If you are looking to venture into the ever-growing world of online marketing, you have probably wondered about the basic differences between traditional and digital marketing. While the lines can seem blurred, it is still possible to discern the key roles of each in shaping customer experiences.
Traditional marketing, also known as offline marketing, refers to marketing efforts that occur in the absence of the internet. It usually entails advertising and sales promotions delivered through various platforms like radio, TV, newspapers, and magazines. So, while the methods and platforms may change, the concept behind traditional marketing remains relatively the same.
Online digital marketing is simply marketing done via the internet. This can include marketing efforts such as email, social media, and web analytics, as well as SEO, content marketing, and PPC (pay per click). It also includes software that facilitates digital marketing such as email marketing software and web analytics tools.
The Rise Of Online Marketing
The practice of online marketing wasn’t always as prevalent as it is today. When the web was in its infancy, people primarily used the internet to search for information. Since most of the content was static and could not be searched or mined for valuable information, marketers had to rely on other means of persuasion (e.g., advertising, social media).
The rise of social media and web 2.0, however, changed all that. Nowadays, people use the internet for both information and communication, leading to a blurring of what constitutes marketing and communication activities.
This makes it more difficult to distinguish between traditional and online marketing. To give you a better understanding of the differences, this article will discuss some of the most significant distinctions between the two types of marketing.
Key Differentiators Of Online And Traditional Marketing
Before we continue, it’s important to note that while both online and traditional marketing can be used to target potential customers, the methods and platforms are entirely different. This means that just because your tactics for traditional marketing are worthless in the digital world, it doesn’t mean that all the tactics in the digital world will be effective for your traditional marketing.
With that out of the way, here are the top key differences between online and traditional marketing:
Targeted Versus Untargeted Marketing
In traditional marketing, businesses aim to target as many people as possible for their marketing efforts. This usually entails using tactics like TV ads, billboards, magazine spreads, and the like to reach the largest audience. With the goal of getting as many people as possible to see their ad, marketers usually don’t care whether or not the people who see their ad are already a customer or a potential customer.
In online marketing, businesses aim to target the right audience for their marketing efforts. This usually entails using tactics like SEO and PPC (pay per click) to reach people who are already interested in what your business has to offer. When executing PPC campaigns, you usually have to set a spending limit and abide by data-driven performance metrics.
Forms Of Traditional Marketing
Traditional marketing is often referred to as ‘brick and mortar’ marketing because most of the advertising and sales promotions take place in retail establishments. However, the form of the marketing can vary. Some of the more traditional forms of marketing include:
- Radio advertising
- Billboard advertising
- Classified advertising
- Tabloid advertising
- Newspaper articles
- Magazine articles
- TV advertising
- Direct mail marketing
While some of these forms may not seem as effective today as they were in the past, the fact remains that they continue to be used because they are the most effective ways of reaching your target audience. For most businesses, TV advertising remains the most affordable option and the most effective way to reach the largest audience. When it comes to direct mail marketing, people who have already shown an interest in your product or service will be the first to receive discounts or special deals via mail.
Types Of Online Marketing
As we mentioned above, the methods and platforms for online marketing are entirely different from those of traditional marketing. This means that there are many different types of online marketing, each with its own distinct approach. Some of the more popular types of online marketing include:
- Affiliate marketing
- Content marketing
- Digital marketing
- E-commerce marketing
- Email marketing
- Influencer marketing
- Inbound marketing
- Marketing automation
- Multi-channel marketing
- Performance marketing
- Social media marketing
- Strategic marketing
As you may have guessed, each of these types of online marketing focuses on a different aspect of marketing, usually beginning with the ‘what’ and ending with the ‘how’. This can make it a bit difficult to determine what exactly is the difference between them. Here is an overview of each type of online marketing:
In affiliate marketing, a business encourages other businesses to provide them with products or services in exchange for a commission.
The first step in the process is for the affiliate marketer to find products or services they think their audience will especially enjoy. These are the types of products they will promote to convince potential customers to purchase them. In return, the affiliate marketer receives a commission when a purchase is made from one of the businesses they recommended.
The advantage of this type of marketing is that since you are not personally responsible for selling a product or service, you can focus on growing your business rather than spending your time selling. The disadvantage, however, is that products or services you promote have to have some appeal to a broad audience. If they don’t, then there is no point in promoting them.
In content marketing, a business creates articles, videos, or podcasts to promote a product or service. This type of marketing is a form of ‘thought leadership’, in which a business creates content to prove that they have something valuable to offer. Since much of the content is usually written and created for marketing purposes, it tends to be more informative and engaging than promotional material. This makes it more likely to be shared and, as a result, more influential.
Traditional marketing, such as newspaper articles and magazine spreads, can also be considered forms of content marketing. The difference is that while the content may not be directly relating to a product or service, it is usually used to encourage a purchase at some point in the future.
An example of content marketing would be an article about how to buy quality products at wholesale prices, published by a reputable newspaper or magazine. Although the content is valuable information, it has little to do with the subject matter of the business it came from.
Digital marketing, like its counterpart, online marketing, focuses on reaching the right audience with the right message using the right platform.
Like traditional marketing, digital marketing can take many forms. Some of the more popular methods include:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Search engine marketing (SEM)
- Content creation (e.g., blogging, video blogging)
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Display advertising
To optimize their websites for search engines, businesses use a variety of tools like Google Analytics, which can help them understand how users are interacting with their sites and where there are any holes in the process that can be plugged. With that information, they then have the ability to make adjustments to bring more people to their site and make those who are there more valuable customers.
E-commerce marketing, like the other types of marketing discussed above, focuses on reaching the right audience with the right message using the right platform. The primary difference, however, is that e-commerce marketing is entirely online, taking place primarily across digital platforms like websites and mobile apps. It includes the activities that take place after a customer makes a purchase, including email marketing, social media marketing, and site performance optimization.
The convenience and accessibility of e-commerce marketing is undeniable. Since much of the marketing and selling takes place online, it is always available and can be accessed by customers at any time. This makes it easier for businesses to follow up with customers and increase sales.