Digital Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing -The Bottom Line
By Kamal Jacob
There was a time when the term Marketing meant a very limited set of things. It was about newspaper ads, huge-enough billboards, flyers, television ads, and radio announcements. Indeed, organizations were ready to shell out thousands of dollars in the marketing department, trying to smash the competitors. A number of catchphrases and rather stereotyped advertisements used to dominate the industry. Amidst of all this came the rise of the digital revolution.
Digital Revolution and Digital Marketing
The digital revolution has changed our lives, but that’s another story. As far as marketers were concerned, it did start a new strand — Digital Marketing. Like almost everything else in the world, Marketing became the so-called Traditional Marketing. Now, after more than a decade later, we need to renovate how we reach the right audience at the right time. That is also why the discussion of digital marketing versus traditional marketing comes to the limelight.
Here, we are attempting to have a brief-enough comparison between digital and traditional marketing. We will be considering the major factors, such as affordability, audience control, customizability and the number of potential results, etc. But, before we do that, we have to make the distinction clear-cut. So, to begin with, we will have an introduction to both traditional marketing and digital marketing.
What Is Traditional Marketing?
Traditional marketing, earlier known as marketing, is a bunch of promotional methods using channels such as newspapers, television, flyers, billboards, magazines, radio, etc. The history of traditional marketing goes back to centuries, where people used to distribute pamphlets for commercial and informational purposes. I would love to not get into that old story, though.
In the modern world, traditional marketing found its roots after the bloom of television culture, popularization of newspapers and overall growth of a capitalist society. As we said earlier, before the digital world became popular, marketing meant only these things. You had to potentially spend thousands of dollars if you wanted to run a TV or radio commercial, you know. But, that’s another aspect of it all.
There are thousands of examples to talk about. It’s no surprise that technology companies like Google and Apple have to sometimes depend on traditional marketing channels, to ensure the right client-base. And, it is also an allusion to the countless full-page newspaper ads you see, for iPhone XS or the brand-new vehicle from General Motors.
Here are some brands/influencers that have used traditional marketing at its best:
1) See Zomato’s creative billboards Ads here.
2) 50 brilliant billboards Ads and what you can learn from them.
3) See 40 traffic-stopping billboards Ads here.
4) Get to know 64 more print Ads here.
5) See 15 interactive print Ads here.
What Is Digital Marketing?
Often considered the sibling of the digital revolution, digital marketing is the use of channels such as the Internet, social media, world wide web, Search Engines, and emails, etc. for promoting a product, service, brand or a cause. As it happens, the history goes back to the origins of the Internet. Or, specifically, the point in the history of the Internet where people understood the monetization capacity.
In the course of time, digital marketing has come a long way. From disruptive advertisements to well-planned content marketing campaigns, the growth has been impressive indeed. More importantly, this opened up a gateway for thousands of business owners across the world to reach the targeted audience. Because digital marketing is based on a global network, its globality comes as something default.
Digital Marketing too take different forms nowadays. Let’s start with the routine marketing newsletters you receive on your email and to the taste-curated Facebook Ads you see while scrolling. And yes, we can never ignore the rather impressive way how Google understands what you are looking for and delivers the right ads at the right time.
Here are some brands/influencers that have used digital marketing at its best:
1) Social Media Marketing on Instagram: Tea Trunk, Raw Pressery, LEGO, GaryVee, Netflix India, Fevicol, etc. (for more creative examples, email us at: email@example.com)
2) Read some Email campaigns examples here and here.
3) Watch some of the best YouTube Ads here.
4) Get to know 30 brands with best digital marketing campaigns here.
5) Read more on witty Content Marketing examples here and here.
6) Get to know the 75 best content writing examples that will give you major SEO boosting goals, here.
Now, we don’t want to do the pro-con deal here. Instead, we will consider the major aspects of both strands. Shall we begin?
Factor #1 — Effort
By effort, we mean a variety of things, including but not limited to the affordability, the amount of work you have to put in.
Traditional marketing has been quite expensive from the very beginning. You would have to dedicate some thousands of dollars if you want a top-spot advertisement in a newspaper. The story is the same when you’re trying to include a second-long in the primetime TV commercial section.
