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Traditional vs Digital – Where’s your money?

The age old marketing question is how to split that valuable marketing spend. The equation changes with every technological advance and every year the percentage shifts more in digital’s favour but both still have plenty to offer.

Many brands, especially bigger well-established ones, still have no option but to plough thousands of pounds into traditional channels, but for SMEs digital offers a source of new leads and sales without much of the cost and risk of traditional marketing. Whether you are new or well established, digital marketing can offer great rewards, but you need to assess all the factors involved carefully, we run through some of the rivals pros and cons:

What is digital marketing? As the name suggests it's the combined name for marketing on tne internet, phones, apps and more, including:

  1. Email
  2. Blogging or content marketing
  3. Social media
  4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  5. Paid search (PPC)

And traditional, offline marketing usually includes:
  1. Tradeshows
  2. Direct mail
  3. TV
  4. Radio ads
  5. Print advertising

4 key benefits of traditional marketing:
  1. Older demographic
    As you would imagine traditional marketing hits a older, sometimes wealthier demographic. The access to this older market is well tested and fairly reliable too.

  2. Proven success rates
    Although the numbers responding to print ads drop year on year, TV and radio offer fairly reliable response rates. Some tradeshows are even growing visitor numbers and ROI.

  3. Work locally
    Local papers, radio and TV are great to target small geographical areas in a way that is hard for digital to replicate.
  4. Reach across audiences
    If you are looking for a wide reach across different demographics with a simple message, traditional could be for you. For example, TV, radio and billboards can reach a range of demographic sectors across a geographical area.

And 4 key disadvantages:
  1. Difficult to measure success
    It’s often all or nothing with traditional, you know about the successful sale but can’t really measure any other interaction. It doesn’t offer an opportunity to build valuable data on potential customers and often response rates are not very clear or confused.

  2. Hard to update or customise
    Once you have produced your billboard then that’s your message! You can’t produce tailored offers or update campaigns to reflect stock levels.

  3. Higher costs
    While this isn’t always the case, traditional marketing usually comes with higher price, certainly production and minimum level costs will nearly always be higher.

  4. No interaction
    Your messaging with traditional is all one way, you can broadcast or send information but it’s almost impossible to collect relies and data from potential customers so you can’t respond to their queries or questions.

4 key benefits of digital marketing:
  1. It’s affordable
    Usually you can start a campaign with very low minimum costs, and control your daily spending to fit you budget. Many forms of digital only charge for results, traffic or engagement too, so you only paid for what you get. 

  2. Easy to measure
    Most platform come with a full range of analytic tools and reports, and these get better every year. You can see what’s working and what’s not, and track sales from the initial view right through to a final conversion and payment. 

  3. Engagement and personalisation
    Digital offer a communication process, so you can learn, and understand what your customers want and personalise offers to different sectors to increase sales.

  4. Reach
    Some platforms and opportunity offer an enormous reach. Digital marketing can in theory reach across the entire globe, or at least everyone with an internet connection!

And 4 key disadvantages:
  1. Technology
    Digital depends on technology for delivery and sometimes technology breaks. Platforms can go down and unexpected problems with delivery can destroy a time sensistive campaign. Security is also a major consideration, often you will be relying on a platforms security to protect your and your customer’s data.

  2. Time
    Digital marketing strain your time management skills, it’s easy to find yourself spending fair too long scheduling and managing ads whose response doesn’t justify the hours you are putting into them.

  3. Negative feedback
    Using digital opens you up to feedback. Great when it’s positive, but sometimes it’s not! You need to learn how to deal with negative feedback and have a plan in place.

  4. Interesting content
    Digital consumers are more and more sophisticated so simple sales messages that may have delivered great results using traditional channels might just be ignored. You will have to attract attention using relevant and valuable content, which often takes more time and thought to put together.

So, as an SME you need to consider who exactly it is you're trying to reach, and which avenues best suit them. It's also worth thinking about your skill set and time allowances: for example Google Adverts might be ideal for you, but if you've got no technical skills it can be very complicated or expensive to do, even through an agency. See these 4 marketing hacks for SME's.

Also when thinking about digital marketing, consider the latest ideas around. At the moment there is plenty of hype surrounding content marketing, which is considered one of the best ways to market your business online. See the what, how and why's of content marketing.

If you’re still not sure where to spend your money, simply attend The Northern Business Expo on 17th/18th March at Manchester Central. It’s the biggest business event in the North and includes digital marketing masterclasses, Google Digital Garage, traditional marketing experts, personalised expert advice appointments, and a hall full of suppliers to help you make your marketing work for you. Get your free ticket online now!

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