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Digital vs Traditional Marketing: A Duel at the Dawn of Digital

Let’s get one thing straight: FGX is a digital agency. If you know anything about the work we do, you know where we’re heading with this blog. But, in the spirit of fairness (and proving that we do have a point, fair and square) we’re approaching this “traditional vs. digital” showdown as bias-free as we can be. You’re sharp enough to extrapolate the way forward from the data we’re showing you. You landed up in the right place, after all.

Are you still handing out flyers at the grocery store that you made on your home printer to reach your target audience? Maybe encasing the hapless intern in a garish sandwich board and sending him out onto the street corner to flag down passing motorists?

Or maybe your diary is filled with jaunty slogans you’re CONVINCED would attract interest on a street pole ad? We’re glad you watched Mad Men. Jon Hamm was a delight. We think, though, that it might be time to refresh your strategy somewhat.

Since the golden era of traditional marketing (think the 60’s to the late 80’s) technology has monumentally changed our day-to-day lives. From the way that we move through the world, communicating with our peers, to the way we consume information, to our overall consumer behaviour as a global collective, there have been massive shifts in the way society functions.

Surely, then, marketing should speak to that seismic ideological shift. Upon the advent of monumental technological advancement, the marketers at the vanguard of innovation jumped aboard the digital wave, forming new methods of connecting people to conversions. Traditional marketing is still around, sure, but its digital sibling is growing, changing and converting in new and effective ways alongside the tech that enables it.

We’re here to dive into the differences between these two types of marketing, how both works and their benefits, the major touchpoints they encompass, and, ultimately, how they’re going to help you. Because that’s what you’re here for. You’re the star of this show.

Embracing the Digital Age: Evolution of Advertising

Remember the good ol’ days when the pinnacle of advertising was a catchy jingle on the radio or a full-page spread of an it-girl in a glossy magazine? Or the not-so-good-old days with the problematic sexist undertones in the sponge ads and when we all just decided to make smoking look cool? There have most certainly been highs and lows in the journey advertising has taken, and the dawn of digital speaks to a crescendo in that progress.

First coined in the 1990s, the term ‘Digital Marketing’ sprung to popularity with the arrival of the internet and the development of the Web 1.0 platform. In 1993, the first clickable banner was coded, and the rest is (browser) history. Digital marketing has grown exponentially in tandem with tech, and has, in many ways, become a discipline almost entirely distinct from much of traditional advertising.

But what’s the difference between traditional and digital marketing?

Let’s think of the marketing approaches your brand might want to use as a family. Traditional marketing is your charming grandpa who swears by face-to-face interactions and handshakes.

He’s always got a Wilson’s buttermilk toffee in his pocket, and even though he’s told you the same story a handful of times, you can’t help but listen because you resonate with those core narratives like they’re our childhood painted in words.

Digital marketing, on the other hand, is your young, egregiously trendy cousin who sends memes to the family group chat that nobody can understand and writes a hashtag set like Yeats wrote verse.

They’re both trying to win the attention of the masses, but they have entirely different playbooks. This means they’re getting different audiences and different types of attention at the family braai.


Definitions: Old School vs. High-Tech

Traditional marketing is like the Shakespearean theatre of the marketing world. It iseth Old-Schooleth. It’s all about billboards, print ads, radio jingles, and TV commercials. You’re essentially shouting your message from rooftops and hoping the right people hear it.

It’s like sending letters by carrier pigeons – charmingly nostalgic, and really tangibly trustworthy, but comparatively slow-moving and niche dependent. It’s about established messaging to a loyal audience who pays for what they trust.

Digital marketing, on the flip side, is the boy-band-member-turned-solo-rockstar on an arena tour of the information age. It’s all about turning the volume up on the digital stage with websites, social media, emails, and those impossibly persistent pop-up ads.

It’s like setting up shop on the busiest street in the digital metropolis and beckoning people inside with flashy neon signs. It’s about innovative approaches and bold personalities to stand above the rest of the crowded information highway.

