The battle between traditional and
digital marketing.

30 August 2018

There are countless formats, mediums and platforms through which you can do marketing and advertising today. As a business owner, you may often be caught in a dilemma about how you should budget for marketing: traditional or digital marketing?

Traditional marketing Digital marketing
  • Print – newspaper, brochures, etc.
  • Broadcast – TV, radio, etc.
  • Direct mail – catalogues, postcards, etc.
  • Telemarketing – phone calls, SMS, etc.
  • Outdoor – billboards, banners
  • Websites
  • Banner ads
  • Social media marketing – Facebook page, carousel ads, etc.
  • Content marketing – blogs, videos, etc.
  • Search marketing – SEO, AdWords, etc.
  • Email marketing – eDMs, e-newsletters, etc.

While traditional marketing has stood the test of time (thus far), many marketers are diverting more of their spending towards digital marketing. A PwC study in 2017 forecasted online advertising to grow 11.3% per year to 2021, while print advertising is expected to decline by 2.1% per year over the same periodi.


What is so great about digital marketing, and does it signify the end of traditional marketing? Find out below.


Due to the limited number of inventories available, ad placements in traditional mediums like print, outdoor and broadcast are very expensive.

On the flipside, digital ads are usually cheaper. The costs for social media and banner ads are often structured by performance, pegged to models such as pay-per-click (PPC). What this means is that you don’t have to pay a cent until users click on your ad! Because of such mechanics, digital marketing is scalable depending on the budget that you set. As a result, even small businesses can reach out to potential customers.

Another crucial advantage is that it opens up the possibility of generating organic (free) reach for your business through your own website, blog or social media page.

Audience reach

While the ability of traditional marketing to reach the masses is undoubted, it is often bound by geographical or time-related restrictions.


Its visibility is highly localised to where your ads are physically placed or when they are scheduled to run. A billboard in the business district will mostly be seen only when the office crowd is streaming in and out of their workplaces.

Not only does digital marketing have access to the entire Internet population, your ads can be viewed by users whether they’re at home, on the move or having a night out.

Digital marketing also allows you to collect data for a fuller profile of your customers, for example their age, what their interests are and when they are actively online. You can then draw insights from the data and optimise targeting and execution via personalised messaging. This means that you can focus your efforts on communicating with the right people in a way that appeals to them for maximum effectiveness.

Customer engagement

Dominated by only a few standard formats, traditional marketing is not ideal in terms of the number of ways you can communicate with your audience. What’s more, these formats are not designed for your customers to easily or effectively respond to your brand.

Today, marketing is all about customer engagement, and digital marketing is primed for exactly that.


"The key for brands is to engage in conversation with their audiences and fans. The idea of building community is a two-way street, not a one-way conversation with brands expecting all the love and engagement to come from a beautiful picture or well written piece of content. You cannot just post and sit back today."– John Kalis, Vice President of US Business Development at global marketing technology platform IndaHash


While digital marketing promotes two-way conversations for customers to feedback on your brand, products and services, digital formats are also better equipped to build a holistic ecosystem around your brand. You have an arsenal of posts, videos, microsites, forums, apps and even mini-games that you can utilise to engage your customers with interesting and entertaining content.

For example, near the end of 2017, music streaming service Spotify launched microsite that treated you to interesting figures about your listening habits from minutes streamed to your favourite artists. These were topped off with a personalised playlist of your favourite songs in 2017, and even one curated with songs you might like based on your streaming history over the year.


Results and metrics

With traditional marketing, it can be difficult to measure the performance of your marketing efforts. There’s no certain way of knowing how many people saw your ad or acted on it, which proves to be a challenge in justifying your investment in an advertising medium or brand campaign.

On the other hand, digital marketing provides useful statistics in real time for data analytics, and you can even track your customers’ journey from viewing your ad to visiting your website to a purchase from your online store. You can also measure the KPIs of your marketing objective, be it brand awareness, customer engagement or conversion, and make improvisations to improve your ad campaign while it is still ongoing.

While traditional marketing can still have a part to play in improving customer relations by providing a personal touch and physical experience, you will need to future-proof your business by integrating digital marketing as a key component in your marketing plan. Hone your capabilities and solidify your brand’s standing in the digital space for optimal success.


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