Do you realize that every brand is fighting tooth and nail for your attention? The Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing war is on.

And they battle it out through the various Traditional and Digital Marketing channel. All this, for a moment of your time.

Traditional Marketing channels have dominated the marketing space since the beginning of the whole marketing concept. And this was true until the age of the internet came forth.

In the last decade, the world has witnessed a paradigm shift from the more Traditional Marketing channels to the Digital channels.

That is evident from the fact that in the more recent times, the Traditional Marketing channels have lost their share to the newer digital channels. And this trend does not look to reverse anytime soon.

There is no surprise here. 

As more and more people are shifting to digital platforms, brands are being left with no option. They have to follow their customers or risk losing business.

Brands have to focus on taking their business online.

Think about it. There’s no sense to promote your business on the radio if the majority of your audience listens to podcasts. So, you have to know where your customer hangs out at.

According to Statista, almost 4.66 billion people were active internet users as of July 2020. This figure encompasses 59 per cent of the global population with mobile internet users accounting for 91 per cent of total internet users.

Global user chart of the Digital marketing channels

With numbers that high, targeting Digital Marketing channels make a lot more sense, or does it? Well, to know better, we’ll have to compare the two on some relevant metrics.

But before that, what are these Digital Marketing Channels and Digital Marketing Channels?

Traditional Marketing

This conventional mode of marketing encompasses the marketing methods that can be used without the internet, i.e. offline.

Following are the examples of the components of Traditional Marketing:

  • Broadcast ads (TV and Radio)
  • Print ads (Newspaper and Magazine)
  • Outdoor ads (Billboard and Flyer)
  • Brand Activation points (Kiosk and Offline events like Seminars, etc.)
  • Direct mail (Postcards, Coupons)
  • Telemarketing, etc.

Traditional Marketing is rooted deep in our psyche. Just think about it, we see and hear ads every day, be it Broadcasted or available Outdoor (Billboard), and we don’t even realize it. Because it’s been a part of our lives so long, our mind automatically ignores it.

The Digital Marketing channels, on the other hand, work differently.

Digital Marketing

This mode of marketing uses the internet as the touchpoint to connect with the audience, i.e. online.

Following are the components of Digital Marketing:

  • Content marketing 
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) 
  • Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) / Search Engine Marketing (SEM) 
  • Social Media Marketing (SMM)  
  • Email marketing
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Web design

Now that we are aware of the components of Traditional and Digital Marketing let us look at some Traditional Marketing vs Digital Marketing stats.

Budget trends comparison by channel

In a 2019 survey, senior marketing leaders predicted the budget trends for the various marketing channels, if they would increase, stay the same, or decrease in the next year for the following channels: online video; social networks; podcast; advanced TV; online display; point of sale (POS); outdoor; radio; traditional TV; cinema; newspapers; and magazines.

Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing, channel trends

It can be clearly seen that Budgets in the Digital channels were predicted to increase. On the other hand, the budget in the Traditional Marketing channels was expected to decrease. This implied that the companies would prefer shifting their marketing focus more on the digital platforms in future.

Isn’t that precisely, what’s happening? Aren’t more and more brands focusing on the Digital Marketing channels? But why is that?


Let’s look at the advantages Digital Marketing offers over Traditional marketing based on some metrics.

Traditional vs Digital Marketing Comparison based on metrics

#1 Marketing Cost

Traditional Marketing channels are old and quite expensive. This is because more and more brands have been fighting for the same spot for decades. It’s basically a bidding war for survival. And so, the costs of ads on Television, Radio, Print, etc. mediums have significantly increased.

On the other hand, the costs associated with Digital Marketing are far less than its counterpart. That’s because sharing content online doesn’t cost much.

The only high cost a business can incur is if they wish to opt for paid ads. So, Digital Marketing is not only affordable but cost-efficient too.

#2 Communication

Traditional Marketing channels work on a one-way communication method. This communication channel is interruptive in its nature. This means that the audience cannot decide what they see. So, the content in this channel is shoved in your face, which necessarily makes this a Push based strategy (a characteristic familiar with Outbound marketing).

