Traditional vs Digital Marketing - Complete Comparison Guide

What type of marketing is best for your business? Should you go with digital marketing, or stick to the proven methods of traditional marketing? Perhaps you’re confused about the differences between the two. Our industry experts will take a look at both of them. You’ll learn their benefits and disadvantages and be able to make the right decision for your business.

Marketing is the operation of getting people interested in your business's product or service. It happens through market research, analysis, and understanding the best customer's interests.

The marketing relates to all aspects of a business, including product development, distribution methods, advertising, and sales.

Running a successful business isn't just about choosing the proper market or having a high-quality product. It's also about leveraging the adequate type of marketing techniques to grasp your target audience and convert them into leads or consumers.

For many organizations, making the right "marketing" decision isn't easy, although it can make a huge difference in their results.

By understanding the traditional vs digital marketing 'view,' a business can get a better clue of which marketing strategy is suitable and how it's should be used.

What is Traditional Marketing?

Traditional marketing is a conventional way of marketing that reaches out to a semi-targeted audience with different offline promotional and advertising techniques.

It includes the traditional ads you encounter daily. Many of the standard and most tried offline marketing tactics come under the following five categories:

  • Print – newspapers, magazines, etc.;
  • Broadcast – TV, radio, etc.;
  • Direct mail – postcards, catalogs, etc.;
  • Telephone – telemarketing, SMS marketing, etc.;
  • Outdoor – fliers, billboards, etc.

Traditional marketing evolved over the last few decades, but the core components remain the same. The selling methods that we use today heavily rely on the four of the seven P's ("Seven P Formula") of marketing: product, price, promotion, place, packaging, positioning, and people.


The product should do what the consumer needs or wants it to do. No matter it's a CPG product (Consumer Packaged Goods), a luxury one, digital service or something else, it should meet the expected level of quality.

To design or define an acceptable product, the business should do in-depth research into the tastes, requirements, and purchasing habits of its target audience. This research-based approach gives a surer path to commercial success than just making a product under the assumption it'll find the place on the market.


When calculating the price of a product, you should consider all the costs involved in producing, marketing, and delivering the product. If production and marketing are set to carry relatively high costs, this should be reflected in an appropriately high price.

Accurate pricing isn't a simple offering of a cheaper alternative to the competitors. The right approach is to identify the price your target consumer is used to paying for products or services similar to your own, including your costs and the profit margin.


The product should be available where the customer expects to find it, e.g., in supermarkets, at boutiques, or online. Let's say you've got a fantastic sandwich bar in the making, and you decide to place it in a top restaurant district. It would be a serious misplacement, as you would be targeting the wrong market.

The place also takes into account the logistical factors affecting a product's profitability, such as distribution and storage.


The product should be promoted to the appropriate audience via appropriate channels, applying various forms of advertising which resonate with that audience. These channels may include.

  • Branding;
  • Advertising;
  • PR;
  • Corporate identity;
  • Sales management;
  • Promotions;
  • Exhibitions.

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital or online marketing refers to the marketed-based work that a business performs via the Internet.

Any business can leverage digital marketing to reach out to their target market, connect with users, and convert more of them into consumers/clients. Everything from content marketing to Instagram marketing comes under the digital marketing umbrella.

The following are the main types of digital marketing:

  • Content marketing;
  • Website;
  • PPC & SEM marketing;
  • Social media marketing;
  • Marketing automation;
  • Inbound marketing;
  • Email marketing;
  • Affiliate marketing;

The reason digital media marketing is pivotal for a business today is that the Internet is becoming one of the most used tools. More and more users are logging on the web to carry out their day to day activities, which includes buying products and services.

As technology grows and the new digital ideas are brought to life, the online marketing world grows with it. One of the reasons why it continues to deliver results is because it’s a form of inbound marketing.

It means, instead of you going out there to find consumers, they find you. Whether it’s running an advertisement on Google or creating marketing related content for your blog, it’s all about engaging your target audience and spreading awareness.

Therefore, the more people know about your website, your products, and brand, the more familiar they become with your business. The Internet gives you a way to build authority in your niche and boost online visibility like never before.

Traditional Marketing Advantages & Disadvantages

Traditional marketing is still useful, but it's not the only way to make your brand popular on the market.

Technology has grown and enables businesses to connect to their audience. Therefore, it's crucial to consider the benefits and drawbacks of conventional marketing before investing.


  • Reach target audience easily - By advertising on radio and local newspapers, you can easily target the potential consumers in a particular city. Flyers in the mail also target specific areas or suburbs;
  • Hard copies - Your target audience can save hard copies of your advertising materials, such as magazine ads and flyers, which they go through repeatedly. Now, it's become easier for designers to create attractive flyer designs using some great stock images and background vectors;
  • Easy to understand - Anyone without Internet can be reached by this system, and folks understand it easier as they have used to it for some time.


  • Less engaging - It's a more passive type of marketing, and there is very little engagement. It provides the business info to the customers and hoping that they'll buy the product or service;
  • More expensive - Advertising on the TV, radio, and newspaper can be costly;
  • ROI measuring - It's quite challenging to see how successful your marketing campaign was since there're no numbers to measure.

Digital Marketing Advantages & Disadvantages

Digital marketing arrives in the early ’90s and grabs the attention of all marketing expert and agencies instantly because of its lucrative appeal. It became even popular thanks to the Internet revolution, especially in social media and other advertising platforms.

However, the advantages of digital media marketing don’t disqualify the disadvantages. Those drawbacks shouldn’t dissuade you from focusing on digital, but you should undoubtedly take into account both the benefits and disadvantages of digital marketing.


