How To
6 min read

A Comparison of Traditional Marketing vs. Digital Marketing & How They Fit in Your Strategy

Jenna Bunnell
November 20, 2022

E-reader fan? Prefer a nice old-fashioned paperback? Ask anyone who likes to get lost in a good book, and you’ll find that the divide between the two camps is hefty and well defined, but the area between is seldom occupied.

So it seems to be with the old and new schools of marketing. Traditional marketing methods have been overshadowed in recent years by digital trends and innovations, but what place do the traditional techniques have in a brave new world? Quite an important one, in fact, and one that can certainly bolster your digital efforts!

What’s the Difference Between Traditional and Digital Marketing?

On the days when your laptop is closed and your phone is happily resting in your back pocket, traditional advertising will still find its way to you. TV and radio ads, billboards, hard-copy brochures, and catalogs are all staples of the traditional marketing handbook.

Alongside these, businesses have utilized physical product launches, workshops, guerilla pop-up campaigns in social spaces, and anything that can wave a physical (often literal!) banner for their brand.

The digital domain takes over when you’re back online. From social media posts, product feed text ads, live chats, blog posts, and webinars, there are more channels to reach the target consumer than ever before.

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So many that marketing teams aren’t just concerned with which channels are best for a business, but how to properly utilize cross-channel and omnichannel marketing for their specific needs.

Digital marketing can revolutionize many traditional sales and marketing behaviors still seen in the workplace. For example, with the increase in remote agents compared to office-based teams, you can utilize live chat functionality without the limitation of office space or even timezones.

If your business has scaled enough to support global inbound/outbound traffic, this might prove the most efficient way to secure leads unencumbered and remove a need for the more traditional cold calling.

Never forget, though, traditional walked so that digital could run.

Why the Distinction?

Understanding what’s under the hood of both traditional and digital marketing techniques plays a big part in knowing which is right for your business and what balance to strike between the two. Therein lies the key to a winning B2C or B2B marketing strategy.

Having a clear idea of the routes you want to go down when it comes to your marketing requires a level of discernment, which is particularly true when presented with what can feel like infinite options for marketing solutions and cross-channel applications.

Everyone knows a business that makes a big deal about how they’re able to get by on the strength of, say, their social media marketing or digital loyalty program alone. This may not be the case for everyone and is very much the exception to the rule.

It’s a highly visible exception, but an exception nonetheless!

Where a good IT strategy will allow your company to maximize the potential of your infrastructure, defining your marketing assets and budget will set you down the path to properly utilizing your resources.

Optimizing your marketing potential in today’s oversaturated arena will need a lot more than just selecting the easiest affiliate program or the ideal video editor to integrate with your current portfolio.

Indeed, within these early days, it’s vital you don’t immediately discount traditional marketing. As competition for digital attention grows exponentially, properly utilizing traditional advertising methods alongside the digital can elevate your reach, impact, and memorability.

As a matter of fact, with industry spending on traditional marketing starting to grow following a decades-long decline, now might be the perfect time to get on board the resurgence and stand out from the crowd.

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In the interests of innovation and market excellence, there’s always the temptation to be chasing the next big thing. The traditional pillars of the marketing community remain for a reason, however.

The digital landscape is vast, borderless, and loud; the competition for attention is fierce and constant. Through traditional marketing, smaller-scale businesses and startups can enter a more controlled, less frantic marketing sphere and simultaneously boost their digital efforts.

Regardless of your business size, every little cost-saving effort will help toward healthy net profit margins. With traditional marketing methods, there may not be as direct a line of sight between investment and return as you would like. Digitally, however, metrics for gauging more profitable streams are readily available.

Ultimately, freeing up traditional market resources with digital alternatives may better allow for reinvestment in a revitalized hybrid of the two. Just because you’re currently using both doesn’t necessarily mean you’re using both well, after all.

Current trends in SaaS pricing models compared to physical products, for example, allow businesses to pivot away from cost-ineffective solutions with relative ease due to subscription-based services fast becoming the norm.

Bridging the Gap

When it comes to finding your spot on the tradigital marketing spectrum, remember that one hand will, and should, feed the other. Almost all businesses will find the key to their success lies in incorporating elements of heyday marketing avenues with the latest in digital methodologies.

