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The differences between traditional and digital marketing and why both are important

Feb 4, 2021 | DAE & Company, Marketing

From when the first television commercial aired in the 1940s until just a couple of decades ago, the marketing world was dominated by messages through TV, radio, print and film—what we now refer to as traditional marketing. Today, though, the age of the internet has ushered in a whole new (and highly effective) approach to reaching the global marketplace: digital marketing

Anyone who’s watched the Super Bowl, opened their mailbox, or thumbed through the pages of a magazine knows that traditional marketing remains a big force in the ad world despite the dawn of digital. So what, exactly, is the difference between the two, and can they work together?

The Basics of Traditional Marketing

In short, traditional marketing is any marketing that is not online. Traditional marketing reaches audiences by way of print, direct mail, broadcast, radio, telephone, exhibitions and outdoor advertising like billboards and automobile wraps.

Because this type of marketing has been around for hundreds of years it’s been thoroughly researched. Therefore, many marketers appreciate the tried-and-true nature of traditional advertising and so continue to rely on it. And they should. Traditional marketing channels can serve as excellent ways to reach local and many generational audiences. For example, consider how many billboards you encounter and are affected by when driving on the freeway. Or imagine your own great-grandmother: Would she be more likely to respond to a digital display ad or a mailer in her mailbox?

The Basics of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing, on the other hand, is any marketing that is conducted online. For example, paid ads on social media, email marketing blasts, and pay-per-click (PPC) display ads are all considered digital marketing. As a result of the technological and cultural shifts in society, digital marketing encompasses an extremely popular and necessary host of advertising channels. This approach to marketing also tends to be much more affordable than traditional marketing and allows for highly targeted connections with global audiences.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Digital and Traditional Marketing

One of the greatest disadvantages of traditional marketing is that it affords companies very little interaction with consumers. For example, unlike with digital marketing, customers can’t hop online to check a store’s inventory for a specific sale item if all product promotions are traditionally based. Instead, they have to visit or call the store, which places a barrier in the sales funnel.

Another significant disadvantage to traditional marketing is the lack of measurable results. Though there are some ways, such as printed coupons, to tally effectiveness, these methods tend to be cumbersome and less cost effective. Overall, traditional advertising is also more expensive than digital. Despite its disadvantages, though, traditional marketing has a solid place in the marketing world, particularly for local advertising.

Nonetheless, digital marketing is becoming an increasingly significant driver, with businesses reporting that social selling influences half of revenue overall. Benefits of this approach, such as real-time interaction and campaign results, continue to drive the popularity of digital marketing channels. With inbound marketing specifically, consumers are able to find businesses on their own, which eases the advertiser’s burden of tracking down consumers.

However, there are disadvantages to digital marketing. And the greatest of these is dependence on technology. If a website goes down or a social media platform is on the fritz, there’s no other option than to wait it out. Privacy issues pose another problem because they add a level of complex accountability and sets of rules that are constantly changing. Both can leave an unsuspecting company reeling from accidental violations. That, as well as the constantly changing landscape of the social media world, are among the many good reasons to work with a professional digital marketing agency.

Do Digital and Traditional Marketing Work Together?

The answer is a resounding YES! Consider all the ways we see traditional marketing being used to magnify digital efforts: billboards advertising websites, social icons on print ads, QR codes on mailers, Indeed.com listings advertised in newspaper classified sections. The list is virtually endless. The question at hand isn’t whether to use digital or traditional marketing but, rather, how can we use both approaches to reach the most consumers effectively and efficiently.

Would you like to learn more about how digital and traditional marketing might benefit your business? Get in touch with us here at DAE & Company!

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