Digital Marketing Vs Traditional Marketing

Digital Marketing VS Traditional Marketing : Who’s Winning the Battle?

It’s 2019 and the debate is ongoing. Whis is better? Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing… ?  With so many advantages to digital marketing why would any business still carry on with traditional marketing? Let’s take a closer look at the advantages and drawbacks of each so you can truly measure the ROI of each.

And then you decide how you should proceed with your Marketing Plans!

Digital marketing vs traditional marketing

There was a time when the word ‘digital’ was used to describe a high-definition TV broadcast. No one talked about ‘digital marketing’ (so widely used these days). It would have had no meaning whatsoever.

Now, fast-forward 20 years. Discussions about digital marketing performance take up 80% of every marketing meeting, everywhere.

However, despite its growth and ubiquity,  there are still many companies with an established, ‘old-school’ leadership. They can’t quite wrap their minds around digital. They continue (like you, perhaps?) to rely on traditional marketing strategies. After all, traditional marketing is what you grew up with and know inside and out. It has worked for you so far, it’s measurable, and it’s familiar. Why would you abandon it?

We’re not here to tell you that traditional marketing is obsolete, because it’s not. This article is not about pitting digital marketing vs. traditional marketing because one does not replace the other. In most cases, that is.

But, if you’re unfamiliar with digital marketing, you’re left with a lot of question marks and gaps in your sales and marketing activities. Questions like: why are my sales going down? Why are leads grinding to a halt? What are my competitors doing that I’m not?

The answer to that last question might very well be: digital marketing.  SMBs that include digital marketing in their overall marketing mix grow faster than those who don’t. Our advice? Get proficient at it and beat your competition at their own game.

In this article, we will first take a look at the numerous advantages of traditional marketing. We will then take a look at the advantages of digital marketing and compare the two. You will learn some eye-opening facts and techniques that you should be implementing as soon as possible.

Lay the Foundation for Traditional & Digital Marketing First

Digital Marketing VS Traditional Marketing

Every good marketing plan starts with SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Results-oriented, and Time-bound. They are also measured quarterly and annually. These goals anchor your marketing plan, tying it to a budget, and allowing you to track the company’s progress toward larger business goals, which can be year-over-year revenue growth, the growth of sales of a particular product line in a specific quarter, or profit margin improvements.

If you need to brush up on how to develop an effective marketing plan, head over to ImpactBND and read this post. Bob Ruffolo gets right to the point and explains nine key things to keep in mind when developing a well-rounded marketing plan.

Advantages of Traditional Marketing

Digital Marketing VS Traditional Marketing

When we talk about traditional marketing, we refer to the activities that existed before the dot-com era and the explosion of the Internet. It’s the marketing that ‘invades’ the focus of the prospect’s attention. The “culprits”: TV, newspapers, billboards, radio, leaflets, posters, and so on. That’s its main defining point – we publish  ads across these media in the hope of reaching our target audience. The “spray and pray” approach to marketing. We also refer to it as ‘push’ marketing because we’re going to them with our message, rather than letting them come to us.

And, that’s perfectly legitimate. Sometimes, there’s no other way to ensure leads for your business other than taking the old, well-traveled road of traditional marketing. Its benefits are numerous, and we want to touch upon a few that we’re sure will resonate with you.

Traditional Marketing Still the Best Way to Reach A Mature Demographic…

Although we’re constantly moving that imaginary line of what’s considered ‘older’, the fact remains that marketing to the population that’s over 65 years of age is different from marketing to the Z generation (born after 1994). The over 65 population tends not to use the Internet as much, so they are not as reachable through their phones and computers.

If your prospects are mature, your best bet to reach them is through newspaper and magazine ads, radio and TV commercials, and billboards. This generation is 6 million-strong in Canada, and more than 50 million-strong in the United States, with considerable purchasing power, which means that you don’t want to gloss over them. A strictly digital marketing campaign will be wasted on them, but a well-thought-out traditional marketing campaign can produce enviable results.

…As Well As Local Prospects

Digital Marketing VS Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing also works great if you’re a small to medium service that relies on the local community for business. For example, a couple of weeks ago one of our team noticed a leaflet promoting a nearby bike repair shop. Seeing how he had a flat tire for weeks (and zero time to do some online research), he took the leaflet home with me. Next morning, he pushed his bike there on his way to work and picked it up in the afternoon.

