Traditional vs Digital Marketing: Which Is Better and Why?

Aspire to stay ahead in the pack and leave your competitors behind but confused about choosing the right marketing type between traditional and digital marketing? Here’s a go-to guide for you! This post compares traditional vs digital marketing in detail and helps you pick the apt marketing type based on your marketing needs.

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Have you recently seen any billboard or a banner (while driving) that talks about a company's products or services? You must have (if you love peeping out of the car's window).

That's the traditional way of marketing.

Around 56% of people (still) find print marketing the most trustworthy of all the marketing channels. This is for those who say traditional marketing has no place in the 21st century!

Well, it’s still in the game. 

Yes, you can say that traditional marketing is local and digital marketing is known more for its global reach, but the former is not dead. Not yet!

That said, we all know that…

Capturing the attention of audiences is a crucial part of any business. But we can’t deny that targeting the right people, creating strong brand awareness, and generating better leads are really tough. Thanks to marketing for making things effortless and rescuing sinking businesses.

Marketing plays an integral role in igniting awareness about any product or service among the targeted audience. It was, is, and will always be pivotal. Marketing assists the businesses in promoting the offerings and converting the prospects into loyal customers.

In today's fiercely competitive time and age, it becomes imperative to adopt the right marketing type and direction to stay ahead and win an edge over others. Though deciding between the right marketing type is something that becomes a brain-twister.

Having said that, there are majorly two (prevalent) types of marketing -- traditional and digital marketing.

Now coming to the main topic -- traditional marketing vs digital marketing!

I am not exaggerating, but the internet is full of debate over traditional vs digital marketing. Despite people often asking -- which one is better? What to choose between traditional and digital marketing? Etc, etc, etc. Even after going through so many comparisons, people are still doubtful about choosing between traditional vs digital marketing and why.

When it comes to traditional marketing vs digital marketing, there’s a lot to consider. For this sole reason, I have prepared this easy-to-consume guide about traditional vs digital marketing specifically for those who are unclear (as of yet) about choosing between traditional vs digital marketing.

So without any delay, let’s begin with the nitty-gritty of traditional marketing vs digital marketing and then move ahead with the further comparisons.

Ready? Let’s jump right in!

Traditional Marketing and Its 4Ps

Ever seen ads in newspapers, roadside banners, televisions, or listened to radio ads? Of course, you have. That's traditional marketing (aka outbound marketing). It is an advertising approach performed offline (without any internet and digital tools/technologies) to reach people.

In layman’s terms, any marketing that takes place with a conventional approach via a newspaper, television, radio, direct mail, billboard, and magazine is traditional marketing.

The fundamental aspect of marketing today heavily relies on traditional marketing tactics that have remained the same over the years -- product, price, place, and promotion. These 4Ps are all about putting the right product in the right place, at the right price, at the right time before the right people.

Leveraging these 4Ps, any business can lead its customers and prospects through any sales funnel and reap promising results.

Traditional Marketing Channels:

  • Print (newspapers, brochures, magazines, other printed materials)
  • Broadcast (radio and television ads)
  • Outdoor (billboards, banners, and flyers)
  • Direct mail (postcards, brochures, letters, catalogs, and others)
  • Telephone (SMS marketing, requested calling, cold calling, and telemarketing)

What Is Digital Marketing?

Any marketing done through digital channels, such as the internet, search engines, websites, social media, email, apps, and others, is called digital marketing (aka internet marketing and online marketing). In short, online marketing is promoting products/services online via digital channels and mediums.

The average daily time spent with digital media is now almost 8 hours. As the world is becoming more digital, internet marketing also continues to evolve tremendously. If you want to gain in-depth knowledge on digital marketing quickly (like within a few minutes), read our comprehensive "go-to-guide" on digital marketing right away.

Around 93% of all online interactions begin with a search engine. That's the reason most businesses opt for digital marketing. In fact, per studies, marketers spend about 75% of their total marketing budget on digital channels only.

Types of Digital Marketing:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing (SMM)
  • Email Marketing
  • Influencer/Affiliate Marketing
  • Video/Audio Marketing

Differences Between Traditional Marketing and Digital Marketing

By now, you must have realized that traditional marketing and digital marketing are poles apart. They both differ on a greater level. Let’s try to grasp some basic (yet crucial) differences between traditional and digital marketing.

