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The Difference Between Traditional and Digital Marketing

Is there a difference between traditional and digital marketing? And which one is better?

Figuring out whether to spend your marketing budget on print ads, content marketing, or social media outreach is no easy task.

In this article, we explore 3 main differences between traditional and digital marketing to help you decide which type of marketing is right for your business.

What is Traditional Marketing and Digital Marketing?

Traditional marketing

Traditional marketing is a fairly broad category that encompasses many different offline forms of advertising and marketing.

Most traditional marketing strategies fall under one of four umbrellas: print, broadcast, direct mail, or phone marketing.

Specifically, traditional marketing includes print, TV, and radio advertisements, as well as business cards, notices, handouts, and so on.

Digital marketing

Digital marketing encompasses all marketing strategies that utilize electronic devices or the internet.

It includes websites, social media, and email marketing – in short, any form of advertising and marketing that exists online.

The Difference Between Traditional and Digital Marketing

There are 3 notable differences between traditional and digital marketing.

1. Cost

Traditional marketing often requires a large upfront investment.

Print and TV advertisements are very expensive–as is paying a staff of salespeople to cold call prospects on the phone.

Placing ads on social media is significantly more affordable.

These ads are also more targeted, which ensures you don’t waste money on the wrong audience.

Plus, several digital marketing techniques are completely free.

For example, you can write and share content on your blog completely for free.

2. Intrusiveness

Traditional marketing is often regarded as pushy and intrusive.

When you run a TV ad, for example, you are interrupting a potential customer in the middle of an enjoyable activity.

And, since you can’t control exactly who sees your ad, you may be interrupting someone who is not ready to see that ad yet – even if they would be a great customer.

Digital marketing allows you to create marketing campaigns that are much less intrusive–and much more relevant–for your target audience.

A potential customer can choose whether or not to open an email.

And, if they do, they will be much more receptive to your marketing message than if you had interrupted them in the middle of their favorite TV show.

In fact, some forms of digital marketing don’t feel intrusive at all.

For example, content marketing focuses on helping before selling.

It is all about sharing valuable content that solves people’s problems but does not explicitly promote your business.

This content builds trust with your audience, establishes you as an expert, and guides them towards the next step in the buyer’s journey.

3. Tracking and analytics

It can take weeks or even months to see results from a large print advertising campaign.

Even then, the results are difficult to pin down. 

How do you know how many customers bought your product because they saw your TV ad? And how long did it take them to make a purchasing decision?

There are, of course, some (complicated) ways to get around this problem–at least to a certain extent.

On the other hand, you can track and analyze your digital marketing performance to see which strategies are performing well–and which ones are a waste of money.

Tracking your digital marketing efforts also makes it easy to change course when necessary.

For example, if you see that a particular blog post is generating a lot of traffic on your website, you can spend extra time and effort on promoting that post.

Why Digital Marketing is a Better Choice

Unless you are absolutely sure that your target audience never hangs out online, go with digital marketing.

Digital marketing is much more cost-effective than traditional marketing.

You don’t need thousands of dollars to get started. 

Plus, since you have much more control over who sees your marketing materials (ads, social media posts, etc.), you won’t be wasting money on trying to appeal to people who are not your ideal customers.

These cost savings can make a real difference–especially if you run a small business.

With digital marketing, you also don’t have to agonize over every single decision you make.

Why? Because you can quickly and easily change course if a particular marketing tactic isn’t working for your business.

That flashy new Facebook ad not performing as well as you had hoped? No problem! 

The same is true for the opposite scenario.

If you see that a particular type of content (e.g., a long-form “how-to” blog post) is generating a huge response, you can immediately put money into creating more content just like that.

How Handmade SEO Can Help

The most cost-effective (and least intrusive) form of digital marketing? 

Content marketing.

Here at Handmade SEO, we create and execute content marketing strategies that help you build trust with prospects and turn them into paying customers–without spending money on a single ad.

Want to see how we can work together?

Check out our process here.

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