Traditional Marketing vs Digital Marketing – What Are the Advantages?

What is the difference between traditional marketing and digital marketing? Does one have an advantage over the other? Can digital marketing replace traditional marketing? If they drank too much Jägermeister at a bar, started insulting each other’s mothers, and ended up in a street fight, who would win?

Today we find out.

Today, we finally determine the best marketing method of all.

Two methods enter. One method leaves.

Welcome to the Titandome.


Obviously Digital Marketing Wins, Right?

Not so fast.

Did you know that only very recently people started spending more time on their mobile devices than watching TV. Which means that even though it seemed like smartphones and social media have been dominating the marketplace, a traditional marketing method like TV commercials still had the potential to reach more people. In fact, digital ad spending only just surpassed traditional in 2019, with 54.2% of the total US ad spend. That means 45.8% of ad dollars still go towards traditional methods.

That’s nothing to balk at.

So while digital marketing budgets are definitely going up (by nearly 15% yearly), traditional marketing budgets aren’t dropping by as much as you’d think (by as little as 1-2% yearly).

Yes, digital marketing generates 50% greater interactions with customers than traditional, while costing far less to implement. A schism that is only shifting wider in favor of digital in a post-COVID world. And yes, based on these stats, it’s looking like digital marketing has the edge.But there’s a reason why 36% of marketers seek to integrate traditional and digital marketing efforts.

So let’s not crown a winner quite yet. Because the advantages of digital marketing vs traditional marketing may not be so clear cut.


Traditional vs Online Marketing: What’s the Difference?

In the beginning, there was only traditional marketing.

Traditional marketing is any form of promotion we see or hear in the real world. You know — the real world — that place where grass grows, fresh air exists, and pants are usually mandatory. Broadly speaking there are four types of traditional marketing:

  • Print – advertising in paper form. The oldest form of marketing (circa 3,000 BC), includes billboards, brochures, and ads printed in newspapers, magazines, newsletters, etc.
  • Broadcast – advertising over the air and cable waves. Includes radio, television, and pre-movie advertising in theaters.
  • Direct Mail – advertising mailed directly to people. Includes fliers, postcards, letters, catalogs, and other things you never asked for but can’t stop getting delivered to you.
  • Telemarketing – calling people over the phone. Also known as telephone marketing. A controversial form of marketing that isn’t as controversial as you might think.

Traditional marketing once was the preeminent form of marketing. Mostly because it was the only type of marketing.

But then the 1990s hit, and with it the development of the Internet.

And with the Internet, came digital marketing.

(Fun Fact: Kids today talk about the 90s the same way kids in the 90s used to talk about the 60s. If you’re of a certain age that’s enough to keep you up at night.)

Digital marketing is the promotion of goods and services via the Internet. Digital marketing can be loosely grouped into seven categories:

  • SEO – optimizing a company’s content and online branding to appear at the top of targeted search engine results pages (SERPs)
  • PPC – paid advertising that uses a pay-per-click model to show promotions on websites, search engines, social media platforms and sites like Amazon
  • Social Media – advertising to users on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram via ads, posts, videos and other native content
  • Email – advertising mailed digitally to people. Includes newsletters, drip campaigns and promotional messages
  • Content Marketing – creating websites, blogs, videos, infographics and other assets, often shared via the other types here, to drive consumer awareness, sales and loyalty
  • Affiliate Marketing – enlisting others to promote your business in return for a commission
  • Influencer Marketing – paying others outright to promote your business

The main difference between traditional advertising and online advertising is that the latter takes place online, and the former doesn’t. Who knew?

Everybody, that’s who. None of this is a revelation.

But it’s still good to set the ground rules. Now with that out of the way, let’s get to why we’re really here — to see two forms of marketing duke it out like grannies over a bench.

Can digital marketing replace traditional marketing altogether, or is there still a place for the elder method in your marketing strategy?

