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Digital Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing: Which One Should You Use?

Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing Which One Should You Use

Did you know that having a blog with fresh content will get 55% more traffic than a site without regular posting? Or that word-of-mouth marketing is still a top way to get new customers? Do you know the difference between these two concepts?

One is digital marketing and the other is traditional. What are the differences in digital marketing vs. traditional marketing, you ask? Well, there are a few. 

Keep reading to learn more about these types of marketing. You’ll also discover how each can benefit your business. 

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing encompasses all digital activities. This can range from paid online advertising to email marketing. If you are using an online platform to promote your business, you are using digital marketing. 

Everywhere you look, you see screens. They are in doctor’s offices, in your pockets, and even some billboards are digital. Not using digital advertising in your marketing strategy could seriously hinder your impact. 

Digital marketing allows businesses to target specific audiences based on a variety of other demographics. These include interests, job titles, and age. You can reach your intended audience easier than ever before with digital advertising. 

There are many digital marketing channels, including: 

  • Text messaging
  • Direct messaging
  • Social media
  • Email
  • SEO
  • Web-based advertising

Digital marketing is an ever-changing and evolving concept. As trends and new technologies emerge, digital concepts must adapt. 

Pros and Cons of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is a much newer approach to marketing than traditional methods. But there are still many pros to using this type of advertising. Of course, there are also a few cons. 


  • Scalable
  • Targeted advertising
  • Higher engagement
  • Faster cycles 
  • Global reach
  • Personalization
  • More insights


  • Not ideal for every industry (only most)
  • Audiences can turn off your ads
  • Hasn’t been around as long as traditional methods 
  • Lots of testing involved

Do you want to learn more about digital marketing? Check out this article about how a digital marketing agency can help your business. 

Examples of Digital Marketing 

Digital marketing is shown to you several times every single day. Sometimes, you may not even realize you’re looking at an ad. Here are a few examples: 

  • Live chat 
  • Conversation marketing
  • Social media
  • Blogs
  • Email marketing
  • Webinars and virtual events

Each of these is most effective when used in an overarching campaign. For example, blog posts are a great way to provide value for your audience. But when you combine blog posts with SEO, you get even better results. 

Live Chat

Have you visited a website and a chat box with a virtual assistant popped up to help you with your navigation? This is a form of digital marketing to connect directly with visitors. With live chat, you can reach customers in real-time to delight and convert them. 

The chat feature is also a low-cost way to connect with visitors. This method of conversation also speeds up the sales cycle. You will book demos faster and interact with people already interested in your brand. 

Conversational Marketing

Conversational marketing uses live chat. This artificial intelligence-powered concept allows users to engage in “conversations” with brands through an app or feature. It also creates a better experience for customers because they can get answers and help in real-time. 

Many people want immediate responses because of how fast the digital world works. This type of messaging can speed up the process without making leads wait for days for someone to contact them. 

Social Media

Social media is an important part of digital advertising. Most social platforms have billions of monthly users, so your brand needs to have some sort of social presence. A great part of using social media in your strategy is that you can repurpose content from other avenues. 

For example, you can post snippets of your blog posts to drive traffic to the web. Or you can create paid social ads to promote an email campaign. 


Blogs can generate significant traffic to your website and convert users. To leverage blogging to its maximum potential, you need to create highly valuable and engaging content. Give visitors something they can’t find anywhere else. 

A great method for writing blogs is to address common issues or industry topics to get more visitors from your target audience. Consider what your ideal customer struggles with and then create the content to solve that issue. 


If you want to be successful with digital marketing, you have to understand and incorporate SEM and SEO into your strategy. Knowing how to optimize your content to show up in search engines can completely change your marketing. Using SEO and SEM also increases generated leads which grow sales. 

Struggling with SEO? Consider hiring an SEO specialist to help you improve your marketing! 

Email Marketing

People check their emails all throughout the day and night. So, why wouldn’t you use email marketing in your strategy? This is the best way to get directly in front of your customer! 

Email marketing is great for new and existing customers. You can provide value to both audiences and continue to educate them to retain their attention. 


Conferences were always a great way to connect with potential customers. So, with digital marketing, you take the same concept but in a digital environment. Delivering webinars or virtual events is a great way to drive traffic to your site. 

You can reach very large audiences with low costs when you apply this tactic. Online events allow brands to get very creative with their marketing. For example, you could teach your audience something and then promote a relevant product at the end. 

What is Traditional Marketing?

Traditional advertising is divided into two concepts: above the line and below the line. Above the line is targeted at very large audiences who may or may not be interested in your products. Below the line is a more targeted approach to engage directly with intended audiences. 

