It seems like ever since the emergence of digital marketing, the debate about which is better between traditional marketing vs digital marketing has become quite one-sided, in favor of digital media. And for the right reasons!

Traditional media houses across the US are rapidly shutting down. The agencies are gradually becoming irrelevant since traditional marketing is more expensive and isn’t always small business-friendly.

But even though digital media has countless benefits over traditional media, the latter is still relevant in many scenarios

So, you must consider all the pros and cons of both traditional vs digital marketing when creating a media plan for your business, depending on your goals.

Let’s discuss traditional marketing vs. digital marketing and put the debate to rest once and for all, shall we?

What is Traditional Marketing?

Traditional marketing is all forms of marketing activities carried out outside the digital space.

It is the oldest approach to marketing and includes everything from print and online ads, physical mail campaigns, and billboards to offline reputation management, newspaper campaigns, and television ads.

It is known for its mass appeal, which businesses leverage to establish credibility, gain brand exposure, build trust among potential customers among many more.

Types of Traditional Marketing


Out-of-Home marketing, or outdoor marketing, refers to any marketing activity done using outdoor marketing channels, more specifically anything from billboards to the signs on buses.

The giant hoardings you see along the street can be a costly expense for your business but they are one of the most effective ways to reach a larger audience belonging to a specific location.

More than conversions, the main aim of OOH is to provide your business with greater exposure. It is the perfect way to grab your target audience’s attention by showing them something that’s not easily avoidable.

All that matters is getting your brand in front of as many people as possible so that they know of your existence.


Broadcasting is one of the most common types of traditional marketing. It refers to all channels that can be used to get your message out to the masses on a large scale.

Radio, television, news/newspapers, and magazines are all types of broadcast media. They allow you to grab your target audience’s attention and utilize it to communicate about your business and its services.


A large part of broadcasting, telemarketing is probably the most popular form of traditional marketing that there is today.

There are brands that still generate a large chunk of their revenue from running marketing campaigns on television because their target audience is still active on that platform.

Known to be ideal for FMCG and goods with everyday usability, telemarketing can be expensive yet an excellent investment for businesses if they have sufficient resources.

Print Media

Print media includes newspapers, tabloids, magazines, journals, flyers, books, brochures, posters, banners, and anything that can be printed.

It is such a diverse marketing channel that you can use it for both mass appeal (ex. billboards) as well as niche accessibility (ex. local magazines).

Contrary to popular belief, print media is still pretty much alive. Although its reach might have declined in most countries, there are many businesses belonging to both B2B and B2C spaces that can leverage the power of visuals and text on paper.

Pros of Traditional Marketing

Greater Reach

Since traditional marketing is expensive and has a smaller room for targeting, it has mass appeal.

So, if your marketing campaign’s objective is to simply gain brand exposure, you are better positioned to get high returns on your investment using traditional marketing. That’s also why it is perfect for bigger brands with a domestic or global audience.

Quick Impact

The marketing campaigns run on traditional marketing are designed to grab the attention of the target audience in the first second.

This allows brands to create a quick first impression before they have even begun to talk about their products or services.

Higher Potential of Word-Of-Mouth Publicity

When a marketing campaign launches on traditional channels, everybody knows about it. Think about it.

Everyone who’s active on traditional media would know about TV ads, radio ads, and even newspaper ads right after they launch. But how many people talk about digital ads the same way?

Because there’s little to no room for personalization on most traditional channels, everybody gets the same kind of exposure to your business at the same time.

This allows people to discuss your brand, which gives rise to word-of-mouth publicity.

Higher Prominency

Traditional marketing is typically unavoidable. You will have to watch that TV ad or glance through that newspaper feature while turning the pages.
There’s no escaping. There are no ad blockers or a skip button. So, it is difficult for traditional marketing to play in the background; it is always in the spotlight.

Cons of Traditional Marketing


No surprises there. Due to its massive reach, traditional marketing ends up not being easy on the pocket.

You have to have a bigger budget to run your campaign if you want to see measurable results. This is one of the major reasons for the decline in its popularity.

Slow Conversion Speed

Traditional marketing doesn’t deliver fast results and there is no way to measure it. You have to run your ads and wait for the results to show in your bottom line.

There are no analytics or retargeting that you can do to speed up the process.