Execution: Analog vs. Pixels

Executing traditional marketing is like choreographing a ballet. You need precision and coordination to make sure your message waltzes its way into your audience’s hearts, and no toes are tripped over while the complex logistics unfold. You place ads strategically, negotiate prime time slots, and do meticulous market research to ensure that your audience is watching the right channel at the right time.

Digital marketing, on the other hand, is more like a DJ set at an underground rave in some warehouse in Central Joburg. You tweak and adjust in real-time, reading the crowd (or in this case, the data analytics) to see what’s making them move, bounce, and throw glowsticks.

If a tweak you make revs up a reaction, you ride that groove and continue to push and pull the melody in direct reaction to the revellers in front of the booth. It’s about real-time analytics algorithms, A/B testing, and the constant buzz of notifications.

Traditional vs Digital marketing touchpoints

A marketing touchpoint refers to any interaction between a customer and your brand across various channels such as your website, social media, emails, ads, or customer service. Think that brief moment of intergalactic connection between E.T. and that kid in the windbreaker when they touch fingertips. It’s magic.

These touchpoints are crucial because they shape how customers perceive your brand, kind of like first impressions at a job interview. Each touchpoint is a chance to deliver consistent messaging, showcase your brand’s value, and build a connection.

Think of touchpoints as the building blocks of your customer’s journey – a solid foundation ensures a smoother ride toward brand loyalty and success. You’re likely to be using a combination of these touchpoints in your marketing strategy to achieve maximum, effective reach.

Traditional Marketing touchpoints:

  1. Television Advertising: Commercials and infomercials aired on TV networks to reach a wide, diverse audience.
  2. Radio Advertising: Ads broadcast over radio stations to target local or national audiences.
  3. Print Advertising: Including newspapers, magazines, brochures, flyers, and posters placed in various strategic locations.
  4. Outdoor Advertising: Billboards, posters, transit ads (buses, trains), and other outdoor placements. We know South Africans love a street pole ad.
  5. Direct Mail: Physical mail sent to a specific audience, often personalized for a more targeted approach. A love letter to your audience, if executed correctly.
  6. Telemarketing: Outbound phone calls to potential customers for sales or lead generation.
  7. Events and Trade Shows: Participating in or hosting events and industry trade shows to showcase products and services.
  8. Sponsorships: Supporting events, sports teams, or organisations to increase brand visibility.
  9. Public Relations (PR): Managing media relationships, press releases, and media coverage to shape public perception.
  10. Word of Mouth: Customers spreading information about products or services through personal recommendations.
  11. Cold Calling: Making unsolicited phone calls to potential customers to generate sales or leads. (Warning: this needs very, very careful execution to do any good for your brand.)
  12. Catalogues: Printed or digital catalogues showcasing products and services.
  13. Yellow Pages: Directory listings in printed or online phone directories.
  14. Branded Merchandise: Distributing promotional items like pens, T-shirts, mugs, etc., with the company logo.
  15. In-Person Sales Presentations: Meeting potential clients face-to-face to pitch products or services.
  16. Product Demonstrations: Showcasing products in stores, at events, or through infomercials.
  17. Point of Sale (POS) Displays: In-store displays and signage to attract attention and promote products.
  18. Loyalty Programs: Rewarding repeat customers with discounts, special offers, or exclusive access.
  19. Coupons and Rebates: Offering discounts or cashback on purchases to encourage sales.
  20. In-Person Networking: Attending industry events, conferences, and meetups to connect with potential customers.
  21. Press Releases: Distributing news about company updates, new products, or achievements to the media.
  22. Magazine/Newspaper Editorials: Securing coverage in articles or features in print media.
  23. Cold Visits/Drop-Ins: Physically visiting potential customers or businesses to pitch products or services.
  24. Product Placement: Integrating products into TV shows, movies, or other media for exposure.
  25. Trade Publications: Advertising in industry-specific magazines or journals.
  26. Direct Response Advertising: Encouraging immediate action through methods like toll-free numbers or website links.
  27. Cooperative Advertising: Partnering with retailers or distributors to share advertising costs.
  28. In-store Displays: Creating attractive displays within retail stores to highlight products.
  29. Bill Inserts: Including advertisements in utility bills or other mailed communications.
  30. Local Sponsorships: Sponsoring local events, teams, or organizations to engage with the community.