Vast audience - You can’t only reach larger numbers of people; you can reach them regardless of their location. When you tweet something, you can reach someone who lives a couple of streets away, or a continent away too!

Content personalization - Depending on your consumer persona – age, gender, profession, preferences, income, etc. – you can tailor the content to get their attention.

Engaging - Using social media, email, and live chat, you can easily engage with the target audience, which isn’t possible via traditional marketing channels. Sharing, liking, commenting on social media posts, rating products, and leaving reviews are the channels across the audience can communicate with you. You have to respond quickly and professionally to keep them engaged.

Various channels - Different audience members may choose various marketing channels to consume – blogs, emails, videos, etc. This choice isn’t available in the traditional approach.

Instant publicity - When you post something on Facebook or YouTube, the target audience can see it instantly – gaining your business instant publicity. With a huge population constantly hooked on social media, you can reach your audience much quicker.

Measuring ROI - Google Analytics and other tools record things, including the number of users who visited the website, how long they stayed, how many clicked on ads, how many sales, and more. So, you can easily measure your ROI.

Instant results - By a few clicks you can get all the stats – so no more waiting to know what is going on. To give a boost to your business, all it needs is a couple of weeks, unlike the traditional method which could take months.

Brand building - A website with great content will go a long way in generating leads and boosting conversions. At the same time, engaging social media posts and creative videos can also create brand awareness and even build loyalty.

Virality - The only virality in traditional marketing is word of mouth publicity by consumers. On the online market, this scope is tremendous. A well-made video or well-crafted social media post can get shared by tens of thousands of users – making it viral and spreading the reach even further.


Feedback - The main disadvantage of digital marketing is that negative feedback or complaints left by unhappy consumers are visible to the audience – and that could get shared quickly.

Regulation by Search Engines - Digital marketing is subject to regulation by Google. This platform frequently issues guidelines as to what is acceptable and what is not. The search engine algorithms are updated regularly, and the efforts you have put in may go waste, as you may need to make some changes in the strategy.

Traditional Marketing vs Digital Marketing

Conventional marketing and digital marketing share the same mission: identifying a target audience and their needs, their connecting to products that fill those needs, and convincing to follow through with buying products.

Still, connecting with customers in a virtual space uses different techniques of connection than traditional marketing. Here’re a few of the key differences:

Traditional marketing includes:

  • Reaching out to locally targeted audiences— purchasing print or broadcast advertising that runs in specific geographical areas;
  • Physical marketing materials— fliers, catalogs, and brochures;
  • Traditional delivery channels— TV, radio ads, newspaper, magazine, radio ads, voice call sales, and mailed advertisements;
  • In-person marketing events— establishing a brand presence at conventions, seminars, conferences, etc.

Digital marketing includes:

  • Customizing an audience from a global population— audiences can be reached anywhere with Internet access, so digital marketers can tailor their audiences applying demographics that best fit their campaign (region, age, gender, personal preferences, etc.);
  • Audience interaction— unlike more passive traditional marketing (TV viewer watching a commercial), digital marketers can interact directly with their audience via forums such as social media accounts, site comment sections, and interactive quizzes;
  • Multiple delivery channels — dynamic web content lets digital marketers offer their audience various channels (including Instagram posts, YT videos, blog articles, and marketing emails), then allowing the audience to engage with the channels;
  • Online marketing events— similar to conventions and conferences in traditional marketing, digital marketers host online events including product demonstrations, webinars, and courses, which can be attended “live” or viewed later on demand.

Social Media Marketing vs Traditional Marketing

A decade ago, social media was only sharing pictures and staying connected with friends and family. That's history since today, social media is the source of everything, including e-commerce, news, entertainment, etc.

The boom of social media changed the game for conventional marketing. According to sources, digital ad spending reached $210 billion worldwide, whereas TV brought in $179 billion in 2019. So, let's see their main differences.


It’s less expensive form of advertising than the conventional approach. You'll pay a fraction of the traditional media price to reach the same number of people or more, and you'll be entering the audience you want.

The metric used in this evaluation is CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions). The CPM of social media is $3. Radio is around $9, and the CPM for TV is $27.


Traditional media uses a cannon to fire its message, hoping to hit anyone that will listen (watch, read, etc.), while social media targets an audience with laser precision.

Social media marketing allows you, for example, to market strictly to men over 40 who live in Miami, are interested in skydiving, etc.

It may not accurately represent your perfect customer, but it gives you an idea of how specific you can tailor your marketing.


This approach uses content to build trust over time. Traditional marketing forces an opinion on a customer if TV commercial repeated frequently enough.

You can use social media marketing to allow your ideal consumers to learn everything they need to know about the product before they purchase. It also allows you to cultivate relationships with buyers by including them in special offers (freebies, limited runs, coupons, etc.).

Organic approach

Social media's main advantage against traditional media is its natural interaction with your brand's consumers directly and builds your reputation as a brand that cares.

What to Choose: Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing

For the right decision, you need to have an exhaustive and in-depth knowledge of your business and your target customers. You need to make a study to see how each approach may affect your business.

If your target audience has limited access to digital media or doesn’t prefer it, then you may do better with traditional techniques. But, if your target audience is permanently hooked on the Internet, then the digital is the better choice.

Anyhow, industry experts believe that neither method can be completely done away with. They recommend a mix of both digital and traditional marketing activities.

Now how much you'll spend on traditional methods, and how much on digital, will depend on several factors mentioned earlier, and the best way to do it is by trial and error.

OrganicSoft INC - Explore our Expertise

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