The Difference Between Digital Marketing and Traditional Marketing

In the days before the world wide web, businesses only had the traditional marketing avenues to advertise their services and products. Now, in the day and age of the internet, there are more ways to market your brand or service than ever before. With newspapers and magazines turning away from print copies and going solely to digital, along with social media and websites, it seems like digital marketing is drowning out the more traditional ways once used by businesses. With over 70% of the population using at least one form of social media and most retailers going to digital apps, one would think the world of digital marketing has completely phased out the more traditional approach.

There is a constant battle across the internet over which type of marketing is more advantageous. So much, in fact, people have spent a considerable amount of time weighing all the variables. Some marketers’ opinions are that the two are more similar than we think, the only difference being the use of technology. Others believe that that the two are different enough they should be used simultaneously with each other. So, what is the difference between digital and traditional marketing?

Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing or, outbound marketing, is the conventional methods used since the beginning of marketing. It refers to things such as newsletters, business cards, billboards, print ads in newspapers or magazines, and radio and television commercials and can also encompass referrals and networking events. Traditional marketing can only be aimed towards reaching local markets, meaning, your marketing efforts will only go as far as the radio station or newspaper carrier delivers. So, is traditional marketing still advantageous?

Benefits of Traditional Marketing:

More personal approach
Provides a hard copy of material for someone to keep
Easy to reach a locally targeted audience
Proven methods with high success rate
Easy to understand because people are accustomed to seeing it

Disadvantages of Traditional Marketing:

Harder to track
Can be difficult or costly to change or stop a campaign
Harder to generate meaningful impressions
Delivered in a passive manner


Digital Marketing

Digital marketing encompasses the entire online community and is Several examples include platforms such as websites, U-Tube videos, webinars, and social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram as well as business networking sites such as LinkedIn. As time and technology have progressed, even billboards are turning to digital. However, with all the digital options, is it really more advantageous than traditional marketing?

Benefits of Digital Marketing:

Costs less than traditional marketing
Real time tracking
Able to reach multiple demographics at the same time
Creates higher levels of brand loyalty
80% of the online population shop online
Easier to decide what works and what doesn’t quickly
Easy to change or cancel a campaign if it is not performing
Provide small businesses the ability to compete with the larger ones

Disadvantages of Digital Marketing:

Not everyone is comfortable using the internet

You will have to market more often to obtain impressions
Studies show that the recall rate on direct mail was 70% higher than a digital ad
Is time-consuming
Campaigns are very easy to copy


In the world of e-books, websites, and social media, it is difficult to see past all the digital avenues to decide if there is still room for the more traditional marketing styles. Moreover, while digital marketing certainly has more pros in today's world, there is no doubt that at least some parts of traditional marketing will forever be needed as well.

Amber Williams

About The Blog

For over 20 years, the team at InDigiMar, Inc. have been helping Hampton Roads businesses, nonprofits, government agencies, and institutions of higher learning create successful marketing campaigns that reach their targeted audiences. IDM offers a full spectrum of digital marketing solutions including online inbound marketing, business strategy, website design and development, content generation, and more.


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