This method of marketing uses traditional avenues to reach audiences, such as newspapers or magazines. 

Some traditional marketing channels include: 

  • Telemarking
  • Print
  • Direct mail
  • Broadcast

Traditional advertising is all advertising not used on the internet. While this type of marketing has been around for a very long time, many of the methods are outdated in today’s digital world. 

Pros and Cons of Traditional Marketing 

Traditional marketing methods may seem outdated or like the “old way” of doing things. Fortunately for you, this isn’t true. While digital marketing may be taking the world by storm, there are still a lot of pros to using traditional tactics. 


  • Build brand authority
  • Generate awareness
  • Can target large or niche audiences
  • Reach local audiences
  • Tried and true methods
  • Hard Copy materials are easier to recall
  • Effective for audiences 50+ years old
  • Great for small businesses

Traditional marketing also comes with a few cons. The fact of the matter is that traditional methods can’t be as effective or targeted as digital avenues. 


  • Slower cycles
  • More costs
  • Little engagement 

The pros outweigh the cons. Traditional methods may be better depending on your industry or targeted audience. This is especially true if you own a small business and want to engage the local community. 

Examples of Traditional Marketing

There are several examples of traditional marketing if you think about them. Magazine ads, TV commercials, billboards, and direct mail campaigns all come to mind. You probably encounter a traditional form of marketing regularly. 

Some top examples of traditional marketing concepts include: 

  • Direct mail
  • Billboards
  • TV advertising
  • Conferences
  • Sponsorships
  • Referrals
  • Cold calling 
  • Radio ads

There are many more options, but we’ll discuss these in more detail. 

Direct Mail

Have you received a coupon in the mail? Or what about a postcard telling you about a new store opening in your city? These are examples of direct mail! 

Direct mail is generally a marketing tactic to engage with customers about a specific deal or promotion. This method of marketing may or may not get the recipient to interact with your company. To maximize your direct mail efforts, you should consider adding a digital component. 

For example, adding a QR code or the link to your website is a way to get the recipient to take immediate action. 


Billboards are a quick way to get the attention of lots of people. This isn’t a very targeted method of advertising, but sometimes it works out to your advantage. How many times have you been driving down the road and saw an eye-catching billboard that made you research the company? 

Billboards are a great way to gain recognition and build awareness. They work best in high-traffic areas, such as a large city or interstate exit. Billboards are best for messages that can be conveyed in mere seconds since most people will see them as they drive by. 

TV Advertising

TV advertising has a lot of benefits that still work in today’s digital age. Especially since you can use these ads across digital streaming channels. This marketing tactic is a great way to grab viewers’ attention in a creative way. 

TV ads reach large audiences on the regular. If you place the ads on cable shows, viewers are more likely to digest them. TV ads are great when combined with digital campaigns. 

For example, you can drive traffic for a limited promotion through a TV ad. Or get viewers interested in a specific product or service your company offers with an engaging advert.  


In-person conferences are still a top networking strategy. Of course, most conferences combine digital elements to make them even more impactful. Having a table or being a speaker at a conference gets you in front of new audiences and allows you to interact one-on-one to get new customers. 

The goal of a conference is to build relationships and awareness of your brand. Being an attendee at industry-leading conferences can give your brand credibility as a leader. Of course, conferences are also a great way to increase sales and get qualified leads. 


Sponsorships are still big in several industries. Getting a high-profile sponsorship, such as at a conference or a game, can get your logo in front of a lot of eyes. Sponsorships are a great way to generate recognition and awareness of your brand. 

Showcasing your brand at big events can build a positive association with attendees. When you get your brand associated with other large, recognized brands, it builds your credibility. People trust the brands they are loyal to, so sponsorships are a great opportunity to reach loyal audiences eager to find new businesses. 


Word-of-mouth marketing is still a top form of marketing. Offering referral programs for your loyal customers is a great way to get that momentum going with word-of-mouth. While referrals are a traditional marketing concept, that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.

There are many opportunities in a digital marketing campaign to use this strategy. Influencers or brand ambassadors are another way to generate referrals. The best part is that when you do this, you are strengthening the relationship you have with existing customers.

Building relationships and trust means they’ll keep buying from you. 

Cold Calling

Most people groan when they hear the term “cold calling.” While it may seem like most of the world hates this traditional marketing method, it’s not ineffective. Companies all over the world make millions of dollars in sales from cold calling. 

Yes, in today’s world sales representatives benefit from cold calling. Digital tools have really stepped up the cold calling game, making it easier to reach interested audiences. 

Radio Ads 

Radio ads can be highly effective for targeting local audiences. These types of ads are usually repeated several times throughout a show, so listeners will hear about your brand a lot to build recognition. Radio ads are generally low-cost with positive results. 

