Combining Traditional and Digital Marketing Strategies

digital marketing

With the rise of online shopping, more and more businesses focus their marketing efforts exclusively on the online marketplace or, at a minimum, downplay the impact of traditional retail. In theory, this focus makes sense as it increases reach dramatically at a much lower cost than investing in brick and mortar. Digital marketing also makes sense as they allow businesses to save money and resources, as it is much cheaper to run a digital than a traditional marketing campaign. Plus, nearly 60% of the world’s population uses the internet with most of these accessing through a mobile device (although not exclusively via mobile) reflecting an enormous potential to reach consumers anywhere. However, an exclusive focus on digital marketing and e-commerce might damage your business performance in the long run. Instead, combining traditional and digital marketing might optimize your performance.

digital marketing

Note in the image above, traditional marketing still accounts for a lot of marketing spend, although the transition toward digital marketing grows every year. But, marketing isn’t an either/ or proposition. Combining traditional and digital marketing can hugely increase your upcoming marketing campaign’s success, help you increase brand awareness, expand your customer base, and boost sales. However, to fully benefit from this potential success, you first need to understand which traditional marketing methods to utilize.

What is the difference between digital and traditional marketing?

Before outlining how combining traditional and digital marketing benefits your brand, it is first necessary to explain the exact difference between these two media options. Some marketers think that the main difference between digital and traditional marketing is the communication channel used to share a marketing message. In fact, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Here are the vast differences between digital and traditional media.

Looking just at communication channels, traditional marketing uses traditional media to express the marketing message, and this includes magazines, newspapers, and billboards. At the same time, digital marketing encompasses any marketing practices that utilize digital channels. This includes websites, social media, digital advertising, and search engine marketing.

Combining digital and traditional marketing 

In recent years, a trend for businesses to focus exclusively on digital marketing practices emerged. While this focus might make sense in theory, as consumers spend an increasing amount of time online, it usually does not pay off as predicted. One example that demonstrates this comes from Pepsi. In 2012 Pepsi launched their Refresh campaign, which involved switching all marketing efforts online. Not only did this not offer the expected return, Pepsi actually ended up losing money from its choice to exclusively use digital marketing efforts.

While Pepsi’s decision to market exclusively online was understandable, time proved that it was completely misguided. The decision was so misguided because their digital-only strategy limited the ability for the business to gain from the benefits of traditional marketing.

Both digital and traditional marketing offers a series of distinct benefits. For example, some of the benefits of using digital marketing strategies include:

  • Global marketing reach
  • Affordability
  • Adaptability
  • Access to data
  • Targeted communication

Whereas, some of the advantages of using traditional marketing methods include:

  • Accessibility
  • Proven effectiveness
  • Localization
  • Large potential audience

In addition, some consumers prefer communication via one channel or the other. For instance, Gen Z doesn’t watch traditional TV and gets their news from social media, while older generations still prefer broadcast and cable TV to YouTube and some even subscribe to a physical newspaper and magazines.

Combining traditional and digital marketing tactics and strategies offers your brands a huge advantage, as you benefit from the distinct advantages each method offers. It is sometimes difficult for small businesses to utilize both digital and traditional marketing strategies, as the combination is often very costly. However, there are ways to effectively combine the strategies without breaking the bank. Understanding the right tactics to use enables even small businesses to benefit from using a combined marketing strategy.

Which traditional methods should you use?

When it comes to utilizing the advantages of a combined strategy, it’s helpful to focus on the best traditional marketing methods you should use to supplement your ongoing digital marketing practices.

The list below outlines some of the most effective traditional marketing strategies you should include in your upcoming marketing campaign.

1. Promotional merchandise

Promotional merchandise like custom trucker hats, t-shirts, or water bottles is hugely beneficial for brands. Studies found that 66% of people who receive a promotional product recall the brand that supplied the product 12 months later. Furthermore, 87% of people who receive a promotional item keep it for longer than one year. Not only that but wearables or other items consumed in public share the brand with others, acting as a tacit endorsement of the brand.

Supplying relevant consumers with promotional products is a great way to expand your customer base and build long-lasting relationships directly. Consider handing out promotional items at trade fairs and local venues, such as a farmer’s market to reach your target market. You can even ask for personal information in exchange to build your subscriber list. This type of advertising is organic and has a much greater impact than paid advertisements.

2. Outdoor advertising

Outdoor advertising is a form of traditional marketing that is specifically designed to target customers in certain locations. Billboards are a classic example of outdoor marketing, as is the KitKat bench, or bus bench. Transit advertising also represents a form of outdoor advertising.

If you operate within a local area or have a physical storefront, you should consider outdoor advertising. This helps expand your brand awareness in the local area, which is hugely valuable. It also caters to preferences within a local area, such as Spanish language advertising in communities with a high LatinX population or using Asian actors in communities with that demographic. Deeper understandings of a local population enhance the performance of targeted outdoor ads.

When you are deciding on specific outdoor marketing tactics, consider idiosyncratic culture within your local market, as mentioned above. Next, aim to embody your brand image in the most appropriate, creative, and eye-catching way possible since you have limited time to capture the attention with outdoor advertising.

3. Build relationships with the local community

You should look to build relationships with the local community to make your business an integral part of that community. This helps you to build even stronger relationships with the community at large, which can prove invaluable, as this is usually a loyal and constant customer base.

When it comes to building more meaningful relationships with the local community, you might employ many tactics. First, you may choose to sponsor a local event or a charity, which affects consumer attitudes about your brand and builds affinity toward them.

You might take advantage of local events by offering free samples, offering promotional items, holding raffles for merchandise, distributing sales literature, or even simply moving among the crowd wearing branded items and offering assistance or information to any in need. Alternatively, you could look to partner with other local businesses to expand your customer base.

Demonstrating your value to the local community and prioritizing local patronage is invaluable for small businesses. While digital marketing efforts might not always be reliable or offer the expected returns, long-lasting relationships with the local community are a consistent source of new business.


I hope this helps you discover ways to incorporate traditional marketing into your overall marketing campaigns. While expensive traditional tactics, such as TV advertising might strain the budget for a small business, other traditional tactics come with an affordable price tag and produce a good return.

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