Digital Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing: Know before your Competitors Do

A lot is being talked and written about Digital marketing not just in India but globally. Although the dynamic companies (generally big companies with proactive management) have adopted or in the process of adopting it but many more companies (especially in developing countries like India) are still trying to comprehend and are analysing its usefulness.

Digital marketing is the marketing of products or services using digital mediums, mainly using the Internet. Digital marketing also includes use of mobile phones, display advertising, and other digital mediums for promotion of products and services. According to Industry experts ‘digital’ is not just another medium for marketing but a new thought process to market and understand customer behaviour. It is worth mentioning here that often terms like Internet Marketing, Online Marketing too are used as synonyms for Digital Marketing.

Digital marketing methods include Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, Content Marketing, Content Automation, Influencer Marketing, Campaign Marketing, Data Driven Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Email Direct Marketing, Display Advertising, etc. So many methods are not to confuse the businesses or the implementer but to give them precise solution for their unique requirements. Each industry and organization has its unique strengths and challenges so how can one solution fit all. Here comes Digital Marketing which presents businesses with unique solution for their precise organizational needs. Digital marketing solutions are not only much more economical as compared to traditional marketing methods but the impact of  Digital marketing can be measured too. Prudent businesses can economize the spend on Digital marketing by targeting just their target customers (of course understanding the target audience for the businesses is essential for this). The table presented below compares Digital marketing and Traditional marketing in great detail:

Traditional Marketing Digital Marketing
Promotion includes through the following:

·      Print media (ads in newspaper & magazine, pamphlets, newsletters, brochures, catalogs and other print material)

·      Broadcast media (advertisements in Television and radio, etc)

·      Direct mails (includes fliers, mails, post cards, etc)

·      Business cards

·      Billboards/ Hoardings along the roads

·      Telemarketing

Promotion includes through the following:

·      Websites/ blogs

·      Business websites, such as, Linked, etc

·      Social networking websites, such as, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, etc

·      Email marketing

·      Paid per click advertisement

·      Content marketing

·      Banner advertisements

·      Search engine optimization

·      Social media marketing

·      Search engine marketing, etc

Customization of marketing efforts

·      One can choose the medium (a particular magazine or a newspaper, etc) but not the audience who use the particular medium

Customization of marketing efforts

·      One can choose the medium (such as, search engine, facebook, linkedin, twitter, instagram, etc), you can further choose the demographic profile (gender, sex, age, location, etc) of the audience who will be shown your ads. Thus, Digital marketing is much more specific and targeted

Power to Audience

·      Audience in traditional marketing are more or less passive and non interactive

Power to Audience

·      Audience in digital marketing are more active and interactive. They have the option to opt-in or out-out of certain campaigns, like emails, etc

·      Audience have the choice to get the information they like from the medium they prefer. For example, while a person likes to read a blog post, another person likes to watch a YouTube video.


·      The audience can’t interact immediately with the advertisers of traditional platform


·      The audience on digital platforms are interactive, they can review, rate, like, share your article, product information, etc

Cost effective and speed of implementation

·      This method is comparatively more expensive and takes lot of efforts to plan and implement. Many start-ups or medium and small businesses may not be able to afford it

Cost effective and speed of implementation

·      This method is comparatively less expensive and needs less planning and implementation efforts. This is ideal for start-ups or medium and small businesses and gives them level playing field against their bigger and financial sound competitors


·      Traditional marketing works at its own speed and we have no control over it. For example an advertisement in a magazine would be visible only and only when the reader opens that particular page


·      This method is probably more effective because an advertiser can show his advertisement to target audience multiple times and on multiple mediums.

·      There are chances that an article or a blog, etc can go VIRAL, i.e be shared multiple times by multiple people over multiple mediums

Tracking performance

·      It is almost impossible to track the performance of any marketing effort. It is impossible to say how many people saw a particular advertisement on a hoarding or how many people heard a particular jingle on a radio

Tracking performance

·      With different analytic tools (both paid and free) advertiser can easily track the performance of advertising efforts. How many times a particular advertisement was displayed, clicked, which web pages were visited, how much time was spent on a website, etc can easily be tracked and measured

·      All major social media platforms give us an opportunity to understand our audience better through platform specific insights

Responding to the target audience

·      With traditional marketing, businesses are available for the audience only during the working hours

Responding to the target audience

·      Businesses can be available 24×7 all through the year and can handle multiple clients simultaneously through many automated tools available

Management of advertising budget

·      In traditional marketing you first spend and then wait to see the effect. In short you do not have power to change/ modify the budget.

