Traditional marketing or digital marketing? For many enterprises, they are symbiotic rather than binary options. Traditional marketing is too often derided as old-fashioned. The truth is, it is also well-proven. It remains effective with certain demographics. And, in the right circumstances, it dovetails well with myriad digital initiatives.
Traditional marketing includes TV, radio and print ads, billboards and direct mail. Advertising that involves the internet falls under the digital marketing umbrella. SEO, social media, email campaigns, eBooks and videos are all avenues for profitable, brand-building digital marketing.
Digital Marketing Benefits
2019 was a milestone year in marketing. Digital ad spending outpaced traditional ones for the first time. One source estimated that total digital ad spending will account for more than 54% of total US ad spending. Digital marketing is always enticing, and for good reason. It is interactive, measurable, targeted and automated. It does not require significant infrastructure, and it tends to be budget-friendly. It’s attractive to nascent enterprises with limited resources.
At its best, digital marketing delivers actionable content at the ideal moment. Consumers instantly share information, download an eBook, take advantage of a special offer or make a purchase. Ideally, campaigns go viral. This potential for hitting the marketing lottery is intoxicating. At times, too much so, perhaps. Dreams sometimes surpass potential.
Still, digital’s pluses are undeniable. Analytics deliver key information in real-time, or close to it. Automation software scales success. Placement is as precise as that of a pitcher seeking that coveted third strike. Digital marketing is readily targeted, while traditional marketing is more scattershot. On the other hand, a post in the Journal of the American Bankers Association (ABA) highlights “lessons learned” in the digital vs. traditional debate. For example, some Millenials simply don’t trust traditional advertising.
[READ: What Is Digital Marketing? Overview and Resources for Success]
Traditional Marketing Benefits
For generations, billboards, TV/radio commercials and print ads made an indelible mark on society and culture. Every year, Super Bowl Sunday is a tribute to the enduring value of traditional advertising. In 2020, Fox Sports is selling 77 30-second spots for Super Bowl LIV for about $5.5 million a pop. True, some of the more ineffective ads are tributes to hubris. Still, more than a few brands have leapfrogged the competition with wildly creative and compelling Super Bowl ads. In the rush to deploy digital marketing ideas, you don’t want to forget the undeniable advantages of traditional marketing:
- Tried and true
- Broad coverage
- Local potential
According to the BLS’s American Time Use Survey (ATUS), “nearly 80 percent of the population” watches TV on any given day. Time spent watching TV tends to average from two to four hours per day, depending on the demographic. Those 65 and older watch TV an average of 4.5 hours/day. Traditional marketing remains popular with older demographics.
According to Pew Research, 90 percent of Americans access the internet. Of course, this means that one in ten does not. Not every consumer is glued to their smartphone or parked in front of their computer screen. And, some consumers still use their mobile devices for phone calls – period. Some have no computer or seldom use it. Internet user or not, many remain receptive to that colorful billboard that stands out in the night, metaphorically if not literally.
In the right situations, traditional advertising still delivers real value.
A study by Benchmarketing for Newsworks covered 500 econometric models. Results suggested that newspaper advertising triples revenue return on investment.
Forbes cites sources that calculate a direct mail success rate of greater than four percent. By comparison, email success rates are often measured in fractions of one percent.
Don’t overlook event marketing. A Bizzabo survey of more than 1,000 mid-level to senior-level marketers highlighted the value of live events. Forty-one percent of respondents view live events as the best channel of the nine ranked.
[READ: Traditional Automotive Ad Trends That Still Deliver Buyers]
Embracing Both Traditional and Digital
Traditional marketing and digital marketing often enhance one another. At times, there’s a positively serendipitous relationship between the two. A post published by The Wharton School of Business highlights the advantages of both digital and traditional marketing.
Both forms of marketing are worthwhile when you serve and seek diverse constituencies. True, digital marketing disrupts traditional marketing. But don’t be too quick to think it replaces it. Consider that some competitors may abandon offline marketing too soon, actually increasing opportunities for those who remain steadfast. Snap up market share by identifying the constituencies who only buy offline, for example.
Sometimes, digital marketing happens not so much because it’s best, but because it’s easy. It is simple to test the waters by dipping your toe in along the shore. However, you may miss the big catch found only in deeper waters. You want to avoid that trap. Well-executed traditional marketing requires effort and investment, but the rewards can be substantial.
Watch for marketing opportunities where an intelligent brew of both digital and traditional ingredients yields the ideal result. Digital marketing may set the table for traditional initiatives, and vice versa. For example, local print ads often reinforce and amplify digital marketing initiatives. At the same time, synergy occurs when a consumer encountering a traditional ad has a panoply of digital destinations to select from. They might be on Facebook or not. They may check out email offers or they may not. The beauty of digital is the ease with which an enterprise can establish and monitor many marketing channels.