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Digital Media Marketing​

Traditional Marketing vs. Digital Marketing: What Are the Differences?

Did you know that the US digital advertising market is worth a staggering 20.7 billion?

This is not surprising, as more companies are moving towards digital marketing. Does this mean that traditional marketing is no longer effective?
Well, different marketers will give varying answers to this question.

The age-old debate about traditional marketing vs. digital marketing has persisted for years. Chances are, you are confused about which of the two will be effective for your business. Understanding the key differences between them is crucial to making the right choice.

Lucky for you, this article has you covered.

Read on for a breakdown of the differences between traditional and digital marketing.


The main difference between the two is the medium of communication. Contrary to what its name implies, traditional marketing is not archaic. It’s still quite relevant and influential today.

You probably come across multiple forms of traditional marketing daily. This marketing strategy uses traditional, often physical media like billboards and magazines.

In contrast, digital marketing takes place online. It involves media like websites, e-mails, and social media.


Traditional marketing reaches a smaller audience than digital marketing. It’s more localized to your areas of operation or places your target customers frequent.

Take a billboard as an example. Only the people driving through your chosen area will see your advertisement.

But, digital marketing carries a greater reach potential. Your marketing campaigns can be global, allowing you to enter new markets.

Digital marketing also allows you to target a specific audience. You’ll first need to identify your customer demographics. Then, find a digital marketing guide to help you create a targeted campaign for your audience.

Digital marketing is an excellent option for an orthodontics practice. A digital orthodontic marketing campaign would allow you to reach the younger demographic. This is crucial as they are the most likely to need corrective dentistry.


Communication is one-way with traditional marketing. In most instances, you’ll not get feedback from your target audience.

It’ll be at an added cost to your business if you do. You’ll have to find a way to reach people who’ve interacted with your campaign. It’s an expense most companies are not willing to incur.

In contrast, digital marketing allows two-way communication. Your target market can like, comment, and share your marketing campaign.

Two-way communication is essential in today’s marketplace. It enables customers to feel heard and valued, which is vital for customer retention. On top of that, you get ideas on aspects to improve directly from the people you’re targeting.


Businesses allocate between 2% and 5% of their revenue to marketing. But, the percentage can be lower or higher depending on your chosen strategy.

In most cases, traditional marketing is more expensive. Running a TV ad or leasing a billboard will cost a pretty penny.

Most small businesses cannot afford to market their products through these mediums. Luckily, digital marketing offers a cheaper and sometimes free alternative.

The cost of building a website is lower than most traditional alternatives. It’s better to start with digital marketing and expand later on if you have a small marketing budget.

Consumer Behavior Understanding

Understanding customer behavior is vital for improving customer retention. While traditional marketing may get a customer in the door, digital marketing will keep them there.

Digital marketing allows you to determine the lifetime value of a customer. It also enables you to identify campaigns that customers react to the most.

This way, you can create more targeted campaigns. These campaigns are more likely to translate to revenue.

This is impossible with traditional marketing. It’s difficult to gauge how many times customers come across your advertisements. It’s even harder to determine whether these adverts translate to sales.

Consumer Autonomy

Consumer autonomy is not always a good thing, particularly in marketing campaigns. It can drive you out of business if you’re not careful.

Why? Because some customers will always skip your ads when given a chance. This will affect new business growth.

That’s where traditional marketing comes into play. There’s more or less an assurance that your target customers will see your ad if it’s on TV or a billboard. Though this may not translate to a sale immediately, your target audience will have seen you.

But, digital marketing is more of a gamble in this respect. Customers always have the choice to skip ads if they’re online.

Creativity is necessary if you’re a new business owner and have no following. You may need to blend your traditional and digital marketing efforts.

Customer Relationships

The two strategies yield varying results in business-customer relationships. Digital marketing is a better alternative if you aim to create a long-lasting relationship with your customers.

This is more so true with social media and websites. They allow your customers to express their views about your business.

And, they allow you to react to customers’ views, creating a give-take conversation. Ultimately, this translates to better relationships. Customers no longer see your business as an inanimate object.

Results Assessment and Re-Strategizing

A significant part of marketing involves differentiating effective campaigns from ineffective ones. This allows businesses to re-strategize by focusing resources on effective campaigns.

Traditional marketing is not the best option in this regard. It’s hard to gauge the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.

It’s even harder to do so if you’re running different campaigns simultaneously. After all, you can’t ask every customer how they knew about you.

But digital marketing can give you real-time results through the click-through rate. This allows you to identify the best-performing ads.
You can also determine how much revenue comes from your campaigns. With this information, you’re more likely to make better use of your marketing resources.

Traditional Marketing vs. Digital Marketing: What’s Better?

Debates on traditional marketing vs. digital marketing will continue well into the future. There’s no concrete answer on which is better between the two.

Your best alternative relies on various factors. As you’ve seen in this article, both options are suitable in different situations.

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