Jemima Myers

Has Digital Marketing Replaced Traditional Marketing?

Strong marketing is the foundation of a successful business. Marketing aims to attract attention and meet the needs of consumers. The companies that do this better than their competitors have a better chance of survival and success, especially in the long term.

Has digital marketing replaced traditional marketing? And what is the difference?

Digital Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing: What is the Difference?

First, let’s discuss the difference between the two. Traditional marketing is the classic method and has dominated industries all the way up to the 21st century. Origins are often debated among historians. Some argue that the birth of traditional marketing can be dated back to 1500 BCE, when mass production methods of goods were stamped with a recognisable mark, which we know as a logo today.

Come to around 1440 CE, the first commercial printing press was born and led the foundation of print media. Print media in the traditional sense was magazines, billboards, posters, and outdoor advertising. The marketing concept was adequately established in the 18th and 19th centuries – specifically during the industrial revolution. Technological and scientific advances allowed room for efficient mass production and the transportation of goods, and also saw the growth of mass media. Fast forward to the early 20th century, marketing was commonplace while competition grew intense and fierce. Advertising and branding became more critical; we have advertising on radio commencing in the 1920s, while the next few decades saw the development of TV advertisements. There were then early signs of digital marketing when the computer was finally made accessible in the 70s; dreaded spam emails, for example, were sent to the masses! It wasn’t until the early 1990s, when the term digital marketing was first coined, that the birth of the internet, Google and Yahoo, would lead to the change we know today, where digital marketing is thriving in full force.

In summary, traditional marketing includes television and radio commercials, direct mail posts, newspaper and magazine ads, billboards, telephone calls and texts. The idea was to reach the masses (high reach); however, traditional marketing is much harder to measure and more costly than digital marketing.

What’s more, the digital marketing landscape is much more targeted. Digital marketing is constantly evolving due to the constant development of technology; marketing strategies must adapt to keep up with changing trends and meet consumers’ needs. In the beginning, smartphones, for example (a supercomputer more powerful than the invention which got the first astronauts in space!), are now glued to almost everybody’s hands. Content is consumed quickly – instantaneously, in fact – and digital marketing has evolved to mirror this. Digital marketing methods consist primarily of websites, email campaigns, content marketing, social media, clickable ads, affiliate marketing, and search engine optimisation (SEO). With further technological advances, it is exciting to see how digital marketing will change. If the metaverse becomes mainstream, for example, what will marketing look like then? In addition to cryptocurrencies and NFTs becoming more popular year on year, marketers are keeping a close eye on that space.

Digital marketing allows companies to connect more with specific groups of people that resonate with their niche. Furthermore, social media is prevalent among younger generations, with Facebook and Instagram being the market leaders. Almost every business now promotes itself with paid advertisements, organic posts, videos, blogs and more.

So, now we know the difference between traditional and digital marketing, what are the pros and cons of both?

The Pros and Cons of Traditional Marketing

P – First, you can connect with your local community and audience. Keeping things personal is of great importance these days. Advertising through local newspapers, supporting local businesses, and local TV advertising can make you appeal more to residents. Local advertising will naturally make you look less like a corporate machine and more relatable to your consumer, thus increasing brand loyalty. What’s more, brand messages can be healthily controlled and directed to the local audience rather than a mass audience, giving you the potential for high market penetration.

P – Traditional marketing can be harder to ignore. If you execute a well-planned campaign via TV or billboards, for example, exposure will be high. However, this could become a con in equal measure if the communication doesn’t appeal to the audience, and they end up having a more negative view of the brand. Choose wisely!

P – You have more control over messages, brand image, and how it is displayed. Viewers cannot see negative comments or reviews like they could on social media. Despite this, there is still a level of brand credibility among traditional media, such as billboards’ successful ability to afford a spot in populated locations.

C – It is tough to measure. Being offline, the data and insights available within digital marketing are not available here. It will be challenging to determine whether a purchase is made as a result of seeing a billboard or newspaper. An organisation could employ someone to observe how many people walk past a billboard. Still, you cannot guarantee that they absorbed any of the messages – or even liked them. Organisations could, however, ask everyone their thoughts and feelings towards the advertisement. Still, the sample size will be small and slow compared to the instant automated aspects of digital marketing.

C – It takes longer to execute, and is more expensive. Systems and processes within traditional marketing are lengthy processes. Print alone often needs procurements and third-party help – even more so if a company does not have their own printing services. In that case, they are putting a lot of trust in another company to get their advertisements printed on time and to the highest desired quality. Digital marketing is much easier to schedule within your own requirements.

C – It is harder to target segments. While you can roughly target an ideal audience, you can’t choose which magazines your audience is more likely to read and where to display OOH (out of home) advertising, such as billboards, which will mostly be local.

The Pros and Cons of Digital Marketing:

P – Digital marketing is much better value for money. Not only is it much cheaper to reach a larger audience, but ROI (return on investments) is also often higher. Digital marketing helps create an online presence for your business – and not everything has to be paid for. A lot of content and methods can be organic and owned media.

P – There is the ability for customisation (personalisation), global reach and better targeting. Campaigns can cater to particular groups of people or segments. This is one of the reasons that engagements and ROIs are higher, due to digital marketing being able to cater content to niches that resonate well with chosen audiences. The data and insights that come back allow the marketer to learn more about how to meet the needs of the consumers. Engaging with the consumer and every buying stage is therefore much easier.

P – You have trackable and measurable results. Social media, websites, emails and other mediums have built-in metrics that give marketing the ability to know what works and what doesn’t. It can show how successful the campaign was, and how to improve for next time!

C – There is fierce competition. No matter what industry you operate in, competition is fierce. The digital world is very boisterous, with consumers and businesses competing for each other’s attention. There are over 5 billion internet users worldwide, and there are almost 2 billion websites. That is a lot of noise to cut through – to the extent that some highly trained experts base their entire careers on it! It is very hard sometimes to focus on competing, while simultaneously running a business.

C – It is dependent on technology. Digital marketing comes with risk, and while technologies change, marketing has to change in tandem. For example, if Facebook decides to leave the EU, marketers will have to find new ways to target segments. The rise of the metaverse, VR, and AR means marketers must develop new methods to appeal to audiences on new platforms; some are in development and yet to exist.

C – Highly skilled requirements. Within digital marketing, there is a lot to learn, and marketers spend years learning. But it doesn’t stop there. The constant development of new technologies means that marketers must learn new methods to keep up with the demands and social changes that move with them. What they might have learnt at university could become obsolete within a few years, which is why marketing attracts a specific type of person.

It is plain to see how digital marketing is now the dominant marketing method. But that doesn’t mean that traditional marketing doesn’t have its place in the business world. Traditional marketing is still more relevant to the older demographics than digital, especially among ‘baby boomers’, who are predominantly print media readers and TV watchers. But for how much longer? It is hard to tell. With continuing technological advances and the younger generations reaching adulthood, TV and print media may become less and less relevant. Famously, BBC Three has left TV altogether to be 100% online. Will other TV channels follow suit if it becomes better for them to move online?

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