Updated: Jan 22
Over the years, the process of marketing has evolved beyond being simply an operational activity into a full-fledged discipline. Marketing has become an essential part of the customer journey and a crucial component of a product or service’s popularity, and consequently its sales.
With the advent of the internet age, however, the practice of marketing has changed by leaps and bounds, becoming a much bigger phenomenon than it ever was. Particularly during the pandemic, most companies have completely adopted the digital marketing format, largely due to the fact that the inability to step out meant that companies would have to use digital channels to maintain their presence.
This article thus aims to illustrate the difference between more traditional forms of marketing like billboards and print media and the marketing practices that have emerged as the internet has gained prominence –
Medium – While traditional marketing uses mediums like print media, radio, television, and billboards, digital marketing exclusively uses the internet, utilizing websites and social media platforms.
Scope – Both traditional and digital marketing allow for marketing in varying degrees, but the way they go about it is different. Traditional media has always been widespread, using mass media like TV, newspapers, and radio for marketing purposes, but it can also be localized with the use of billboards, pamphlets, etc. Digital marketing, on the other hand, uses the internet, which is ever-increasing in size and scope. Digital marketing is extremely useful when the product/service has to be marketed to a smaller group of people as it is more direct in approach, but by carefully planning out campaigns and using tools like SEO and hashtags, online marketing can be used to create a grand event as well. For example, Warner Bros. Studios held an online fan event titled DC Fandome, which displayed trailers for upcoming films and games and drew in viewership of 22 million viewers across the globe.
Expense – Traditional marketing has always required large investments, particularly if the campaign is large in scope. From using ad space on newspapers, a slot on the TV or the radio, using billboards, to creating advertisements, traditional forms of media require considerable financial resources. Digital marketing, in comparison, is much cheaper. If an organic presence has been established, the cost required to run successful marketing strategies is virtually negligible. Even with paid options, the cost of marketing is significantly less than traditional forms of marketing.
Customisation – A glaring drawback for traditional forms of marketing in the face of digital marketing is the lack of customisation. Extensive amounts of planning is required for traditional marketing as there are no opportunities for changing the advertisements once they have been finalised and created. For example, in 2019, Uber India printed a newspaper advertisement with spelling inconsistencies and grammatical mistakes and faced flak for it. Alternatively, digital marketing provides a liberating sense of customisation when compared to traditional forms of marketing. On most websites and social media platforms, posts and images can be edited even after posting. This means that companies can tweak campaigns to a certain degree, even after the campaign has been rolled out.
Targeting – Traditional marketing involves identifying prospective and existing customer segments, and creating a marketing strategy that intends to appeal to them. For the most part, however, the company is in the dark about the target audience’s reaction to the marketing efforts. Digital marketing, on the other hand, is more direct. Social media marketing allows companies to be in direct contact with their customers, while targeted ads and tailored content ensure that a customer’s needs are answered more accurately.
Measurement – An important part of why companies are choosing to opt for digital marketing is the ability to measure the impact of the marketing efforts in precise terms. For example, if a large-scale campaign is rolled out using traditional marketing methods, the company can gauge the general state of affairs using specific indicators, but will never be able to know the precise figures of the campaign’s impact. On the other hand, as websites and social media platforms become increasingly commercial, companies are offered tools that help gather precise data about the impressions, organic reach, etc., which the company can use to enable more efficient marketing efforts.
It is important to understand that a successful marketing strategy does not rely exclusively on either traditional marketing or digital marketing. Although traditional marketing methods have been around for ages, digital marketing is quickly on its way to usurp the throne. Similarly, while digital marketing has created a level playing field for companies of all sizes, there are still glaring issues plaguing digital marketing efforts – online ads can be annoying, the specificity of ads achieved by using customer data raises questions about privacy, and the internet is in a constant state of evolution, which means that there are no surefire ways to create a successful digital marketing strategy.