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Ultimate Battle: Traditional Marketing vs. Digital Marketing

This is the moment we've all been waiting for. In the red corner, traditional marketing: print ads, billboards, TV commercials, and radio spots. And in the blue corner, digital marketing: SEO, Google Ads, social media ads, and email marketing. Who will come out on top?

This slugfest has been brewing for some time. Traditional marketing is on the ropes, and digital marketing is coming out swinging. Toe to toe, these two marketing strategies go head-to-head to determine which one is the better option for small business owners in the United States.

In this article, we'll be pitting traditional marketing channels against digital marketing channels and seeing which one comes out on top. We'll be looking at the advantages and disadvantages of each so that you can make an informed decision about which type of marketing is right for your business.

Ready? Let's get it on!

What is Traditional Marketing?

Traditional marketing is any type of marketing that is not done online. This includes print ads, billboards, TV commercials, and radio spots. Traditional marketing is a way to reach out to potential customers through offline channels.

Common Forms of Traditional Marketing - Agency Jet

The goals of traditional methods are to build brand awareness and create name recognition. Traditional marketers use a variety of strategies to achieve this, such as using celebrity endorsements, creating catchy slogans, and using attractive visuals.

History of Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing techniques have been around for centuries. The first traditional marketing campaigns were probably in the form of street hawkers shouting about their wares.

Civilizations developed traditional marketing to include things like town criers, flyers, posters, and billboards. This type of marketing was very effective in its day because it allowed businesses to reach a large number of people with their message.

Over time, traditional marketing strategies have evolved to become more sophisticated, with the advent of mass media like newspapers, radio, and television. Traditional marketers have always used whatever channels were available to reach their target audiences.

Cost of Types in Traditional Marketing

The cost of traditional marketing can vary greatly depending on the type of campaign you want to run. This can be a significant drawback for small businesses, which often have tight budgets. For example, a TV commercial can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $50,000 or more. And that's just for one ad that will only run for 30 seconds!



Let's look at some traditional marketing costs:

TV Commercials

As we mentioned, a TV commercial can cost a pretty penny. And that's just to produce the ad. You also have to factor in the cost of airtime, which can range from $100,000 to $1,000,000 or more depending on the time slot and station you choose.

TV advertising in 2022 - agency jet

You can also opt for cable TV, which is generally cheaper than broadcast TV. But, you'll still be spending a good chunk of change to produce and air your ad. This traditional marketing method is not very cost-effective for small businesses if you don't have a large budget.

Print (Newspaper & Magazine)

When your business takes out an ad in a print publication like a newspaper or magazine, you'll need to factor in the cost of designing the ad, as well as the cost of purchasing space in the publication. The price you pay will depend on the size and placement of your ad, as well as the circulation of the publication. You can reach local and national news outlets through press releases and distributing them online. 

For magazine ads, you can expect to pay anywhere from $250 to $500,000 or more for placement in a major publication. For newspapers, rates will be lower, but you'll also need to factor in the additional cost of color printing if you want your ad to stand out and the size of its circulation.

•-Magazine-advertising-effectiveness-in-the-U-S-by-position-Statista - Agency Jet

Magazine advertising effectiveness in the United States between January to December 2019, by position


A well-placed ad in a major publication can reach a large number of people and generate a significant amount of interest in your business.


Radio ads are another traditional marketing method that can be quite costly, depending on the station you choose and the time slot you want. For example, in New York, a 30-second ad during morning drive time on a popular station can cost upwards of $1,405.

radio ads - agency jet

While radio ads can be costly, they can also be very effective if you choose the right station and time slot. Radio ads are especially useful for businesses that have a local target market.

Direct Mailers

Direct mailers are one of the traditional channels that involves sending out physical letters, postcards, or flyers to potential customers in your target market. The cost of direct mailers will vary depending on the number you send out, as well as the size and weight of the mailer.

There are typical expenses associated with direct mail as well, such as:

  • Copywriting
  • Mailing list
  • Design
  • Print
  • Postage

To reach 1,000 households, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $1,200 or more.

4-Keys-to-Direct-Mail-Success-Mail-Shark - Agency Jet


While direct mailers can be an effective way to reach potential customers, they are also one of the more expensive traditional marketing methods. Plus, with the rise of digital media, many people don't even bother to open their mail anymore, let alone read through a direct mailer.

Other Traditional Marketing Costs

In addition to the traditional marketing methods we've listed above, there are other ways you can market your business using more traditional means. Like, for example, you could do:

  • Sponsored Events
  • Outdoor Advertising
  • Yellow Pages Ads

Each of these traditional marketing methods comes with its own set of costs that you'll need to factor in when budgeting for your marketing efforts. This is just a small sampling of the traditional marketing methods available to business owners.

Expectations for Traditional Marketing Results

Now that we've gone over some of the forms of marketing in the traditional space and the associated costs, you might be wondering how effective traditional marketing vs digital marketing actually is.

