Digital marketing vs Traditional marketing: Which is more effective?

Updated: Sep 15

How are digital marketing and traditional marketing different, and what are their unique value propositions? Discover how to leverage their synergies to increase a business’s overall ROI.

What is Traditional marketing?

Traditional marketing refers to an advertising strategy that is published and released without the use of digital platforms.

1. Channels

Traditional marketing strategies include roadshows, face-to-face exhibitions, print collaterals, door drops (those dominos flyers you get every now and then).

2. Tracking outcomes

A common misconception is that it is impossible to track traditional marketing efforts. However, there are several ways to do so, especially now that technology has advanced data collection.

Onsite engagement count - The effectiveness of offline events can be measured through examining the engagement levels at your booth and activities. For example, marketeers could have an electronic tally of the total number of attendees, time spent at the event, and which segments had the highest or lowest attendees.

Brand surveys - Are consumers familiar with your brand? What is their impression of your brand? Surveying your customers is the most straightforward and traditional way to measure your traditional marketing outcomes. In Singapore, there are trade displays and expos every month. These are common avenues through which companies can survey their customers about their products.

Discount codes - Unique discount codes can help you track how many people made a purchase on your website. For example, if you want to track the effectiveness of a brochure, you could generate include a code “BROCHURE10OFF” code. To customers, these are simply good deals to snag. But to companies, this is an effective way to track the outreach of their brochure.

What is Digital marketing?

Digital marketing strategies utilise the internet to gain attention from target consumers. The implementation process is often quicker. It also has a heavy emphasis on both inbound marketing and outbound marketing, focusing on pulling and pushing customers to goal completions.

1. Channels

Digital marketing strategies include: social media, affiliate marketing, EDM (electronic direct marketing, or email marketing), pay-per-click advertisements, SEO (search engine optimization).

It is often quoted interchangeably with online digital marketing but there is a subtle difference. While online digital marketing refers to all sorts of marketing strategies on electronic devices (think: digital billboards, e-books), digital marketing focuses on the internet.

2. Tracking outcomes

Compared to traditional marketing campaigns, digital marketing campaign effectiveness is much easier to track. Those pesky little pop-ups on websites asking for your permission to allow cookies are used to track your digital footprint. With readily available tools and data from consumers, marketeers are able to generate analytical insights quickly.

Google Analytics - If your business has a website, Google Analytics will be your best friend. It is free, and generates website metrics on your audience, page traffic, and more. Being a beginner-friendly and comprehensive platform, it is by far one of the most popular tools.

Social Media Analytics - Most social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Linkedin have embedded analytics tools which allow you to view basic metrics, such as the number of likes, shares and impressions.

Post insights generated by Facebook Creator Studio from a Facebook

fanpage I made for my favourite girl band a few years ago

However, there are other more advanced paid tools like Hootsuite to gain an overview of all your social media marketing efforts. This is especially useful for bigger companies looking to look at their data on a more granular level, such as growth over a time series, and even suggest what kind of posts do the best for your brand.

Hootsuite analyses your existing posts and suggests the best time

to post for maximum engagement - data truly is powerful

SEO tools - Search engine optimization is another important component of digital marketing as it generates organic traffic to your business. Tools such as Google Search Console, SEMrush, are fantastic at monitoring your page and keyword rankings.

Overview of organic website performance using Google Search Console,

which is completely free as long as you have a website!

The Key Difference between Digital vs Traditional marketing

While digital marketing uses the digital space primarily, traditional marketing utilises physical spaces and locations to draw customers’ attention and loyalty. Contrary to traditional marketing, we see that digital marketing leverages mostly on the power of data to create targeted and personal messages to consumers.

Here’s an analogy by our marketing manager that I really like: think of customers as salmon.

Traditional marketing is fishing in a large reservoir where you know many salmon reside. However, you might get a range of fish, and hope that you get at least some salmon amongst those fish. This is optimal if you just want fish.