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Digital and Traditional Marketing

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Benefits of digital marketing

Since the dawn of the internet, marketers have been comparing the effectiveness of traditional versus digital media all the time. It's what they do. Traditional channels really are the older forms of media, like TV, and radio, and print, you know the kind. And then digital is obviously digital marketing methods that use things like the internet, mobile phones, and other digital formats.

Consider some of the benefits of digital marketing:

  • Consumers spend more time online than ever before: In fact, it has surpassed TV as the preferred media choice for many consumer segments. And you can't actually reach some segments without advertising online. I don't have a TV. You can't effectively market to me unless you do it online.
  • Production costs tend to be a lot lower: This includes content and communication prices, and so on. It's much easier to produce the ads and things you need to advertise.
  • Digital marketing is more flexible: You can modify the strategy mid-campaign to reflect new insights garnered from the performance, and make those changes to spot new opportunities and move your campaign towards getting the best possible outcome.
  • It’s highly trackable: You can track it from initial interaction, all the way to purchase, or lead submission, or whatever. So, defining things like a precise ROI in digital is highly achievable compared to non-digital channels.

Those are important distinctions, and we must keep them in mind when justifying our position.

Benefits of traditional marketing

That's not to say that there's no need for traditional channels. It's actually important that they work together, because as part of your media mix, we will include traditional channels.

Consider some of the benefits of traditional marketing:

  • High impact: If you run an ad in the Super Bowl, it's a high-impact ad that will work out to a large range of consumers.
  • Creative: It can provide is creativity. Some of the most creative ad formats have been in print, or still, you know, images, or radio ads, or TV. It's a highly creative format.
  • Branding: A strong presence in high-consumer areas enables companies to get maximum brand impact.
  • Prestige: There's also that prestige element of traditional marketing. So, doing a big TV ad, a big outdoor conversion, something like that, it comes with a certain amount of prestige that is really noticed by consumers, and probably the board of directors.
  • Emotional connection: There's also an emotional connectivity with the consumer.

You really can connect your brand with the consumer using traditional marketing. And there's numerous examples of times when using both digital and traditional channels together. And a multi-channel media plan really leads to positive and excellent results.

Pre- and post-campaign periods

While it's straightforward enough to measure the impact of digital channels on conversions, on sales or engagement, the challenge is actually to measure the effectiveness of traditional channels on campaign activity.

One way of doing this is to use things like baseline changes in performance of your digital channels, pre and post campaign. So what does normal look like? And if things go up, you can attribute this to the influence of the traditional channels.

Another key driver of this is: did your brand search increase? Traditional media can drive awareness of your brand, and now people are actually looking for you. This is a great indicator of traditional media performance, and will translate into positive, bottom-line benefits for your company or your business.

Optimizing campaign performance

We must use traditional and digital channels together in a consistent way. So, aligning the online look and feel of a campaign messaging – its colors and so on – drives higher performance. Alignment across your channels increases audience recall, and your campaign becomes more recognizable for people who see it across all the different channels, whether it's online or offline. They will recognize it through the consistency.

Comparing traditional and digital

Let's compare traditional and media formats and how they're consumed by the audience.

How media is consumed

So firstly, we have mass versus individual. When people are watching TV or listening to the radio, it can be more of a group experience. The medium is consumed in a group situation. So, when you're watching TV with the family, or listening to the radio in the car and different things like that, you're all receiving the same message. You're all hearing the same things, and everybody is exposed to the same stimuli. It's a group experience where all the eyes and ears are receiving that single, focused message, so it has to be adaptable to everyone.

However, if we look at social media, email, and apps for example, the medium is the same, and they're used the same by different people, but the content can be customized for the individual. Most people use the same social channels, the same email platforms, and common apps, just to engage with content or whatever exactly it is they're doing.

But thanks to technology, we're able to understand who that person is, and we can adapt our messaging to what consumers actually want to see, and deliver them a personalized variation of the content based on their preferences. It's far more impactful for them, and that is an individual experience.

Level of investment

Consider the difference between and active and a passive audience.

Passive audiences consume things like TV and radio, sometimes without any direct engagement with the channel. They're not really interacting with it. And then when the ads come on, they might not even be paying attention. So, it's much more of a passive kind of experience. It's more of a one-way communication stream, in reality, and therefore, it's less impactful.

On the other hand, we have active media. This is a form of media where consumers can engage with it. With active media, it really tends to be digital, like Facebook, or Google, and different channels like that. Because content on digital platforms has been developed to be highly engaging, consumers can share, comment, like, tweet, pin, do whatever it is, but they're doing something with that content. It's a two-way form of communication, where the consumer can react, and essentially, they can talk back.

Development of the message

Now, another characteristic is the concept of one-to-one versus one-to-many communications. As digital marketers, we can create multiple variations of the same message. This means we can tailor our message to different people, and engage them more effectively. By doing this, brands can also aim to individualize, to personalize, and become more relevant to the consumer, because it's about them, and that's what technology can deliver for us.

The strategy for acquiring an audience

And finally, we've got the concept of inbound/outbound, a key differentiator between traditional and online media. Outbound is, "I'm the brand and I push my message out on TV, radio, or print, or whatever." And inbound is, "I'm a digital brand and people are coming to seek out my content on social media, subscribe to my email, because they want to hear from me, or search for me online. In essence, they are coming to us."

So the inbound/outbound split is a great differentiator between our traditional and our digital channels as we can see the differences unfold.

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Cathal Melinn

Cathal Melinn is a well-known digital marketing director, commercial analyst, and ecommerce specialist with over 15 years’ experience.

Cathal is a respected international conference speaker, course lecturer, and digital trainer. He specialises in driving complete understanding from students across a number of digital marketing disciplines including: paid and organic search (PPC and SEO), analytics, strategy and planning, social media, reporting, and optimisition.  Cathal works with digital professionals in over 80 countries and teaches at all levels of experience from beginner to advanced.

Alongside his training and course work, Cathal runs his own digital marketing agency and is considered an analytics and revenue generating guru - at enterprise level. He has extensive local and international experience working with top B2B and B2C brands across multiple industries.

Over his career, Cathal has worked client-Side, in digital marketing agencies and media owners with brands including HSBC, Amazon, Apple, Red Bull, Dell, Vodafone, Compare the Market, Aer Lingus, and Expedia.

He can be reached on LinkedIn here.

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

DMI Short Course: GDPR

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You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library

You will not be assessed on this content in your final exam.


    Digital Channels
    Cathal Melinn
    Skills Expert

    This module opens with a comprehensive overview of channel planning including the challenges this presents to marketers. It covers inbound and outbound strategies, cross media planning, the digital channel mix, and mobile marketing. Next, the module dives deeper into key topics related to each of the channels, covering social media marketing and content marketing strategy, search engine marketing, SEO, conversion rate optimization, and paid search, email and affiliate marketing, and display and video advertising, including ad formats and creative.