The answer, unfortunately, is that it's difficult to say. This is because traditional marketing can be very expensive, and it can be difficult to measure the results of your efforts.

For example, let's say you invest $1,000 in a newspaper ad campaign. It's hard to know how many people saw your ad and how it affected their decision to do business with you.

Did they see your ad and then come into your store? Or did they see your ad and go to your website? Or maybe they saw your ad and remembered your company the next time they needed your product or service.

It's tough to say for sure.

To compare traditional marketing and digital marketing directly, the most common metric is cost per impression.

what is cost per impression - Agency Jet

 Now let's see what digital marketing is all about.

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing is a broad term that encompasses all of the online marketing efforts used to generate interest in a product or service. This includes everything from Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Google Ads to social media marketing and email marketing.

The great thing about digital marketing methods is that they're very targeted. You can track the results of your efforts and see exactly how many people are interacting with your brand online. This level of transparency is one of the main advantages of digital marketing tactics over traditional marketing methods.

Let's take a look at the history of digital marketing and how it has evolved over the years.

A Brief History of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing efforts have been around for almost as long as the internet itself. In the early days of online marketing, businesses focused on creating websites and optimizing them for search engines. This was known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO).



Here are some fantastic reads on SEO for beginners

  1. What Does SEO Mean and Why Is It Useful?
  2. How Does SEO Work?
  3. Defining Search Engine Optimization Services
  4. What Does SEO Stand For?
  5. Beginner’s Guide to Types of SEO Services


As time went on and more businesses got online, the focus shifted to paid digital advertising. This is where Google Ads comes in. Google Ads is a form of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. PPC is a type of online advertising where businesses pay a fee every time someone clicks on their ad.

In the early 2010s, social media marketing became a popular way for businesses to reach their target audiences. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter were (and still are) a great way to connect with potential customers and create a community around your brand.

Common Forms of Digital Marketing - Agency Jet

Costs of Digital Marketing on Each Channel

Digital marketing is very cost-effective, especially when compared to traditional marketing channels. Let’s break down the costs associated with these digital channels:


The cost of SEO is largely dependent on the competitiveness of your industry. If you’re in a highly competitive industry, it will likely cost more to rank higher on search engine results pages.

However, once you achieve a good ranking, the cost of SEO decreases significantly as you no longer have to pay for ads or other promotions.

On average, small businesses spend $750 to $2000 per month on SEO. For small businesses, this is a relatively low cost when you consider the potential return on investment when done correctly and consistently.

The Best SEO Case Study Youll Find Online - Agency Jet

If you want to see how SEO actually works, check out this blog post. It's a case study about Agency Jet's SEO campaign. Why be this transparent? To show you that it actually works.

Google Ads

Google Ads is a form of paid advertising and works on a pay-per-click (PPC) basis. You can set a daily budget and only pay when someone clicks on your ad. This is also referred to as search engine marketing (SEM) by some.

The average CPC (cost per click) for Google Ads is calculated by dividing the total cost of all clicks by the number of clicks.

For traditional marketing, on the other hand, you would have to spend a lot more money upfront with no guarantee that people will actually see or respond to your ad.

This method of advertising is very effective because you are only paying when people are interested enough in your product or service to click on your ad. You can also monitor your digital ad spend down to the cent with a transparent dashboard rather than guess.

ads stat 2022 - agency jet

Social Media

In social media marketing, you can create a profile for your business on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

You can then use these platforms to interact with potential and current customers through social media posts.

Most social media platforms are free to use if you want to manage them in an organic way. You can also use paid social media advertising on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to reach a larger audience. The cost of ads on social media platforms is generally much lower than the cost of traditional marketing methods like TV or print ads.

Let's look at some specific platform examples:

As you can see, the cost of social media advertising is generally much lower than traditional marketing methods.



Digital platforms like these social media sites are so beneficial not only because they serve a wide swath of Internet users but also because you can make them highly targeted based on preset metrics provided by each platform.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a form of digital marketing that allows you to send marketing messages to potential and current customers.

You can use email marketing campaigns to promote your product or service, build relationships with customers, and generate leads. Email marketing is a very effective way to reach your target audience. In fact, email is one of the most effective digital marketing channels with a return on investment of $36 for every $1 spent.

Email is used by more than three billion people worldwide, and it’s one of the most popular forms of communication. In fact, email is the second most popular form of digital communication, behind only social networking. So,  if you’re not using email campaigns, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to reach your target audience.

Here are some of the top rated email platforms compared.

emailcomparison - agency jet


Advantages of Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing. How Do They Compare?

As a small business owner, you may be wondering whether a traditional marketing or digital marketing strategy is right for you. Here's a comparison of the two to help you make the best decision for your business.

Comparison of Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing

Consumer Interaction Level

First, let's compare it from the perspective of interaction level. Traditional marketing focuses on one-way communication where businesses send messages to consumers with no guarantee that they will actually see or hear the message.