Digital Marketing touchpoints

  1. Website: A company’s website is a central hub for information, content, and conversion. It’s where customers learn about your offerings and make purchases.
  2. Social Media: Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others allow you to connect with your audience, share content, and run targeted ads.
  3. Email Marketing: Sending promotional emails, newsletters, and updates to your subscribers can help you nurture leads and maintain customer relationships.
  4. Content Marketing: Creating and sharing valuable content such as blog posts, articles, videos, and infographics to educate and engage your audience.
  5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Optimising your website and content to rank higher in search engine results, increasing organic (non-paid) traffic.
  6. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising: Running paid ads on platforms like Google Ads, Bing Ads, or social media channels to drive targeted traffic to your website.
  7. Display Advertising: Placing visual ads (banners, videos, interactive ads) on various websites and apps that are part of advertising networks.
  8. Affiliate Marketing: Collaborating with affiliates who promote your products/services on their platforms for a commission.
  9. Influencer Marketing: Partnering with influencers who have a significant online following to promote your brand.
  10. Online Public Relations: Engaging with online publications, bloggers, and influencers to create positive coverage and awareness about your brand.
  11. Social Media Marketing (SMM): Creating and sharing content on social media platforms to engage and interact with your audience.
  12. Video Marketing: Creating and sharing videos on platforms like YouTube or social media to showcase products, provide tutorials, or share valuable information.
  13. Podcasting: Hosting a podcast to share industry insights, tips, and discussions related to your products or services.
  14. Mobile Marketing: Optimising your digital marketing efforts for mobile users through mobile-friendly websites, apps, and SMS marketing.
  15. Chatbots and Messaging Apps: Using AI-powered chatbots and messaging apps to provide customer support and engage with users in real time.
  16. Webinars and Online Events: Hosting virtual events, webinars, workshops, or seminars to educate and engage your audience.
  17. Interactive Content: Creating quizzes, polls, contests, and interactive experiences to engage users and collect data.
  18. Remarketing/Retargeting: Displaying targeted ads to users who have previously interacted with your brand but didn’t convert.
  19. E-commerce Platforms: Selling products directly through platforms like Amazon, eBay, or Etsy.
  20. Reviews and Ratings: Encouraging and managing customer reviews and ratings on platforms like Yelp, Google My Business, and industry-specific websites.
  21. User-generated Content (UGC): Encouraging customers to create and share content related to your brand, products, or services.
  22. Analytics and Data Analysis: Monitoring and analysing data from various touchpoints to optimise and improve your digital marketing strategies.

The benefits of traditional marketing vs digital marketing

So now you’re aware of what digital and traditional marketing is and where it lives in your audience’s lives, it’s worth taking a look at how these differing approaches could benefit your strategy. After all, they wouldn’t be so widely used if they didn’t have an effect, right?

Traditional Marketing Benefits

Nostalgia Factor: Who doesn’t love a little throwback? Traditional marketing methods like billboards, print ads, and TV commercials hit the sweet spot of nostalgia, reminding us of simpler times when social media algorithms didn’t dictate our lives. If you can’t vividly recall the voice of the Powerball guy saying, “Tata Ma chance, Tata ma Millions!” we’re really happy for you that your knees don’t do that clicking thing when you stand up.

Tactile Tangibility: Ever held a glossy magazine ad in your hands or received a luxe, well-designed flyer? It almost feels like a gift from a brand to you. Traditional marketing lets you physically interact with marketing materials, holding a real-life promise of an offering that you may be more inclined to trust than ephemeral digital imagery.

Offline Adventures: Online adventures may be all the rage – these VR headsets are EVERYWHERE – but nothing beats the whole “IRL,” stepping out the door thing. Traditional marketing takes you on offline adventures – from direct mail to telemarketing calls to awesome activations. Except for those perfume guys at mall kiosks with the V-neck and fake tan. That’s not so much fun…

Less Screen Time Guilt: Staring at screens all day can make you feel like a digital zombie. Traditional marketing gives your eyes a break and lets you appreciate the art of outdoor billboards without fearing that blue light. Plus, they still work in loadshedding, which means four extra hours of visibility a day.