Management of advertising budget

·      In digital marketing you have complete command of advertising spend. One can almost simultaneously track/ measure the performance of marketing. Based on the results of analytics, one can change,  modify stop a campaign. Digital marketing gives more power to the businesses with respect to getting best out of their advertising spend

Return on Investment

·      Businesses have to wait for long periods to see Return on Investment

Return on Investment

·      Return on Investment becomes visible in a very short times

An indicative chart of Traditional marketing spend vs Digital marketing spend for reaching 2000 audience (it is only indicative) is given below:


Evolution of Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing has not developed overnight. It has developed over a period of twenty five years since the first coining of the term “Digital Marketing”. Let us trace the history of development of this exciting field which is beautifully illustrated in the form of diagram developed by SimpliLearn.


Digital Marketing – Indian Scenario

According to a report – Digital Advertising in India – jointly done by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB, the digital advertising spend is about 14 per cent of the total advertising spend in the country. Some highlights from this highly acclaimed report are presented below:

  • The digital advertising spend in India is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33 per cent to touch Rs 9,700 crore by December 2017
  • The digital advertising spend was estimated to be around Rs 7,300 crore by the end of 2016 i.e growth at a rate of 40 per cent over digital advertising spend of 2015
  • In terms of volume, e-commerce leads the digital advertising spends with around Rs 1,361 crore, followed by fast moving consumer goods, consumer durables and banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI)
  • Comparison of various verticals in terms of expenditure on traditional versus digital show that BFSI organisations incurred the highest share on digital advertising spends. Around 40 per cent of their overall advertising spend was on digital followed by e-commerce, telecom and travel verticals
  • In 2016, it is estimated that search ads (close to Rs 2,044 crore) constituted 28 per cent of the overall ad spends followed by video (close to Rs 1,387 crore) which contributes to around 19 per cent; mobile and social media (close to Rs 1,314 crore) each are at around 18 per cent and display ads (close to Rs 1,168 crore) at 16 per cent
  • As per report, expenditure on video ads have shown a significant increase and accounted for 19 per cent of the overall expenditure in digital advertising

As per a report by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and KPMG, India’s digital advertisement market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33.5 per cent to cross the Rs 25,500 crore (US$ 3.8 billion) mark by 2020.

As per a research report titled “Digital Dividend” published by Octane Research published in Jan 2018, 46 percent of Indian Marketers plan to increase more than 10 percent of their Digital Marketing activities in 2018 over their spend in 2017. It is worth mentioning here that not even a single Marketer planned to reduce the Digital Marketing activities.


Going by the above facts and figures presented above, it is safe to conclude that Digital Marketing is not an option but a necessity for all and any organization which are currently involved only in traditional marketing or are planning to start marketing anew. To begin with organizations can use both traditional marketing and digital marketing side by side to assess what suits them most and then decide whether to adopt both digital marketing and traditional marketing to complement each other or to adopt only one form of marketing (either Digital or Traditional).

One can choose to change with the times, take advantage of new opportunities in one’s industry and grow one’s business. Or one can fight the changes, refuse to adapt, and watch one’s business likely perish.

“Change can be frightening, and the temptation is often to resist it. But change almost always provides opportunities – to learn new things, to rethink tired processes, and to improve the way we work.”

  • By Klaus Schwab

Vivek is a seasoned management professional with rich 20 plus years of experience in Corporate and Social sectors. Vivek has worked on projects for prestigious clients, such as, World Bank, UN-World Food Programme, World Vision, USAID, MOST (funded by USAID), JICA, etc.
Vivek’s love and passion for Digital Marketing encourages him to enter this challenging domain and help new start-ups, MSMEs to take advantage of this new emerging field to take their businesses to new heights.