Traditional Marketing vs. Digital Marketing: Which One’s Better?

on Blog January 17th, 2022

All local businesses want to attract more customers, but finding the best advertising technique is not easy. The first step is to understand your potential customers and figure out what channels will help you engage with them. At the same time, you also need to weigh traditional marketing vs. digital marketing to decide how and where you will invest your advertising budget.

At Fannit, we help companies by managing their SEO marketing content as well as other forms of online advertising campaigns.

In many cases, our team works closely with traditional advertising departments to ensure a consistent tone of voice.

So, we have a profound understanding of both traditional and digital marketing techniques as well as their performance.

In this article, we’ll go over the definition of traditional as well as digital marketing methods.

We’ll also go over the pros and cons of both to help you figure out which is the best approach for your small business.

What Is Traditional Marketing?

In order to fully compare traditional vs. digital marketing, you need to understand the definition of both.

Let’s start with traditional marketing.

Traditional marketing methods can be defined as any advertising approach that existed prior to the digital age.

It’s worth noting that traditional methods can be extremely different, but they all share similarities when compared to digital ads.

This type of advertising includes all forms of physical marketing communication, including magazine ads, pamphlets, guerilla marketing, team sponsorships, and referral campaigns. Other popular traditional methods include:

Radio Ads

Radio ads are among the oldest forms of traditional marketing strategies.

We’ve all heard radio ads before and they have remained largely unchanged in terms of their concept and how they are distributed.

Due to the nature of radio broadcasts, this marketing technique is usually used to target audiences in a limited radius.

Although the production cost of radio ads is lower compared to a few decades ago, this type of advertising still represents a hefty investment.

Not only this, but the content produced often needs to be updated, so you may need to run several radio ads depending on the season of the year.

Television Ads

Television ads took a lot of attention away from radio ads because they allowed companies to pair their audio message with a visual element.

As you can imagine,TV commercials have always been created to mimic the feel of movies and shows, with the goal of captivating the audience through storytelling.

Note that it’s more expensive to produce television ads than other forms of traditional marketing including radio spots and billboards.

That said, they also allow for extensive reach as these can be displayed to thousands of people at the same time, depending on when they are shown.

Billboards and Other Forms of Print

Print advertising includes billboards, newspapers, flyers, guerilla marketing, business cards, and all other forms of written or printed advertising.

Considered the oldest form of organized advertising (and second only to word of mouth), print advertising can be extremely engaging and even interactive, especially when combined with QR codes that link with elements of your digital marketing strategy.

Like other traditional channels, you need to know your target audience extremely well for print ads to be successful.

If not, there’s a strong chance that your local audience will not see the elements of your traditional campaign, let alone be enticed by one of your ads.

Direct Mail

Direct mail can be a powerful form of marketing, especially if the addresses of the local audience members were collected using the right methods.


Traditional marketers can design plans to collect physical addresses from current and potential customers.

Once the mailing list is big enough, companies can start sending out content that focuses on boosting brand awareness, promoting customer engagement, and moving prospects down the marketing funnel.

The costs associated with this type of traditional marketing campaign is similar to creating pamphlets or flyers, plus whatever it costs to use the local mail service.

Workshops, Conferences, and Other In-Person Events

Online platforms are known for engaging customers, but some conventional tactics also have a huge interactive element.

Some examples of these include workshops, conferences, and other in-person events. Promoters get a chance to focus on brand building and sales generation simultaneously while also connecting with prospective customers at a much deeper level than other traditional media.

Defining Digital Marketing

As the name suggests, digital marketing is an advertising approach that relies on promoting brands and products through online channels.

This includes all forms of internet-enabled devices like computers, smartphones, and tablets, as well as all platforms that can be accessed through these devices.

For example, social media networks, websites, video streaming platforms, forums, and more.

Like traditional means, all digital advertising channels bring unique features, but they all share certain similarities thanks to the nature of online platforms.

With this in mind, companies also need to ensure that their digital marketing efforts are synchronized in order to attract internet users, keep them engaged, and transform them into paying customers.

