are generally more familiar with the kind of media that traditional marketing comes on.

That could be print papers or billboard or commercials or anything else. These things have all been around for decades, if not centuries.

People are used to receiving traditional marketing, which means it’s a dependable method of marketing. It’s a very human way of marketing a product or service or idea, which makes it very appealing to some people.

That human touch is a great thing, especially since choosing between digital marketing vs traditional marketing often comes down to how personal you want to get with a target audience.

If it is appropriate for you to have a personal touch with your marketing campaign, then you should lean heavily toward traditional marketing.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t drawbacks, though.

Traditional Marketing Cons

Its true that traditional marketing can create a more personal relationship between you and your target audience.

When you think about the digital marketing vs traditional marketing debate, that might sound like a great thing.

It can be–but it’s not always.

For every personal relationship you can build by sending someone a message that lands right in their mailbox, inbox or media feed, there’s a downside.

It could be invasive.

If somebody opens up their Facebook feed, for example, and they see a sponsored advertisement, they might think, yay!

But, they also might be annoyed. They’re probably trying to watch some funny videos or get distracted by a friend.

It’s possible they’ll resent your company for being in a space, virtual or physical, they consider private.

And different people have different lines, which means you’ll inevitably lose some customers while gaining others. It’s a line you’ll have to walk as you begin a digital marketing campaign.

But don’t worry–you can get some help if you want.

Like everything with the digital marketing vs traditional marketing, it’s all about what’s best for your situation. It might make sense for you to lean traditional.

Or maybe to lean digital.

Digital Marketing Pros

When you think about digital marketing vs traditional marketing, the pros of the first are very clear.

First, a lot of the high-quality services you’ll pay for are low cost.

You won’t have to buy stamps or envelops or billboard space or anything else that could be a hidden cost in a traditional campaign.

Instead, you’ll incur much lower costs. Whether it’s for some banner ads or an SEO company or anything else, it’s likely that it’ll be less money out of your pocket.

Moving past the pocketbooks, it’s also true that digital marketing can bring you bigger audiences. When you pay for an internet marketing service, it’s possible that you won’t get much of a bump in publicity.

But a good job can bring thousands, if not millions, more eyes to your website within a few weeks.

And sometimes in less than a few weeks. That’s the other main benefit of digital marketing–the speed. In that category, digital wins the digital marketing vs traditional marketing debate, hands-down.

The internet, as you know, is the fastest and most comprehensive network of communication we’ve ever had.

The marketing that happens there, coincidentally, is also very fast.

Price, speed and exposure: check. But there is a downside.

Digital Marketing Cons

In the debate of digital marketing vs traditional marketing, it’s easy to assume that bringing millions of eyes to your website is only a good thing.

But, to let that many people see your website, you simply couldn’t manage all that yourself. In fact, it’s probably impossible for you to.

You’ll have to rely on an algorithm to spread out your info, whether in banner ads or bursts or anything else, throughout the internet.

That means it could end up in some spots where it shouldn’t be.

It’s not that your marketing campaign will show itself on some dark realm of the internet, but that people will see it when they’re checking the weather, or a game.

That’ll definitely rope in a few interest folks, but it could also annoy some.

And it might annoy them even more the next time it pops up in their sidebar. And again the next time.

All of a sudden, somebody who’s never even met you hates your company. It’s not anything you did. That’s simply a drawback of digital marketing: you don’t control your image completely.

You can end up leaving a bad first, second, third and fourth impression on somebody without ever knowing it. That’s a little unfair, but it might be worth the risks for you.

Settling the Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing Debate

Between digital marketing vs traditional marketing, the truth is that both kinds can help you at different moments in the life of your company or business.

No matter how much you know, there’s still always the possibility that you fall into the trap of having a bad idea.

You know that feeling when you like an idea, so you tell your friend, and they like it, too?

All of a sudden it seems like you’ve come up with the Mona Lisa of ideas. Sadly, you might need to ask only a few more people before you realize that your idea is in fact pretty bad.

But by the time you’ve found out, the plan has already been put in motion. This phenomenon happens all the time in the marketing world.

Just check out this list of some of the worst marketing and advertising ideas put into action, only to be awkwardly called back after they were met with resistance.

Many of them touch on historical subjects that are simply not OK to talk lightly about. Others accidentally dip their toe in controversial subjects that we simply don’t talk about on the internet, save for an embarrassing comment on Facebook.

For them, it wasn’t about digital marketing vs traditional marketing. If their ideas were sent out in an email or on TV, they would still flop, hard.

It was about good vs bad.

With that said, one way to figure out whether an idea is good or not is to consider whether the strategy should utilize digital or traditional marketing. It’s not always a difficult decision, and with some solid analysis, you’ll be able to whip up a plan in no time.

But it’s still very important to remember.

Keep the Difference in Mind

With this general knowledge, you’re more prepared than ever before to engage the marketing world. Whether you’re starting your own campaign or consulting on somebody else’s, you should feel more comfortable than before.

If you have any more questions about the difference between digital marketing vs traditional marketing, feel free to reach out to us.

We can offer a free consultation, and give you the ins and outs of our strategies if you want to work with us.

Before too long, you’ll see improvements that will change the flow of information from you to your potential clients for the better. And that will ultimately make your business run better.

Get started today–good luck!