Community Connection: Hitting up local events and handing out flyers is, for the right business, really endearing and positive sentiment building. Traditional marketing builds personal connections when done right. Be careful who you send out into the world, though. A pushy or unpleasant representative can have entirely the opposite effect. And might land your business in a viral TikTok…

Less Algorithm Drama: You don’t have to be at the mercy of the machinations of alien-like billionaires who start off their bombshell announcements staring listlessly into the camera in an $800 sweater vest, ready to absolutely shatter your 6-month content plan. With offline advertising, there’s no need to tap-dance along an algorithm. Traditional marketing doesn’t require mastering complex algorithms or wondering why your perfectly crafted post only got 10 likes.

Unplugged Engagement: Instead of battling for online attention spans, traditional marketing offers a more intimate engagement. There’s nothing quite like the charm of a radio jingle that you can’t get out of your head, no matter how hard you try. They never leave your consciousness. That’s B-I-Z-A-R-R-E.


The benefits of digital marketing

Instant Gratification: At this point, any sort of messaging that’s not instant feels like it might as well be delivered by carrier pigeon. With digital marketing, you can reach your audience faster than you can say “click-through rate.” Instant gratification is the name of the game, and who doesn’t love getting results at the speed of light? Unless, of course, Meta Business manager decides to hold you up. But that’s pretty much digital’s Bermuda Triangle anyway.

Data Deluge: Dive into the sea of data that digital marketing offers. You’ll know more about your audience than they know about themselves – from their favourite cat memes to the exact second they abandoned their shopping cart. It’s like mind-reading but with cookies and pixels. Don’t worry though, it’s not creepy if they granted permission!

Hyper-Personalization: Ever felt like an ad was speaking directly to your soul? That’s the magic of digital marketing’s hyper-personalisation. It’s like having a marketing genie who knows your every wish and serves up ads tailored just for you. The software is super advanced, so you don’t have to be the one seemingly reading minds. Just plug in your desired objectives and most platforms will create these personalised ads automatically.

Global Party: Digital marketing breaks down geographical barriers in ways that can take your brand international, instantly. You can be the host of a global party from the comfort of your pyjamas, reaching potential customers on every corner of the digital globe without leaving your couch. Nobody needs to see your grubby socks ‘n Crocs combo.

A/B Testing Galore: Crystal balls are old school. If you really want the powers of foresight and predicting the way a campaign is going to go, you need to try A/B testing. Digital marketing lets you experiment with different messages, images, and even button colours to see what makes your audience click (literally).

Targeting Wizardry: Want to show your ads to left-handed dog lovers who enjoy knitting? No problem! (Also – if we may ask – why?) Digital marketing lets you target your audience with the precision of a Verimark knife, with less wasted fruit and veg.

24/7 Never-Ending Output: When you’re advertising in the great online marketplace, there’s no such thing as opening hours! With digital marketing, your brand can welcome visitors all day and night, attracting night owls, early birds, and everyone in between. This is the age of 3 AM doomscrolling impulse purchases, so place your brand n that discovery frontline.

Shareable Shenanigans: Ever seen a viral meme? That’s the marketing equivalent of uncovering the Cullinan diamond. Create something shareable, and watch your brand spread across the digital universe like wildfire. It’s the ultimate in organic reach tool if it’s executed perfectly. Beware, though. If memes are mishandled, they can be deeply and startlingly cringey.

A comparative analysis between traditional and digital marketing

Speed and Efficiency

When it comes to speed and efficiency, digital media is thrashing the competition like Usain Bolt at a primary school athletics say. With digital, you can whip up a campaign faster than your morning coffee gets cold, especially if you know what your audience is into. According to a study by HubSpot, digital campaigns have an average turnaround time that’s 61% faster than traditional methods.