In addition to this money, you will have to take extra efforts as well. Because there is so little space on both TV and newspapers, you will have to craft the advertisement at the most precise level. In most cases, you will have to rely on a professional to do this, costing more money than ever.
Overall, the effort you put into traditional marketing is way too high.
Digital Marketing was introduced as an affordable alternative to traditional marketing that could reach a large amount of audience. Compared to what you spend in traditional ways, digital marketing costs only a fraction of everything. The more you’re willing to pay, there is a potential for results though.
You don’t have to be an advertising tycoon to master Digital Marketing either. Nowadays, you can find a lot of simplified Digital Marketing courses that can make you an expert in a variety of things, such as SEM, SEO, content marketing and email marketing. And, once you master these, you’re basically the king.
As it happens, you take less effort and pay less.
Factor #2 — Reach
Of course, you want to know where and how deep your marketing campaign reach. Here too, we can spot a big difference between both.
It’s very difficult and nearly impossible to predict the exact reach of your traditional marketing campaign. As you sign the contract, the television channel or newspaper may talk about its active viewers and number of subscribers. But, these don’t really correspond with the number of people who actually see your ad.
More importantly, any interaction via traditional marketing medium is passive. Be it a billboard, commercial on TV or in a newspaper ad, you never know what your audience think about the stuff. Of course, you may be knowing this, but the time will be very late.
The whole deal of reach lacks precision when you’re going traditional.
Extensive reach is often the main reason why people go for digital marketing instead of traditional marketing. As we said earlier, the whole deal of digital marketing is based on a global network. So, by paying a fraction of the amount that you normally pay, you can reach out to a relatively huge population.
The nature of the reach is also important — it’s interactive. When you launch an email marketing campaign or content marketing stream, you have the ability to get instant (at least later) feedback. You can also bring in various methods like A/B Testing and multivariate testing to optimize the potential reach.
There is obviously a bigger upgrade here.
Exception: There is, however, one thing to note. There are still areas where digital mediums don’t have extensive reach. But, it finally depends upon whether you’re focusing on that particular population. If that’s the case, you may have to fall back to traditional marketing terms like community radio or a type of local newspaper.
It is quite unlikely, though, considering that the whole digital network is growing day by day. If we take the case of developing countries like India, a lot of extensions is happening and there are now a lot of ways to reach the local population, via digital.
Factor #3 — Control
For every marketing campaign to succeed, there should be proper control over the process. It begins with a clear-cut distinction of the audience being targeted.
Traditional marketing allows a limited amount of control over the marketing process. For instance, when we consider the case of local TV and radio channels, you have an opportunity to focus on a targeted population. In addition to this, you can do individualized marketing as well.
Apart from the preliminary marketing techniques, however, there is nothing new to talk about. When you run an advertisement on TV, you don’t know if your targeted customers are watching your ad. You are not even sure if they are skipping the ad for something else.
There is not much scope for control here.
It does not matter whether you are into Social Media Marketing or Search Engine Marketing, there is a lot of scope for control. Ultimately, you get to decide who sees your advertisement campaign and who do not. For instance, in Search Engine Marketing, your ads are shown when a person searches for a particular thing.
There are also options for additional customization. For instance, you can make sure that your ads reach an extremely specific group that has intended tastes and regional affiliations. It means that local businesses to have a way-out in the digital marketing sphere.
You are the one who controls things when you market digitally.
Factor #4 — Results & Analytics
At the end of the day, what people need is results. Or, to use the new marketing vocabulary, everyone needs what we call conversions.
There was a time when traditional marketing was highly effective, but that’s now just a story. Of course, you may have better results while focusing on a particular community. Nevertheless, when we consider that an actual TV commercial cannot make much impression on the user, the numbers fall down.
There is also a problem caused by the lack of data. The last time we checked, TV commercials or radio ads don’t show you the specific data-driven statistics. You never know how many people saw your ad you never know whether the campaign was really effective.
Add to this the expensive nature of every campaign ever.
We have already seen that digital marketing is more cost-effective than traditional means. It also happens to be the case that you can reach more people and create more impressions when you are marketing digital. With the same amount spent on both, DM offers better results on any day.