To score this fight we’ll look at how well each perform in five key areas:

  1. Infrastructure
  2. Cost-Effectiveness
  3. Reporting
  4. Immediacy
  5. Customizability

In the end, one marketing strategy will stand victorious while the other is left for dead in a pile of back alley trash bags ruing the day they ever tried a Jägerbomb.


1. Traditional vs Online Marketing: Infrastructure

Traditional and digital marketing require vastly different infrastructures. By infrastructure, we mean the facilities needed to implement marketing strategies and engage customers.

Of the two, traditional marketing requires a lot more physical infrastructure to be effective. Which can be kind of a drag.

If you want to send a mailer, you need to have the machinery to print those mailers and an efficient means for delivery at scale. If you want to perform telemarketing, you have to have a network of phones and, more importantly, trained employees to man each of those phones. If you want to have a billboard, you need a really big board. If you don’t have the means to do any of this in-house, then you’ll have to outsource.

Online marketing on the other hand exists entirely in the digital space. Which means, you can get a full-fledged omnichannel marketing strategy in-place with nothing but a laptop, computer whiz, and family size box of Bagel Bites.

We recommend putting a little more effort than that into your digital marketing, but it’s still viable. A lot of companies run very profitable marketing campaigns on little more than that. Plain and simple, digital marketing makes it easier for your business to have the necessary infrastructure to access marketing channels, and by extension your customers.

This round goes to digital marketing.


2. Traditional vs Online Marketing: Cost-Effectiveness

Digital marketing wins this one, hands down.

With traditional marketing, all that added physical infrastructure mentioned above equates to added costs. Not cool. Especially when you consider printing an ad in a magazine can cost upwards of $20,000, a billboard can cost $2,500/month and a 30-second TV commercial on a small local station will run $1,500 (not counting production costs). Worst of all, you have no idea what kind of hard metrics you’re getting from that spend, if any at all.


Compare traditional marketing cost to advertising on Facebook, which provides an average cost-per-click (CPC) of $0.25 and cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) of $7.19. That’s very strong metrics for a very small price.

Traditional just can’t compete.

The fact digital marketing can utilize a CPM or pay-per-click model makes all the difference. With traditional marketing you typically pay upfront for the possibility of reaching your target audience. It’s a sunk cost. But with digital marketing (using CPM or PPC) you pay only when your promotion has been engaged by your target audience. It’s a prospective cost.


3. Traditional vs Online Marketing: Data Reporting

Data is the lifeblood of your business’s growth. The more data you have, the more benefits you’ll gain, like being able to optimize future campaigns or pinpoint your ideal customer.

Without accurate reporting, you’ll be left in the dark. And yet again, digital marketing is miles ahead!

It’s very difficult to accurately measure traditional marketing campaigns. And the few data metrics offline tracking reports provide are nowhere as in-depth or intelligent as the analytics tools available for digital media. Modern digital marketing platforms and tools give businesses a huge range of feedback data and metrics that they can use to build out every area of their marketing. Tools like Google Analytics, Google Ads Manager, Microsoft Advertising, Search Console, Facebook for Business – and more – all offer an incredible range of data. Plus all of these tools provide businesses with information about how they are performing, how successful their marketing is, and how their visitors behave.

With good digital marketing businesses can understand: their revenue/sales numbers, landing-page performing, search engine click-through-rate (CTR), keyword rankings, return user metrics, time-on-site, conversion rate, overall traffic, return-on-ad spend (ROAS), cohort data, and more – and with all of this they can pinpoint where in their marketing campaign they can improve even more.

You can’t do this with traditional strategies. That is, unless you’ve got a dude standing under your billboard counting everybody that looks his way.


4. Traditional vs Online Marketing: Immediacy

The speed with which brands can directly engage with customers (aka immediacy) is a key component of marketing. The golden rule is to reach consumers where they are, when they’re there. Digital has an obvious advantage in that regard. Especially thanks to pixels and retargeting.

Not to mention, they generate an instant touchpoint.

