Since the rise of the internet, the marketer’s tool box has grown considerably. Many have adopted these new channels and harnessed a potent and effective way to engage their audiences, while others rely on more traditional techniques to market their brand. Ultimately, your business, and your audience’s preferences should dictate the type of marketing strategy employed. Let’s take some time to explore the merits of both traditional and digital marketing.

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What is Traditional Marketing?

Traditional marketing refers to the conventional methods used since the inception of advertising and includes channels such as direct mail, TV/radio ads, and billboards, among others. Most of the time, these modes only reach a local audience, even though they are not specifically limited to one. It’s beneficial in that consumers are used to these forms of marketing and fully expect to be marketed to across these formats. These traditional methods have proven successful time and time again, plus historical research exists for companies to explore to help navigate which channels should be utilized. Traditional marketing is not reliant on potential customers having access to the internet or owning a smart device, thereby making it more broadly accessible.

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While traditional marketing methods such as direct mail offers are valuable for say, a hairdressing salon wishing to inform their local neighborhood of their presence and services the downfall is that these strategies can be costly, difficult to track, and can lead to consumer marketing fatigue. Consumers are often wary of being sold to and, given the rise of the digital age and the exorbitant level of information available, they’ve become more proactive and resourceful in educating themselves and making informed, self-directed purchases.

What is Digital Marketing?

When we say digital marketing what are we referring to? Hubspot suggests that “digital marketing emcompasses all marketing efforts that use and electronic device or the internet.” This includes modes such as social media, email marketing, website design, search engine optimization, pay-per-click campaigns, just to name a few.

By adopting a digital-based strategy, companies are presented with new opportunities to connect with their customers. Instead of a marketing-centric method where companies are telling consumers what they want, digital marketing is grounded in consumer-centric principles where companies provide digital resources intended to empower and educate consumers. With the increase in the number of digital channels, companies and their marketing teams are now having to create content that is not only platform-specific but is also appealing to unique audiences and their behaviors on each platform. Digital marketing is all about attracting people through relevant and helpful content while adding value along their path to conversion. And what’s more: it requires comparatively less capital than traditional methods, is trackable, and makes targeting your audience clear and direct. Take this stat for instance: inbound marketing generates 3x as many leads as traditional marketing, but costs 62% less.

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Traditional vs Digital - Which is Right for you?

Where does this leave us? A common marketing saying is “reach the right person, at the right place, at the right time,” and this could not be more true. While digital marketing does afford you the aforementioned benefits, it alone shouldn’t exhaust your marketing budget. The most important questions you can ask yourself in deciding your marketing plan for the year are as follows:

  1. What are the top business priorities? Is it brand awareness? Raw traffic? Product or services education? Or, are you looking to support sales?
  2. What is your budget?
  3. What available talent do you have at your disposal? What internal personnel have the available bandwidth? Do you have trusted third-party vendors?
  4. Who is your target audience?

Once you and your team have answered these questions, it should provide a clearer picture on what the course should look like moving forward. At the end of the day, marketing is like a science experiment: you have numerous variables that need to be tested and reported upon. This process will take some time but is ultimately crucial for your company's future success.

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Written by Mike Sullivan More by this author Arrow