Traditional vs. Digital Marketing: Which One Performs Better?

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Traditional vs. Digital Marketing: Which One Performs Better?

When businesses invest in marketing, it’s almost always a good idea to focus your investment on the most effective and efficient strategy. Since the rise of the digital age, there’s an ongoing debate about whether or not the old, traditional style of marketing is still relevant in comparison with its faster, more advanced and arguably more effective sibling, digital marketing.

Let’s define these 2 types of marketing and assess their strengths & weaknesses so you can decide which one is best suited to your business.

What is Digital Marketing?

As the name implies, Digital Marketing is the implementation of a marketing strategy that involves technology, or more specifically, the internet. It uses search engines and different social platforms to house all of the elements of a marketing funnel. This includes the advertisements, a landing page (website), check out pages (payment processors), and even a way to track the order.

Digital marketing comes in many forms, such as:

  • Paid social platform ads (Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
  • Native ads (Ads from news articles)
  • and much more.

Digital Marketing makes use of the allotted space permitted by online/tech companies to promote a brand and its products or services. This is because the digital screen has already captured a large chunk of the average consumer’s attention for the past decade. In fact, a study by L. Ceci has found that 46% of people spend 5-6 hours a day looking at their phones.

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  • Hyper-targeted audiences (behaviours, demographics, psychographics, interests, etc.)
  • Straightforward KPI tracking and management
  • Easier access to international customers/clients
  • Lower cost than traditional marketing


  • Paid ads are more susceptible to negative consumer feedback (annoyance)
  • High competition especially in a saturated social platform
  • Requires considerable skill and experience to pull off
  • Time-consuming

Digital Marketing is a great way to promote a brand. It has the upper hand in terms of targeting a very specific niche, it’s easy to manage using online tools & business management accounts, it’s quite literally global advertising, and lastly, it’s less expensive than traditional marketing avenues such as billboards or tv commercials. 

However it does come with some caveats. For one, since paid ads are very popular, consumers tend to see them with less value. Two reactions may come from this:

  1. Annoyance, or
  2. Banner Blindness.

With this, paid advertisement can easily receive backlash, especially when executed poorly. Pair that with dozens to thousands of competition (depending on your niche & chosen digital platform), it can spell disaster for your ROAS (return on ad spend).

Placing advertisements online may sound effortless, but it’s also easy to mess up. Digital Marketing takes time, skill, and resources to execute successfully. This is why most SMBs struggle with consistent brand growth. Oftentimes, those who reach milestones are the ones that partner with reputable digital marketing agencies who live and breathe Digital Marketing. 

Agencies contain a variety of staff with unique, specialised skillets to create, manage, and maintain digital promotions at a much steadier pace. This gives businesses the freedom to focus on other important business matters.

What is Traditional Marketing?

Traditional Marketing simply means promotional strategies outside the internet. Any marketing material that doesn’t need an internet connection for consumers to view can be considered as such. 

Some examples of traditional marketing include:

  • Outdoor (Billboards, Posters, Vehicle wraps).
  • Print Material (flyers, magazines, newspapers).
  • Broadcasts (TV Commercials, Radio, Short Films).
  • Telemarketing (SMS, Cold calls).

Unlike digital marketing, it doesn’t typically involve every stage of the marketing funnel (with a few exceptions such as coupon flyers). When a company, for example, sets up a mobile billboard, it’s rather difficult to follow through with sales from that specific advertisement. It’s a guessing game at best, you won’t know if your customer came to you organically or if that billboard drove the sale, unless of course, you ask each customer.


  • Largely effective for brick & mortar stores
  • Offers much more variety than Digital marketing
  • Causes less annoyance – blends well into the environment
  • Some offer forced viewing of ads (outdoor billboards)


  • Limited to local promotions
  • More costly than digital marketing
  • Harder to measure results
  • Harder to test different methods to find out which ones work (ex. A/B testing)

If digital marketing has the convenience and capability to promote a product or service globally, traditional marketing on the other hand leverages the power of locality. A poster stating that a new tailor shop just opened nearby can receive better results than a paid digital ad which doesn’t offer the innate knowledge of locality to the consumer. In the U.S., 93.2% of consumers purchase from merchants within a 20-minute drive.

However, the strength of locality is also its weakness. Traditional marketing methods have a hard time breaking the international barrier. More often than not, it’ll be numerous times more tedious and expensive to traditionally promote a product outside its origin country, which means “Glocalisation” must be involved in the equation.

But if the business has gone past that, traditional marketing will seem more “natural” to consumers in the long run. This is because the use of these classic marketing strategies has been with us exponentially longer than digital ads.

Though again, another con for this type of marketing is the lack of advanced technology involved. With digital marketing, you can look at every metric on an ad and instantly evaluate which factors need to be addressed. For traditional marketing, however, this isn’t the case. You would have to find and analyse multiple sources of information just to gather if the advertisement is worth its cost or not.

So, which one’s better?

The answer is not digital marketing, nor traditional marketing, nor “it depends”. But actually, both.

Depending on your business, niche, industry, etc. You can mix and match different types of digital and traditional marketing methods to efficiently increase your promotion’s effectiveness. 

Here are some prime examples and statistics:

  • 44% of consumers who receive direct mail marketing visit a brand’s website.
  • 70% of consumers who search for local information will purchase at the brand’s physical store directly.
  • Local shop owners who live in an apartment or condo can advertise through bulletin boards and send directly to their website or landing page.
  • A common Billboard ad strategy would be to put a unique and catchy Hashtag for consumers to post on their social media accounts.
  • Flyers, posters, or any other printed material can make use of QR codes to entice consumers to learn more about a promotion by linking directly to the brands website.

By combining the two strategies, you are merging their strengths. Although it’s true that some types of digital and traditional marketing work better than others, it’s undeniable that these two complement each other when done well.

Executing traditional marketing usually involves communicating with various companies depending on the strategy. They could be radio stations, publishing companies, outdoor billboard companies, and so on. When there is doubt in the capability of managing digital marketing ads, it’s best to leave it to a dependable agency.

Contevo is an E-commerce agency that’s helped companies achieve their marketing goals for the past 15 years. It’s partnered with brands of all sizes, whether an SMB, SME, or large enterprise. Some popular brands that have partnered with Contevo are Disney AU, Goodyear Autocare AU, Swarovski, Groupon, and many more. Contact us to receive your free marketing audit today.

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