Although technically the difference between traditional marketing and digital marketing lies in offline vs online, the real difference (read: advantage) is that digital provides immediate direct contact with your audience. Traditional does not. Paid online advertising (like search engine PPC and social media PPC ads) can begin driving results practically immediately. A small ad campaign can pretty much be set up in a single day and begin driving site traffic or conversions within a few days. They can drive sales/conversion practically over night, and as ad campaigns run longer they can perform even better by using the campaign’s performance history.

Once again, traditional marketing isn’t able to engage certain touch points as rapidly. That is, unless that dude standing under your billboard has a really long stick and pokes every car that drives by.


5. Traditional vs Online Marketing: Customizability

Digital marketing campaigns are easy to set up. They can start and stop on a dime. You can change copy, graphics and targeting on a whim. And it’s incredibly easy to redistribute budgets. Digital marketing can be tweaked, adjusted, micro-targeted, and pretty much undergo any other changes you see fit when you desire. Search engine ads and social media ad campaigns can be setup, cancelled, and modified within minutes – and once approved, changes start displaying to audiences immediately.

In other words, it’s very customizable.

Which is why digital excels at expanding market share even during economic downturns.

Traditional marketing on the other hand is not so easy to pivot.

Traditional marketing is more set-in-stone. Less flexible. A direct mail campaign takes weeks, sometimes months, to work, and once it’s started there’s no stopping it. Unless you’re cool with stealing people’s mail. Commercials have to be created way in advance, and air-time schedules are put in contract weeks or months ahead of time. Print ads have to be created, printed, and distributed way ahead of time.

Digital takes another round, and with that, if you’re keeping score, knocks out traditional with a roundhouse kick to the face.

You know when we said earlier that the advantages of digital marketing vs traditional marketing may not be so clear cut. Well, turns out they are. They’re very clear cut.

In favor of digital.

Which begs the question…


Can Digital Marketing Replace Traditional Marketing?

Yes. And no.

Sure, traditional marketing just took a beating. In the age of the Internet, it clearly cannot compete with digital marketing. But the best (and most successful) marketers don’t really distinguish between offline and online campaigns.

Two methods enter. One method leaves.

Remember that? Well, we meant it. But not because one marketing method would destroy the other. But because after they entered the Titandome (and digital marketing got in a few good licks) the two would stop fighting, stare into each other’s eyes, and realize they have more in common then they originally thought.

Traditional and digital can live harmoniously together, as one. (So long as they don’t drink Jägermeister.) It shouldn’t be digital marketing vs traditional marketing — it should be digital AND traditional marketing.

We’ll even go so far as to say there’s no such thing as “traditional marketing” or “digital marketing.”

There’s just marketing.

Multichannel marketing.

Does that mean you need to do it all?


You need to implement what is most effective for your business.

You need to:

  • Define your business’s goals/KPIs
  • Choose the most cost-effective channels
  • Pick a medium with the best reach
  • Use the methods that convert the most

All this can be accomplished with digital techniques. Which is why most of the time, we recommend digital strategies as the way to go. But depending on your business and ideal customer you may want to take things offline. For instance, if you target an older demographic or local regions.

So don’t totally discard “traditional.”

Sure, traditional marketing feels about as old as a discman, beeper, Tamagotchi, Blockbuster card, backwards baseball hat, and chain wallet — the coolest things from the 1990s — to a kid today. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t all still valuable. (Except that Blockbuster card. That thing’s completely useless. Unless you’re in Bend, Oregon.)

But when we hear people say things like “digital is the new traditional” we want to drink some Jägermeister and punch them.

Can digital marketing replace traditional marketing?

Without a doubt.

But that doesn’t mean you should let it. The real question you should be asking is: How can digital marketing and traditional marketing methods work together for my brand? If you need help finding the answer, contact our team, we’ll help connect you to the right strategy. Just like a chain bought at Hot Top safely connecting a wallet to a pair of JNCOjeans.

SEO vs Paid Search Advertising: Which is the Best Investment?

