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Traditional marketing vs digital marketing: can they work together?

What type of marketing should your business do?

Traditional marketing and digital marketing are often set up as contenders so respective agencies can acquire more business, but is it right?

Because companies only have the capacity to use one type of marketing, it doesn’t make the other irrelevant.

What if both forms of marketing could work together? Here we explore the possibility that businesses can use both types of marketing to be successful.

traditional and digital marketing

Firstly let’s consider the advantages and disadvantages of both:

Traditional marketing advantages:

  1. Reach local audiences with billboard advertisements, newspapers and radio advertisements.
  2. Give your prospects something they want to keep. This could be a template or a guide. It’s all about knowing your target audience and what they value.
  3. Target an older audience with advertisements that are familiar to them, digital marketing can often confuse older people.
  4. Ad space is often limited with traditional marketing, making the overall message easier to recall.
  5. Traditional marketing gives you exposure and is proven to generate leads and customers
  6. It’s different. Traditional fell out of favour with the digital boom happened, if you start traditional marketing now, you’re setting yourself apart from the rest.

Traditional marketing disadvantages:

  1. Traditional marketing is often expensive; TV commercials are dominated by big businesses that can afford it.
  2. It’s static, once you’ve printed 3000 leaflets you’re stuck with them — mistakes are expensive.
  3. Although reach is extensive, you’ll end up advertising to people who don’t want or need your service.
  4. You can only target markets, not specific buyers. If you’re a B2B company, you need to engage with different people at a company.
  5. Traditional advertisements are interruptive and repetitive, which can put people off buying from you.
  6. Traditional advertisements are forced on the consumer — for example, if you're listening to the radio you have no choice but to listen or switch channels.

Digital marketing advantages:

  1. Digital marketing is cost-effective, as you’re able to target specific audiences with paid advertisements and keyword-driven content.
  2. It’s easy to adjust; you can make small text edits, change fonts and website images with the click of a button.
  3. Develop a brand style with an attractive website.
  4. Digital content is shareable, meaning thousands could see your content.
  5. It’s easy to measure; analytics platforms give you access to real-time data that can help you make informed decisions.
  6. Digital media is accessible anywhere, anytime on mobile devices, desktops and tablets.

Digital marketing disadvantages

  1. Digital marketing is dependent on technology, which can be expensive and difficult to use.
  2. You may experience security and privacy issues.
  3. Some prospects may have limited access to the internet, so you need to find another way to connect with them.
  4. It’s easy to copy the competition because strategies and campaigns are easily tweaked.
  5. If your company has a poor reputation, the world will know about it through online reviews.
  6. Best practices are always changing, so you need to update your skills and technology regularly.

marketing audit template

5 Benefits of combining traditional & digital

1. Reach different audiences

The fact of the matter is, some people are more used to traditional advertising, and some are more used to digital advertising. For example, if you’re trying to target 16-25-year-old females with a new perfume, you’d better use Instagram over billboard advertisements.

If you’re targeting the over 60s with mortgage advice, you’d be better suited to radio, television or setting up talks in your local area.

If you know the correct platform to target an audience, you’ve got a better chance of converting them.

2. Blend active and passive

Active marketing (researched blog) requires the prospect to be involved and to engage with whatever marketing collateral you provide, passive marketing (sponsored magazine post) doesn’t require the person to be involved, but they know it’s there.

3. Make better decisions

Companies who are good at analysing businesses will know which types of marketing best suit them and will either adapt or outsource the work.

For example, if you know your audience responds well to TV and Instagram content, but you only have the resources to create TV advertisements, outsource your Instagram work.

4. Cross-pollinate your media

Cross-pollination means promoting one form of media through another, so if someone makes contact via one marketing channel (a TV ad), they may see social media icons at the bottom of the screen and follow you on social media.

For cross-pollination to work you need to measure the metrics of each marketing channel, so for example, a TV advert has a far-extending reach but no conversion point, whereas a social media page can have a call-to-action that leads to a conversion.

Here’s a picture of Topshop’s ‘Wish You Were At Topshop’ campaign poster, where users posted photos of themselves in the shop, got a postcard to take home, and uploaded a photo to Facebook and an online Topshop gallery.

traditional and digital marketing

The campaign was a success, as the company generated a year’s worth of Facebook activity in only four days.

5. Create a unified brand

If you market across traditional and digital channels, you’re creating a unified brand. It isn’t that focusing on one style of marketing will cause a crack in your brand, but you should always try to make your marketing as strong as possible. The more touch points you create, the stronger you’ll be.

