Traditional Marketing vs Digital Marketing: Which Is Best for Small Business?
Choosing the right marketing strategy for your business is vital in creating effective campaigns that bring a return on your investments, but which should you choose?
We compare Traditional Marketing vs. Digital Marketing and let you know what they are and when best to use them.
Hint: the solution differs depending on the type of website or business you’re running.
What is traditional marketing?
Traditional marketing is, in essence, offline marketing, where you advertise via various physical, video, and audio formats that existed before the invention of the internet and continue to be used today.
Think billboards, flyers, television, radio, adverts in your favorite magazines, etc.
What is digital marketing?
Also referred to as online marketing, digital marketing takes marketing efforts online and uses specific tools like social media, email campaigns, and websites to send you the latest adverts directly through interactive and often visual means.
Think of those adverts which show up randomly throughout posts as you scroll your favorite website or emails from sites you’ve signed up to. That’s all online marketing in a digital form.
You can find out in more detail in our What is Digital Marketing? article.
What’s the difference between traditional and digital marketing?
The main difference between the two types of marketing is the format in which they are consumed.
Digital marketing takes advantage of the natural evolution of our daily lives. On average, we consume around 168 minutes of internet usage across mobile and desktop*, with the amount set to increase year on year.
Online marketing uses this online activity with nearly everything you do online, offering up some type of advertising.
Whether you’re visiting your favorite website, browsing your Instagram feed, listening to music via Spotify, or just doing a typical Google Search, most online applications and sites will have some sort of advertising related to them.
Depending on how long you browse the web each day, you are subjected to thousands of online adverts. But how many do you truly remember?
Types of Digital Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Social Media
- PPC Campaigns
- Email Marketing
- Affiliate Marketing
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
On the other hand, traditional marketing aims to target you when you’re at home or out and about away from your online devices.
The adverts show up during the break when you watch the Great British Bake Off on the telly. The radio adverts that pop up between your favorite song on the drive to work and the full page adverts for perfume you find in your magazine of choice are various ways traditional marketing is used.
On an average day, your traditional marketing exposure is often much less than online. You might find that some marketing methods like TV adverts that mix visual and audio formats are more memorable than the many you see online as they create a more lasting impression with a catchy jingle.
Types of Traditional Marketing
- Broadcasting on Television & Radio
- Direct Marketing via mail, flyers, catalogues
- Print via magazines and newspapers
- Environmental via posters, billboards, signs, vehicle wrapping
Pros & Cons of Traditional Marketing
Traditional marketing is still a key component in many larger businesses marketing portfolios.
You can get your advert seen by millions of viewers with the proper budget. Take the Super Bowl ads. For instance, in 2021, approximately 23.3 million people watched the adverts during the prime time event.
But space is limited, and to get on there, you’re going to need a huge budget, but the returns with those kinds of viewer stats are no doubt worth the money and exposure to that many people.
Advantages of Traditional Marketing
- More Memorable – Traditional targeting methods are typically more memorable than that of online. Television adverts can think out of the box, mixing visuals and audio into a snappy catchy theme. While full-page magazine adverts can be bold and memorable using striking imagery.
- More Permanent – Unlike online advertising, which is gone the moment you close the browser or turn off your phone, print format lasts longer. The billboard on your way to work will undoubtedly always be there, the television adverts during your evening show. The same adverts are typically seen more often, reinforcing the more memorable point above.
Disadvantages of Traditional Marketing
- Costly – One of the biggest downsides to traditional media marketing is expensive. To run tv adverts, you need thousands, even to run print adverts in popular magazines is more than some small businesses make in a month. That’s not to say small businesses can’t afford to do traditional marketing, just that the right place at the right cost is needed.
- Hard to measure effectiveness – you might have rough figures of how many people watch a tv show or how many people buy a certain magazine, but you won’t know the exact statistics of how many people have seen your advert. It’s a world of rough guestimates with no guarantees.
Pros & Cons of Digital Marketing
The world we live in is an ever-changing, ever-evolving world with technology at its heart.
Online mobile usage makes up nearly double that of desktop usage, and the advances in internet speeds let the average person consume more and more data no matter where they are.
