Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing

Christian Thomson
June 3, 2020  •   3 min read


Updated July 30, 2020, 2:30 pm

While there are many ways to advertise your business, they generally fall into one of two categories: traditional and digital. Traditional marketing, as one can surmise from the name, has been in use for decades. Some would even say centuries. Digital marketing is more modern, taking advantage of newer technology and people’s changing habits.

Does this mean that traditional marketing is no longer relevant? Is digital the only viable option? What is right for your company?

Let’s review both to find an answer.

Traditional Marketing

Even today, when people hear the term marketing, many if not most, of those who aren’t engaged in digital marketing will think of traditional approaches. This usually focuses on the big three: television, radio, and print ads.

Almost all adults past a certain age can think of at least a handful of products for which they still remember TV commercials. They can probably even hum or sing several old jingles. If you would “like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,” you probably know what you will be drinking while you do so.

Traditional marketing isn’t limited to these methods, however, and may include ads on billboards or public transport, telemarketing, flyers, and branded merchandise.

Digital Marketing

These days, digital marketing is almost impossible to miss, as it is a part of everything we do online. Any time someone goes online, they are sure to encounter digital marketing in one form or another, making it incredibly effective given that consumers go online to research and purchase products, learn something new, or simply for entertainment. For all of those activities, digital marketing is there.

Various types of digital marketing include a company’s website, social media (Facebook, etc.), pay-per-click marketing (such as Google Ads), influencer marketing, and email marketing.

Which is Better Traditional Marketing or Digital Marketing?

Both traditional marketing and digital marketing have their uses, and there are always a variety of factors to take into consideration when determining the best approach to take. Some will say that traditional marketing is outdated and no longer effective. Others will say that digital marketing is less impactful.

Choosing the right type of marketing depends on your needs. For example, is your target audience over the age of 65? If so, you will probably not benefit from social media as much as television and radio. Conversely, if you are trying to reach a young audience, social media might be your best bet.

Consider your competition as well. Do they have a large, highly effective online presence? It will take some work for you to become competitive. If they have thus far been unsuccessful advertising online, then you have an opportunity to get a leg up on them.

Traditional Marketing Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Older adults. It is more likely to reach an older demographic.
  • Offline. It can connect you with those who spend little time online.
  • Tactile. Branded merchandise or samples, for example, can be held, used, and experienced in ways that digital ads cannot.

Cons

  • Scattershot effect. Your efforts are very broad and won’t necessarily reach your target audience.
  • Limited reach. Your ads tend to be visible in a particular geographic area and become more expensive as you expand.
  • Poor feedback. It takes time to be able to measure your success, and if you find you need to make a change to your efforts, it is an additional expense.

Digital Marketing Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Worldwide audience. Being online, you can potentially reach anyone on Earth with an internet connection.
  • Immediate feedback. Analytic tools (such as Google Analytics) provide a tremendous amount of feedback, very quickly.
  • Targeted audience. With the amount of feedback available, campaigns can be tailored to reach specific audiences. If results are sub-optimal, campaigns can be adjusted quickly and easily.
  • Customer engagement. Social media allows a business to interact with their audience in ways that traditional marketing cannot match.
  • More efficient at a lower cost. Digital marketing isn’t necessarily cheap, but by examining your ROI and adjusting your strategy as needed, your long-term profitability will be higher than traditional methods allow.

Cons

  • It cannot reach an offline audience. A brilliant social media campaign will have no effect on anyone who doesn’t go online.
  • Highly competitive. It can be difficult to stand out from the crowd among all the Google Ads, social media, and assorted campaigns.

In the end, the choice of traditional versus digital marketing comes down to what is needed. There are still times when traditional marketing can prove highly effective, but when it comes to reaching a highly targeted audience, seeking engagement, or requiring quick feedback and flexibility, digital leads the way.


Christian Thomson
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Christian is one of Canada’s most sought-after digital marketing experts. He has taken Marwick from start-up to 18th Fastest Growing Company in B.C. (Source: Business In Vancouver Magazine). Well known for helping business owners navigate and dominate the digital landscape. Over the last 19 years, Christian has helped companies attract great customers using the latest in digital marketing. Christian was also the co-founder of CIMC, Canada’s largest digital marketing conference. Christian is also a professional surfer, representing Canada at the ISA World Games in France. When Christian isn’t growing Marwick, and Marwick’s clients he can be found traveling with his family.