Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing: All Your Questions Answered


Every business establishment or enterprise deserves a shot to make it to the big time. To do that, marketing is a very important pointer to where you’re headed.

Two major forms of marketing exist to help you out – digital and traditional.

They both have huge impacts when applied correctly, however, one can’t help but feel the other is the most preferred means of marketing.

If you’re trying to figure out which one is the best, you have to take a look at significant differences before settling on a choice.

That is because they both offer positives and negatives. In line with that, you’d want to choose what works best for your company or business.

Read on to learn more via credible answers to questions you have on digital and traditional marketing strategies.

What is Digital Marketing?


Digital marketing refers to online marketing efforts including digital channels such as websites and social media as tools for marketing communication.

For example, adverts that pop up on your system while using social media platforms to stream content.

There are many digital marketing assets out there. As long as it’s a tool used online to market your business and products, it’s every bit as digital.

Digital Marketing Assets and Channels

  • Search
  • Paid ads
  • Online stores
  • Emails
  • Social media
  • Blogs
  • Websites
  • Video content
  • Branded assets like logos and icons
  • Images including infographics and product shots
  • Reviews
  • Online products or tools like SaaS

With more than 4.5 billion active people on the Internet, these channels and assets help you get access to a larger audience.

As a result, you have a wider base to turn them into focused leads for your business.

Popular Digital Marketing Strategies

  • SEO or Search Engine Optimization
  • Web design
  • Content marketing
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) ads
  • Email marketing

What are the Advantages of Digital Marketing?

benefits of digital marketing

In February 2020, Statista reported a 13% increase in the digital marketing budget.

That was up from 11.8% recorded by a study conducted in August 2019. With that in mind, here are the reasons why digital marketing is so important.

1) You get to Personalize the Audience’s Experience

With digital marketing, you can create personalized content that you can tailor to your audience.

That means there’s no one-size-fits-all attempt that appeals to everyone. Rather, you have multiple pieces that are designed to fit people with different interests.

Further, you can personalize the content you create to hit your audience’s interests to solve their problems.

With every interaction, you can continue to gather information to better match user preferences.

To help you so that, there’s a wide variety of content types you can use to match individuals.

That is important especially with 72% of marketers citing that relevant content creation was the most effective SEO tactic.

What you can do

  • Use personalized ads based on search history
  • Create social media ads based on likes and interests
  • Rich content based on frequently asked questions
  • Unique email marketing strategies based on individual shopping behavior

2) Let’s Businesses Build Better Relationships with Their Audience

About 71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand will likely recommend it to others.

That’s a good pointer towards better relationships.

The fact is digital marketing strategies let you interact and engage more than many traditional marketing strategies.

Examples of Digital Marketing Strategies to Boost Relationships

  • Email marketing. This is one of the best ways to reach and keep in touch with different individuals.

The information you send to each member of your audience can be tailored to their interests.

With emails, your audience can also easily respond to you after you remind them of your products and services.

In 2019 alone, about 6 billion emails were sent and received each day! That figure is set to rise to more than 320 billion in 2022.

  • Blogging. Do you know that each month approximately 409 million people view more than 20 billion pages online?

Also, about 43% of people admit to skimming blog posts. Blogging is an easy way to communicate information that is relevant to your audience’s wants and needs.

Readers will use your blogs to stay up-to-date with the content you produce and the services you offer.

  • Social media marketing. What social media marketing does is allow you to have conversations with your audience.

When they comment on blog posts and other platforms, you can comment back and start a dialogue.

That way, you have a pulse on their needs and interest and have ready answers to questions they may have.

Again, one-on-one engagements with your audience help you build brand awareness and customer loyalty.

3) Digital Marketing is more Customer-focused

Digital marketing hones your skills to anticipate customer needs and meet them. That way, people can reach you when they have genuine concerns or need relevant information.

To that end, search engine optimization (SEO) is the best bet as a digital marketing technique.

What it does is optimize your content so it shows higher in search engine results.

As such, when people search for information related to your industry, they’ll find your business first.

Helpful. Information signals that you’re more into building relationships with your audience than generating leads and conversions.

When your audience knows you care, it’s easier for them to trust you to meet their specific needs and interests.

4) High Conversion Rates

More than traditional marketing, going digital provides an easy conversion process for visitors.

Now, Internet users feel that buying a product online is more convenient than buying via traditional means.