This makes online marketing an effective tool in any business toolbox, no matter how small or big.
Advantages of Digital Marketing
- Cheaper than traditional – Creating an advert, writing a piece of content, or creating an email is much cheaper than traditional methods. You could get thousands of views via an online advert with guaranteed viewings for the same cost as a magazine advert.
- Easier to track – which leads us to the fact that digital marketing methods are easier to track. Whether it’s via analytics software on your website or unique trackers built-in to advertising links, you’ll see how many people have not viewed but also clicked on the links letting you get a better idea of how effective that marketing campaign is.
- Can narrow & target audience – With technological advances, you can now narrow down many aspects of the people you want to target. This can be based on age, country, gender, interests, previous behaviors, and more, letting you specifically target who you need saving you time and money.
- Can test ads quickly – You can quickly test what adverts work and which don’t, tweaking them for maximum impact, something that’s not available in a printed format.
Disadvantages of Digital Marketing
- Less effective – With so many adverts displayed to the average user on a day, online marketing can quickly become background noise. How often have you just browsed past a bunch of ads or not opened an email from that company you bought one thing from years ago?
- Not as permanent – In a world where we consume so much and millions of people vying for attention, online marketing is less permanent and not as rememberable as other forms.
- Constantly changes with technology – Even though technology can benefit our marketing efforts, it can sometimes hinder them. With ever-changing tech, the PPC companies can change the way they do things on a whim, making you spend time and money re-learning and figuring out the new way it works.
Digital Marketing Tools
There are many aspects of digital marketing each one offering up their own set of tools and software which you can use to help automate, save time and increase your traffic.
- Website Builders – Use drag and drop website builders like Wix and Weebly to create a website without any coding knowledge and use it as a marketing platform for your business.
- Content Marketing Tools – Use tools like Surfer and Frase.io to help create unique content faster for your website, emails or social media.
- Social Media Management Tools – Tools like MeetEdgar and Buffer can help automate your social media campaigns and drive more traffic through your social media channels
- SEO Tools – Use Semrush, Ubersuggest or Ahrefs to help you find keyword gaps, keep track of your keyword rankings and find content suggestions for your website or marketing adverts
- Email Marketing Tools – Use email marketing software like Sendinblue, Aweber or CampaignMonitor to help create campaigns, set up email automations and drive sales from new and old customers
You’ll find more software and tools for small business that can help you achieve your goals in a variety of different areas across TuffYeti.
Which type of marketing is best for your business?
Unfortunately, there’s no one size fits all solution when it comes to marketing off or online.
Even if you’re a solely online business, sometimes it can be good to do an offline marketing campaign to try and create more brand awareness in different demographics and countries.
Before you start any type of marketing you’re going to need to identify:
- Who your target audience is
- What you’re trying to achieve
- How much you have to spend
Do you want to reach out to a broader age range? Or do you want to target a certain type of customer?
When you know your target audience and goals, you can then start to look at the various forms of marketing options available to you and narrow down the best ones based on your criteria.
Perhaps a direct marketing campaign around the neighboring town or neighborhood could work if you’re a local business with a shop but not much of an online presence.
If you’re a startup or small company looking for new online business, perhaps creating shareable, searchable, and linkable content is the way forward.
Depending on the size of your budget, you also have the option to run Pay Per Click advertising campaigns across Search Engines and Social Media Channels. These campaigns let you target particular audiences to help increase your ROI and maximize your marketing spend.
There are many ways to mix traditional marketing with digital marketing tools to help increase your exposure, increase your traffic, and increase the potential for increased revenue.
Which is best, traditional or digital marketing?
Each type of marketing has its advantages and disadvantages. Finding the one that works for you is key to building a successful all-around marketing campaign.
What’s clear, though, is that if you don’t have a digital marketing campaign in place, then you’re going to be missing out on vital exposure, traffic, and sales, as we see the world consume more and more content via online means, now and in the future.
For small startups and online businesses, digital marketing might be the only way to go due to its often less expensive setup for generating a decent amount of incoming traffic.
Overall there’s still room for both digital and traditional marketing if you have the budget, but you need to figure out where your audience is and what they are looking for to be a success.
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