So, by the time your TV ad gets approved, your digital campaign has already conquered the online world. This is imperative if you want to jump on topical conversations or be particularly relevant to the lightning-fast younger generation’s media consumption habits.

Tools and Technologies

Traditional media might have its nostalgic charm, but let’s be real, it’s like bringing a sword to a bazooka fight in terms of versatility and innovation. Digital media gives you an arsenal of tools that are much more affordable and continuously being updated and upgraded to expand your reach.

From social media management platforms to email marketing automation, you can practically run your entire campaign without moving off your ergonomic office chair. You can also track, analyse, and optimise your strategy on the fly. With traditional media, once your campaign has left your hands, it’s inflexible and unchangeable. Imagine trying to edit 3000 flyers after you’ve handed them out?

Audience Engagement

Ever tried engaging with a billboard? And no, we don’t mean adorning it with amusing graffiti of missing teeth and moustaches. Digital media, on the other hand, is rife with possibilities for interaction.

According to the Pew Research Center, 72% of adults in the U.S. use social media. That’s like a huge digital networking event where you can chat, like, share, and slide into your audience’s DMs.

Traditional media is basically a monologue, while digital media is all about having a conversation that could potentially turn into a lifelong friendship. And if it comes down to “long monologue’ or “equal exchange,” which conversation would you rather be having?

Cost and ROI

Though in an ideal world, we’d all get to spend whatever we wanted whenever we wanted, that’s about as likely as an un-frustrating experience at the local Home Affairs. As business owners and marketers alike, budget is one of the most critical considerations in how we create and execute campaigns.

Digital media gives you some serious bang for your buck. According to a report by eMarketer, businesses that embrace digital marketing strategies can achieve 2.8 times better revenue growth expectancy. Meanwhile, traditional methods might require you to sell a kidney to afford that prime-time TV slot. Is a 30-second commercial spot really worth the ice bath?

Reach and Engagement

Comparing traditional to digital in this metric is like comparing a whispered secret to skywriting over a bustling metropolis on a clear day. Traditional media has a limited reach, usually only as far as its immediate visual or broadcasting vicinity. Meanwhile, digital media is practically global, and with metrics for sharing, can live over and over in new spaces, being consistently revitalised by piqued interest.

Plus, you can laser-focus your digital campaign on a specific audience. Ever tried asking your network and TV contact to only show your ad to people who love knitting and skydiving? If yes, please forward us their response. We imagine it was… colourful.


The Future of Your Media

So, where do we go from here, then? In our opinion (and we’ve been doing this for 25 years, so we reckon it’s a pretty valid one), we’d predict that the most effective marketing strategies are going to be hybridised ones. Traditional and digital are like peanut butter and jelly – they’re great on their own, but together, they create something even better.

Imagine using QR codes on print ads that transport readers into a virtual showroom? Or using a TV spot to direct audiences to your innovatively designed website to truly explore what you offer? The innovation at your disposal when you embrace a carefully integrated synergy between digital and traditional marketing is consistently being expanded by new technology. For example, imagine a combination of AI-powered chatbots and virtual influencers, referencing real-world locations in the targeted audience’s cities.

A computer-generated aspirational persona, accessible for providing real-time, engaging product knowledge with an IRL component that speaks directly to an audience member’s familiar associations with home is a sure-fire shove down that sales funnel.

Go digital (and stay home)

So, here’s the deal: if you’re still clinging to traditional media like your childhood teddy bear, it might be time to loosen your grip. You don’t have to let go entirely, but making room for new ways of doing in your strategy will allow you to explore whole new realms of conversion possibilities for your business. We know it can be scary to ditch a familiar path, but we think the digital destination will be infinitely more rewarding. Hell, that’s why we do it.

It’s time for you to choose to embrace digital media with FGX. It’s faster, smarter, and more versatile than anything you could have produced in the 1960s and is innovating alongside technology at a lightning-fast rate. Take a leap of faith and jump on the digital train, because the future of marketing is not just knocking; it’s sending you a push notification.

Schedule a call with us today to see how FGX can hold your hand and walk your enterprise into the future of marketing, one step at a time.