Digital marketing is much more suited to the concept of data-driven marketing, given its relative measurability. However, that doesn’t mean traditional marketers are flying blind.

Digital metrics can be used to track the success of traditional campaigns . Monitoring web traffic through site analytics in the periods after a TV or radio ad, for example, can help you gauge your traditional campaign’s effectiveness in real time.

Utilizing multiple redirect domains per type of hard-copy advert, or placing unique email addresses and contact numbers on individual marketing assets will help you determine the channels by which customers have discovered you, allowing you to jettison those that might otherwise continue to cost without return.

After-sales and follow-up calls with clients and service users can be vital in determining how they first made it into your sales funnel. Use these conversations to feel out which methods are appealing to your target consumer and whether or not others made any kind of impact at all.

Before you go pondering how to start a call center, however, this need not be a consistent, overarching effort. 

Keep such calls in the hands of named representatives with which your clients have dealt as part of your standard post-sales follow-up. Regardless of how far into the digital realm we delve, the personal touch still matters!

Aside from measuring successes, however, physical campaigns can lead targeted consumers toward your digital assets. Many brands have had notable successes with guerilla campaigns that feature QR codes and “mystery” domains that entice people toward content. You can generate QR codes by choosing the best dynamic QR code generator available in the market.

These sorts of campaigns, if executed well, can generate significant social buzz as respondents share their reactions and intrigue. Further, they’re relatively cost-effective when compared to traditional advertising, such as TV or radio advertising.

The likes of the more traditional marketing material, such as direct mail, shouldn’t be discounted here either. Physical media, rather than directly leading to the product, is a fantastic means by which to direct people towards digital avenues on which businesses can expound their pitch.

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A startup baptized in the fast-paced digital world may view traditional marketing with a certain trepidation and redundancy. But what they should be seeing is the potential to stand head and shoulders above the competition on a much less densely-populated battlefield.

When to Go Traditional

Many of the considerations about the incorporation of traditional marketing come down to budget. TV and radio ads can be costly, as can billboards. Further, if you’re relying on having a significant enough reach, you’ll need a more densely populated area in which to pitch up. This will raise the cost more. 

But don’t be disheartened just yet!

If you have a product that relies on a target market from a specific locale, these costs can be factored out over time, given the relative permanence of a lot of traditional marketing’s assets.

Ads in magazines and papers will circulate until they fall apart, and where your ad runs in collectible or issue-based publications, your reach and visibility increase exponentially.

Traditional campaigns also have the dual benefits of being less intrusive and more visually impactful. This is the case now more than ever with the increasing use of ad-blocking software among consumers.

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One of the often-cited drawbacks of traditional marketing is the lack of direct interaction with the target consumer. While digital campaigns have almost instantaneous feedback from comments, likes, shares, clickthroughs, and any number of KPIs, traditional marketing can feel like you’re talking “at” rather than “to.” people.

However, this is where hybridization is at its finest. Generating physically present campaigns and making them the subject of your digital coverage encourages immediate feedback and greater visibility with all the object permanence of a traditional campaign.

Recent trends orienting toward nostalgia-based advertising,  logo reversions, and limited edition product packaging, for example, also allow longer-standing brands to profit from their traditional advertising roots.

It’s good news for newer businesses as well, however, as an emphasis on traditional platforms elicits a sense of familiarity and grounding in social tradition as people adjust to post-pandemic normality.

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While the digital landscape is more complex and layered, it shouldn’t intimidate a business that needs to be mindful of making quick pivots to their spending based on stream effectiveness.

Likewise, the costs and interactive isolation of more traditional campaigns can’t always be viewed with the same readily-available metrics as their digital counterparts. Return on investment can take years to gauge effectively.

But, as we’ve seen, where your business can truly thrive is by finding its sweet spot that utilizes the most appropriate digital marketing tools alongside impactful, carefully-curated traditional marketing strategies.

As digital marketing spend continues to increase, it’s worth remembering that without a little old school in the mix, your message may very well fade out among the digital noise.

Like your elders always say: respect your elders!

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