Not Targeted

You can’t configure your campaigns based on your target’s specific needs. That’s probably the biggest drawback of traditional marketing and also one of the reasons why businesses favor digital marketing.

You can use in-depth customer data to create personalized campaigns and improve your chances of converting the leads.

One-Way Communication

Traditional marketing is all about the brand and what it wants the audience to do. There is no way to get feedback on the campaign – be it positive or negative.

You will only know how your campaign has performed after you have exhausted your marketing spends. Now, that’s every brand’s nightmare, isn’t it?

What is Digital Marketing?

digital marketing

Digital marketing is a method of marketing that uses digital technologies and internet-based channels to promote a product or service.

Digital marketing includes email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), display advertising, social media marketing, and PPC advertisements among more.

Digital marketing can be done on a small scale through direct selling as well as on a large scale using multiple communication channels to communicate with many people at once.

It is an important part of any business's marketing mix because it allows them to reach potential customers in ways that weren't possible before using digital tools like websites, mobile apps, social media platforms, emails, and more to bring their brand to new audiences.

Types of Digital Marketing

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is a type of digital marketing that uses social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like to promote a business.

It is a great way to keep in touch with your customers and prospects, as well as drive traffic to your site as it allows you to connect with people on an emotional level and create a more personal relationship with your audience.

And since it is free, it is an excellent tool for small businesses.

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of making sure that your website appears high in search results for relevant keywords.

The goal is to get as many people as possible to click on your website from search results, which will bring them to your site and increase their chances of converting into customers.

Due to its importance in organic marketing, SEO is one of the main pillars of digital marketing because it allows you to gain sustainable visibility among your target audience.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is an effective way to engage with customers, and build relationships and brand recognition.

It involves sending newsletters and free/paid content to interested leads to get them to take further action.

Email marketing is yet another crucial form of digital marketing because it makes it possible to send targeted emails to specific segments of your customer base to achieve a specific goal (ex. sending cart abandonment emails to shoppers who exited your site without completing their purchase).

PPC Advertising

You can’t talk about digital marketing vs traditional without talking about pay-per-click advertising. Paid advertising is the other half of digital marketing aside from organic marketing. PPC advertising includes everything from search ads to social media ads that allow you to pay only when a user clicks on your ad.

This allows you to optimize your budget and reduce waste because you only pay when you actually get a response for your campaign.

Content Marketing

Every business needs content to survive in today’s landscape–be it digital or traditional media. But content holds a special place in digital marketing because it is the most basic tool to build relationships with your target audience.

It is what generates engagement and boosts audience interaction for your brand.

But content marketing takes this a notch higher. It is the strategic use of various formats of content on various channels to gain exposure, leads, and customer loyalty for your brand.

Because it is the foundation of your online presence, content marketing is an indispensable tool in digital marketing.

Pros of Digital Marketing

Highly Targeted

Unlike traditional marketing, digital marketing actually allows you to use customer data to create campaigns that are so personalized and aligned with the viewer’s preferences that it increases your chance of a conversion.

You can customize your campaigns based on location, age, buying pattern, and income among much more.

Better ROI

Because you have a higher chance of making a conversion, you definitely get more for your buck when it comes to digital marketing.

Add to that the ability to configure your campaigns on the go to adapt them to your target audience’s liking and you end up almost eliminating budget waste.

This means faster conversions because you have the power to change something that doesn’t work almost instantaneously.


The most crucial feature of digital marketing is that you can track the campaign at every stage and you can use small business data analytics to optimize certain aspects.

The fact that you can send an email and see how many people opened it, how many times they viewed it, and how many clicked on the CTA within the email is enough to tell you how indispensable trackability in digital marketing is.

Cons of Digital Marketing

Easily Blockable

Although digital marketing seems to triumph over traditional marketing, its biggest problem is that your target audience can easily block it using the same medium i.e. technology.

According to EarthWeb, 42.7% of people use ad blockers in 2022. That’s nearly half the internet population. If this continues, digital marketing won’t be as effective an approach as before.

No Permanency

What goes on the internet doesn’t stay on the internet. Well, technically, it does but it doesn't stay at the top for too long.

There are too many stories, ads, and news pieces that are constantly fighting for the spotlight and there’s always something new to see.

