The shift from traditional marketing to digital marketing is becoming more and more apparent day by day. Granted, traditional marketing is still about, and will be for the foreseeable future – but digital marketing is what’s delivering return on investment. It’s no wonder 38% of marketers plan to shift spend from traditional to digital marketing activity. But that’s not to say traditional marketing is useless –  we feel it still has a role to play, albeit less of a role than before.

In terms of popularity, Google Trends shows just how significant the change in interest of certain traditional marketing methods has become in comparison to its digital counterpart. Social media is taking over from press whilst Adwords and paid social is taking over from direct mail. Finally, SEO is taking over from telemarketing and it doesn’t stop there either! Focus on digital channels is now of the utmost importance. We look at the general pros and cons of traditional vs digital marketing methods below:

Traditional vs Digital

Traditional marketing covers all of the marketing methods not connected to the internet, such as print, billboards, leafleting, TV and radio advertising to name a few. Traditional provides quick but short term results but often looks forced and can also be costly without even factoring in materials such as print. Communication is only one-way and is therefore hard to measure, too.

Digital marketing generally covers all electronic marketing methods connected to the internet such as social media, SEO, PPC and blogging to name a few. It’s cost effective, adaptable and highly engaging. Digital marketing can be complex and hard to understand, but it’s increasingly becoming more measurable to show real value and returns. Creating an effective strategy however can be time consuming and requires certain expertise. To understand traditional vs digital better, we looked into a number of traditional marketing methods and their digital equivalent in more detail below:

Social Media vs Press



From 2009 onwards, interest in social media marketing began to rocket, overtaking that of print marketing which had showed a steady decline from 2005 onwards. Its interest has since plateaud slightly and it’s now a steady but high interest marketing method.

Organic social media marketing generally involves sharing marketing materials to a whole social network, where often only a small selection of users who are interested in your products and services will be likely to see. However, there are more targeted ways to reach more of the audience you want to reach. Social media management can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. Simply having a presence costs nothing and helps your brand awareness, particularly in search engines. Having tailor-made content created for you and your profiles can be obtained for hundreds of pounds, and is worth investing in on a monthly basis. This allows for your brand to have a voice and humanise yourself to others in a quick and friendly fashion. The best campaign content also has the ability to go viral in a matter of seconds!

Print marketing involves creating a press release to publicise a business achievement, announcement or service to a network of readers. This type of marketing is not targeted and can often go unread, that’s if you can get it published in the first place. Free press releases are hard to come by (and probably not worth it anyway), whilst you’d expect to pay hundreds for a well-crafted press release. Press releases do have the ability to get picked up and go viral in the media but this is very hard to achieve.

It’s no surprise that social media marketing has surpassed press marketing in terms of interest because nowadays social media is more likely to be read than the local newspaper! PR and social media now work together hand in hand, as digital PR forms the bridge between these two channels, e.g. leveraging influencers, such as bloggers.

Adwords vs Direct Mail


Credit – Relative Marketing

Interest in direct mail marketing has been quite steady for the past ten years with little recent interest being shown, whereas interest in Adwords has crept up and plateuad of late, forming a steady but high interest marketing method.

Adwords is a PPC (pay-per-click) form of advertising where multiple keywords are selected based on their search volume and competitiveness. There are other forms of PPC including social such as Facebook too. They are effective in gaining targeted and specific traffic to your website with the aim of conversion. PPC can be tailored around your budget and the results can vary. It can be cost effective if your margins are high or your offer is unique, but it’s important to ensure your content, product or service is worth promoting first.

Direct mail marketing involves the distribution of printed materials through the mail such as leaflets or magazines. It can be effective in quickly getting your message out to a specific targeted area so is often used as a local form of advertising only. It can be costly, at around £2000 per 5,000 leaflets distributed – and this doesn’t factor in design or print costs. People often consider this form of advertising junk mail, so you must be careful in using it.

PPC has quickly become a favourable way in promoting a given product or service due to its highly customisable targeting and budget method. It is also cost effective for businesses of all sizes and can provide instant results, whereas direct mail advertising can be considered hopeful at the best of times.

SEO vs Telemarketing


Credit – Relative Marketing

Credit – Relative Marketing

Telemarketing has been on the decline for the past 10 years and interest does not appear to be picking up. SEO on the other hand was one of the first digital marketing methods to begin its rise, and like most digital marketing methods, it’s reached a level of plateau. It’s now a high interest marketing method and has been for many years.

Search engine optimisation is a strategy used to increase organic website visitors by releasing regular, unique and keyword focused content in order to increase the search standings for a particular keyword term. SEO is one of the oldest and most established digital marketing methods; given time and money it can be the most effective. Search engine optimisation is an ongoing process and requires a lot of dedication before results can be seen. Monthly SEO services can be a fair investment but given the organic traffic gained they can actually be very cost effective once you rank naturally for keywords on the first few pages on the likes of Google.

Telemarketing involves picking up the phone and often performing an unsolicited cold call. Cold calling can be successful in certain industries, but it is thought to no be longer cost effective, hence its decline. Telemarketing can be damaging to a brand so it’s no wonder many businesses outside of particular industries shy away from it.

Return on Investment (ROI)

We’ve established that digital marketing is surpassing traditional methods in interest and popularity, but what does that mean for the figures?

Return on investment appears to be much greater for many digital marketing methods over traditional methods. Both digital and traditional methods can be costly, but it’s important to look past the initial investment.

Potential ROI is demonstrated in the below statistics for digital in comparison to traditional courtesy of Hubspot;

  • SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate. (Search Engine Journal)
  • Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI.
  • 79% of companies that have a blog report a positive ROI for inbound marketing in 2013.
  • Social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing.
  • Content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, but costs 62% less.
To view some real life ROI for digital campaigns, check out our B2B case studies blog.

As you can see, digital marketing methods are providing a huge return on investment in comparison to traditional methods. Now is the time to switch your focus and implement a digital strategy instead of, or alongside your traditional methods.

Integrated Marketing


Credit – Coca Cola

Combining both traditional and digital methods presents an opportunity that the best of businesses are taking advantage of. Splitting budget between the two, with a weighting towards digital appears to be the best marketing solution of late. Taking advantage of growing trends while maintaining an offline presence could be the secret to great success! Get your strategy in place now, just like Coca Cola do with their active (digital) and passive (traditional) advertising. Their ‘Share a Coke’ campaign combined traditional printed names on the bottles with a hashtag, and prompting a call to action to share their bottle with the world. This campaign is widely known as one of the most successful marketing campaigns of late and generated a massive buzz surrounding the Coca Cola brand and certainly got people talking!

Digital marketing is popularly chosen as the ‘go to’ over traditional traditional marketing methods for the ease of access, cost effectiveness, measurability and quick results. However, both traditional and digital marketing have their pros and cons and it’s important to enlist the help of experts to plan and trial relevant channels. It’s important not to discount either method in order to create that perfect strategy – often online and offline can compliment each other and form the perfect campaign!

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