Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing: Pros and Cons

For many years, small businesses have relied on traditional marketing tactics to grow their businesses and build awareness within their communities. People are questioning whether traditional marketing is better vs digital marketing. While many have tested digital marketing by creating websites, building a social media following, or with email marketing—2020 has proven how important it is for businesses of any size to adapt to a changing world

Regardless of your views on traditional marketing vs digital marketing, the important thing to remember in marketing is to spend your money where it makes the most sense. How do you do that? Getting a better understanding of both aspects of marketing and who your target audience is will give you a roadmap on what to do. 

Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing: What’s the Difference? 

The biggest difference between digital marketing vs traditional marketing is how you interact with your audience. With digital marketing, your audience can directly interact with you online either through ads or social media. In traditional marketing, you broadcast your brand message to an audience. 

traditional marketing vs digital marketing
With traditional marketing, brands broadcast their message to the masses. With digital marketing, brands can target highly-specific audiences with custom messaging and engage directly with the consumer.

While the goal is the same with both, some tactics work better than others. 

What is Traditional Marketing? 

When someone uses the term “traditional marketing” they mean marketing that isn’t done online. This includes newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, direct mail, and outdoor advertising. Publishers usually have a general idea of who their audience is based on subscribers, viewers, and third-party data providers, like Nielsen. 

Why Use Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing still has its place in a small business’ strategy. While digital seems to be taking most of the credit, traditional marketing still plays an important role in our day to day lives. Many small businesses use it for brand awareness or to support industry associations, their community, or other small businesses. 

Traditional Marketing Pros and Cons

traditional marketing pros and cons


  • Impact– A giant billboard in Times Square or a 60-second spot during the Super Bowl will leave an impact on your audience and have people talking for days after they see it. 
  • Shelf Life– A full-page ad in Vogue Magazine has a longer lifecycle than a Facebook Ad on a newsfeed. 
  • Recall– How many times did you see an ad on Instagram and thought I should buy that, only to forget what the brand name was hours later? With traditional marketing, you have a better chance of recalling what you saw. 


  • Difficult to Measure– Digital marketing offers tracking with the Facebook Pixel and Google’s Tag Manager. While there are ways to measure traditional marketing tactics, it’s not as accurate. 
  • Cost– Not many smaller businesses can afford Super Bowl commercials or national ad campaigns, let alone a small ad in a local publication. In comparison, you can spend as little or as much as you want on Facebook and Google ads.
  • Audience Interaction– Traditional marketing means talking TO your customers not WITH them. You have to take extra steps to find out the reactions to any traditional ad campaigns you run. 

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing is the opposite of traditional marketing, it’s promoting your products, services, or business online. Some people even go so far to lump all electronic devices into digital marketing, however, it’s mostly synonymous with online tactics. Digital marketing includes everything from Google and Facebook ads to email marketing and search engine optimization (SEO).

Why Should I Use Digital Marketing? 

Marketing is about delivering the right message to the right people at the right time in the right place. When you look around you in a waiting room or line at the grocery store, what do you see? People with their heads down and phones out. So it goes without saying that if you want to reach a targeted audience your best bet is to do so with digital marketing tactics. 

Digital Marketing Pros and Cons

digital marketing pros and cons

Digital Marketing Pros

  • Data Digital marketing and data go hand-in-hand. You have access to real-time data to know what works and what doesn’t, giving you an opportunity to test different aspects of your campaigns. 
  • Targeted– The targeting options for digital marketing are practically endless. Using the Facebook pixel or Google Tag Manager, you can deliver highly-targeted content to specific audiences. 
  • Cost– Paying for a national TV campaign or for multiple billboards across the country is extremely expensive compared to the cost of a digital campaign. Advertisers can pay anywhere from $17-$32 or more cost per 1,000 (CPM) on traditional compared to an average of $2.80 CPM on Google or Facebook.
  • Engagement– Digital marketing provides an opportunity to know if your campaigns are working. Social media provides opportunities to like, comment, or share your posts and Google Paid Search ads are links to your site for more information. 

Digital Marketing Cons

  • Privacy Concerns– It’s no secret that platforms like Facebook and Google have access to your data. What we are finally starting to understand is to what extent and how they are using it. Some generations don’t understand or like retargeting campaigns, so make sure to know what your audience likes and dislikes before launching remarketing campaigns. 
  • Ad Blockers– Adblockers are software designed to prevent ads from appearing on certain web pages. Most adblockers block pop-ups and banner ads, anything that interrupts a user’s experience. It will not affect well-executed paid search or paid social campaigns. 
  • Constantly Changing– Technology is constantly changing, so is marketing. It’s hard to keep up and educated on all the possibilities. The nice thing is you can hire experts who specialize in the areas you want to execute. That’s where digital marketing agencies, like us, can help. 

Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing: What Should I Invest In? 

While we are biased, we think digital marketing will get you the biggest bang for your buck. However, marketing isn’t just a one-size-fits-all option.

It depends on your business, your audience, and your budget. If you have the budget the size of Mint Mobile, then executing an omnichannel marketing plan will be the most effective. Unfortunately, most businesses today can’t afford it. So that’s when you have to do some research to really understand your audience and who’s buying your product. 

There isn’t a magic number that we can tell you to set aside for digital marketing. But, many corporations are starting to use 40-50% of their marketing budgets on digital marketing. The nice thing about digital marketing is that you can test ideas and make changes based on the data you get back. 

How Can AdShark help?

If you want to start using Facebook Ads, Google Ads or other digital marketing tactics to help grow your business, we can help! Reach out to us and we can start by understanding your business and your goals and get you a customized proposal to help you meet those goals.

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