Sometimes, flyers and posters offer a great return on investment, especially when you can print them out for pennies. The bike shop that I mentioned probably printed out hundreds of them. In the unlikely event that he was the only customer they gained from that activity (his bill was $95), they’ve still made back their investment, and then some more. We’re not saying that a digital campaign wouldn’t have netted them more customers, but with an ROI of 200%, why NOT put up a hundred of these around your neighbourhood?

Digital Marketing VS Traditional Marketing
Flyers are an easy, inexpensive way to get local prospects to visit local businesses.

Tangible Promotional Materials Last Forever

Traditional marketing materials such as leaflets, flyers, posters, and brochures can be kept and recycled, especially if they are not date-specific. A lot of people who pick up a brochure save it, pinning it to the fridge to keep the company top of mind, or filing it in the newspaper rack.

Events Marketing, a national experiential agency who manages national retail campaigns for charity athletic fundraisers, has delivered millions of point-of-purchase event brochures annually for over 10 years. Around 5% of these materials were still in retail stores, bars, coffee places, and homes a year later, growing awareness for the cause!

Hard Copy Marketing Materials Are Easier To Remember

Digital Marketing VS Traditional Marketing

Although most of us are used to reading off screens, there’s something about paper copy that makes it easier to process and recall the information that was read. In fact, neuroscientists overwhelmingly agree that the benefits of reading from paper shouldn’t be dismissed lightly.

One study used eye-tracking technology and EEG to measure ease of understanding, persuasiveness, and attention in people exposed to ads on paper and on a digital medium. They found that paper is 21% easier to understand and that people reading paper ads are 70% more likely to remember the company which placed the ad.

Another study looked at Kindle readers and found that they scored worse on reconstructing a story than the readers who’ve read the same material in paper format. When we put this in business terms, it’s evident that people are more likely to remember your offer if they’ve actually held a piece of paper promoting it.

Digital Marketing VS Traditional Marketing

Advantages of Digital Marketing

As opposed to traditional marketing, which pushes brand messages and offers out to people hoping to grab as many eyeballs as possible, digital marketing is more about positioning yourself so you’re found by individuals at the time when they need you to solve a particular problem of theirs.

It’s what we call ‘pull’ marketing, meaning that you’re there when someone is searching for specific information on their phones and laptops, watching videos on YouTube, or simply flicking through their Facebook newsfeed. Digital marketing can be both paid and organic, but it always relies on the actions the searcher made prior to getting served with your ad or your blog – sites they’ve visited, queries they’ve typed into Google, and so on.

Although they might look complicated and intimidating, basic digital marketing concepts are essential to absorb and integrate into your marketing plans. This is especially true when we’re talking about blogs (content) and social media. Let’s explore what you’re missing out on if you’ve been putting digital marketing campaigns on the back burner.

Digital Is The Only Sure-Fire Way to Reach Generation Z

Digital Marketing VS Traditional Marketing

Born with a smartphone already clenched in their tiny hands, Gen Z is the only generation that’s never known life without the Internet. For them, the radio is an antiquity: the TV set is something that their grandparents watch ‘programs’ on. They pay little attention to printed papers and think about billboards as scenery.

If you wish to develop this age demographic as customers, then you need to be online so they can find you. By 2020, they will become the largest generation of consumers. Even as youths, they are making an impact – 93% of parents say that most of their purchasing decisions are influenced by what their kids have to say.

Budgets Are Easier To Redistribute

With digital marketing, budgets are mostly placeholders. You can plan to spend $1000 on Facebook ads every month, running branding campaigns, only to figure out one week and $250 later that those campaigns are underperforming. So seeing this, you immediately pause the campaign. Spending stops.

At the same time, your content marketing team had been allocated a budget of $400 a month.  And then a single white paper created from this budget landed the company three high quality leads 5 days after publishing. There’s nothing stopping you from diverting money from those Facebook branding campaigns to where it can make a difference today – promoting this white paper or producing similarly valuable content that has proven to deliver leads.

