Traditional vs digital marketing Explained

Traditional vs digital marketing

Selecting the right marketing strategy can be a difficult question for every marketer. What is the difference between Traditional vs digital marketing? Which one should you use? Here is everything you need to know in order to make an informed decision.

Traditional vs digital marketing is a newer form of marketing that uses various digital channels to reach and engage customers. Traditional marketing is the more traditional approach that uses more offline channels such as print, television, and radio. So which one should you use? The answer may depend on your business, your products or services, your target market, and your marketing goals.

What is digital marketing? —

Traditional vs digital marketing

Digital marketing is the process of using digital channels to promote or market products and services. These digital channels include websites, social media, email, and search engines.

What is traditional marketing? —

Traditional vs digital marketing

Marketing that involves traditional channels, like billboards and printed media, is referred to as traditional marketing. This is in contrast to modern marketing methods, which often make use of digital channels. An example of traditional marketing would be a Don Draper in Mad Men brainstorming TV commercial ideas and copy for Coca-Cola.

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Digital marketing vs. traditional marketing: what’s the difference? —

The main distinction between digital and traditional marketing is the manner in which an audience experiences a marketing message. With traditional marketing, audiences encounter marketing messages through traditional channels such as magazines and newspapers. With digital marketing, audiences experience marketing messages through digital channels such as social media or websites.

Even though traditional marketing is not considered old-fashioned, it still plays an important role in people’s lives. In today’s digital world, it is necessary to step away from technology and screens to connect with others face-to-face. Traditional marketing provides this valuable opportunity.

TV commercials and magazines are just as important today as they were 20 years ago because of their lasting effects on your memory. Subconsciously you attach yourself to their brand emotionally, meaning they will stay at the top of your mind.

Digital marketing is just as important, if not more so, than traditional marketing. It uses every touch point of your daily use of the internet to reach you.

If you’re looking for holiday ideas online, you’re likely to see a tailored ad from Sky Scanner soon after. Most people spend several hours each day using the internet, so this is just part of their normal routine. Digital marketing takes advantage of every digital channel by cleverly weaving in marketing communications.

Which type of marketing should you use? —

To create a great marketing campaign, you need to find the right balance between traditional and digital marketing. In 2020, digital marketing is essential to complementing traditional marketing strategies. Both play an important role, but when used together, they are even more effective.

Guinness is a perfect example of a brand that uses powerful cinematography in its TV commercials. Over 20 years later, Guinness’ classic 1999 ‘Surfer’ campaign is still one of the best TV commercials of all time. However, even with this legendary status, Guinness still needs to move with the times and incorporate digital marketing into their strategy so that they don’t miss out on some huge marketing opportunities.

Guinness is reaching a broader and younger audience by expanding their digital marketing horizons and making video content specifically for Facebook and Instagram. Instead of just reformatting their TV commercials, they filmed their campaigns as social first videos by composing the shots specifically with both Facebook and Instagram in mind. The videos were specifically target to the audiences they had in mind.

The result was an visually stunning and impactful social media campaign about Compton cowboys caring for their horses in California. Perfectly trendy and sharable Instagram fodder. Now let’s get to the specifics and define the differences between digital marketing and traditional marketing and their pros!

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Traditional marketing: pros and cons —

Traditional vs digital marketing

Though social media is on the rise, traditional marketing shouldn’t be undervalue by marketers. It still plays a big role in consumer’s day-to-day lives. If you have the budget to share your campaigns in magazines and prime time TV, it could be well spent.

Traditional marketing channels include:

  • Outdoor (Billboards, bus/taxi wraps, posters etc)
  • Broadcasting (TV, Radio etc)
  • Print (Magazines, newspapers etc)
  • Direct Mail (catalogues etc)
  • Telemarketing (Phone, text message)
  • Window display and signs

The pros and cons of traditional marketing


A visually stunning billboard or a captivating TV commercial is a commonplace part of most people’s lives. They’re easy to understand and often entertaining.

Printed marketing materials are more permanent. If you have an advert in an issue of The New York Times, it will be there until the magazine is recycle. This is great if the consumer is an avid collector.

You’re more likely to remember something you see in person than on your phone. The anticipation of seeing new Super Bowl ads or a beautiful window display is more likely to stay in your mind than an Instagram ad you’ll probably scroll past in seconds.


It is more difficult to measure traditional marketing campaigns, such as brand trackers, than it is to measure digital marketing campaigns. This is because digital marketing tools are more in depth and intelligent.

Traditional marketing methods can be expensive, and if you’re a new brand, you may not have the budget for a four-page spread in a magazine like Vogue. With traditional marketing, you also don’t have as much direct interaction with your consumers, so you may not know how they are responding to your campaigns.

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Digital marketing: pros and cons —

Traditional vs digital marketing

While traditional marketing can be impactful, we cannot forget that we are living in the internet age. According to ClickZ, internet users make up 57% of the global population and on average, people spend 6 hours and 42 minutes online each day. By 2021, a projected 73% of all ecommerce is expect to be conduct online.

Wow, that’s a ton of time to do some really smart digital marketing! If you’re looking for tips on how to create a successful digital marketing campaign, be sure to check out Vistaprint’s Digital Marketing Guide for Small Businesses.

Digital marketing channels include:

  • Social media (Facebook, Instagram etc)
  • Website
  • Content marketing
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Inbound marketing
  • Email marketing
  • PPC (pay per click
  • SEM (Search engine marketing)


There are many ways to engage your audience, and social media is a great way to see what they think of your brand and marketing efforts. If your marketing is being shared, liked, and commented on positively, you know you’re doing something right.

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On the plus side, digital marketing tracking is extremely detailed. This makes your findings very clear for your next round of marketing efforts.

If you have the ability to target a 29 year old female writer who loves Lizzo and drinking Guinness, then you can also create content that is perfectly tailored to her. This allows for clever targeting and creates opportunities for more targeted content.


Digital ads can be deemed as annoying

When you’re scrolling through your Facebook homepage, all you want to do is see what your old school friends are up to. But then you see a sponsored ad for something related to an embarrassing ailment you googled the night before. It’s sure to make you actively avoid clicking on it.

Less permanent

Ads that appear on digital platforms such as Google, banners, promo emails, or social media can be easily ignored and forgotten. These ads are intangible and have a fleeting, temporary character. If your target audience keeps scrolling or clicks to the next page, your ad will be gone from their screen.

Constantly evolves

To get the most out of your digital marketing efforts, there is a lot to learn. Each channel usually requires its own specialist, from search engine marketing to social media. However, a grass-roots social media marketing strategy is a great way to get started.

Find what works for you

In the end, both marketing strategies have their pros and cons, but it’s all about knowing your marketing needs, budget and target audience. By taking these factors into account, you’ll be able to choose the approach that’s right for you.

Digital marketing channels are often more expected and welcomed by the Baby Boomer generation and Gen X—people who own smartphones and computers, for example. However, traditional marketing is a surprisingly suitable route for all ages, not just millennials and Gen Z—my nan spends hours reading the newspaper, for instance.

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