It’s relatively easy to combine digital campaigns with radio ads to maximize your leads. Before placing a radio ad, you should understand your intended audience and the campaign goal. This will help to get the most out of the ad. 

Differences in Digital and Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing is a one-way communication channel with potential audiences. Digital advertising is much more personalized with one-on-one engagement. Digital campaigns allow you to define very specific audiences while traditional campaigns do not. 

The main areas of differences are: 

  • Target audience 
  • Engagement
  • Cost 
  • Performance measurement 

How messages are conveyed to audiences is the main difference. Following that, the platforms and mediums used vary for traditional and digital campaigns. 

Target Audience

Digital marketing allows brands to target audiences across the globe. You can be as specific or as broad as you want to be to reach large or small audiences. You can also target a variety of demographics. 

Traditional marketing isn’t as targeted. When you want to reach an audience, you have to keep it more localized. And you can’t narrow the target down as much as you can with digital ads. 


Traditional methods don’t give a lot of opportunities for brands to engage audiences. Digital marketing allows brands to engage across a variety of platforms and methods. It also enables one-on-one, real-time conversations which create a better experience. 

Companies using traditional methods without a digital presence will struggle with engagement. Is the only way your brand interacts with audiences is when they come to your physical location? Then your business is missing out on a lot of opportunities. 


Traditional methods are generally more costly. You have physical materials with a lot of these strategies, so the costs add up quickly. 

Digital marketing is more cost-effective because you can repurpose content across platforms. There are also more resources and tools to lower costs with this type of marketing. 

Performance Measurement 

Measuring the performance of a digital campaign is much easier than a traditional one. You can see instant results with digital campaigns, from the actual campaign, Google ads, or your social platforms. It’s easy to track and measure the results so you know what to change or eliminate. 

Traditional methods aren’t so easy to measure. Many times, unless a lead tells you how they got to your site, you won’t know which campaign drove them there. You can calculate the return-on-investment for digital campaigns but not traditional ones. 

How to Combine Digital and Traditional Marketing 

Do you want to get the most out of your marketing efforts? Then you find a middle ground where you combine digital and traditional concepts. The best and most effective campaigns are a mixture of traditional and digital methods. 

When you combine digital and traditional campaigns, you can easily retarget those who expressed interest. For example, think of a direct mail campaign with a QR code to a discount attached. Retargeting previous visitors reminds them of your brand and builds recognition. These are key steps to gaining new customers. 

Examples of Combined Marketing Tactics 

There are countless ways to combine digital and traditional marketing tactics. You can use analytics and insights to strengthen traditional marketing campaigns. Or use digital platforms to promote a local store or event. 

With a little creative thinking and innovative marketing, you could come up with campaigns that would engage audiences and make a lasting impression. Here are a few examples of how to combine the two methods: 

  • Analytics and cold calling 
  • Direct mail and lead nurturing 
  • Billboards and geotargeting 
  • Magazines and online content 
  • Newspapers and online ads 

This list is not exhaustive. There are more ways to combine marketing strategies, you just need to do a little research. 

Analytics + Cold Calling

Using analytics with cold calling efforts can instantly change cold leads into warm ones. When you use analytics to contact audiences that have already shown interest, you increase your chances of success. 

Direct Mail + Lead Nurturing 

Emails tend to get lost in the shuffle or deleted before being read. You can nurture leads through direct mailing campaigns as another way to get in front of them. To make an impact, you need to send something that is valuable to your recipient and will inspire them to take action. 

Billboards + Geotargeting 

What better way to reach people who see your billboard than to target their phones based on location once they pass it? This is a creative way to strengthen your marketing message by sending a banner ad to drivers in the area. 

Magazines + Digital Content 

Many magazines have a digital platform, so advertising across both mediums will reach even more of your targeted audience. Publications often target niche audiences, so building trusting relationships is easier with this type of advertising. To add value, you can provide educational content online that you promote through the magazines. 

Newspapers + Online Ads 

There are many audiences that still read physical newspapers. Finding out if your intended audience is one of them is a great way to maximize your exposure by placing online and newspaper ads. Many newspapers will let you negotiate placements on their social accounts or within their digital advertising space when you buy a physical ad. 

Digital Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing: Get Started Today

This article covered digital marketing vs. traditional marketing and everything in between. Now that you understand the different types of marketing, are you ready to up your game? 

It’s clear there is no definitive answer about which is better. In fact, most companies should combine the two concepts to make the most impact. Taking the top strategies from both forms of marketing can make one killer overarching strategy. 

Are you ready to step up your marketing game? Contact us today to get started! 

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