Traditional Marketing vs. Digital Marketing

Some business are whole-heartedly placing all their traditional marketing budget into digital marketing, whilst others are clinging on to what they consider familiar, tried and tested offline methods. But what should your business do? Here are the key considerations to help you make the decision as to how you balance and integrate traditional and digital marketing:


Traditional: Traditional marketing generally offers a one-way presentation to consumers. People who hear your radio ad or read your leaflet cannot interact with you without taking another step and calling you, visiting you or going online.

Digital: Digital marketing requires no such additional step and change of media as it can be entirely interactive and increasingly revolves around developing two-way conversations and relationships with your existing and potential customers. If your consumers are likely to go online to make a purchase or find out more anyway, why not gain their attention whilst they’re already there.


Traditional: Traditional media has always had an element of ‘hit and hope’ to it when it comes to targeting. An advert in a national paper may reach a huge amount of people, but how many people will actually be interested, and how many of the potentially interested people will happen to see it? Even advertising a specialist product in a special interest magazine will reach a vast number of people that are not within your target market.

Digital: Search Engine Optimisation, Pay Per Click advertising and Social Media in particular can allow you to specifically reach your target market, even as far as age, interests, marital status and location. Imagine if your business was a day nursery and you wanted to target women who are single parents, are employed (and so likely to need childcare), live within a certain radius of your location and have a child of a certain age. Well, it’s very simply achievable through digital marketing.


Traditional: So, you’ve been putting up flyers in the local area, placing print ads in regional newspapers and handing out leaflets for your nursery, and in the following month you see a slight increase in the number of enquiries. How much of this, if any, is directly attributable to your recent activity – perhaps the leaflets drove this increase whilst the print ads and flyers had no impact? Perhaps it was just a seasonal increase? It is extremely difficult to answer these questions with traditional media, and therefore it is difficult to avoid spending money on marketing that is potentially bringing no return.

Digital: One of the most valuable assets of digital marketing is the ability to track exactly how your marketing efforts are performing – in comprehensive detail – and where you are achieving a return on marketing investment. What’s more, even without considering social media, you can access huge amounts of additional data on the type of people who have visited your site, made an enquiry or purchased a product, such as their location, the device they used, how long they were on your site, which pages they visited and whether they were a new or return visitor. This data is invaluable and gives you an insight into your target market that no market research can provide.


Traditional: As demand declines, many traditional media channels are offering discounts and reduced prices, but it is unlikely that you will be able to have an advert on TV, radio or in publications with a large readership without taking large chunks out of your marketing budget. Again, the issue is not knowing exactly what is and isn’t working and if you are achieving sales and brand awareness that is worthy of your expenditure on particular activities.

Digital: A recently publicised example is that Ford cars achieved the same brand recognition via a Fiesta social media campaign as through TV advertising – but for 10% of the cost. However, a common misconception is that getting to the top of Google and social media marketing in particular is free or very low cost. To achieve success in social media – or any digital marketing – a notable amount of time, expertise and resources will be required either in-house or with a specialist Digital Marketing agency. The expenditure can still be minute in comparison to many traditional media channels and the results are often greater in vast multiples.

For certain businesses and business sizes, traditional media can still be worthwhile for brand awareness if nothing else, but not in isolation. Offline activity needs to be fully integrated with an online strategy. You’ll have noticed that a vast majority of offline publicity directs consumers to ‘visit our website’, ‘follow us on Facebook’ or ‘download our app’ – and there is good reason for this. The future of marketing is digital and your strategy needs to reflect this. It is never too late to be early, and at least beginning to increase resources for digital marketing sooner rather than later (than your competitors) could be critical to your businesses future success.

Paul Jackson

Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

With almost a decade of experience in digital marketing, both in-house and agency-side, Paul is a CIM qualified Chartered Marketer with expertise and a refreshing approach. Paul’s experience with a diverse mix of brands in a wide range of industries has allowed him to see first-hand the importance of a tailored and business-oriented approach to marketing.