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Traditional vs. Digital Marketing What is the Verdict

Digital marketing is all the rage right now. It is hailed as a highly effective strategy that blows traditional methods out of the water, to the point where they become obsolete. However, these notions are quite premature and overblown. Yes, social media is the birthplace of viral phenomena that launched startups into the stratosphere, the business promised land.

Yet, the old school method like b2b direct mail still works for many companies. So, it is time to set aside the hype and hearsay and assess the shortcomings and advantages of employing both tactics. We should also make some room for the possibility of two concepts operating without collision and exclusion.

Digital revolution is the solution?

At the first glance, the two staple strategies seem to be worlds apart. They certainly play out in radically different environments and involve different tools and channels. Committing to one could make sense, considering that most budgets cannot stretch to encompass both. But, before you take the plunge, weigh the pros and cons carefully.

First of all, digital marketing has incredible cost-efficiency going for it. Setting up social media profiles comes for free, albeit engaging with the audience takes up resources. When people talk about traditional marketing costing an arm and a leg, they mostly refer to TV ads and radio commercials. However, there are other means of promoting that cost far less.  That being said, digital still retains its position as a winner in the area of costs.

Another great advantage is unparalleled reach. Digital channels are effective in targeting both local and international audiences. In addition, campaigns are often tailored to one segment of the population, using gender, age, income, social media affinity and other factors as differentiators. And that is not all: the audience can select how they want to receive and interact with content and messages. This is not something traditional marketing is able to offer– it does not provide a choice really.

Tradition fights back

Before declaring a landslide victory for digital marketing, we must address the strong point of the other contender. The main edge it has is rooted in its physical nature.  Namely, it is perceived as more “real” and is better connected to memory.  Custom direct mail postcards are a type of material that can be kept and browsed through many times. Neuroscience research has shown that paper marketing generally requires less cognitive effort and leads to impressions that last longer. The effects stick and are imprinted into people’s mind longer.

Furthermore, some consumers simply prefer the palpable feel of turning pages and finding print ads in magazines and newspapers.  Besides, they adore receiving something tangible, a gift of value. It can be a nice custom T-shirt, USB, gift card or something else. These things can easily foster trust, inspire brand loyalty and prompt action. So, in general, traditional marketing is a great way to reach a local audience and might bring better results than digital campaigns.

Two sides of the coin

Yet, the downside of traditional marketing is its inability to spur direct interaction between brands and customers. The latter category is a passive recipient of information. They cannot opt in and out of communication or control its flow. What is more, the effects of your efforts cannot be easily measured. This is in sharp contrast with digital campaigns. Using advanced analytic tools, it is possible to gauge their impact and track performance with laser-like precision.

So, what is the conclusion? Well, the findings are not definite. The most important thing to note is that marketing is not about being trendy and hip. It revolves around doing what makes sense in terms of your brand, product and audience. Moreover, utilizing both strategies is a great way to offset weaknesses and overcome the limitations they have. Therefore, do not blindly follow the hype. Do your homework and rely on facts and figures to make the right call.

The best of both worlds

As it turns out, the dichotomy between traditional and digital marketing is a false and misleading one. Like it or not, the answer to the question of which one is better is not clear-cut. In a nutshell, digital is a low-cost and low-impact tactic. Traditional is the polar opposite: high-cost and high-impact. And despite their major differences, the two can be combined and used in synergy.

In any event, you should do your research and identify the target audience. Set up a budget and establish the most efficient channels for delivery of your messages. The best marketing strategies of today tend to be those that integrate both traditional and digital tools. So, take advantage of them without spreading yourself too thin. Get the most bang for your buck.


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