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Traditional Marketing vs Digital Marketing: what’s the difference between the two and which one should you use? Selecting the right marketing type is an age old question on every marketer’s mind.

The main difference between traditional and digital marketing is the medium through which an audience encounters a marketing message. While traditional marketing uses traditional media like magazines and newspapers, digital marketing uses digital media, such as social media or websites.

Here’s everything you need to know:

What is Traditional Marketing?

Traditional Marketing involves traditional channels, like adverts and printed media.

Up until the development of the internet in the 1990’s, Traditional Marketing was pretty much the only type of marketing.

Of course Traditional Marketing doesn’t mean it’s old fashioned. Traditional Marketing still plays an important role in people’s lives with the ever growing need to step out of the digital world.

The immersive experience of an impactful TV advert and the tactile nature of a copy of Cosmopolitan magazine are as important today as they were 20 years ago because of their lasting effects on your memory. Subconsciously you attach yourself to their brand emotionally, meaning they will stay at the top of your mind.

What is Digital Marketing?

Put simply, Digital Marketing is the use of digital channels such as websites and social media as tools for marketing communication.

If you’re using social media you will be well versed in the adverts that pop up in your stream—that’s Digital Marketing.

In the same token, Digital Marketing is just as important as Traditional, if not even more so. Digital Marketing uses every touch point of your daily internet use to reach you.

If you are Google searching holiday ideas for your next weekend getaway, the chances are that soon after you will see a tailored sponsored ad relevant to your recent search.

Using the internet for several hours each day is a now normal part of most people’s day to day life. Digital Marketing uses this to its advantage by cleverly weaving in marketing communications into every digital channel.

Which type of marketing should you use?

The key to a great marketing campaign is to find the right balance between Traditional and Digital. In 2020, Digital Marketing is the yin to Traditional Marketing’s yang. Both individually play an important role in a marketing strategy, but they are each elevated when used in unison.

Let’s get to the specifics and define the pros and cons between Traditional Marketing and Digital Marketing…

Traditional Marketing: the pros and cons

With the rise of social media, Traditional Marketing is often undervalued by marketers. However, it still has a valuable place in a consumer’s day to day life. If you have the budget to share your campaigns in magazines and prime time TV, your money could be very well invested.

Traditional Marketing channels include:

  • Print (Magazines, newspapers etc)
  • Direct Mail (catalogues etc)
  • Outdoor (Billboards, bus/taxi wraps, posters etc)
  • Broadcasting (TV, Radio etc)
  • Telemarketing (Phone, text message)
  • Window display and signs

The Pros: Impactful, memorable, potentially more tactile & long lasting

The Cons: Hard to measure effectiveness, tends to be more costly & no direct interaction

Digital Marketing: the pros and cons

However impactful Traditional Marketing is, we can’t forget that we are well and truly living in the digital and internet age.

According to recent surveys, internet users now make up 57% of the global population. On average, people spend 6 hours and 42 minutes online each day. By 2021, a projected 73% of all e-commerce sales will come from mobile.

That’s a mind-bogglingly huge amount of time and opportunity to do some clever Digital Marketing.

Digital Marketing channels include:

  • Social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc)
  • Website
  • Content marketing
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Inbound marketing
  • Email marketing
  • PPC (pay per click)
  • SEM (search engine marketing)

The Pros: Engaging, interactive, measurable & explicitly targeted

The Cons: Potentially annoying, much less permanent & constantly evolving

In summary

Ultimately, both types of marketing have their benefits and downfalls, but the key is understanding your specific marketing needs, considering your budget and understanding your target audience.

Traditional Marketing channels are often more expected and welcomed by the Baby Boomer generation and Gen X—people who own televisions and prefer to buy newspapers, for example. However, Digital Marketing is a surprisingly suitable route for all ages, not just millennials and Gen Z—Baby Boomers too enjoy spending time scrolling through Facebook, sharing videos and shopping online.

The moral of the story: both Traditional and Digital Marketing will work for you, as long as you know what your audience wants, and a mixture of the two can be a very powerful tool indeed.

We’re great at all things Traditional and Digital, so if you want to chat through how to create a memorable experience for your customers, contact us today on

Doug Norman

Author Doug Norman

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