How is Digital Marketing Different from Traditional Marketing?

Do you know the differences? If you had to choose between digital marketing and traditional marketing, which would you choose? Read on for why RevLocal thinks there's a clear winner.

The main difference between traditional and digital marketing is the channels they operate on. Traditional marketing disseminates information offline via channels such as mailers, cold calls, billboards, radio, newspapers and magazines. Digital marketing, on the other hand, uses online channels like social media, paid ads, email, websites, local search, search engine optimization, blogs and product reviews. 

Depending on your business, there are pros to using both of these methods in its marketing strategy. However, RevLocal believes there’s a clear winner for which method offers the highest return on investment; We recommend giving digital marketing a significant portion of your marketing strategy and budget. 

Read on for the biggest differences between traditional and digital marketing and why digital marketing has a clear advantage. 

Quick breakdown…

  • Avenues of Communication 
  • Tracking KPIs and Customer Data
  • Return on Investment 
  • Targeting Opportunities 
  • Conversion Rates

1. Avenues of Communication

As previously mentioned, traditional marketing functions offline while digital marketing functions online. This difference is important when thinking about who your audience is and what kinds of content they are consuming.

Older generations like the Baby Boomers and Gen X still tend to gravitate towards offline channels such as newspapers and magazines for their information. Younger generations like Millennials and Gen Z spend most of their work and play time online. 

If your business’s services and products are geared more towards one group over another, investing your marketing budget into those avenues is a good move. It should be noted that, as the world becomes increasingly more digital, you won’t miss your target audience by investing more in online channels even if your business caters to older generations. 

The world is moving online so marketing should too! 

2. Tracking KPIs and Customer Data

Digital marketing has an obvious leg up over traditional marketing when it comes to tracking the key performance indicators (KPIs) of ad campaigns and gathering customer data. 

Tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Analytics allow marketers to see exactly how their paid ad campaigns are performing and offer insights for improvements. Additionally, when a consumer interacts with an ad, a social post or leaves a review on a website, those platforms glean information on the user which can further inform future marketing campaigns. 

This depth of tracking isn’t something traditional marketing methods can accomplish. For traditional marketing, the best kinds of statistics available for tracking involve magazine or newspaper distribution and average monthly listeners for a radio station and the like. 

Traditional marketing tracking methods offer the potential volume of viewers, but they can’t offer direct conversion data like digital marketing can.  

Additionally, traditional marketing depends on third party customer research and data which can be expensive to acquire. Such data takes more time to implement and can’t keep up with the ever changing expectations and preferences of consumers. Yes, digital marketing uses third party data acquired by Google, Facebook and other platforms. However, that data is much richer, more easily accessible and can be more efficiently implemented than data from traditional marketing sources. 

Digital marketing offers a strong, reliable and consistent feedback loop which, in the long run, makes for more cost-effective campaigns. 

3. Return on Investment

Factors like performance tracking and easy access to customer data all play a part in making your investment in marketing as cost-effective as possible. Another large factor to consider is the initial cost of running an ad on traditional channels versus digital channels. 

Ads on traditional channels can easily cost thousands of dollars and have a set run time. Ads run on digital channels can be as inexpensive as just dollars a day and can be live as long as your budget allows. Just because traditional marketing costs more doesn’t mean that the ad will be more effective. Similarly, cheaper digital marketing costs doesn’t mean fewer quality leads. The business and distribution models of traditional marketing and digital marketing are simply different and that’s the main reason for the cost disparity. 

Digital marketing can drum up higher quality leads–that come with more data–at a lower cost than traditional marketing can. This is due to the more precise targeting methods, feedback loops and unlimited online space to run ads. Again, traditional marketing methods may have an impressive distribution volume, but without knowing what percentage of that audience is your ideal customer and how many of them convert from your ad, it’s hard to calculate a valuable return on investment. 

4. Targeting Opportunity 

Entire paid advertising campaigns can be directed at consumers visiting competitor’s websites and retargeting ads can follow users online after they’ve interacted with a certain product or service. These are just two of the many different campaign types available to digital marketers. 

Businesses' social media channels can be crafted to appeal to their ideal customer’s aesthetics, ways of speaking and relevant content. Graphics, blogs and emails can all be created to match what your audience trusts and finds interesting. The personalization available to digital marketers far outweighs the personalization and targeting capabilities available to traditional marketers. 

Traditional marketing can only target as specifically as the medium. Even if you run a hair growth product in a woman’s beauty magazine, there’s no guarantee that the readers are in the market for that particular product. Similarly, running a radio ad where the audience is mostly individuals interested in investing doesn’t mean that your product will meet their needs at the time. 

Targeting is a gamble with traditional marketing while it’s a precise and reliable science with digital marketing. 

5. Conversion Rates

Conversions take less time in the digital marketing space than in the traditional marketing space. It’s often easier for an online user to click an ad and explore a website than it is to call in off of a radio ad or billboard. Additionally, viewers may choose to keep a print ad for some amount of time while they research other options while clicking onto an interesting ad is part of the research online. 

High conversion rates in a short amount of time matters because with every conversion comes new data and information about which ads are performing and why. A slow conversion rate means a slower response time in making improvements and understanding your ideal customer. 

Additionally, more conversions occur in the digital marketing space than the traditional marketing space. One study found that 50% of their revenue came in from digital marketing efforts. So, not only are a higher volume of conversions occurring quickly from digital marketing efforts, the leads are high quality making for more revenue and an increased potential of loyal customers. 

Conversion rates are among the top most important performance metrics for all forms of marketing. Digital marketing offers trackable, higher quality and higher volume conversions than traditional marketing. If conversions, sales and new customers are the end goal, digital marketing is the clear winner.  

Final thoughts…

There are benefits to investing in traditional marketing efforts. You can broadly target older generations at a high volume and create content that viewers might want to hold onto for future reference. However, digital marketing offers businesses benefits that traditional marketing can’t. While there is still a place for traditional marketing methods, digital marketing undeniably offers the highest return on investment for your marketing strategies and budget. 

Whatever exposure your business needs, digital marketing can get it done through emails, paid ads, local search, social media and more.

If you’d like to know more about what it’s like to have RevLocal handle your business’s digital marketing, contact one of our experts today! 

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