This is in contrast to digital marketing, which is two-way communication. With digital marketing, businesses can interact directly with consumers through things like social media, blogs, and email. This interaction allows businesses to build relationships with consumers and create a more personal experience.


Another important factor to consider is cost. Traditional marketing can be quite expensive, especially if you are advertising on TV or radio.

Digital marketing, on the other hand, is much more affordable. You can reach a large audience with digital marketing for a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing methods. Additionally, you can track your results and see how effective your marketing campaigns are. This is much more difficult to do with traditional marketing methods.

webfx-cpm calculator - agency jet

Want to know what your cost per 1000 impressions is, regardless of your marketing method? WebFX has a calculator for that.

So when it comes down to it, your marketing budget for your small business may price you out of traditional marketing methods from the beginning.

Analyzing Results

As we mentioned before, one of the advantages of digital marketing is that it allows you to track your results and analyze your audience's engagement with your brand. This data can help you make more informed decisions about your digital marketing campaign going forward.

Traditional marketing, on the other hand, makes it difficult to track results. You might be able to measure how many people saw your ad in a magazine, for example, but you won't be able to tell how many of those people were actually interested in your product or service.

Analytics-Home - agency jet

This is Google Analytics. It records every action that happens on your small business website. A print ad isn't going to yield insights like this.

Audience Reach

Let's compare one of the key differences between traditional marketing and digital marketing; audience reach. Traditional marketing methods like TV, print advertisements and radio advertisements can reach a mass audience, but they are not very targeted.

This means that you will be spending money to reach people who may not be interested in your product or service.

Digital marketing, on the other hand, allows you to be very specific about who you want to reach. For example, with Google Ads, you can target people based on their location, age, gender, interests, and more. This ensures that you are only reaching people who are interested in what you have to offer and the possibility of making a sale is much higher.


Finally, let's compare the effectiveness of traditional marketing vs digital marketing. Traditional marketing is becoming less and less effective as consumers are bombarded with ads from businesses of all sizes.

In fact, research has shown that traditional advertising campaigns like TV and radio are becoming less and less effective each year with 50% fewer interactions than digital marketing.

marketers 36% - Agency Jet

Digital marketing, on the other hand, is becoming more and more effective as technology advances. Consumers are now spending more time online than ever before, which provides businesses with more opportunities to reach them.

Impressions Can You Get for Your Buck

In digital marketing, you don't have to spend a lot of money to make a big impact. You can reach a large audience with a small budget just like we mentioned above.

And traditional marketing? Well, you'll need to spend quite a bit more money to make an impression on your target audience.

Not only do you have to spend more money on traditional marketing, but you also have to hope that your target audience sees or hears your message.

With digital marketing, you can be certain that your target audience will see your message as you can track your results.

Digital Marketing — More Pervasive and Prevalent

Digital marketing is more pervasive and prevalent than traditional marketing. It's hard to escape digital marketing as it's everywhere we look, from the ads we see on social media to the emails we get in our inbox.

Digital marketing is also more engaging than traditional marketing, which makes it more effective.

Digital marketing is quickly becoming the most effective way to reach your target audience and promote your product or service.

In the end, the success rate of digital marketing campaigns beats traditional marketing strategies in almost every case. When it comes to a dollar to dollar comparison, it's no longer close.


The traditional marketing vs digital marketing debate is one that has been raging on for years now. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. However, if we're basing it purely on effectiveness, then digital marketing wins hands down.

Digital marketing offers a much wider reach than traditional marketing, is more cost-effective, and can be customized to each individual business' needs. Still, traditional marketing shouldn't be ignored altogether. A well-rounded marketing strategy will make use of both traditional and digital marketing techniques.

So, what's the verdict? Traditional marketing vs digital marketing? If we're basing it on effectiveness alone, then digital marketing is the clear winner. However, both should be used in conjunction to create a well-rounded marketing strategy that will ultimately lead to success.

Traditional marketing, while it may not be as effective as digital marketing, still has its place in the modern business world. There's no need to choose one over the other — both should be used together to create a comprehensive marketing strategy. After all, the goal is to reach as many potential customers as possible and convert them into loyal, paying customers. And, using both traditional and digital marketing techniques will help you do just that.

What Next?

You may be wondering, now that you know that digital marketing can be one of the most effective marketing campaigns for a small business, what do you do next?

You need to contact a digital marketing agency, right?

As you read above, digital marketing is crazy cost-effective for how wide-reaching it is and to that point, digital marketing services are way more affordable than you think.

But if you're serious about hiring a digital marketing firm, you first need to make sure you know where your small business website is at.

How do you do that? With a free and educational assessment of your website. No cost. No sales pitch. No strings attached.

Just helpful and easy-to-understand information. That's what we do at Agency Jet. Click the button below to get yours.

Free website audit button - Agency Jet

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