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Traditional versus digital marketing

Video and text explaining the differences between traditional and digital marketing.

Watch this short video from industry expert Harry Sanders on how marketing has evolved over the past few decades.

Harry founded the search engine optimisation company StudioHawk in Melbourne when he was only seventeen. He started by first picking up freelance SEO work for other companies, gaining trust with some big name players. Now, StudioHawk boasts more than 300 clients, including fitness brand New Balance. StudioHawk received the Australian Business Award for Marketing Innovation in 2019, and SEMrush’s Agency of the Year award in the same year. [1]

To understand how marketing has evolved over the few decades of rising technology, we need to understand its origins. Let’s take a quick look at the differences between traditional and digital marketing to make sure you understand these terms correctly before moving on to market and customer segmentation.

Traditional marketing

Traditional marketing is any type of marketing activity that isn’t online.

Traditional marketing includes phone, print, broadcast (radio and television), and outdoor advertising (billboards).

Traditional marketing is often part of a broader integrated campaign that includes digital touchpoints to measure advertising campaign effectiveness. For example:

  • You see an ad on TV that guides you to a website. You type in the URL and leave your name. Then, you are targeted with ads and receive emails for the same campaign.
  • You see a competition ad with a QR code. When you scan the QR code, you’re directed to a dedicated landing page where you interact with a brand video and fill out the competition entry form.

Digital marketing

Digital marketing is any type of marketing activity that is delivered through a digital channel.

Digital marketing channels include social media, search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimisation (SEO), email marketing, and website marketing.

Because digital marketing usually happens in real time, you’re able to constantly analyse the strategy, content, and campaigns. By doing this, you can see what’s working and what isn’t and make changes quickly to get on the right track.

When to use traditional or digital marketing

Be clear about what you are trying to achieve. Traditional marketing is still very common in business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing, where brand awareness is very important. It’s also very costly. You’ll probably need to track the effectiveness and return on investment (ROI) of your campaign, which is difficult to do with traditional marketing. You may want to run integrated campaigns that enable you to measure website traffic or landing page views, social media engagement, form-fills, and so on.


  1. 30 Under 30 – Asia – Media, Marketing & Advertising: Harry Sanders. Forbes. 2021. Available from:
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Fundamentals of Digital Marketing

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