A/B Testing Timeline Is Greatly Reduced

Digital Marketing VS Traditional Marketing

Digital marketing budgets are flexible because the testing process makes it easy to pinpoint top performers, allowing for performance-boosting tweaks in ongoing campaigns. Budgets can be moved away from non-performing campaigns toward well-performing campaigns. Under-performing campaigns can be paused while the marketing team considers what changes are needed to improve performance. In contrast, a traditional direct mail campaign can take weeks to wrap up and analyzing data from it can stretch months. The same goes for print, radio, and TV – the metrics are not immediately available and not as precise as we would want them to be.

A couple of hundred dollars and seven days is all you need to see if a digital campaign is bringing in results. Digital marketing plans are flexible, giving you an opportunity to analyze results throughout the campaign, to develop contingency plans, and to be ready to pivot at a moment’s notice.

An Abundance of Data To Pinpoint Your Ideal Customer


Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other platforms and service providers earn money by knowing everything there is about their users. When running digital campaigns, you get access to this analytics data and learn a lot about your ideal customers.

By looking into Facebook or Google analytic tools, you will be able to generate several buyer personas to describe each segment of your customer base. We use the concept of persona to clearly define to whom we are speaking,  in order to be hyper-focused in our content creation. The process of developing a persona involves fleshing out this target customer completely – their age, gender, job, income, hobbies, favourite movies, the car they drive, what they had for breakfast, and more. The goal is to understand the problem that your product or service solves by walking a mile in their shoes. The persona that you’ve have written up will serve as a powerful tool for writing laser-focused copy and content that will speak directly to each customer segment that you’re targeting.

Additionally, the data provided will also let you:

  • See data from various marketing channels and combine them to get a clear picture of how campaigns are performing overall.
  • Pinpoint times, devices, and channels that work best for your campaigns, spending money where it really matters.
  • Shut down a campaign, make adjustments, and relaunch it to see if those adjustments are working. This way, you bandage the money bleed before it can do any serious damage while working on a fix.

With Digital Marketing, The World Is Your Oyster

Digital Marketing VS Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing often imposes the limitation of locality, small or big. You can execute a traditional campaign that runs nationally, regionally, or locally. But, you can’t really target your ideal customer if they live on a different continent. And, 50 years ago, why would you? They were too far to buy from you – the shipping alone would cost a fortune.

These days, however, there are no such limitations. Goods travel the world at a fraction of the cost that they used to. Also, if you’re selling services, they can be offered anywhere in the world. E-books, online courses, coaching, video materials  can all can be downloaded without incurring the shipping costs.

Digital marketing lets you reach people that live thousands of miles away. Logistically, much of traditional marketing is best suited to a clientele which is in geographic proximity to your offices. With digital marketing, all you have to do is set up your website and online advertising the right way, and you’re on your way to doing business.

Access To Highly Specialized Experts

Because digital marketing is so fragmented, it’s difficult for a small business to have all the experts needed in-house. But, the fact that it’s also so pervasive has driven the price down, with full-service digital agencies offering their best and the brightest at very reasonable prices. Most of the time, the price is well-worth paying.  You get access to a team of technical specialists who can give you very valuable insights regarding every aspect of your business. Need Facebook? Check. Email campaigns? Check? Digital remarketing? Check.

Moving certain aspects of digital marketing to an outside team (and managing the relationship instead of the specifics of individual campaigns) frees up your employees so they can focus on more strategic work. Also, it allows you to avoid the hiring costs and pitfalls of taking on all those technical specialists as staff.

Decision-Making & Accountability Move to the Front Line

Digital marketing forces companies to empower entry and mid-level employees to take action when needed. With dozens of small online campaigns being executed simultaneously, the leadership doesn’t have the time to react and micro-manage every one of these campaigns. Using analytics and reporting, the leadership gets regular updates on campaign performance and progress.

In traditional marketing scenarios, the decision to pull the plug on a campaign would be debated left and right before any action is taken, usually at a significant cost to the company.

However, since digital campaign budgets are usually much smaller, account managers responsible for them have the power to pause the campaigns they are unsatisfied with, at least until they figure out what went wrong. If a campaign doesn’t have potential, they can easily allocate the remaining budget to another campaign that is producing results.

