How Digital Marketing and Traditional Marketing Compare

It’s easy to lump the different types of marketing together under one umbrella.

Marketing trends are perpetually growing and changing. But it’s important to know the difference between traditional marketing and digital marketing. Certain marketing types will be more effective for your specific business. And you don’t have time to waste on ineffective marketing strategies.

Let’s talk about the history and differences between traditional and digital marketing.

Digital Marketing

Traditional Marketing

Until the internet gained popularity in the 1990s, the only type of marketing that existed was traditional marketing.

Traditional marketing involves a myriad of media channels including billboards, print media, television, radio, etc.

Historically, traditional marketing is static in nature and offers lower conversion and engagement. ROI, tracking, and targeting are difficult to measure in traditional marketing campaigns as well. This marketing type is also usually more expensive and less effective overall.

Traditional marketing is also often considered a one-way communication tool. Its purpose is to help reach customers offline by casting a wide net to capture their audience.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is done – you guessed it – exclusively on digital platforms: the internet, smartphones, display ads, and other mediums. In the early days of the internet, digital marketing was more static than dynamic, but today there are people running whole businesses from their smartphones and operating multiple digital marketing channels for every brand.

Like with the evolution of most business practices, we learn from experience. Much of the digital marketing scope is a direct response to the shortfalls of traditional marketing offerings.

The dynamism of the digital world has quickly outpaced that of traditional marketing mediums. In short, you can do virtually anything you were doing in a traditional marketing strategy. But you can do it faster, more efficiently, and more effectively with digital marketing tactics.

The effectiveness of digital marketing, however, is predicated on the idea that your audience can be found online. Since before 2020, many businesses have been migrating to online tools and communication media because it saves time and money.

Digital Marketing

The beauty of digital marketing lies in how it challenges the core driving force behind traditional marketing success. With traditional marketing, your business creates campaigns based on creating visibility of your brand for the masses.

But mass marketing also means more competition. With digital marketing, you can even the playing field considerably. A small startup that sells the same type of product as a large enterprise has the same opportunities to reach its target audience.

Digital marketing is also highly cost-effective – by targeting specific audiences, you can increase conversion rates and, ultimately, ROI.

Let’s talk about some of the different ways you can do that by discussing the most popular types of digital marketing.

Most Popular Types of Digital Marketing

There are hundreds of ways to use digital marketing to target your customers and grow your business. Here are some of the most popular types of digital marketing.



Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of creating content that helps position your website and other digital content to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). SEO is helpful in digital marketing efforts because offers you a great way to increase organic (unpaid) traffic.

Increasing SEO includes things like:

  • identifying high-value keywords and using them in website, blog, and other marketing content
  • creating useful content that answers frequently searched questions or informational search terms
  • using helpful internal and external links to make your content more dynamic

Pay Per Click


Pay-per-click is the process by which ads are promoted on search engines, website ad space, and social media. These are the pop-ups and embedded graphics and content that have the words “sponsored” or “advertisement” featured in the margins.

PPC works in much the same way SEO does, but you pay for your results. Each time someone clicks on your ad, it takes them to your website or other specified brand page or content. Your PPC campaigns can also be toggled by location. This is especially helpful if you have a physical business location where you want to drive online and in-person traffic.

Content Marketing

Brand awareness is built through all forms of digital marketing, but content marketing is a central tool in that toolkit.

Content marketing includes leveraging content to help inform your audiences and prospects and increase brand awareness. Content is a broad term – it includes everything from blog articles to white papers, ebooks, podcasts, webpage content, and more.

The goal of your content should first be to provide value to your audience. A blog program, for example, is not likely going to be the sole reason a prospect becomes a customer. But it’s a great way to showcase your industry acumen and to offer free resources for people looking for products and services like yours.

Email Marketing

Email Marketing

Even with the rise of social media, email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach your target audience. Email marketing is a combination of content marketing and promotional marketing. This content is created with the goal of creating conversions. You want to showcase the best aspects of your brand, and you can do that through good email campaigns.

Social Media MarketingSocial Media Marketing

Social media marketing encompasses any marketing effort that is hosted on your business’s social media channels. From Facebook to LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, and more, social media marketing is currently a huge growth market for many businesses.

A good social media marketing campaign program is consistent. This often includes daily posts or scheduled posts that are advertised across your social media channels.

Digital marketing is difficult because each campaign has a short shelf-life. You can’t create one amazing campaign per month and expect your audience or revenue to grow by the thousands. But dynamic strategies using these digital marketing tools can change the visibility of your business in many ways.

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