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Traditional Marketing vs. Digital Marketing

With the endless amount of marketing options, every business owner will have to make an important decision - Do I go with traditional marketing or digital marketing? What are the differences, and what are the pros and cons of each?

How do you best capture your audience’s attention? There are probably as many answers to that question as there are attention-capturing methods. Every business has their own approach to 1) grabbing the attention of shoppers, 2) converting them into buyers, and 3) keeping them coming back for more. With the endless amount of marketing options, every business owner will have to make an important decision - Do I go with traditional marketing or digital marketing? What are the differences, and what are the pros and cons of each?

Although there are some similarities between traditional and digital marketing, there are some significant differences you need to be aware of before launching your plan. Now, don’t get overwhelmed….we’re going to discuss all of those things today to help you make an informed decision. 

What is Traditional Marketing?

Traditional marketing describes marketing methods where the audience doesn’t need to access the internet. Traditional marketing approaches are nothing new. Remember flipping through the giant Sears catalog when it came in the mail? Remember getting annoyed when you picked up the phone and realized it was a pitch from a telemarketer? Coming out from the grocery store to find a flier ad on your windshield? These are just a few of the many traditional marketing techniques that have been around for decades. Other examples include:

  • Mailed postcards and informational packets
  • Radio and TV commercials
  • Newspaper and magazine ads or coupons
  • Billboards

Although we consider these traditional methods “old school”, they certainly have their strengths. Most of us hear or see these ads every day whether we are seeking them out or not. You might not be a newspaper reader, but things like TV and the inevitable commercial breaks that come with it are here to stay. 

Who Should Use Traditional Marketing?

There are a number of businesses that can benefit greatly from utilizing traditional marketing methods. It’s worthwhile to look into whether or not some of these methods would be useful for your business. Here are some reasons a business might find that traditional marketing strategies serve their needs:

  1. You Want to Reach an Older Demographic. Are you trying to reach an audience ages 50-75? Statistics show that audiences ages 50+ spend twice as much time watching TV and reading the newspaper when compared with ages 21-35. Older generations also tend to actually notice ads and use coupons, whereas younger generations are more likely to throw them out or, in a digital setting, click out of them.
  2. You Want to Reach Your Audience More Than Once. It’s no surprise that seeing or hearing an ad multiple times has an effect on our desire to buy. TV and radio commercials play periodically to remind the audience of their service or product, and billboards can be seen every day if they’re on someone’s route to work. These reminders can result in a higher conversion rate.
  3. You’re Looking To Increase Your Local Audience. Let’s say a small business is wanting to build their audience in their local community, such as a brick and mortar boutique or salon that intends to only serve the residents of one specific city. A business like this would likely do well pursuing billboards, fliers, local events rather than spending all their resources trying to compete for digital spaces with larger businesses that want to reach a wider audience.

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing is a marketing strategy that utilizes online channels to reach specific business and advertising goals. In an era when most consumers depend on digital means (particularly mobile devices) to find their services and oftentimes complete their business transactions, digital marketing methods can be critical to a company’s success. A few examples of digital marketing include:

So why is digital marketing often more labor intensive than traditional marketing? With technology rapidly evolving, digital marketing strategies must evolve as well to accommodate developments with smartphones, social media platforms, algorithms, and general changes within the internet itself. That said, the use of technology and online consumerism isn’t going anywhere. Studies show that there are 4.95 billion active internet users and 4.62 billion active social media users. With numbers that high, most businesses benefit from pursuing at least some form of digital marketing. 

Who Should Use Digital Marketing?

So let’s say your business is brand new or you’re an established business but only using traditional marketing do you know if it makes sense to take the plunge into a digital marketing strategy? Here’s a few examples of a business that would benefit from digital marketing:

  • You Want to Reach a Wider Audience. We already discussed how some mom and pop shops just prefer to stay local and serve their local community…but what if your business is hoping to serve multiple cities, states, or maybe even globally? You’ll need a way to reach potential consumers across multiple locations and demographics, and a digital approach is the best way to accomplish this.
  • You Want to Track Audience Engagement. When you use digital marketing, it’s usually easy to obtain your performance analytics. With traditional marketing, you have no way of knowing who is reading your billboards, who’s keeping your fliers and who’s tossing them, etc. Digital strategies come with an easy way to collect that kind of data to help you lean into what’s working and not waste your time on what isn’t working.
  • You Want to Reach a Younger Audience. “Young” and “old” are relative terms, but statistically, the 18-45 year old consumer is mostly searching for services and products through the internet, specifically through a mobile device. For this demographic, digital marketing methods - especially those that accommodate smartphones - will likely be more effective than traditional marketing methods.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, the best type of marketing for your business is the one that aligns itself the most with your goals, whether it’s a digital strategy or more traditional methods. Since you’re reading this, you’re probably leaning more towards digital marketing, and we aren’t mad about it. Generally speaking, while traditional marketing methods have their place, digital marketing with its diverse elements is usually more effective at reaching a larger audience.

Have more questions? We have answers! Read about our full line of digital marketing services, and get in touch today so we can get started on your customized plan!

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