Before we launch into the pros and cons of digital vs traditional marketing, it is important to note that, although the communication channels and monitoring methods may differ, marketing is marketing regardless of whether it happens online or not. Marketers still have to think up great ways to market your products and services and time and effort has to be invested into turning those ideas into workable plans. Setting up a website and spamming Facebook and Twitter with random facts about your business is not digital marketing.
Traditional Marketing Channels
The most commonly used traditional marketing channels are radio, TV, print ads, direct mailing and trade expos. Traditional marketing channels are pretty much any channels that existed before the internet changed the world and they certainly still have their place. Even though print is going the way of the dinosaur and people are becoming less and less interested in TV and Print ads, there are still plenty of people who can only be reached via traditional methods.
Digital Marketing Channels
Digital marketing channels are used to communicate with people on the internet. Email Marketing, Online Advertising, Affiliate Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, Pay Per Click, Social Media, Online Reputation Management and Web PR are all marketing tools that are used to reach out to existing and prospective customers.
Digital vs Traditional Marketing
What makes digital marketing different to traditional marketing is its ability to reach customers and obtain nearly instant feedback and results. The ability to gather real-time data on click through, transactions and email opening makes it possible see the direct results of your efforts and calculate your exact ROI. In this digital marketing outshines traditional as data from non digital ad campaigns is collected long after the fact and is not as accurate.
Another issue worth noting is that while traditional marketing is able to target customers via geographic locations and through interest groups, digital marketing is able to target individual customers anywhere in the world, learn their shopping habits and interact with them on a personal level. More importantly, having a strong internet presence allows customers to quickly and easily find you. With the use of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and well thought out social media campaigns, customers who are in the market for your services or product can be guided to your website and encouraged to become involved with your business.
All in all, I think that while even the smallest business needs to have an online presence, more traditional forms of marketing are still viable options given the right circumstances. Whether online or offline, marketing is about reaching the right market for your product and/or service and a good marketing agency should have the tools available and sense to know which tools to use in any given situation. With the lines between digital and traditional marketing becoming more blurred as TV and radio and many other “old fashioned” forms of communication continue to evolve to meet the demands of their users, the real question should be whether this division should exist all. Instead, should we not judge a marketing agency that doesn’t embrace both digital and traditional marketing practices in the same way that one might judge a tradesman that comes to your house with only half the tools required to do the job.