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Digital Marketing Vs Traditional Marketing

Laptop with digital marketing growth icons.

Defining Individual Forms of Marketing – Traditional and Digital

Operating a successful business demands more than selecting the right market and displaying a high-quality product. It is about leveraging the right marketing method to reach a brand’s target audience and transform them into buyers.

Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing signifies any kind of marketing that is not performed online. It includes all forms of broadcast, phone, direct mail, print and billboards. Traditional marketing is not only the oldest form of marketing, but also the most researched. One of the main reasons why marketers opt for this is because of its tried and tested methods. Every person comes across some kind of traditional marketing in their daily lives. In fact, traditional marketing happens to be one of the best ways to reach out to local audiences. Additionally, there is a certain section of consumers that can be reached easily through traditional marketing as opposed to going online.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is any form of online marketing. Examples include social media marketing, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, email marketing and much more. This form of marketing has gained a great deal of popularity due to the technological, societal and cultural shifts happening around us. With the world becoming increasingly digital, digital marketing has become somewhat of a prerequisite for businesses to attain success today. Not only is it a direct way to get in touch with target audiences across the globe, but it is an immensely cost-effective means as well.

Digital Marketing Vs Traditional Marketing – The Difference

Speaking of difference, the main area of differentiation between the two is the medium via which the audience receives the marketing message. While digital marketing makes use of digital media like websites or social media, traditional marketing uses means like newspapers, magazines, billboards and flyers.

Marketing Media

As the name suggests, digital marketing makes use of digital media for marketing activities such as:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Pay-Per-Click Advertising
  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Marketing Automation
  • Email Marketing
  • Website Design and Development
  • User Interface and Experience
  • Video Production
  • Graphic Design

The most popular means employed by the traditional forms of marketing are:

  • Broadcast Marketing
  • Print Marketing
  • Billboard Marketing
  • Telemarketing
  • Networking
  • Direct Mail
  • Public Relations
  • Event Marketing
  • In-Store Marketing
  • Referral

Marketing Devices

Traditional and digital marketing makes use of different marketing devices. The marketing devices used in the case of digital marketing comprise digital devices like smartwatches, tablets, computers, smart speakers and smartphones. The mediums used in the case of traditional marketing to reach out to the audience include old-school avenues like television, magazines, catalogues, radio, newspapers, and flyers.

Marketing Features of Traditional and Digital Marketing

Similar to their media channels, the marketing features of both these forms of marketing are starkly different from one another, here are a few.

Target Audience Reach

Digital marketing aims to reach out to a global target audience through various online and digital marketing media. Traditional marketing, on the other hand, mainly connects to a major section of the local audience.

Results Obtained

Given the fact that digital platforms are the most accessible marketing media, they tend to provide real-time results. On the other hand, since traditional marketing employs conventional means to spread the word, the results are usually delayed and difficult to measure.

Technology Used

Traditional marketing makes use of basic technologies such as television, radio, and printing press to carry out their marketing strategies. Digital marketing on the other hand, makes use of more modern technology such as personal computers, smartphones, and more.

Targeting Control

Traditional marketing has less of a “targeting control” as compared to digital marketing. With traditional methods, targeting an audience is slightly more difficult as you do not have as much insight on the audience. With digital marketing, targeting your audience can be done in a few simple clicks.

Common Marketing Trends

Some common digital marketing trends are:

  • Influencer Marketing
  • Inbound Marketing
  • Artificial Intelligence Marketing

Some common traditional marketing trends are:

  • Guerrilla Marketing
  • Personalized Marketing
  • Hybrid Marketing

Statistical Difference between Two Mediums

The digital marketing expenditure in the U.S for the year 2020 reached approximately $150 billion, while the traditional marketing expenditure for the year was about $105 billion. The digital marketing ad spend in the U.S was approximately $108 billion in 2018 and it is expected to rise to approximately $202 billion by the year 2023. On the other hand, the traditional marketing ad spend for the U.S in the year 2018 was approximately $114 billion, which is expected to fall to approximately $100 billion by the year 2023. The digital advertising expenditure in the U.S has been increasing by approximately 15% to 20% year over year for the last 3 years. On the other hand, traditional marketing spend has been decreasing by 0% to 5% year over year over the last 3 years.

Marketing Costs

There is a great deal of difference in the marketing costs of forms of marketing.

Digital Marketing


Marketing Type Setup Cost Media Cost
Search Engine Optimization Approx. $4K – $10K Free
Pay-Per-Click Marketing Approx. $4K – $10K Average $1 – $2 per-click on Google Ads
Email Marketing Approx. $4K – $50K Average $0.05 – $3 per qualified lead


Traditional Marketing


Marketing Type Setup Cost Media Cost
TV (per 30-second advertisement) Approx. $63K – $8M Approx. $340K
Magazine (per advertisement) Approx. $500 – $398K Approx. $250k
Direct Mail (per advertisement) Approx. $50 – $7.2K Approx. $0.25-$4 per piece

Deciding Between Digital Marketing or Traditional Marketing

Both digital and traditional marketing have perks of their own. With the world going digital, most businesses have aligned towards the adoption of digital methods that help them to reach out to customers more easily. In recent years, customers are typically more accessible digitally than compared to traditional means. However, choosing the right kind of marketing has a lot to do with your business requirements and your approach towards clients. For instance, if you are looking for a global client base, digital is the way to go. On the other hand, if you are targeting the local arena, traditional marketing might be best for you. So, once you have your priorities set, you can decide what is best for your business.

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