Digital Versus Traditional Marketing

August, 25, 2016

Digital marketing. Traditional marketing. What’s the difference? Which is better, and where should you spend your money?

First, let’s talk about marketing in general. Basically, marketing is any strategy you employ to do the following:

  • Tell people about your products and/or services.
  • Build relationships and brand recognition.
  • Boost inbound sales.
  • Develop and follow a sales funnel.
  • Get noticed in your industry.
  • Seem bigger than you are by being “everywhere.”
  • Position yourself as an expert or influencer representing your company.

This means something as simple as handing your business card to someone on the bus is marketing. Something as elaborate as paying for your own 20-minute infomercial starring a well-known pitchman is, too.

Traditional marketing methods are those that were used before the digital, or Internet, age to achieve these marketing goals. Traditional marketing is associated with paper, such as print advertisements or brochures. It can also include radio, television and live events. If it was done before digital, and has no direct relation to the digital world, it falls into the traditional marketing category.

Digital marketing is marketing done using digital platforms, namely the anything on the web. This means digital marketing includes content development, website development, social media posting, blogging, podcasts, online video creation, Infographics, online press release creation and distribution, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and the like.

Now, we come to the burning question:

Which is better — traditional or digital marketing?

Traditional and digital marketing each have their own pros and cons, all of which should be considered by any organization ready to get serious about marketing.

Traditional marketing

Pros of traditional marketing include:

  • It may appeal to members of older generations. If your demographics are limited to seniors, you may put more emphasis on traditional marketing. On the other hand, if your demographics are across the board, you risk losing younger clients who are apt to avoid traditional marketing, such as buying papers.
  • It has not changed much in generations. For people who enjoy having the comfort of non-digital marketing, this can make them feel more confident buying from you.

Cons of traditional marketing are:

  • It can be hard to track conversions related to traditional marketing pieces and strategies. Traditional marketing is notoriously tough to track because it’s so hard to tell if a prospect came to you from a TV ad, a billboard or a radio spot — or all three. You can ask, but customers aren’t necessarily going to remember which marketing tool made the biggest impact.
  • Traditional marketing professionals may be moving to digital marketing industries. Schools and universities are pushing younger professionals into digital marketing, so in the next few decades, it may be harder to find people who are devoted to traditional marketing.

Digital marketing

Pros of digital marketing include:

  • It can be very economical. Depending upon the digital marketing techniques you choose, you could spend much less money getting prospects than you do now.
  • It is seen as eco-friendly. Because digital marketing is all virtual, there is no paper trail, nor is there a substantial carbon footprint. This is important for many people.
  • It is easy to track with analytics software. With a few clicks, you can quickly discover which web page is performing and how people are finding out about your business.

Cons of digital marketing are:

  • It is constantly changing. You have to be willing to keep up with digital marketing — or work with digital marketing experts who are.
  • It can seem overwhelming to novices. As new technologies emerge, they may appear confusing at first and require some time to learn the emerging processes.

How to determine the right mix

The right mix between traditional and digital marketing is a balancing act, and it starts with a discussion with a web marketing professional who understands how to help you divide your budget between the two. As you begin to look at your sales and branding goals, it will become clearer which roads are the best suited for your likelihood of continued success.

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