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The Difference Between Traditional Marketing and Digital Marketing

The distinction between traditional marketing and digital marketing is connected to the evolution of communication methods.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

The distinction between traditional marketing and digital marketing is connected to the evolution of communication methods.

Regarding digital marketing, the target audience is wider, on a global scale, and can be specific. Cost is relatively low and even a small budget can reach thousands of people. Results are measurable and there's more chance of content going viral. Communication can be two-way, so there's more chance of customer engagement and timely response, but it's hard to control. The level of trustworthiness varies according to the content and the channel. Some people may not trust online transactions or online advertisements. Regarding traditional marketing, it is excellent for reaching a local population and you can specify the target audience. Older people who lack trust in the digital environment may prefer traditional methods. You need a decent budget, it is not measurable and there's less chance e of content going viral. Communication is one-way and can be controlled. Traditional methods still retain a high level of trustworthiness. Expand this image

Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing is based on promotional advertisements through:

  • Newspapers and magazines
  • TV
  • Radio
  • Business cards
  • Flyers and handouts

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing involves the advertisement of products and services via:

  • Websites
  • Social media (such as Twitter, Instagram)
  • Online videos

As new technologies are developed, new forms of digital marketing emerge. Businesses need to carefully consider which marketing communication techniques will suit their target audience and business objectives.

Digital Marketing or Traditional Marketing?

Digital marketing is not a solution for all businesses. The question should not be ‘digital marketing or traditional marketing?’, it should be on where the money should be spent within digital or traditional marketing, what to prioritise and how to integrate it.

Your task

The above image highlights the distinction between digital marketing and traditional marketing. Do you agree with the comparison?
  • What other distinctions can you identify?
  • Do you think digital marketing has significant advantages over traditional marketing? Why?
  • When prioritising digital marketing or traditional marketing, what key differentiation will have the most impact on your decision?


Yasmin, A., Tasneem, S., & Fatema, K. (2015). Effectiveness of digital marketing in the challenging age: An empirical study. International Journal of Management Science and Business Administration, 1(5), 69–80. Web link

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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