For example, records show that 80% of Internet users in the US have made at least one purchase online.

When purchase options are convenient, users are likely to convert using your website

5) Results are Trackable and Measurable

Tracking and measuring results via digital marketing is simply second to none.

Whenever you take on a marketing campaign, you can track a raft of real-time data including clicks, dwell time, devices, and much more.

What’s more, you can access programs like Google Analytics which helps you track all these metrics in one place.

With relevant data available to you, it’s easy to see the results of your digital marketing efforts.

Further, while using the data, you can measure how well your digital marketing is performing against your marketing goals or in comparison to your competitors.

6) Digital Marketing is Cost-effective

In comparison to traditional marketing strategies, digital marketing costs much less.

The fact is running digital marketing strategies is more cost-effective when you consider methods put in place.

For example, content marketing, social media marketing, and search engine optimization don’t take much of your time.

You can implement them for free if you’re willing to spend some time and put in the required effort.

Online paid advertising methods are pretty much the same thing.

For example, social media advertising or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is much cheaper compared to traditional advertising.

What you pay on average is also under a dollar per person who clicks on your ad.

Further, with PPC ads, you get $8 for every $1 spent on advertising.

What are the Disadvantages of Digital Marketing?

  • Less permanent. Many digital marketing efforts like Google ads, banners, social media ads, and more, don’t last as long.

That makes them rather intangible and likely to be ignored.

For example, ads that appear on screens get no views if your audience keeps scrolling or clicking.

  • Digital ads can be annoying. It’s important to create digital marketing ads that don’t have a stress effect on Internet users.

People usually hate pop-ups that delay their choices or make them wait a while longer to view their preferences.

Clever targeting is great when it works, but when your audience finds out, it’s downright annoying.

  • The constant evolution. Change is a constant in life. However, digital marketing takes it to a whole new level.

What trended yesterday could hit the back-burner tomorrow. That is why it’s important to get specialists to attend to some parts of your campaigns.

For example, you can get specialists for each channel you run.

What is Traditional Marketing?

Best Offline Marketing Strategies

Traditional marketing is simply marketing through offline means.

Sure, it’s still useful today with up to 56% of customers perceiving print marketing as the most trustworthy amongst other avenues of marketing.

There are great traditional marketing channels and assets including

  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Television
  • Radio
  • Telephone
  • Catalogs
  • Fliers
  • Billboards
  • Trade shows
  • Industry events

To get these channels working properly for your business, there are many traditional marketing strategies to get things going.

Popular Traditional Marketing Strategies

  • Broadcasting
  • Print advertising
  • Door-to-door sales
  • Direct mail
  • Telemarketing
  • Referral marketing
  • Networking
  • Window display and signs

What are the Advantages of Traditional Marketing?


Traditional marketing offers great advantages with 79% of households saying they read or scan direct mail ads.

Here are some of the advantages you stand to benefit from using traditional marketing strategies:

1) Helps you Reach your Local Target Audience Easily

Businesses can target audiences within a specific location with radio, television, and newspaper to reach local leads.

That means using local resources to help you reach people that live in your area.

They might have an interest in your company and show that by getting your products and services.

2) Your Audience get a Physical Copy

The best part of many traditional methods of marketing involves producing physical advertisements such as newspaper ads, flyers, and direct mail ads.

What these handouts do is give people a physical copy that they can hold on to even after a long time.

Your promotional materials will give your audience a hard copy that they can refer back to whenever they want.

That is a rather significant advantage for traditional marketing over digital marketing strategies.

3) Traditional Methods are more Memorable

When customers see something in real life rather than on their phones, it is more likely to be remembered.

For example, a beautiful and impressive window display is more likely to stay in your mind than an Instagram ad you’ll probably scroll past in a matter of seconds.

The fact is direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital media.

That suggests that it is both easier to understand and more memorable for receivers.

4) More Consistency

Digital marketing offers a lot of volatility with things like trends and strategies changing every time.

The reverse is the case with traditional marketing channels.

Since digital marketing is dependent on technology, it is constantly changing and adapting as technology progresses.

That means you have to learn and adapt to digital marketing strategies change.

With traditional marketing channels, things mostly stay the same.

You’d rarely have to change your newspaper and magazine ads or radio spots.

That is because these types of advertising typically remain consistent for long periods.

This stability provides a great opportunity for you to focus less on staying up to date with an ever-changing landscape much like with digital marketing.