Let’s dive right in and explore the differences! 

  • Traditional marketing is static, while digital marketing is dynamic
  • Digital marketing provides two-way communication, while traditional marketing offers only one-way communication.
  • Traditional marketing is less effective and more expensive; however, digital marketing is more effective and less expensive.
  • Digital marketing enables reaching the targeted audience from all over the world; whereas, traditional marketing lets businesses reach the local audience only
  • Digital marketing gives quick results, while traditional marketing takes some time to reflect results.

Pros and Cons of Traditional Marketing

Traditional Marketing: Pros

  • Easily Reach Local Audiences - By advertising on radio, TV, magazines, and local editions of newspapers, or through pamphlets, you can easily target potential (local) customers within a specific location and demographic.
  • Greater Exposure - Traditional marketing has a decent success rate when it comes to targeting local audiences. Businesses often adopt this “proven to work” marketing method and achieve greater results and success.
  • Easier to Understand - As it’s been around for so long, the audience is well aware of traditional advertising methods; thus, they understand it easily. Anyone without the internet can be reached through this approach.
  • More Impactful - Traditional marketing grabs more attention (visually). For instance, a billboard or a flyer is apparent and can be aesthetically more compelling. They are easier to grasp and create a lasting impression on viewers.
  • Memorable - Traditional marketing adheres to people's subconscious minds for a long time. For example, ads on TV or billboard work as a reminiscent for people. They are more likely to recollect these ads; rather than a social media post.

Traditional Marketing: Cons

  • More Expensive - For putting ads on TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, flyers, pamphlets, you need to pay a good amount. However, digital marketing is cost-effective. You can post about your products/services on social media and aware people for free.
  • Less Engaging - Traditional marketing is a more passive form of marketing where you provide information and hope the audience will make a purchase, sign up, or interact in a way you desire or thought of.
  • Kinda Forced - Traditional marketing often appears forced on the customers. Since TV, newspapers, radio, etc. are part of most people's daily lives, seeing the ad (unwillingly) on these mediums seems forced that might irk people.

Pros and Cons of Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing: Pros

  • Global Reach - Digital marketing allows you to reach potential customers globally. You can easily reach an entire globe and convince your potential customers to make a purchase from anywhere, anytime.
  • Cost-Effective - Digital marketing is way too cost-effective than traditional marketing. You can prepare a well-thought-out digital marketing plan and reach the right customers at a much lower cost.
  • Highly Engaging - Through social media, emails, blogs, live chat, digital marketing lets you easily and effectively engage with your target audience. This is not possible with the traditional approach of marketing. 
  • Customizable, Better A/B Testing - Online marketing allows you to implement highly customizable and personalized campaigns and communications. You can even A/B test your campaign for an improved customer experience.
  • Higher ROI - You can adopt various online marketing channels and tactics to attract potential customers. This way, you can improve your conversion rates and maximize your ROI.
  • Trackable, Measurable Results - Robust digital marketing tools make it easy for businesses to measure marketing outcomes. In fact, you can obtain detailed information about how customers use your website or respond to your advertising.

Digital Marketing: Cons

  • High Competition - Yes, you can reach global audiences via the internet marketing, but you are also competing against businesses worldwide. Therefore, sometimes, it can be quite challenging to stand out against competitors and grab people's attention.
  • Security and Privacy Issues - Sometimes, you need to collect and use customer data for digital marketing purposes. Therefore, involving higher security and privacy risk.

Traditional vs Digital Marketing: What to Choose, Finally?

To conclude, I would say that both traditional and digital marketing have their advantages and downfalls. The main difference between traditional and digital marketing is the way to reach potential audiences. 

However, the stats say that marketers have been reducing their budgets for traditional marketing, while growth in expenses on digital marketing remains positive. “In February 2021, Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) in the US said their digital spending grew by 14.3%, relative to the preceding 12 months,” reveals Statista.

That said, if you are looking for a cost-effective marketing method, want better conversion, global reach, and aim for higher ROI, go with digital marketing. However, if you want to target local audiences only, traditional marketing is an ideal pick.

Just pick what works the best for you!