“Which is better: SEO or PPC?”

There’s a loaded question for you. It mistakenly assumes one is better than the other. Still, pitting SEO vs paid search marketing is one the most common things businesses do when first trying to tackle digital marketing — much to their bottom line’s detriment.

Which is why we recommend figuring out instead:

“Which will provide the best return for XYZ goal: SEO or PPC?”

A little less zingy, but a whole lot more valuable.

Below, we’re going to help you answer that second, far more profitable question. We’re going to look at the difference between SEO and Paid Search, their pros, their cons, and — most importantly — which is the better investment per your business’s specific goals.


Why You Should Care About SEO and Paid Ads

Many say SEO and Paid Search are the two pillars of digital marketing. A quick look at some organic and paid search stats, and we quickly see why.

Overall, organic and paid searches are responsible for 68% of all website traffic:

  • 53% of site traffic comes from organic search
  • 15% of site traffic comes from paid search

Those figures are averaged across all industries. (The numbers fluctuate according to industry. For example in B2B, organic accounts for 64% of traffic. For eCommerce, paid accounts for nearly 24% of traffic.)

What’s more, it’s been found that paid and organic search generate 72% of revenues.

Maybe we should take a moment to let that sink in.

Research shows that combined organic and paid search bring in two-thirds of all revenue. That’s crazy high. That’s why you should care about SEO and paid advertising.


What is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO)  is the process of improving the visibility of your website and webpages in organic results of search engines, like Google and Bing.

Mostly this means trying to get your webpages to rank higher and brand to take up more real estate on search engine result pages (SERP). This is accomplished by optimizing your online content to appease search engine algorithms, which calculate the quality and relevance of your pages, and rank you accordingly.


Pros of SEO

  • Less expensive long term
  • Requires less maintenance
  • Generates consistent, sustainable traffic
  • Builds brand trust and credibility
  • Wider potential reach
  • Higher ROI long term


Cons of SEO

  • Takes longer to produce results
  • Poor for time-sensitive content
  • Provides less control over performance
  • Provides vaguer analytics

Want to know more? Check out the top benefits of SEO.


What is Paid Search?

Paid search is the process of paying to improve the visibility of your website and webpages on search engines, or their partner sites. It is often referred to as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

The hope is to deliver these sponsored ads at the very top of SERP. This is accomplished through bidding and keyword targeting. Costs are most commonly incurred each time they get clicked (cost-per-click or CPC) or by how many people see them (cost -per-thousand or CPM).

Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Amazon all provide PPC advertising platforms.


Pros of Paid Search

  • Quick to produce results
  • Useful for time-sensitive content
  • Provides more control over performance
  • Laser-focused audience targeting
  • Provides detailed analytics
  • Higher ROI short term


Cons of Paid Search

  • More expensive short term
  • Requires more maintenance
  • Grows less effective over time
  • Can require bigger budgets


The Difference Between SEO vs Paid Search

The biggest differences between SEO and paid search ads are:

  1. Placement on SERP
  2. Real estate on SERP
  3. Cost for Placement


SEO vs Paid Search: Placement on SERP

Paid ads appear at the top of search results. They dominate above-the-fold, and will always be the first thing a user sees. They take up to the first four snippets on desktop and three on mobile. Sometimes paid ads appear at the bottom of the page, making them the last thing a user sees, as well.

Organic search results take up the remaining 10 snippet spots on a page, but users have to scroll down the page past paid ads just to get to the top ranking organic results.


SEO vs Paid Search: Real Estate on SERP

While paid ads come first, organic content takes up more space. Paid ads always appear in the same spots, and are confined to how much real estate they can take up on a page.

Organic SERP content is more flexible.

Not only can page snippets expand and provide additional branded info, thanks to stuff like FAQ schema. But brands can use SEO to appear in additional areas of a results page with rich snippets, the local Map Pack, and the Knowledge Graph. All together this provides a ton of potential real estate for brands to promote on SERP via SEO.