5 Ways you can combine traditional & digital

So, now we know what the advantages and disadvantages of both are, how do we create a counterbalance, so both get the required amount of attention? Here are our suggestions:

1. Online & print magazines

Magazines are known for having loyal audiences, they operate in niche subjects, and people always want more information if they’re interested in a topic. Magazines have a premium feel, and people store them as keepsakes, so they haven’t gone out of fashion.

However, most publications realise that a portion of their audience is online, so they repurpose their content on their website or blog.

Traditional magazines will usually post sponsored articles which work great if you’re a local, national or global business.

In digital media, you can guest post on people’s websites, but online publications also create sponsored posts and blog articles.

Asos are a great example of this, they have an online style feed for men and women which is full of fashion tips and tricks. They also have a magazine which has a bigger readership than its online blog.

traditional and digital marketing

2. Television & video advertisements

Similar to print and magazine, television and video advertisements operate on the same medium, so you can utilise two platforms with related content.

It’s no secret that TV advertisements are expensive, but it all depends on the channel you advertise on, how long it’s for, and what time it’s on.

YouTube Advertisements are cheaper, and you can be more targeted with who you want to see them.

Here's an example of a clever ad from Amazon that aired at the Super Bowl, and is now on YouTube.

3. Radio & streaming

You can combine radio and streaming as a traditional and digital combination. Radio can help you target people to and from their way to work, or specific stations have a particular demographic. For example, football fans listen to Talksport who is a partner of The Premier League.

You can partner radio advertisements with streaming advertisements on site like Spotify. If you know of a particular podcast that relates to your business, you could schedule your ad to play after it; however, Spotify does stop advertisements for premium members.

4. Billboards & geotargeted PPC

Billboards have always been a classic staple of advertising, and are still used today. They've always been reserved for big businesses, but you can get space on a static or digital billboard if you’re a small business.

traditional and digital marketing

You can use geotargeted PPC so Google will show adverts based on a specific location i.e. where your billboards are. If the prospect doesn’t see the billboard, they may see the advert on their phone.

5. QR Codes & personalised URLs

Prospects can scan QR codes to find out more about a product, and personalised URLs allow them to find out information by punching it into their device and going to your website.

This means that the person can consume both print and digital media at the same time, and you can harvest some valuable data, like their access location.

traditional and digital marketing

Examples of traditional & digital marketing integration

Apple — Website & Stores

Let’s start with the big boys, Apple. Now, we could use plenty of TV or print advertisements to show Apple’s traditional marketing prowess, but we’re going to focus on something a little different. Their stores. A store is the first touchpoint for someone on the high street, so it has to entice.

Apple’s Shanghai store:

digital and traditional marketing

Even if you don’t like Apple products, this is a fabulous piece of marketing. It’s more of a mural than a store.

Let’s look at Apple’s website. Again, it’s the first touchpoint for prospects, so it needs to have the wow factor.

traditional and digital marketing

Apple’s website is simple. Too much choice confuses people, there’s no carousel with fleeting images. The action statement is clear.

Pumping Marvellous — vehicle livery, web design & social

Global businesses can afford large-scale marketing campaigns, but smaller businesses need to use resources wisely. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get the best of both worlds.

Pumping Marvellous is a UK-based charity who want to raise awareness about heart failure. They do this through the Suck a Lemon Challenge (which was a concept suggested by someone living with heart failure).

What better way is there to raise awareness for a charity than with vehicle livery? Thousands will see the van, and its bold design catches the eye.

traditional and digital marketing

It doesn’t end there though; the company have printable resources to download, as well as social media templates so you can share your lemon-sucking face!

The Suck a Lemon website design is fresh, the colours are bold, and the layout is simple.

We’d like to draw attention to is the social media feed, where people post various images of themselves taking the challenge. You can isolate posts based on the network they’re posted on, or search for specific posts.

traditional and digital marketing

Scroll down further, and you’ll see the Google Map of where the van will be on certain dates, so you know when you can participate in your area.

traditional and digital marketing

Pumping Marvellous is a prime example of how you can use traditional and digital marketing together.

Can you combine traditional and digital?

We aren’t going to mess around here, you need a lot of resources to execute both traditional and digital marketing, but it can be done. You would be better suited to enlisting the help of a marketing agency, although finding one that is experienced in print and digital can be tricky.

marketing audit template

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