How to Integrate Traditional and Digital Marketing: An Optimal Marketing Strategy

traditional and digital marketing

traditional and digital marketingCommon sense tells you that, in today’s society where everybody is online, digital marketing is a great way to promote your business. Yet, don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Traditional marketing still works and by combining traditional and digital marketing into a seamless marketing strategy, you optimize results and are more likely to reach or exceed your goals.

Among the advantages of integration across traditional and digital marketing are:

  • You save money by marketing your business online as digital marketing involves lower-cost than, say, broadcast TV advertising
  • By keeping up with online consumer trends, you future-proof your business. Hence, even if you don’t choose to employ digital marketing strategies, listening to the conversations about your brand and the problems you solve online means you’re on the leading edge of change rather than struggling to keep up with change.
  • Adding digital marketing to your traditional marketing strategies allows you to quickly and easily reach the masses with your emails, social media posts, and online ads.
  • Creating synergies between traditional and digital marketing strategies optimize reach and frequency, key elements in achieving marketing success without the high cost of a traditional only strategy, and avoiding advertising burnout (also termed advertising wear out), reflecting the declining effectiveness of advertising after repeated exposures.

Background on advertising

Let’s start by looking at the advertising landscape. Reach and frequency are the 2 most critical metrics in assessing advertising performance, along with metrics to assess the impact of your messaging.

Reach refers to the number of people within your target market who see your advertising message. Obviously, your goal is to reach 100% of your target market while eliminating exposure to folks who aren’t part of your target market as they represent wasted opportunities. Traditional marketing communication excels at generating high touch, although it often reaches consumers indiscriminately, thus wasting your advertising money reaching folks who don’t want your brand.

Frequency refers to the number of times the average consumer in your target market sees your ad. Despite naive notions of frequency, once is not enough to motivate action because the average consumer isn’t waiting with bated breath to view your promotional material. In fact, they mostly overlook your advertising, and technology made this easier to accomplish with ad blockers and options to subscribe to streaming services for ad-free TV and radio.

Determining the optimal advertising frequency isn’t straightforward, with various sources promoting frequencies of 2-10 times per month as optimal. However, a recent academic study of real responses to advertising frequency shows a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between frequency and consumer response is needed.

In that study, exposures of:

  • 1-2 times generated an initial emotional reaction (ie. liking)
  • 3-10 times generated a more reasoned cognitive response (ie. positive thoughts)
  • 10+ times generated a stronger emotional response
  • The overall recommendation shows that exposures of 10+ generate increased purchase intentions that translate into increased sales.

If you want to read more about how this study was conducted and the results in more depth, look for the October 2018 edition of the Journal of Advertising.

Assessing the frequency of advertising messages is another messy topic, but one for another day.

Integrating traditional and digital marketing

The obvious starting point for integrating traditional and digital marketing strategies involves crafting a cohesive strategy across multiple communication channels to optimize reach and frequency including:

  1. traditional media
    1. TV
    2. radio
    3. print, including magazines and newspapers, as well as flyers
    4. direct, such as mail and phone
    5. sales promotions, including discounts, rebates, as well as promotional items such as hats and t-shirts
  2. digital media
    1. social or SMM (social media marketing), involving earned and owned media properties
    2. digital advertising across search, display and social
    3. SEO, SEM for your website
    4. email marketing
    5. online events
    6. content marketing
    7. affiliate marketing
    8. mobile advertising
    9. influencer marketing

An important element of developing a cross-channel marketing strategy involves crafting a message that resonates with your target audience, then developing implementations of that message that work in various channels, since there are obvious differences in creating messages for TV versus social versus mobile. Using similar tag lines, colors, images, and tone across message implementations are critical. Otherwise, you risk muddling your brand image and, rather than reinforce your message across media, each channel stands alone without providing the benefits of increased frequency needed to motivate action.

So, let’s take a look at some strategies for integration across traditional and digital marketing

Integrate direct mail with your website and social marketing

People still enjoy receiving letters and promotional leaflets through the mail. They welcome hand-written invitations to business events and thank you notes for purchases. Sending these hand-written missives increases loyalty and raises attitudes toward the brand. It also generates positive word-of-mouth. So, consider direct mail as an added tool for promoting your business.

Integrate your direct mail with your website by including the relevant text that share a message across platforms and link your direct mail with your website using easy-to-follow links via a QR code so recipients can scan the code with their smartphone. This removes the temptation to wait until the next time you log into your computer to enter the company’s URL, which seriously lowers response.

Integrating your direct mail with your website works especially well if there is an incentive for recipients to visit your website, such as a special discount on the landing page.

The same strategy works for building your community across social platforms.

Follow up online forms with phone calls

Many business owners encourage their customers to fill out online surveys when trying to find out more about them. This is useful, as you are able to tailor your product or service to groups and individuals after learning more about them. Feeding this information into your email marketing programs provides opportunities to customize messaging, resulting in higher performance.

However, rather than feeding back to the customer through social media or email alone, get your sales or customer service team to call them instead. They then have the opportunity to thank the customer for filling out the form and can talk to them in more detail about what they shared in their surveys. This is especially important if the respondent indicated some degree of dissatisfaction or a problem using your product.

After all, we know that only a small percentage of dissatisfied customers actually reach out to complain about your product or the service received. Yet, these failures translate into lost business. By being proactive with phone calls to dissatisfied customers rather than using an impersonal email, you can save the relationship and generate future sales.

Of course, while this chat is useful for gaining more info and building relationships, a call offers an opportunity to make an offer for a new sale.

Advertise local events online

Event marketing is still very useful. By holding a fundraiser, product launch, training session, or some other kind of event, you get to meet potential customers face to face. These meetings help build relationships, gain trust, and deliver a sales pitch in a less promotional way.

To advertise your event, you could send a direct or email invitation. However, as you have a website, social media pages, and online ads at your disposal, you should also take advantage of these as vehicles for sharing your invitation.

And after the event, you might want to reach out to participants on Facebook or Twitter and add new names to your email marketing database. Thank them for coming, and encourage them to send pictures and positive posts about your event online.

In fact, consider renting a picture device for the event that shares pictures of attendees to their social media platforms using your event hashtag. Attendees love these photo booths and will stand in line to have their picture taken.

Offer customer service online

Integrating your physical store with your online presence offers many advantages, not the least of which is lower cost and faster response. When a problem happens, as it inevitably will, the faster you address the problem, the better the outcome.

More and more businesses offer online support through chatbots powered by AI (artificial intelligence( and ML (machine learning). These bots, housed on your website and social platforms, offer solutions, answer questions, and provide needed information 24/7 without ever taking a day off so you always have sufficient “personnel” to address issues with customers and prospects.


We only gave you a few examples here – you are bound to find other ways to integrate across traditional and digital marketing – so think about your business and ways you can integrate across channels. By using both, you extend your reach, and hopefully, gain more customers to your business.

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Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.