There are many digital marketing tactics, but some of the most common ones include:

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization, also known as SEO, is a technique that focuses on improving your site until it gets top rankings whenever a relevant search is performed on search engines like Google.

SEO is extremely cost-effective because you don’t have to pay for each visitor, not to mention the fact that search platforms can provide high volumes of traffic from virtually all US cities.

Rather than being considered a form of paid advertising, SEO is known as an organic approach.

Additionally, SEO is compatible with a variety of other marketing methods, including all of the digital techniques mentioned on this list.

But, also remember that the behavior of internet users changes over time, so you need to study your audience, make the right changes, and adjust your digital ad spend accordingly.

Social Media Marketing

Social media networks are now available in almost all regions of the world and throughout the entirety of the US.

Companies are using platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn to form lasting bonds and drive more business.

This digital space is so flexible that companies can even choose to run either paid or organic campaigns, just like with search platforms.

Paid social media ads are extremely effective because users provide a huge amount of information when signing up to Facebook and similar platforms.

But, like other digital marketing strategies, you need to set time aside to optimize your social marketing efforts periodically to maintain a consistent performance.

Pay-Per-Click Marketing

Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing refers to an advertising technique that allows companies to buy digital spots throughout the web.

The most popular PPC platform is Google Ads, but it’s worth noting that there are other pay-per-click marketing channels available.

With that said, Google Ads remains the most reliable and effective thanks to the platform’s huge reach.

When it’s launched on a platform like Google, PPC advertising can also be referred to as search engine marketing (SEM).

Unlike organic approaches, paid digital marketing channels require companies to issue payments for every click or after a certain number of ad impressions.

This means that PPC campaigns are more expensive to run than their organic counterparts, although SEM and other paid ads also produce results much faster than SEO.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is among the oldest forms of digital advertising, but it’s still one of the most effective approaches companies can try today.

Think about it as the digital version of direct mail. But the main difference is that you can track the performance of your email campaigns and figure out what adjustments you need to make to your marketing strategy to engage the target audience.


One of the reasons why email advertising is still very effective is that it’s compatible with other digital marketing strategies.

For example, you can develop an email sequence designed to get users to read your organic content, join your sales funnel through this channel, and boost your SEO performance at the same time.

Inbound Marketing

The biggest difference between traditional and digital marketing techniques is that the former is usually product or company-centric.

Some of the most successful forms of digital marketing, on the other hand, revolve around customers, like inbound marketing.

Inbound advertising is an internet marketing technique that focuses on attracting users that have already shown interests in your services or products. The idea is to target people that have a higher chance at becoming customers, rather than attempting to connect with users at random times.

Pros of Traditional Marketing

Now that we understand the definition of both, let’s go over the different elements of traditional vs. digital marketing approaches.

For starters, we’ll cover some of the most important traditional marketing pros.

Easy to Understand

The first and most obvious benefit of traditional marketing strategies is that they are easy to understand.

Traditional marketing and advertising has been around for decades and even centuries, depending on how you define the term “advertisement”.

Because of this, most business owners learn about the concept of traditional marketing early on and this makes it easier for these decision-makers to grasp the idea behind the ads being used.

Not only this, but your potential customers are also used to seeing ads and they can usually recognize one as soon as they see it.

But, this can also represent an inherent disadvantage for traditional marketing channels because your audience may experience ad blindness.

Great for Reputation and Brand Authority

Despite the fact that brands may have a different perspective, consumers often assume that only the best brands invest in advertising.

This is especially true for billboards, television ads, and radio spots that have the best slots and placements.

If your brand appears on the front of a magazine or in an ad during primetime, there’s a strong chance your audience will automatically assume you’re an industry leader.

In addition to the above, companies that invest into top-notch traditional marketing campaigns can also control the narrative based on the platforms they choose.

For example, if your company focuses on snow equipment, appearing in a mountaineering publication can give your brand the credibility it needs to take the next step.


Consumers are used to conventional marketing and it’s in their comfort zone.

This is one of the reasons why traditional marketing specialists have started focusing on more creative concepts in their ads, rather than recreating normal situations.

