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Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing – Which is Better?

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Digital marketing vs traditional marketing – this is an age-old battle. Between the tried and tested traditional marketing and the innovative and fast-changing digital marketing, which one is better for your company or business? Let’s have a look at this article. 

What is Digital Marketing?

digital marketing vs traditional marketing - what is digital marketing

Digital marketing is the marketing/promotion of products/services over the internet through numerous digital mediums. Some popular digital marketing methods include –

  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media Campaigns
  • Search Engines Ads
  • SEO
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Websites

Bonus Read: 11 Benefits of Digital Marketing

What is Traditional Marketing?

digital marketing vs traditional marketing - what is traditional marketing

Traditional marketing is any form of marketing that reaches a user through offline mediums, without the use of the internet. Before the advent of the internet in the 1990s, only this type of marketing was used for decades. Some common traditional marketing methods include –

  • Tv commercials
  • Radio Commercials
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Billboards
  • Flyers and posters
  • Tele-marketing
  • Direct mailers, coupons

These were the methods of marketing, but what is the difference between digital marketing and traditional marketing? Read on to find out.

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Key Difference between Digital Marketing and Traditional Marketing

1. Target Audience

When it comes to traditional marketing, it is easy to reach out to the local target audience. The world is your oyster when it comes to digital marketing as you can target people from all over the world. It is easier to target certain demographics, interests and attributes with digital marketing.

2. Consumer interaction

Traditional marketing has a more personal approach since the interaction with the consumer is more direct. When it comes to digital marketing, the physical presence of the marketer is not required. The interaction is mainly online in the form of comments, replies, etc.

3. Costs

Traditional marketing is more expensive as there is printing involved, radio and television ads, etc. and is harder to scale. Online marketing is more affordable as one can set budgets and is much easier to track results with real-time marketing results.

4. Speed of Results

It can take weeks or months to track results when it comes to traditional marketing. With digital marketing, it is much easier to track results with real-time results with the use of reports and web analytics. There are more metrics available as well such as views, click-through rate, etc.

5. Strategy

As traditional marketing efforts do not have real-time results, it takes longer to strategize with limited data available. Strategy improvisation is much easier for digital marketing campaigns as the results are easily available.

6. Sustainability

Traditional marketing heavily depends on hard copies (magazines, newspapers, etc.) describing the product or service. Various digital platforms provide product/ service information in softcopy format through their website, social media platform, etc. This is accessible to the user at any point in time

7. Feedback

It is easier to track and analyze feedback to a particular campaign through digital marketing as there is an open line of communication involved. In traditional marketing, marketers are simply hoping they don’t get negative feedback. This is why time and energy are spent on focus groups and market research. It is easier to fix a glitch in digital marketing as opposed to traditional marketing.

8. Communication

Traditional marketing has a one-way communication approach. Digital marketing involves a two-way interaction between the user and marketer. 

Digital Marketing: Pros and Cons 

Advantages of Digital Marketing

  • Cost-efficient – If you’re on a low budget, digital marketing is perfect for you. The best part is that you can do a lot with a limited budget and get exactly what you want. It is much more cost-efficient than traditional marketing and it is much easier to control and track the budgets as well. This is great for startups, especially. Check out 8 Best Digital Marketing Strategies for Startups. 
  • Reach – The reach is global when it comes to digital marketing and the investment involved can be minimal.
  • Measurable results – The marketing results are real-time and trackable. You can track how a user navigates your website, leads, conversions and so much more. With many metrics to choose from, you can get an in-depth analysis of your marketing efforts.
  • Targeting – With digital marketing, it is much easier to know that your communication is targeting the right audience. With filters, you can set specific attributes for your target audience narrowing down relevant users.
  • Interactive – Digital marketing is highly interactive as it makes use of a two-way approach to communication. You can easily strategize your communication to be conversational to increase engagement on your page.
  • Immediate Conversions – In the case of websites, social media posts, etc. conversions are on-the-spot unlike traditional marketing wherein a user is directed to a phone number or a physical store.