You can then go ahead to create more marketing campaigns. Again, there’s no need to worry about relearning how to use traditional strategies.

5) It’s Easier to Implement

Traditional marketing is not only simple to learn but also easy to apply than digital marketing.

As such, even first-time businesses face less of a learning curve with it, and many businesses already have some experience with traditional marketing channels like print advertising which still generates nearly $30 billion in ad revenue every year.

Further, with newspaper ads and magazine ads, you only need to create the ad, while someone else takes care of the publishing for you.

Unlike digital marketing, you don’t have to implement it with an advertising method yourself.

Again, with the stability on offer, marketers only have to learn how to do it once.

What are the Disadvantages of Traditional Marketing?

Digital Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing

  • Difficulty in measuring campaigns. While it’s true that there are ways to measure traditional marketing campaigns including the use of brand trackers.

However, they are not as effective to provide in-depth analysis.

Also, the tools are not as intelligent as the tools available for digital marketing.

  • Is often expensive. Prices associated with traditional marketing are often on the high side.

For example, if your brand is just starting, you may lack the necessary funds for a 4-page spread in Vogue.

Other forms of traditional marketing including Billboards will put some dent in your pockets.

  • There’s hardly direct interaction with the consumer.

Social media is a form of digital marketing and affords you the chance to closely connect with consumers.

That’s not the case for traditional marketing because you’d barely have a first-hand reaction to your marketing efforts.

Digital Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing: What are the Key Differences?

Digital Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing

The advantages and disadvantages of both marketing strategies have been outlined above. However, there are some key parts to consider that further differentiate them.

1) Cost

In terms of cost, there are significant differences.

⇔ Digital marketing

Digital marketing offers a more cost-effective approach than traditional marketing.

If you’re ready to put work into it, it’s possible to do digital marketing in-house, too.

That doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to have more than enough in your budget for it.

Something like email marketing will cost $300 – $5,000/month or $0.1 – $0.5/email.

Website design can take about $2,500 – $100k.

⇔ Traditional marketing

Traditional marketing is a more expensive marketing strategy. The channels involved like television and radio advertising offer limited advertising space.

As such, you incur expenses to run those mediums coupled with the scarcity of advertising spaces.

For this reason, the prices often go as high as $8 million just to set up.

2) Targeting

They both aim to target audiences on different levels, but their methods often differ.

⇔ Digital marketing

With digital marketing, you efficiently target individuals from desired audiences.

There are tools to help you do that including a user’s search history, demographics, and much more.

You can use the interests of consumers to specifically target them.

⇔ Traditional marketing

Traditional marketing has a less expansive means of targeting intended audiences.

That is because the audiences that access traditional marketing channels usually have a wide range of interests.

Using traditional strategies makes it more difficult to target them.

3) Reach

Audience reach also has some differences to consider.

⇔ Digital marketing

You can reach global audiences with digital marketing. You don’t have a limit in audience size or range with digital marketing.

All you have to is use your established digital marketing channels to reach more people.

Social media marketing is one tool you can use. Also, content marketing works a treat.

When you hit the right notes, your marketing efforts will trend, generate more leads, and conversions.

⇔ Traditional marketing

Traditional marketing can not compete with the reach and precision digital marketing maintains.

For example, methods like newspaper ads and flyers only reach people who buy newspapers or visit somewhere with your flyer lying about.

While you can get more with TV and radio ads, that doesn’t mean you’re reaching an audience that’s interested in your products or services.

That means spending more to reach a limited audience.

4) Engagement

The engagement level for digital and traditional marketing also differs.

⇔ Digital marketing

Digital marketing will give you many opportunities to interact and engage with your audience.

Social media, blogging, and email marketing is the perfect platform to boost your audience’s engagement with your brand.

On the flip side, you have to put up with negative feedback that has higher visibility with digital marketing.

With the Internet, there’s increased visibility and importance placed on reviews and reputation.

Any business that wants to thrive with digital marketing must manage them correctly. A bad response can dent your reputation.

⇔ Traditional marketing

Traditional marketing doesn’t give businesses enough room for interaction and engagement with audiences.

Rather, that’s a big positive with digital marketing.

With traditional marketing, interaction mainly comes from pushing ads and services onto consumers in a one-way information relationship.

As a result, audiences don’t have many channels for providing feedback to brands through traditional marketing channels.

That means a lot of emphasis is placed on content. 92% of marketers and businesses indicate that content is a valuable business asset.

