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Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing: How Do You Choose?

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Many small business owners don’t have huge marketing budgets to work with. This means they are often forced to make a choice between pursuing traditional marketing strategies versus going digital.

If your marketing budget won’t cover both, how do you choose between traditional marketing and digital marketing?

Which strategy will give you the most bang for your buck? Should you just try to handle it yourself, or hire a professional? And how will you know it’s actually working?

This article will go over the costs and benefits of both strategies to help you choose the one that’s best for your company.

Traditional Marketing vs Digital Marketing

Traditional marketing is very physical. Examples include print ads in magazines and newspapers, TV commercials, radio ads, mailbox flyers, even billboards in Times Square.

On the other hand, digital marketing is about advertising your company online through your website and different social media channels, like Facebook and Twitter.

Benefits of Traditional Marketing

  • Easy to reach local audiences. For example, you can request that the U.S. Postal Service distribute mailbox flyers to households within a certain radious. Radio advertising can be targeted to play in a particular city or region.
  • Physical materials tend to stick around. People may end up perusing the hard-copies of your marketing materials over and over again just because they are sitting on their kitchen table.
  • Easy to understand. Most people, especially older generations, have already been exposed to this type of marketing, so it will be easier for them to understand.
  • Neuroscience experts thinks it works. A 2015 study performed by a Canadian neuromarketing firm True Impact used eye-tracking and high-resolution EEG brain wave measurement to compare the effects of direct mail pieces and digital media (email, display ads).

The results?

The study concluded that direct mail was easier to process mentally, requiring 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital media. It also tested 70% better for brand recall.

Disadvantages of Traditional Marketing

  • No interaction between the brand and the customers. Since no email addresses or phone numbers are collected in traditional marketing, it’s more time consuming and difficult to follow up with marketing recipients in a personal way, and to give your potential customers a nudge in your direction after reading initial marketing materials.
  • No way to easily measure results. It’s more difficult to measure the success of traditional marketing campaigns.
  • It’s costly. Print and radio advertisements can take a huge chunk out of your marketing budget.

Benefits of Digital Marketing

  • You can target both local and international audiences. Digital marketing allows companies to reach both local and international audiences easily through web based marketing, allowing companies to compete in a global market place easier.
  • Targeted marketing to specific audiences. You can create a marketing campaign that targets specific demographics such as age or gender, which can greatly increase its overall effectiveness.
  • Audience can choose when and how to interact. With digital marketing, your audience can choose how and when to interact with your content (as well as opt-out of it if they want to). One person might want to read a blog post, another might want to watch a video instead.
  • Increased sales rate from audience. When they do interact with your brand, they will be more likely to buy from you because they were searching for a product or service that you offer.
  • You can interact with your audience. You can build relationships using social media, and encourage your audience members to take action (like visiting your website or leaving a review that will inspire others to purchase your product).
  • It’s cost-efficient. Although some businesses purchase paid ads online, there are cheaper, more effective methods, like optimizing your website for search engines, to get results.
  • It’s easy to measure. With Google Analytics and other reporting tools, you can see how your campaign is doing in real-time, and quickly adapt your strategy if something is not working.
  • It all happens in real-time. You don’t have to wait weeks to see the impact your campaign is having. You can see your subscriber numbers and conversion rates increase in real-time.
  • It evens the playing field. Traditionally, a smaller business might struggle to match the marketing endeavors of a large retailer.

However, with digital marketing, a beautiful website with a well-thought-out customer journey can take you just as far, and allow small companies to better compete with larger companies.

  • It can help you go viral. Digital marketing can reach thousands or millions of people in a short time. This activity, called “going viral” can increase the visibility of your company quickly.
  • Company message can be easily shared. Social media enables your message to be shared very quickly by pressing a “share” button. Assuming that the average Facebook user has 190 friends, when that one Facebook user clicks “Like”, your company message may reach 15 new people (or 12% of the Facebook user’s friends)!

Which One is the Best to You?

Traditional and digital marketing each have strengths and weaknesses. Instead of choosing which is better, companies can use both types of marketing to their benefit.

Traditional marketing can be very effective when used in conjunction with digital strategies like search engine optimization and social media management.

A 2009 study by Bangor University found that physical materials tend to be seen as more “real” by the brain. Dealing with physical materials also involves more emotional processing which is good for developing brand associations.

Digital marketing provides essential platforms for customer interaction, according to a 2015 study by the Canada Post Corporation.

That’s why we recommend using a hybrid approach when it comes to your own marketing strategy. For example, instead of purchasing radio ads, you could hand out brochures to referrals or people already on your digital newsletter subscriber list.

This is one of the ways, you can take advantage of the neurological benefits of traditional marketing while minimizing the costs associated with it.

Final Thoughts

We’ve talked about the differences between traditional marketing and digital marketing, as well as the benefits and disadvantages of each. Using a hybrid approach to marketing allows companies to strategically focus on the benefits of each type of marketing.

If you’d like to learn more about what digital marketing can do for you, check out our article about the benefits of SEO.

And if you’d like some help establishing a strong online presence that puts you right in front of as many potential customers as possible, we’d be happy to help.

Get started with a Digital Marketing Assessment now!

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