Also, thanks to the shrinking attention span, people now forget more easily than ever. So, you are bound to lose your spot within a few days – sometimes, within hours.

High Competition

Since digital marketing is more affordable and accessible than traditional marketing, too many brands belonging to the same industry are competing for the same audience’s attention.

Think about it: anybody can run a marketing campaign in just a few clicks. Technology has made it so easy to reach customers that you have to be better, more refined, and highly targeted to see measurable results, this has completely changed the digital marketing vs traditional battle.

Choosing Between Traditional Marketing vs. Digital Marketing

choosing traditional vs digital marketing

It isn’t an understatement that digital marketing is far superior and suitable for the current landscape but there’s a reason why traditional media isn’t dead.

We still have TV slots being sold like hot cakes. It still enjoys 32.4% of the total global ad spend and $151 billion in revenue.

That’s not all! There are countries where the circulation of print media is increasing, instead of experiencing a decline as expected (ex. India).

So, if your business caters to audiences belonging to those regions, you could undoubtedly benefit from investing in traditional marketing.

In fact, the global print media is expected to grow by roughly $15 billion in 2022, so there’s a definite opportunity there if you have a good media plan in place.

Having said that, as mentioned earlier, traditional media isn’t pocket-friendly. The monetary restrictions and the lack of targeting don’t make it user-friendly.

It isn’t convenient and you can’t do it yourself. You will require a big platform’s support to run a successful campaign on traditional channels.

On the other hand, digital marketing is cost-effective, convenient, and extremely targeted. You can practically communicate with each lead individually with the help of personalization.

Digital marketing also offers high ROI in many ways. For instance, email marketing is one of the most important activities in digital marketing and it provides you with $36 in return for every $1 you spend on it.

In all honesty, digital marketing is much more appropriate for modern businesses, especially if you have limited resources to shell out.

But if you are still confused about how to go about choosing between traditional and digital marketing, here are a few questions that you should consider asking yourself before making any investment decisions in traditional vs digital marketing:

Who is Your Demographic?

This is probably the most crucial question you can ask before creating your media plan. Your demographic describes the kind of audience you are targeting.

Their age, income, job, preferences, psychology, social circles, and buying behaviors are all part of demographics.

The more you know, the more targeting campaigns you can create. But more importantly, knowing as much about your demographic as you can will help you choose the right channels for your campaign.

Where is Your Audience?

Another extremely important aspect of media planning. If you don’t know where your audience is most active, you can’t decide on the most effective way to reach them.

For instance, if you are a coffee shop looking to reach 20-something year-olds, you can’t run TV ads. That’s not where your target audience is hanging out.

You will have to create a killer social media campaign to attract them – specifically on Instagram (because this age group loves to take pictures of their food and post them online).

In this case, digital marketing would be a better use of your marketing spend.

How Tech-Savvy Are They?

When choosing your marketing approach, you need to consider how accustomed to technology your audience is.

This would mostly depend on your target demographic’s age and location. For example, if they are in their early 40s and belong to a tier-II region, they are less likely to be tech-savvy.

So, you can’t use niche platforms to reach out to them, irrespective of which marketing approach you choose.

That means if you are opting for traditional marketing, you would have to reach out to this segment through TV, which has greater accessibility than say, radio.

Similarly, if you choose digital marketing, you would have to reach out to them using search engine marketing or Facebook marketing rather than telegram groups, simply because the former two are more accessible.

What is Your Budget Like?

Traditional marketing is undoubtedly more expensive than digital marketing. There’s a reason why traditional marketing spends have dropped significantly since the pandemic.

So, if you are running on a tight budget, you might want to consider leveraging digital marketing to grow your business.

That being said, if your business’s target demographic is better reachable through traditional marketing, you could consider the cheaper traditional marketing options, such as flier marketing and local print media (ideal for brick and mortar stores as well as local businesses).

The Takeaway

It is true that traditional marketing is dying and that digital marketing is the future. But you can’t make a decision based on what other businesses seem to be doing.

The best way to ensure you are getting your money’s worth is by consulting with a professional agency that will help you make the right marketing mix and media buying choices.

As a marketing agency that specializes in a diverse range of marketing activities, we are here to assist you. Get in touch with our team of marketing specialists to learn more.

Categories & Tags
Digital Marketing
Previous & Next Posts