As the human race continues to thrive in this digital age of technological advancements, many begin to wonder if the marketing methods of the past are just as effective in today’s day and circumstances. It’s understandable to question these concepts, especially if you’re a business owner or even a student who is trying to grow in professional or personal ways. 

So in this article, we’re going to dive a little deeper into the differences between traditional and digital marketing, how they each fit into our current era and the determining factors as to which route you might want to take! When it comes to spending your hard-earned money to market your business, or as a student in your career search, you’ll want to make the right choice for you to help your growth and success!

What’s the Difference between Traditional & Digital Marketing?

There are a couple of main differences that help us distinguish these two methods of advertising. These differences include the actual marketing channels that are being used to advertise, the effectiveness of either marketing method, and how each is used for both today and the future use of both.

Differences in Marketing Channels

The top one is the medium through which your target audience encounters your advertising efforts. While traditional marketing uses and focuses more on traditional media like newspapers, radio ads, magazines, and tv ads, digital marketing focuses on digital media such as social platforms, when people search the internet and even websites. To determine which channels are best for you in your business or professional growth, we need to understand that WHO you want to advertise to is the key to which you’ll want to use to get the most results. 

This is where truly knowing your buyer persona, aka your customer attributes, becomes one of the most important assets you need to attain or learn. If your audience or target customer is older and still reads the newspaper or magazines, then you need to get in front of them by doing prints ads! If your audience is younger and good with technology where searching for answers to their needs is a constant, then you need to produce online ads to get in front of them online! These methods can only be determined successful depending upon your industry and the type of business you’re running. Luckily, with the help of our next section, you’ll be able to pinpoint a little better what might work for you and your budget!

How Effective Are Each Method?

There is a couple of reason why most businesses have switched a majority of their marketing budgets to digital advertising. One reason is the budgets to be effective in traditional marketing are much higher than those of digital channels. To give you an idea of what they cost to be effective, I reached out to some of the agencies that help businesses perform traditional marketing advertising here in Utah (obviously for every state or country these numbers will be different, but should give you a ballpark range of what to expect). 

They shared with me that to be successful and have a good return on investment, you’ll have to spend at least $10,000/month in Billboard ads, $8,000 to $10,000/month to get the prime times in radio ads to be effective, and even around $12,000 for TV ads to be on popular channels are prime times when people watch them. Mind you that these prices DON’T include hiring someone to design you a billboard ad, professionally record your radio ad, or even film and edit the commercial you’d like to put on TV! Pretty expensive right? The only traditional form of advertising that I found to be more cost-effective was magazine and print ads. Those you end up spending less than $1,000/month on are being distributed to those who are around your local area. 

Based on which agency or freelancer you end up going with, not only is digital marketing more cost-effective than traditional, but it also is a better way to directly appear in front of your target customer. With the ability to spend around $2,500/month you can get in front of people on social media who are looking for your products or services directly. Or even spend less than $500/month on Google Search ads to pop up when people search for a topic on the internet! Since more and more people use smart devices to do research, make day-to-day choices, and even impactful life decisions; the route of going digital seems to be more effective for the amount of money you put in. By being available through various online platforms you can get in front of the people you’re looking to convert into customers. 

How Are Each Used Today in 2021?

Based on what you’ve read so far, I’m sure that you’re thinking that digital will replace traditional in no time. While digital marketing could replace conventional methods someday, it’s not happening right now or any time soon. Both channels are heavily being used by various businesses of different sizes and seeing success from them. It all just goes back to the type of platforms and channels your target customers or audience reside. In many ways, having a combination of each marketing method might be more effective for you as a business. The rule of thumb is that a customer has to see you an average of 7 times to remember you. Finding ways to get in front of your audience in different ways allows you to reach as many people as possible who would be more likely to convert into a customer. 

Being a digital marketer myself, I’ve seen that online marketing and advertising seem to be a higher compliment to the business and reaching their overall goals. However, each marketing strategy needs to be personalized to what those goals are. Many businesses have found that their return on investment isn’t quite as what it used to be by just using only traditional marketing. There’s a reason for that! More and more people are going digital. Instead of listening to their local radio stations, they listen to Spotify. Instead of watching cable TV, they’re watching Netflix or Hulu. Instead of getting their news on paper, they get it through the station’s website directly. Therefore, partnering with online advertising methods will help reach a larger and more effective audience than just sticking with traditional channels. 


In the end, my final thoughts are to do one of two things. Determine where your audience spends most of their time and get on there. Second is you need to come up with a strategy for your specific business and industry to be effective at growing your business. In my experience, I’ve seen more success in digital marketing than traditional marketing and would recommend most of your budget should be spent in that area. This is primarily because of the greater ROI (return on investment) by getting in front of your target audience more effectively. However, make sure to do what is best for your business!

If you’re looking to grow your knowledge, skillsets, or resources in digital marketing then make sure to subscribe to my blog! I help business owners and students get the materials they need to be successful at marketing online!