Traditional Marketing vs Digital Marketing: An Overview

In the 21st century, no matter what business you have, it cannot survive without effective marketing campaigns and efforts. With the emergence of digital marketing and the rise of digital users worldwide, the usage of traditional marketing and digital marketing has since been hotly debated. The differences between traditional marketing and digital marketing have also been scrutinized.

Let’s get into the basics first and get into the definition of these two first. Digital marketing involves the method of advertising your business or service using digital channels while traditional marketing does the same but uses traditional channels.

Traditional channels include newspapers, magazines, billboards, TV commercials, flyers, radio etc. Prior to the discovery of the Internet, traditional advertising was the only type of marketing business owners could resort to. Digital channels include the usage of social media (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok etc), SEO (Search Engine Optimizers), Pay-per-click advertising and email marketing.
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Now to the part, you’re probably most interested in i.e. the cost. In common practices, when comparing traditional advertising versus digital advertising, it has been found that traditional marketing tends to cost more largely due to the materials used.
When pursuing traditional advertising, materials including the printing of flyers and placing ads on TV, billboards, newspapers and radio are employed and these do not come cheap. Even a small column in your local newspaper could come to a staggering amount depending on how you chose to market your product/ service.


On the other hand, digital advertising is less expensive and the costs incurred when you are establishing your business online is significantly lesser. When creating a website online, you only have to pay for the domain name, hosting fees and the cost to design the website. There’s no payment required to promote your business via social media. The materials needed for digital marketing are also less costly. If you ever find yourself technologically challenged, you could also hire an agency to assist you with your digital marketing efforts. Amazingly, hiring an agency is still cheaper than traditional marketing.

Another important aspect of the difference between e-marketing and traditional marketing is the target audience you wish to reach. Traditional marketing channels are more targeted towards local and older audiences who do not engage with digital media and social media as much as their younger counterparts. This can be seen with the older generation still religiously obsessed with their newspapers while their children simply log on to their favourite social media site and obtain the latest news at the tip of their fingers.

Digital marketing channels on the other hand is focused on the younger generation as well as the ability to target more countries globally. While living in Malaysia, you will be able to shop for your favourite products based anywhere in the world thanks to the power of e-marketing creating brand awareness.

Tick-tock! If you are a business owner, you should know that time is of the essence every second. So, if you’re considering traditional marketing, remember that the time taken to prepare the materials for a traditional marketing campaign is longer as there are different efforts to be considered from planning, preparation to execution. Besides the execution, it also takes longer for these traditional methods to yield results. This is due to the difficulty to track the effectiveness of the campaign.

In the case of digital marketing, it takes much less time to create an online campaign. No matter if you’re doing it yourself or hiring a digital marketing agency, in just a few steps, you can create online ads directly for your target audience and have them published on Google, Linked In, Facebook, Instagram etc. Tracking the effectiveness of your online campaign is also easier thanks to multiple online tracking tools. You can use these tools to quickly determine what works and what doesn’t work for your target audience.

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You can say that we live in risky times and we can never be sure on how your content will be perceived by the general public which is why flexibility is an important aspect. Traditional marketing is notoriously not flexible enough for any sudden change you would want to make. For example, once the ads are live on TV, newspapers or billboards, the content cannot be changed anymore if any mistakes are made or if it receives backlash. What’s more, if the method is proven unsuccessful, you cannot get a refund on the money you have spent on the ads.

Digital marketing is more flexible among the two as you could be making changes up to the very last minute or even when your ads have been published online. Found some mistake in the social media copywriting? Simply edit it in an instant or just delete the whole post and repost it! If your PPC campaigns aren’t working well, you can stop the campaigns and seek out new ideas with your social media management company for your ad copies and change your whole online marketing campaign in a jiffy.


Right now, you’re probably wondering, “So, which one works best for my business?”. Well, in the end, instead of pitting digital marketing vs traditional, it all boils down to what you want to achieve with your marketing efforts. A prominent advantage of using a traditional marketing strategy is that it’s more suitable for businesses that focus on building a larger local audience and attracting older customers.

While it may seem like an attractive option, digital and social media marketing comes with its pros and cons as well. A major con is the reliability factors. We as consumers understand the frustration when a website is down or an error that occurs on the digital marketing platforms you use, which affects your marketing efforts online.

Other than that, for digital marketing ads, users can install ad-blockers or choose to skip your social media ads online thus causing your campaign to miss out on a lot of opportunities whereas people can’t avoid your ads on billboards, TVs or newspapers. Traditional marketing techniques have the power of repetition and amplification directly towards your target customers, where when people are repeatedly being shown the same ads via traditional marketing methods including direct mail, they might get influenced and subscribe to your business.

Instead of debating on the differences between digital and traditional marketing, it’s honestly best to combine both traditional and digital marketing efforts as they complement each other. However, if you’re a business just starting with a tight budget, we would recommend you to start with digital marketing campaigns as they are more cost-effective. With a competent marketing team employing the right digital marketing tactics, watch your online presence grow!