Tips. Trends. Insights.

The Blog

Traditional vs. digital marketing: What’s the difference and which one works better? There has been a long-lasting debate between the two. Ultimately, choosing the right type of marketing depends on your business.

What’s the Difference?

The main difference between the two is the medium through which a business delivers their marketing message. Traditional marketing on one hand uses old school channels such as newspaper, radio or television to get their message across. Digital marketing on the other hand uses online channels like social media, websites or search engines.

Some would say that traditional marketing is dead. On the contrary, traditional marketing plays an increasingly important role in people’s lives as they seek time out from the digital world.

Traditional marketing forms can also evoke feelings of nostalgia and “the good old days”. For example, imagine watching a 70s style TV commercial or glancing at a flyer that looks like a piece of art. Your brand immediately gets put at the forefront of people’s minds.

Source: Ads of the World

Digital marketing on the other hand is just as important as traditional marketing, if not more. We live in a digital world where the average person spends 2.5 hours on social media per day and checks their email 20x times. Google gets almost 9 billion searches per day. Brands use these advantages to smartly incorporate their message into people’s everyday lives.

Now let’s get into the nitty gritty of both types of marketing. 

What is Traditional Marketing?

Traditional marketing refers to the promotion of products and services offline. This type of marketing uses old school channels such as print, radio, television, billboards, magazines, and newspapers to reach certain target audiences.

When it comes to traditional marketing, less is more. That doesn’t mean your options are restricted though. It just means that you have to get creative and think outside the box to do more with less.

How do you like this spooky introduction of Dracula by the West Australian Ballet?

Form of traditional marketing. Promotional flyer

Source: Ads of the World

Up until the 90’s, traditional marketing was pretty much the only way of advertising a business. And while many think that traditional marketing is outdated, this is not true.

Depending on your business and target market, this type of marketing might be the better choice for you. For example, if you are a local business that has an elderly target market, you might want to place an ad in your local newspaper instead of tweeting on social media.

Here are some more pro’s and con’s of traditional marketing:

Pros of traditional marketing

Easy to understand

Commonly, traditional marketing is kept simple and therefore is easy to understand. Think about it, you see a bold billboard placed on your way to work for a few seconds. You’re watching a late night TV show where a 10 second ad gets displayed in the break. As there isn’t much time to grab the audience’s attention, traditional marketing usually uses simple, easy to understand messaging.

Permanent (almost)

Traditional ads often get replayed or recycled for a certain amount of time. If you have an ad at your local radio station for example, listeners would get reminded of your business several times a day. Many magazines and newspapers run for a week or even a month, which is beneficial for you as it increases your market reach.


Traditional marketing is incorporated into our everyday life. Sometimes we notice it consciously, but other times traditional ads make their way into our minds subconsciously. This allows traditional marketing to leave a sneaky lasting impression.

Form of outdoor traditional marketing. Funny A frame ad.

Source: Ads of the World

Cons of traditional marketing

Mostly expensive

For most traditional marketing you would have to dig deep into your pockets. Broadcasting a TV commercial or featuring your business on a full page in Vogue quickly adds up. That can specifically set you off if you’re still at the starting phase of your business. 

Difficult to measure

Unlike the old days where you just had to trust your gut, today there are at least some ways to measure the success of your campaign. For example, you can incorporate a QR code or URL into your traditional ads that aims to direct your audience to a specific landing page. That way you can track the traffic created by the campaign. But compared to digital marketing, there are still no truly efficient measurement tools that give you in-depth insight into the success of a campaign.

Less customer interaction

Unfortunately with traditional ads you don’t really get much feedback from your target audience. You don’t know their reactions or emotions when seeing your ad, and there often is no way for them to interact with you.

What is Digital Marketing?

Although traditional marketing has its advantages, we live in a digital world. Digital marketing uses the online space to create impact and reach target audiences. There are many different channels of digital marketing, such as:

  • Email
  • Social media
  • Website
  • Search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Influencer marketing
  • Content marketing
Pros of traditional marketing

Highly targeted advertising

With digital marketing you can create content that speaks directly to your target audience, making it easier to get your message across. But why? Well, if you can target 34 year old Brad who loves a cold beer and a burger, surely you can sell him your special hot sauce?

Male with beard in his mid thirties about to bite into a burger. Jug of emptied beer next to him.

Learn what it takes to fully understand your customers, so customer targeting becomes a breeze!

High customer interaction

Digital marketing uses two-way communication, meaning that you’re not only showing your ad but also getting a response. For example, with social media marketing your target audience can like, dislike, share, or comment on your ad. If you run a Google pay-per-click (PPC) campaign, users can leave a review. By allowing your audience to interact with you, it gives you instant feedback on your campaigns.

Easy to measure

Most digital marketing channels come with integrated measurement, reporting and analytical tools. This makes it easy for you to measure the success of your campaigns with metrics like user traffic, customer engagement, customer interactions, ROAS, conversion rate, click-through-rate, and many more.

Cons of traditional marketing

Have bad stigma about it

Digital ads have a bad stigma about them. Most people see them as annoying and feel like they’re interfering with whatever they’re doing. This leads to most people flicking through and ignoring the ads, which can be detrimental if you just put all that effort into creating the juiciest beer ad for your 30 year old Brad.

Too many options

With so many different digital marketing tools available, we often see businesses struggle choosing the right channel. Some believe that using all at the same time is most effective because you get maximum exposure, but in fact it can lead to more budget waste than great results. The questions you have to ask yourself to choose the right ones: Who are your customers? What platforms do they use? How do they interact with you?

Constant changes

Guidelines, policies, cookies, data collection – things change quickly in the online world. Every digital marketing channel constantly evolves. If you want results from your digital marketing efforts, you have to continuously keep on track with all the changes as they may affect your campaigns.

Which Marketing Type Should You Use?

Simply put, it depends. It depends on the nature of your business, your business goals, marketing objectives, and target audience. Then you also have to consider your budget.

Traditional marketing can be more costly, but you can also reach an enormous audience. The thing to keep in mind is that marketing isn’t one-for-all anymore. People know what they want. And they want a brand to know it too. They don’t want to be offered wine if they prefer beer.

Digital marketing can do exactly that. It lets you carefully tailor your message to specific target audiences, making it more cost-effective.

In the end, both types of marketing can help your business grow. You just need to know who your target audience is and what they want.

Need some help with your marketing strategy?

We are digital marketing experts and print marketing professionals. Get in touch with us for a compulsory consultation and we will help you figure out which type of marketing will bring you the best results!

More articles

What Makes a Successful Website

What Makes a Successful Website

There are two main aspects to every website: Design and functionality. Many businesses put design over functionality, but in fact they are both equally as important as each other. Especially if you want a successful website. Think about it: Do you have a high bounce...

read more
SEO vs Google Ads: Which Is Better?

SEO vs Google Ads: Which Is Better?

Both methods help you get more traffic from Google, but which is best for your business? Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Google Ads are two marketing strategies used to drive traffic and leads for a business. But many businesses are unsure of which strategy...

read more
Is Social Media Marketing Effective?

Is Social Media Marketing Effective?

The short answer is yes. Social media marketing is very effective and we will uncover the three main reasons why.  With billions of people around the world using social media, it offers you an enormous pool of potential customers. Really, there has never been a...

read more