SEO vs Paid Search: Cost of Placement

Paid search has a direct cost, in that businesses must pay for their ads to appear on SERP (via CPC or CPM). As a result, the costs associated with paid search ads can escalate quickly.

SEO has no direct cost. Placement in organic results is provided for free by search engines, making it a much more cost-effective strategy over the long term.

Of course, both SEO and PPC have indirect costs. Such as the costs it takes to create and develop online content and maintain it.


SEO vs Paid Search: KPIs

Two of the best key performance indicators (KPIs) for both SEO and PPC are:

  • CTR: Click-through-rate
  • CVR: Conversion rate

According to the latest data, the top result in Google’s organic search results provides an average CTR of 31.7%. (The second and third spots yield 24.7% and 18.6%, respectively.)

Paid ads on Google have an average CTR of 5%. Their average CVR is 3.75%.

While calculating an average conversion rate for SEO is difficult, it’s been estimated that overall organic search results are 8.5x more likely to be clicked, while paid search ads are 1.5x likely to convert. That would give a CVR for SEO of 2.5%, roughly.



Which Strategy is Best for Your Business Goals?

To the crux of the matter.

We’ve shared the differences between SEO and paid search. We leave it up to you to decide which is better. (Hint: They’re both great.) Now we want to focus on what really matters, and speak in terms of specifics to your business.

To do this we’ve listed the most popular goals brands set for their digital strategies. We’ll see how well each — SEO vs Paid Search advertising — stack up, and determine the one you would be better off implementing.

Goal: Instant Results

Edge: Paid Search

If you want to generate immediate sales, paid search is the way to go.

Purchase intent is a fickle beast. Consumers are quick to change their mind so it’s crucial brands get in front of them when they possess strong purchase intent. PPC advertising is the fastest way to reach customers primed to buy on search engines.

SEO takes time to implement and return positive results. PPC allows for more immediate results.

As such, paid search is a great short term solution for promoting your products and services, especially if you provide seasonal or time-sensitive offerings.

So when you feel the need for speed, go with PPC.


Goal: Exposure

Edge: SEO

The goal of greater exposure boils down to potential reach. In that regard, SEO has the edge over paid search.

Not only does SEO provide the opportunity to fill up more SERP real estate with branding, but a comprehensive SEO strategy will allow your website to rank on multiple search engines and for multiple search queries, with little additional effort or cost. In order to similarly serve paid ads you need to create multiple campaigns and ad sets on a variety of different platforms, which takes time and can get very costly.

With SEO you can expand your overall reach exponentially and ongoingly with a single piece of content. And although paid search may have better targeting overall, nothing can compete with the influence SEO has over local exposure.


Goal: Audience Targeting

Edge: Paid Search

Knowing your audience and effectively targeting them is an important part of any marketing strategy. SEO can target specific queries, but any other targeting beyond that is very limited. The targeting methods of paid search on the other hand know no bounds.

PPC advertising affords the most comprehensive way to target your ideal customers.

The sheer variety of targeting tools PPC ad platforms provide is mind-bogglingly awesome. Enough to make any digital marketer giggle with delight. You can segment your audiences by age, geographical location, gender, affinity, language, device, lookalike audiences, parental status, income, in-market interests, keywords, online activity, and several other factors to ensure your ads are being served to the right people at the best possible times and excluded from negative audiences.


Goal: Credibility

Edge: SEO

The long term success of brands live and die by their online credibility. Trust and goodwill leads to repeat business. Authority and expertise attracts new customers.

Advertising can come across as contrived and intrusive, especially when poorly designed. As a result, users tend to trust paid search ads less.

SEO on the other hand is all about building trust.

Search engine algorithms place a lot of emphasis on EAT content. That’s content that conveys Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. A high rank gives your business a stamp of approval. Anyone with enough money can pay to be in the top spot for PPC, but brands have to earn the top spot in organic results. Users know this. They often scroll past search ads because they trust organic results more.