Traditional marketing can also get a little intrusive.

Your audience may be watching a show or listening to a song, but traditional marketing can easily interrupt the user’s experience, making them less likely to engage.

The fact is ads that intrude often aren’t relevant to consumers, and they often have no choice on whether they view the ad.

As such, it provides a negative experience for them and can lower conversion rates.

You can still have good engagement with your audience using traditional marketers, though.

5) Competition

Regarding your competitors and how your marketing efforts will directly or indirectly affect them:

⇔ Digital marketing

With digital marketing, your competition often comes from the world over. Sure, you have an edge competing against other businesses.

However, don’t forget that there’s a large base of companies thanks to a global market.

What that means is you have to bring your ‘A’ game to beat off the competition.

That’s the case if you must gain more visibility online to stand out from your global competitors.

⇔ Traditional marketing

Traditional marketing campaigns are often built on reputation. As such, it’s very difficult for startups and small businesses to compete against large companies.

Yes, you have less competition in traditional marketing compared to the global landscape of digital marketing, but traditional marketing has high expense and relatively low conversion rates.

Further, it is often hard for businesses with small marketing budgets to compete for limited advertising space with companies that have large budgets.

The best part here is that traditional marketing focuses mainly on advertising to audiences within more local areas.

That means your main competition can be other businesses within the same area.

6) Return on Investment (ROI)

The ROI that you can receive alternates between both strategies.

⇔ Digital marketing

Digital marketing has high returns on investment.

When you consider the high conversion rates and low cost, it’s obvious that you’d get a much higher return on your investments than you would with traditional marketing.

With audiences seeing what they want, there’s a higher chance of them converting.

Digital marketing has easy ways to make that happen especially with one click of a button.

Not bad when you consider a channel like email marketing generates an average ROI pegged at 122%.

⇔ Traditional marketing

Traditional marketing has a lower conversion rate than digital marketing.

Audiences in the former are less motivated to convert than with digital marketing.

Also, converting with traditional marketing channels takes more steps.

It often takes increased efforts, time, and resources to convert audiences. In most cases, people are lost during the conversion process.

7) Optimization

The amount of optimization options for digital and traditional marketing differs along several lines.

⇔ Digital marketing

Digital marketing presents many opportunities for optimization. As such, it’s a real possibility to optimize your ads mid-campaign.

Further, it requires time to set up and optimize properly.

For example, search engine optimization and social media campaigns can take upwards of six months to generating the best results.

Also, your audience needs time to discover content, research your business, and make a decision on converting.

Digital marketing also takes time to maintain. That is why consistency is important when maintaining a visible presence online.

⇔ Traditional marketing

Traditional marketing optimization options are limited in scope compared to digital marketing.

One reason for that is ads are not very customizable.

Further, once an ad is out there for traditional marketing, there’s not much you can do to optimize it.

What you can do is measure the results and use them to optimize later campaigns.

At least you don’t have to worry as much about data privacy and other Internet security concerns under digital marketing.

8) Monitoring/Tracking

The way you measure the impact of your marketing efforts differs on both platforms:

⇔ Digital marketing

There are more trackability and measurement ability than traditional marketing.

Digital marketers can analyze a wide variety of metrics using these mediums:

  • Likes and follows
  • Clicks
  • Page rank
  • Ranking keywords
  • Purchases
  • Subscriptions
  • Unique visitors
  • Pageviews
  • Session length, and more.

⇔ Traditional marketing

The results of traditional marketing campaigns are much more difficult to monitor or measure.

That means marketers often have a difficult time tracking those who view their ad or interact with them.

As such, the conversion is at its lowest here.

Which type of Marketing Should you use?


Both of these marketing concepts are great. As such, it depends on the kind of business you run and the results you expect.

That is why it is important to find the right balance between traditional and digital. Both of them play an important role in any marketing strategy.

To reach a broader and younger audience, your brand can expand their digital marketing horizons by making digital content like a video for Facebook and Instagram, and traditional like Billboards and magazines.

Incorporating both marketing strategies can only bode well for your business.


The fact is both of them carry their advantages and disadvantages, but the key is understanding your specific marketing needs, get a hold of your budget, and understanding your target audience.

People of all ages have come to respect and expect both marketing strategies from brands.

Indeed digital and traditional marketing can work for you. The catch here is knowing what your audience wants and acting accordingly.