There is also the added benefit of data. Every activity is done in DM — from the user and the marketer — will be recorded. At the end of the day, you will have a huge pile of data to analyze and re-optimize your strategy. This is surely one of the reasons why the sustaining promotion that digital marketing offers.
We would have to consider data at least when we’re in 2019.
Factor #5 — The Miscellaneous
Here, we talk about a few other differences between digital marketing and traditional marketing that you’ve to consider.
One of the bright sides of traditional marketing is that people get to keep their marketing material or feel it experientially. It might be a brochure, a flyer or something else. But, the point is that they have some material that they can look, feel or make use of it again and again. This is often considered an added advantage.
If we go by examples, there are many brands to speak of. Almost every brand used to shell out thousands of dollars in creating brochures to be given out to the customers before, during and after the purchase. Simply by making sure that they have a marketing material at home, these brands were able to enhance the trust, reliability and many others. Of course, they will have to thank ‘mere exposure effect’ for this achievement.
The best examples of traditional marketing is experienced during a conclave, festivals, concerts, seminars and events. This is because all these events are filled of prints full of different hues - from ID Cards to posters to notepads. The variegated types of prints used in such events appeals the visitor and leaves a lasting impact by its design aesthetics.
Unlike Digital Marketing, the Traditional Marketing does not give importance to customization instead it aims to cater to a mass audience with common design printables. Is it mediocre? No. Traditional marketing has its own advantages. It is an experiential gateway to touch lives profoundly with words, textures, colors and variegated shapes.
There are algorithm and platform rules to be considered whilst running a digital Ad. But unlike digital marketing, traditional marketing is borderless. With traditional marketing - you can color streets (via graffiti art), giveaway cards & gift boxes to influencers, print an Ad in the shape of a cloud or flower, print an Ad or do company branding on infinite objects. Besides the common billboard approach, you can leverage print anywhere - on any spot of the cosmos (with legal permission of course).
Probably the best thing about digital marketing is that it gives the user a choice. There are multiple channels through which you can market the content you know — YouTube, Google Ads, and Facebook being some of the obvious choices. This will help you attract a variety of consumers.
The impact of Digital Marketing was so effective that established brands such as Domino’s, Renault among countless others have a few success stories. Talking about Renault, it was able to sell out 60,000 more cars in the period between 2014 and 2017 by making use of Facebook Ads optimization. In another story, Adidas — the renowned apparel firm — utilized user-generated content from 30,000 Boston Marathon runners to market their sport-oriented products. There are hundreds of other stories where established brands took a digital turn to enhance their sales, re-vitalize their reputation and build a better online image.
In another success story, GoPro made a big-time success by launching the GoPro Movement on Instagram. To everyone’s surprise, despite having a reduced budget of $41,000 in 2013, the brand was able to double its sales. In this particular case, GoPro was utilizing the potential of Instagram, which now records a top-notch conversion rate of 72%, according to Ogilvy.
We should also look at the multi-platform nature here. Your single marketing campaign can reach a variety of people who may not have the same device. Thanks to mobile-optimized Email Newsletters and websites, you can keep converting people even when they are traveling.
And yes, we should not forget the easiness of following up.
The Bottom Line
So, above, we have attempted to draw the line between digital marketing and traditional marketing. We had chosen five factors to judge both these strands, and we can finally conclude.
As you have seen, in most of the sections, digital marketing outweighs traditional marketing. For instance, it’s clear that digital marketing is cost-effective, offers more control over the process and offers better results. Unlike the old days, even if you want to focus on a local population, there are ways to do that digitally. It all comes down to the idea that digital marketing is way better.
Well, we don’t mean to say that you can completely ignore traditional marketing. There is an impact on a flyer or a big billboard can make in a person’s mind. But, you should not spend thousands of dollars there either. Here’s some practical advice to begin with: if you are short on budget, start with digital marketing. We can build further when you keep growing.
And that’s a wrap! We hope you leverage and test both - traditional marketing and digital marketing and analyze what works for your brand. With consistent efforts you’ll definitely know that both these mediums matter and are needed for a successful 360 degree marketing campaign for brands of every industry.