Also Check out – Choosing the Right Social Media Platforms

Disadvantages of Digital Marketing

  • High Competition – With digital marketing, there is global reach which means there is also a global competition to tackle. It is difficult to stand out from the crowd – your product/service and communication need to be very unique.
  • Skills and Training – Creating digital marketing campaigns and training marketing executives is very time-consuming.
  • Fast-changing – Marketing tools and trends are fast-changing and hence, it is important to keep up-to-date with them.
  • Tedious CRM – Carrying out CRM (customer relationship management) can be very challenging. Negative feedback would be displayed on your website for all your users to view and can affect your brand reputation. Managing it is also a task. 

Traditional Marketing: Pros and Cons 

Advantages of Traditional Marketing

  • Local Targeting – It is easier to reach out to a local audience with traditional marketing. For example, through radio broadcasts and billboards you can target the people of a particular town or city with ease. It can also help target rural areas where newspaper, radio and television marketing work better.


  • Easily processed – Information in hard copies is easier to mentally process, remember and recall in the future.
  • Highly Effective – Traditional marketing has a good success rate as it is an age-old method of marketing and has been tried and tested to reach the right target audience.

Disadvantages of Traditional Marketing

  • Costly – It is more expensive as compared to digital marketing. There are printing costs involved for newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, fliers, etc. Running advertisements on the radio and television is costly as well and billboards need to be rented. In digital marketing, there are fewer costs involved.


  • Difficult to Track The downside to traditional marketing is that there are ways of tracking the results of the campaign but there is no in-depth analysis. Hence, there is no one way of knowing what could have been done better or differently or what went right or wrong in the previous campaigns.
  • Decrease in Popularity – Many brands prefer going online to sticking to traditional marketing methods such as newspapers and magazines. The internet has a higher reach and is easily accessible to most people. To dig deeper, some digital marketing vs traditional marketing statistics state that around 60% of businesses have already shifted their marketing efforts to digital marketing. 
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Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing: Final Verdict 

So, what’s our verdict – digital marketing or traditional marketing? It all boils down to who your target audience is. Your audience could also enjoy a mix of both strategies. Understand their preferences, likes, dislikes, buying patterns, etc. Once you have identified what kind of data they consume the most, then start strategizing accordingly.

Even if you feel traditional marketing is too old-school for you, we recommend that you do not skip digital marketing altogether. It is the need of the hour, especially with the ongoing pandemic. Read The Importance of a Digital Transformation of a Business for some more insights. Distribute your marketing efforts according to the demographics. 

However, if your brand caters to an older audience, traditional marketing would be required. Digital marketing efforts can be your secondary focus. 

If your product or service is suitable for a younger audience, then you should go all out and focus on digital marketing. It is great for small businesses as well to kick-start their presence initially as it is inexpensive and has a high reach and engagement.  

ROI or the returns on investment is every marketer’s concern. When it comes to digital marketing vs traditional marketing return on investment, it is very subjective really. Digital marketing offers better ROI if your audience is bigger as it helps reach a larger audience with less investment whereas, with traditional marketing, one is only limited to a local audience. 


The pandemic compelled many brands to shift their focus online. This has led to many small businesses shifting online as well. If you’re someone who wishes to take a short course on digital marketing, check out our 3-month online digital marketing course that’ll equip you with all the knowledge required.

In case you’re looking for a course that is more intensive, check out our 11-month MBA-level post-graduate programme that will help you hone your digital marketing as well as managerial skills. 

That’s all from us. If you enjoyed reading this blog article, let us know in the comments below. 

Founder and CEO at IIDE

He is a passionate public speaker and teacher for over 10 years. He has trained over 60,000+ students and 25+ corporates in Digital Marketing via online and offline channels. He is a Harvard alumnus specialising in E-commerce......[Read full bio]

Karan Shah


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