Digital Marketing Can React In Real-Time

Digital marketing is hands-on marketing that is cost-effective, especially when you consider the power of reach available through developing a social media following. You have a platform, you have an audience, and there are things happening all around the world that can be connected to your brand. The upside is tremendous. The limits are your own creativity and vision! Every day, new opportunities arise to speak to your target audience and get them excited about your products or services.

Take a look at this excellent example from the Belize Tourism Board. Just days after characters on a hit TV show used the phrase ‘sending to Belize’ as a euphemism for murder, BTB jumped at the opportunity to invite the whole cast to their beautiful island after the season wraps up.

Digital Marketing VS Traditional Marketing

What this shows is that your digital marketing plan is never complete – it has to be flexible enough to allow for budget spends dictated by real-life events. Sometimes those spends will be substantial (they probably would be in this case) but, most of the time, we’re talking about a minimal spend – hiring a creative person that can connect the dots and react appropriately. I’m not sure if the Breaking Bad cast ended up going to Belize or not, but the show’s official Twitter channel tweeted this image (below), amplifying Belize Tourist Board’s message.

Digital Marketing VS Traditional Marketing

Digital Marketing IS Cheaper

The fact that it’s cheaper to reach the same audience numbers with digital than it is with traditional shouldn’t come as a big shock. Printing an ad in a magazine will cost you between $500 and $20,000, depending on the size of the ad and the type of the publication; a 30-second TV commercial on a small local station is around $1500 (excluding the production cost, which can easily double that). That doesn’t sound like all that much, but the problem is that you never know how many people you’ve reached, and the reach itself may not fit your ideal buyer persona.

On the other hand, with Google and Facebook ads, you can hone in on your perfect audience segment and reach thousands of people with just $100. The BlueWing agency ran a test with their B2B clients and found the following:

On average, across all of our B2B client accounts, the average cost to reach 1,000 people (CPR) is $43.64 and the average cost to serve 1,000 impressions (CPM) is $22.50. So with $100, you could serve ads to 2,292 people and get 4,445 impressions.’

It’s Not Digital Marketing VS. Traditional Marketing – It’s Digital AND Traditional Marketing

Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing

We’re not advocating throwing out the baby with the bathwater here.  Traditional marketing definitely has a place in your marketing mix. However, for best results, it’s time you paired it with select high-yield digital campaigns.

This brings us to a multi-channel marketing approach, something that we believe every SMB should consider in order to be successful in today’s markets. It’s a way to diversify your marketing investment and avoid placing all your eggs in one basket, thus becoming dependant upon a single source of leads that might vanish when you wake up tomorrow. The multichannel approach combines traditional marketing with different subsets of digital marketing (social, e-mail, paid ads, organic, and more).

To create a successful multi-channel marketing strategy, you need to:

Build in channel touch points pre-meditatively during the planning phase

For example, make sure that your printed materials (catalogs, brochures, posters) have a scannable QR code of your Snapchat channel, and encourage people to visit your YouTube or Facebook pages.

Eliminate data silos to deliver the right offer via the right channel

Cloud data solutions give you an opportunity to input various datasets from different departments into one centralized tool. That tool then matches all the interactions a single customer has had with your brand (customer support, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, store visits, and more), giving you a holistic overview that you can use to improve offer delivery and conversions.

Run A/B tests on creatives

Twitter and Facebook posts have different best-practice approaches, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. A/B test your copy and images and find what works best on which channel.

Automate processes as much as possible to cut down on costs

Instead of manual postings, invest into tools that will prepare and schedule social media posts for maximum impact. The more you can automate, the better, because it will cost less to manage and reduce the possibility of human errors.

The power of this integrated marketing approach is greater than the sum of its parts. Each amplifies the other, helping you reduce cost and maximize gains. Tying it all together are social media platforms – the virtual stage for your brand, where you get to communicate, share ideas, build communities, and permeate the lives of customers and potential customers in a very intimate way.

If you feel that all of this is too much for you to take on right now, let’s look at how Asset Digital Communications can get you going faster.  We’ll assess your current marketing strategy and identify opportunities to level up and get ahead of your competition.  Book a FREE consultation with us today to explore your options, and to see what a top digital marketing agency and expert social media consultants can do for your business.