Online vs Offline Digital Marketing – What’s the Difference?

It’s no secret that the world of digital marketing is evolving. Thanks to the popularity of online organizing tools such as Squarespace and Wix, creating a digital marketing website is now easier than ever before.

While it’s great that web platforms have made it simpler to generate sales online, this also means that there’s a lot more competition. To stand out from the crowd, you need to put in the work to ensure that your digital marketing strategy is unique and effective.

As the digital marketing landscape changes, so does the role of public relations and marketing communications professionals. For those who are unsure of where to start or what is the right digital marketing strategy for their company, this article is for you.

Traditional vs Online Marketing

The first and most essential step to effectively marketing your product or service (besides having a great product or service to market) is to decide whether you will pursue an online or offline marketing strategy. That is, will you use digital marketing to generate leads and sales or will you rely on marketing through traditional methods such as newspaper ads or billboards?

While both strategies have their merits, you must understand that not all products or services are created equal and not all businesses can or should adopt a digital marketing strategy. That is why it is imperative to determine your digital marketing strategy based on the nature of your product or service and your industry. In most cases, you will find that companies in highly competitive industries (such as electronics or pharmaceuticals) should opt for an online marketing strategy while others in more stable industries (such as fashion or food) can and should use a more traditional approach.

To get started, simply determine the size of your organization. If you have a small business, one person may be responsible for generating all the revenue while the other is responsible for marketing and sales. In this case, you can probably agree that an online marketing strategy is the way to go since they can be handled by one individual or a team.

If you are a medium-sized business with multiple locations, each one probably has its own sales force, and each one of those sales forces is responsible for generating revenue. In this case, you may opt to go with an offline marketing strategy since it will be more difficult to track the success of your marketing efforts without actually having someone visit your store or showroom. In fact, you may find that generating leads and selling to them is more efficient since you can follow up with phone calls or in-person meetings to close the sale. However, you should still consider an online marketing strategy since it can be more cost-effective and less time-consuming.

What is Digital Marketing?

Depending on who you ask, digital marketing is either marketing or public relations conducted through digital channels (which include websites, emails, and social media platforms).

A few decades ago, marketing and public relations were considered “traditional” forms of advertising since they were conducted mostly through magazines, billboards, and radio commercials. With the rise of the internet, the definition of “traditional” marketing changed. Now that almost every business can easily have an online presence, marketing through digital channels is easier and more affordable than ever before.

In the past, marketing the “traditional” way meant that your ads would actually appear in print publications such as magazines or newspapers. That is, you would place an ad in a magazine or newspaper to promote your product or service.

While still considered effective, print publications have taken a back seat to the internet and social media in terms of delivering leads and sales. Which leads us to our next point …

Why Should I Market Online?

The benefits of marketing online include being able to target the right audience and reach them where they are, when they are interested in your product or service, and at a reasonable cost.

To begin with, let’s say your product is electronics and you decide you want to market it online. Your first port of call should probably be online marketplaces such as Amazon or Alibaba where you can potentially find a large audience with many potential buyers. With Amazon, for example, you can put up classified ads that are automatically displayed on your website when someone clicks “Buy Now” or “Add to Cart” on an item that is advertised.

This means that your ad will appear on a plethora of websites with thousands of products and brands. Forbes has estimated that there are more than 400 million unique websites online. That is a huge audience you can potentially tap into.

Further, with the advent of voice search, being found on the internet is now considered a prerequisite for commercial success. In fact, according to HubSpot, 39% of their customers found them through organic search, while only 8% found them through paid ads.

As for reaching the right audience, the fact that almost every business can have an online presence means that everyone is now potentially a market segment. So, you no longer need to limit yourself to printed publications if you want to promote your product or service. You can literally go anywhere (and we mean anywhere) on the web to find your audience.

In addition, with the click of a button, you can have your ads broadcast to the entire web if you use a tool like Google Adsense. For instance, let’s say you sell swimwear and you decide you want to advertise during the summer season. Using Google Adsense, you can have your ads appear on blogs and websites that are focused on beach holidays, social media platforms like Instagram where users are potentially searching for swimsuits, and even in forums like Shark Tank where entrepreneurs can pitch their business plan.

As you can see, the opportunities to advertise are seemingly endless, especially since you can literally target the specific demographics and psychographics that you intend on converting into customers. Plus, you can use tools to monitor and measure the effectiveness of your digital marketing efforts.

Where should I stop advertising?

That is the question. While we are glad that you asked. The answer is that you should stop advertising once you reach a certain point. After all, you are spending money to attract customers and you don’t want to waste your money. That is why it is important to set a sales goal for your online marketing efforts and once you achieve that, you can and should stop advertising.

If you set a sales goal of $10,000 in annual sales, you would want to begin seeing revenue soon after you put in place your marketing strategy. However, it may take some time to see the effects of your marketing since it takes time for people to discover your product or service and for them to begin buying it or using it regularly. In some cases, it can take several months or even a year for users to begin spending money on your product or service. So, you may not see immediate results from your marketing strategy.

Now that we have established the importance of online marketing, let’s take a look at some of the main differences between traditional and online PR and marketing.

Differences Between Traditional and Online Marketing

While we can’t cover all the differences here, we will discuss some of the more notable ones. Without delving into too much detail, here are a few differences.


Those who opt for an online marketing strategy typically aim for a more targeted audience than traditional marketing. This implies that they will typically choose to advertise on websites that are geared towards their specific demographic or industry. So, if you are a fashion entrepreneur, you may want to target fashion websites while those in the technology industry may want to target technology websites.

Further, when it comes to marketing and PR efforts, those who opt for an online strategy want to conduct their outreach programmatically through email marketing, social media, and website content.

In contrast, those who go the traditional route usually aim for a more general audience. This could mean using methods such as paid adverts in print media or radio to promote your company or product.

Marketing Material

While we can’t cover all the material you will need for a successful digital marketing campaign in this article, we will touch on some of the more common items you will need. In most cases, you will need a website.

If you decide to go the traditional route, you may opt for a simple business website with very basic information about your company, its products, and services. In some cases, companies may choose to go beyond a basic website and develop an online portfolio that contains all the key information a customer might need about their product or service. This could include everything from design templates to FAQs (frequently asked questions).