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Online Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing

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Chris Kirksey


digital marketing vs traditional

Should you spend money on digital marketing or traditional marketing?

You already know everyone goes right to the internet when something’s on their mind.

  1. Increase in sales revenue from $X to $X
  2. Decrease in cost per lead from $X to $X
  3. Overall increase of leads via inbound marketing
  4. General Increase of brand awareness
  5. Online/Website Traffic-to-Lead Ratio (New Phone/Email/Chat Contact Rate)
  6. Foot Traffic-to-Lead Ratio
  7. Lead-to-Customer Ratio (Conversion Rate)

While traditional marketing can be useful at times, many businesses these days are focusing all of their efforts towards digital marketing. Digital marketing has a lot of advantages and in almost every case is the superior choice. Hence why digital marketing spend is predicted to reach $146 billion by 2023, growing at a 9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

These days, SEO isn’t even an option for most businesses. It’s a must in order for the business to achieve continual growth.

Choosing not to do what it takes to be found, especially when people are taking their time to search and find you, is ignorance.

If you’re not caught up on the latest trends, however, you may not understand why online marketing can be so beneficial or how it differs from traditional marketing techniques.

You also know the power of brand awareness via billboards, mailers and TV commercials.

Which is right for your business though?

Which provides a better return on your investment?

How do you track which one performs better?

To understand the difference between digital and traditional marketing techniques, strategies, costs, appropriateness and more – it’s first important to get a grasp on your key performance indicators (KPI’s), your current cost per acquisition (CPA) via your current/past marketing channels, and your customer lifetime value.

Let’s dive right in and face the data, facts, and differences between traditional and digital marketing.

1. Costs

One of the biggest ways that traditional and digital marketing techniques differ is the number of benjamins it takes to hit the goals you’re after.

roi channels 1

SEO often provides a much better return on investment (ROI) than traditional marketing does, especially for small businesses.

Social media, blogging, and content marketing can all be done on a low budget when compared to tv, radio, mailers, and billboards. Yet, these techniques can be highly effective (and don’t go away – once it’s online, it’s there until you remove it).

Content marketing, for example, costs 62% less than traditional marketing methods. Yet, it can generate 3 times as many leads for each dollar spent.

Pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns can also be very cost-effective and can be scaled to varying amounts depending on the needs of a particular business. A business on a small budget, for example, could spend as little as $1 a day and may still see significant results.

Billboards or TV ads will be much more expensive, and at the same time won’t be as targeted as online marketing will be. There’s a reason people are spending more money on digital marketing than ever before.

digital marketing spend graph 1

2. Audience Reach

Another big difference between traditional marketing and digital marketing is their audience reach.

Traditional marketing typically works best at the local level. While it’s possible to launch a national or global advertising campaign with traditional techniques the costs will be extravagant and it will take a lot of careful planning.

Did you know that 84% of millenials don’t trust traditional advertising?

That’s a huge number of people who are just writing your company off as untrustworthy just because you chose traditional marketing over digital. Ouch.

With digital marketing, a company can easily start marketing their business to people around the country or the world with a few clicks.

A PPC ad campaign, for example, can easily target a specific city, state, or country anywhere in the world. Other marketing tactics such as blogging and social media can also reach an audience anywhere on the globe. However, they can be targeted towards a local audience as well.

3. Targeting

When it comes time to target a specific audience, traditional and digital marketing also have some big differences.

While a traditional TV, billboard, or magazine ad will reach a large number of people, the audience won’t be very defined. Anybody who happens to drive by a billboard ad will see the advertisement. This will include plenty of people who will have no interest in the product or service advertised.

Digital marketing works very differently. With digital marketing and advertising techniques, specific types of people can be targeted based on a variety of factors.

PPC and social media ads can be narrowed down to target specific types of people based on their age, their sex, their location, their interests, and more. Content marketing and SEO is also more targeted as well. People who discover a business through these methods will be searching for relevant keywords online.

4. Buying Intent

With SEO techniques and other digital marketing strategies people who find your website or blog will do it by searching for a specific keyword related to your industry or product.

lead to customer close rate 1

You’ll often be targeting potential customers based on their interests. This means that many people who reach your site and find your services online will be there because they’re ready and willing to make a purchase at that moment or are actively looking for the solution to their problems. This is partially why digital marketing techniques lead to much higher conversion rates.

With traditional marketing, you’ll be marketing to people who aren’t ready to buy and who aren’t actively looking for a product or service. As a result, you’ll need to get your marketing message to a lot more people to find the ones who the ad may actually be relevant to.

5. Customer Engagement

Another big way that these types of marketing differ is in their ability to engage your customers.

While traditional marketing takes an in-your-face approach, digital marketing typically aims to spark conversation.

It provides value first.

Digital marketing often takes an inbound approach and works to pull people into a business.

This is opposed to using outbound tactics such as cold calling where you’ll be pushing a marketing message onto potential customers instead.

It should be noted that people of different ages will respond to different things.

Traditional marketing is sometimes the better choice for engaging older audiences or people who don’t use modern technology as much.

However, digital marketing is usually the superior choice for engaging younger generations.

6. Longevity

Digital marketing is also different than traditional marketing due to its longevity.

Many digital marketing techniques such as SEO will be best for the long-term gain of your business.

Social media engagement, video marketing, content creation, and blogging will grow your presence on the web.

Once established, these techniques will help your business over time.

Using these techniques now will continue to get your website new visitors and your business new customers for months or even years to come.

Many digital marketing techniques have a cumulative effect.

Traditional marketing is often a one-and-done type of deal.

Once you stop paying for a billboard ad or a TV spot it will disappear and the only thing that will be left is a memory.

7. Measuring Results

Another big difference between digital and traditional marketing is the ability to measure results and track engagement.

Digital marketing is far more measurable than traditional marketing is.

Google Ads, social media sites such as Facebook, and business websites all include tools for tracking visitors and seeing exactly where they came from and what actions they have taken.

With digital marketing, you’ll be able to easily measure the effectiveness of a particular ad you create or any marketing tactic you use.

With digital marketing, you’ll have plenty of data to understand your customers.

You can also understand exactly how your business can more effectively engage them.

You’ll be able to use tools such as A/B testing to tweak your digital marketing strategy to make it more and more effective over time. 

Traditional ads, on the other hand, are very difficult to track and much of it will rely on guesswork.

It can be hard to determine whether a customer came to your business because of a TV ad, a magazine ad, a referral, or for some other reason.

beginners guide to marketing

Alternative Marketing Options

Spotify Ads

Radio ads are a thing of the past ever since Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, and other big players found a way to give consumers a way to personalize and control music. Spotify ads are a wonderful (and cheaper) alternative to radio ads.

Making the Choice on Where to Advertise

While both digital and traditional marketing can be useful, most businesses who want the best bang for their buck should opt for using digital marketing techniques. Digital marketing has changed the way marketing works and can help propel businesses of all kinds forward in a cost-effective, targeted, and measurable way. Looking for help with your digital marketing campaign? Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you.
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