Digital Marketing, on the other hand, promotes two-way communication with its audience.

Generally, the brand asks for permission before sharing content with the audience (Permission Marketing). Since you have control over what you want to see, you can choose if you wish to be a part of the conversation or not. This makes it a non-intrusive communication form. And so, if a person wishes to be a part of the communication, they will join themselves (Inbound Marketing).

This communication form can be personalized for the audience, which helps in building trust.

#3 Customer Interaction

Traditional Marketing is an Outbound Marketing strategy with one-way communication. Due to this, there is significantly less interaction involved with the customer. You actually need to wait for their responses before you plan the next step of communication.

Digital Marketing, on the other hand, offers several platforms to its audience, in the form of Social networking sites, Brand website, Mobile application, etc.

As the audience keeps interacting with the content, they provide feedback to the various products or services. This helps in creating an Audience feedback loop which helps in improving customer experience at touchpoints.

#4 Marketing Analysis

Identifying your target audience is vital to the success of any campaign. Different channels follow different strategies to acquire knowledge.

In the case of Traditional Marketing, the results of market analysis are quite a complicated process as the companies need to rely on the surveys and findings of the market.

Digital Marketing, on the other hand, records and stores the data collected, which is accessible online on a real-time basis. This provides a massive advantage when compared to its counterpart.

#5 Result Analysis and Strategy refinement

Since the campaign is dependent on the marketing results, it becomes increasingly important to apply changes in the strategy to achieve the best results. Why? It’s because when you have the results, in real-time, you waste no time taking action.

With the Traditional Marketing channels, the company will have to wait for weeks or even months before they get results of their marketing campaign.

And even if they do, by that time, it might be very late, which will be disastrous for the campaign. That’s because you could only refine the strategy after you have the data available for the campaign.

Digital Marketing provides quick results on the go. Thus, it’s easy to get real-time marketing results for your campaign.

Moreover, the online tools available help you assess your campaign for different parameters like Conversion rate, Bounce rate, Inbound traffic, etc. It is only after evaluating these results that you can make the necessary changes to your campaign to achieve the best results. Even a little tweak can provide a massive boost to your campaign results.

#6 Target Audience

With Traditional Marketing, it’s relatively easy to reach people in specific locations and of certain demographics. So, focusing on a local market is a viable option.

However, Digital Marketing allows for global reach while also being better at narrowing the target based on interest and other specific attributes.

#7 Documentation and Presence

Traditional methods of marketing provide a hard copy describing their products or services. This description can be read again and again.

The physical presence of the brand at the touchpoint with the audience is a bonus but not that essential.

Digital platforms are available in the form of softcopy over the website or in the video form. This can be accessed anytime and anywhere as per the consumer’s requirement, and it provides paper-free documentation.

Since everything happens online, there is no physical presence.


Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing: Who takes the cake?

The main difference between the two channels is the medium through which the audience receives the marketing message. One sends it offline, and the other online.

All said and done; Digital marketing is still more about marketing than digital. Even though the rules have changed, the game is still the same. It’s still about sending the right message to the right people. Only the platform has evolved.

Now that most of the people are connected to the internet and moving to online platforms, the brands have no option but to follow. But since everybody’s shifting digital, the brand needs a strategy to ensure success. Check the 10 steps for starting or growing your digital business.

Even though Digital Marketing is an alternative to its counterpart, Traditional Marketing is all about reaching a big general audience and winning by numbers. This implies that the traditional channels are more effective in creating brand awareness than guiding the leads (potential customers) to conversion.

Even though the Digital channels are efficient overall, the traditional channels which are tried and tested for long can’t be ignored entirely. So, the key to a great marketing campaign is to find the perfect balance between the two channels.

Though there are all the talks about Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing, there is no denying the fact that Traditional Marketing is the yin to Digital Marketing’s yang.

Individually, both play a crucial role in devising the market strategy for the campaign. But they are truly elevated when used in unison.

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What are your thoughts about this article? Do you think they’ll thrive or even survive in the times to come? Let me know your thoughts.