To improve your brand’s credibility with SEO, start by targeting attainable, less competitive keywords and move towards higher volume targets as your website and brand become a source of reputable content. Make sure you create high-quality EAT content and relevant backlinks.


Goal: Scalability

Edge: SEO

Scalability defines how easy it is to increase returns, such as impression, traffic and click volumes, as well as customers, revenue and profit. Done correctly, over time, SEO can create a significant source for all those returns. That’s because the best organic optimizations compound over time.

The same can’t be said for paid search. In fact, quite the opposite.

PPC ads have short lifespans compared to organic content. (Typically lasting one to two months, at best, compared to several years for organic.) Their returns start to diminish after a short period of time. And the second you stop paying, their returns dry up completely. All this makes it impossible to cost-effectively scale your advertising.

SEO can sustain growing returns over the long term. To accomplish this, we recommend building a majority of your SEO content around evergreen content (i.e. content that will not grow outdated). That way you ensure your content is strongly positioned to sustainably scale.


Goal: Control

Edge: Paid Search

Having control over your marketing operations is essential for accurately calculating budgets and schedules. To that end, paid search provides far more control than SEO.

Google algorithms have the final say on what ranks where with organic content. While the right SEO experts can circumnavigate Google’s algorithms to provide the best results, it still makes it more challenging to control your marketing. Especially since SEO changes can take days, sometimes months, to effectively appear in search results.

Paid search ads, however, are unaffected by organic Google algorithm updates.

Your budget dictates performance, not Google. Once your campaign is set up, your ads will appear as you’ve written them in the placements you’ve selected. By controlling the bid, keywords, targeting and creative, you (or a paid search expert on your behalf) determine how effective your SEM will be.


Goal: Budget

Edge: SEO

SEO typically does not require as large a budget as paid search. The right SEO agency can optimize organic strategies at minimal cost to return huge results. To get similar numbers of visitors, revenue and profit from paid search would require a much larger budget. Especially right out of the gate.

Don’t get us wrong. PPC campaigns are incredibly effective. But they can be expensive to run, especially in competitive industries. They also often cost much more to get started than SEO. We’ve seen instances where an SEO campaign with a $10K per month budget outperforms a paid search budget in the millions per year.


Goal: Beating the Competition

Edge: SEO and PPC

In today’s marketplace if you’re not performing multichannel marketing, you’re not competing. Your competitors are probably doing both SEO and PPC. And if they aren’t, you have an easy opportunity to get ahead.

Here are some of the ways in which SEO and PPC can be used together to improve your marketing efforts:

  • Convert More Traffic: Drive new visitors to your website with SEO. Then remarketing to those visitors with PPC ad campaigns
  • Get Betting Insight: Take the detailed analytics provided by PPC platforms and apply to your SEO strategy
  • Boost Keywording Effectiveness: Use keywords from your PPC ads that generate a high CTR in your SEO title tags, headlines, and meta descriptions to boost CTR for your organic listings

Bottom Line: To succeed in SEM, businesses need to leverage both SEO and PPC in a collaborative marketing strategy.


Conclusion: SEO and Paid Search are Both Great

So, which is better: SEO or PPC?

Neither. They’re both great.

Both SEO and paid search ads can benefit your business and provide amazing ROIs. But ONLY if you know when to use them for maximum effect. Ultimately, which digital marketing channel you choose and when you use it depends on your goals.

There’s a good chance you’re looking at the goals we listed above and thinking to yourself, “But all those are my goals. So if I can only choose one which should I go with?

If you’re unable to do both right away, rank your goals and start implementing the strategy that applies to the one at the top. Then work your way down from there. That said, we recommend taking a cue from that last goal — in order to remain competitive and dominate your industry you need to effectively implement both SEO and PPC. That’s the only way to ensure you profit from all your business goals.

Well, that and a really great support team.

Every team member at Titan Growth is a triple-certified search engine marketing expert. Contact us to learn more about how you can benefit from a partnership with our team, and use SEO and PPC to provide the best return for your goals.