Have you noticed an increase in television ads with wacky characters and a more comedic touch? It’s because brands want to develop more memorable content while still falling within the “familiar” category.

Cons of Traditional Marketing

Now that we’ve explored the most important traditional marketing pros, let’s go over the cons of running these types of campaigns.

A few disadvantages of traditional marketing methods include:

  • Content on traditional ads can’t be changed without incurring costs
  • Traditional marketing can’t be tracked or monitored
  • Print, television, and other forms of traditional marketing tend to be expensive
  • The feedback loop of these campaigns is extremely slow
  • Traditional marketing techniques don’t usually offer much opportunity to engage users

Advantages of Digital Marketing

To compare online marketing vs. traditional marketing properly, we also need to discuss the pros and cons for digital channels.

Here are some of the advantages of digital marketing.

Wider Reach

When combined, digital marketing techniques have a much bigger reach than any form of print advertising.

Almost 90% of people in the US regularly access the internet, so companies that focus on digital marketing can reach a huge percentage of their prospective customers through online channels.


Not only this, but the majority of purchases begin with online research and platforms like Google are the first places where people look for new products as well as services.

By combining SEO, social media, PPC, and other forms of digital marketing techniques, companies can connect with users at different points of the decision-making process.

Higher Engagement

If we were to choose one thing that makes digital marketing unique, it would be the superior engagement levels it offers.

Rather than displaying static ads, companies can publish interactive content that encourages users to reach out, ask questions, and make purchases.

The reason for this is that consumers usually access the internet to consume content.

Rather than looking for prospects that are ready to buy, businesses can develop digital marketing campaigns that inform users, collect information from these readers, and slowly move them down the sales funnel through an interactive cycle.

A Variety Channels Available and More to Come

In the early days of digital marketing, companies were only producing content for desktop web browsers and emails.

Since then, new channels like social media networks, video streaming platforms, and search engines have taken the reins.

All of these innovative platforms have allowed business owners to connect with users in different ways to build new revenue funnels.

The best part is that new platforms are developed on a regular basis, which only increases the number of channels that companies can use to engage future customers.

For instance, virtual reality and augmented reality platforms are becoming more and more popular.

It’s safe to assume that at some point both of these technologies will dramatically change the way businesses build relationships with their audiences.

Trackable and Measurable

The biggest difference between digital marketing and traditional advertising may be the former’s tracking and measuring ability.

User behavior can be tracked on digital marketing platforms, which means that companies can actually see how well their content performed, the amount of traffic generated, and the revenue that came as a result.

Tracking technology is constantly evolving, with some innovative platforms allowing companies to see which areas of their sites generate the most interactions.

So, you need to research the different methods, figure out how you will track your digital marketing campaign, and learn how to use the tools you implement.

Can Be Targeted and Edited

The internet marketing vs. traditional marketing debate can be approached from different angles.


That said, one clear advantage that digital marketing offers is the ability to create targeted content and edit it after it’s gone live without incurring additional costs.

Disadvantages of Online Marketing

Digital and traditional marketing share the same objectives.

But, it’s important to note that digital marketing techniques also have certain disadvantages.

These include:

  • Requires a solid understanding of the digital channels and how users behave on them
  • Stiff competition in certain industries
  • Companies have to conduct maintenance and optimize content regularly

Ready to Launch a Comprehensive Campaign? Our Team is Here to Help

There are many clear differences when comparing digital vs. traditional techniques.

Most companies opt to invest most of their resources into digital marketing, but developing successful online campaigns isn’t always easy.

There are many elements that influence the performance of your content, so you need to have a savvy digital marketing team that focuses on improving the performance of your ads.

To find out more about combining digital and traditional marketing to get the best results, contact Fannit today.

Our digital marketing experts have extensive experience developing campaigns from scratch, so you can rely on our team to manage your advertising campaigns.

Neil Eneix

My brother Keith and I started Fannit in 2010 and have been very fortunate to work with a wonderful family of clients, watching their businesses grow through the power of digital marketing. At the office, I work with our clients on developing out their business strategy as well as nurturing our relationships. It’s amazing how much influence and power SEO and good content can have over a business’ health. Connect with me on LinkedIn >