Digital marketing or traditional marketing? Which type of agency is right for your brand?

Apr 3rd, 2024

Traditional marketing has long served as a crucial element of brand outreach, with a vast and impactful capability across a range of offline media. As our world becomes increasingly electronic, traditional marketing methods are facing a formidable challenger in the form of digital marketing. Leveraging online platforms and tools, digital marketing offers unparalleled opportunities for engagement and measurability.

Each method of marketing has its benefits and drawbacks – so when it comes to deciding which type of agency to partner with, how do you make the choice that is best for your brand?

Traditional marketing uses offline media to reach their target audience; this includes newspaper advertising, and other forms of print media such as magazines or leaflets, but also encompasses direct mail, television, and radio.

In contrast, digital marketing promotes products or services to their audience online, using digital communication such as emails, social media, paid advertising, digital PR, and organic search tactics.

Traditional marketing has been allowing businesses to reach audiences and grow in scale for centuries, however as the world becomes increasingly digital, traditional marketing methods have found themselves being gradually replaced by their online equivalents. Despite this, there are still some advantages of using traditional marketing over digital marketing:

Targeting an older audience: If your target audience is primarily over 50, then you are likely to benefit more from traditional marketing methods than those with a younger target audience. The average age of people who still read physical newspapers, like the Daily Mail is approximately 56, and 44% of people living in freeview only households – where streaming TV is either not consumed or unavailable – are over the age of 55.

Focusing a local audience: if you are a local business, or your target audience is primarily located in a certain area, using traditional marketing methods such as posters, local news outlets, and local radio stations gives you a high level of certainty that you are reaching people in your target audience who reside in the area.

Unskippable: whilst digital marketing methods may be the more popular choice people can easily just scroll past, or have the ability to ‘skip’ adverts that are played on streaming services such as YouTube or Netflix. Traditional media such as TV or radio advertisements, are ‘unskippable’ and therefore harder to ignore.

There are, however, valid reasons for the declining popularity of traditional marketing. Investing in traditional media can be more expensive than digital marketing due additional printing and distribution costs, and the cost of advertising on television and radio are significantly higher than that on social media, search engines, or publishing platforms.

For the most part, traditional marketing only allows for one-way communication, and can have little to no interaction or engagement with the target audience; in contrast, with digital media, users can click, interact with, and sometimes even receive personalised marketing assets.

Furthermore, accurate results for traditional marketing are not easily measured and therefore obtaining a reliable ROI for traditional marketing methods can be difficult.

The internet has transformed the way we approach marketing. In our digital-first world, the most popular and successful brands have cultivated a strong online presence to connect with and engage their audience on a more personal level.

Tech-savvy businesses have learnt to adapt traditional marketing methods to the digit-verse; instead of posters we have display advertisements, social media and streaming services are replacing TV and radio advertisements, and news distribution is turning electronic with digital PR.

As an addition to this there are new and innovative methods that have emerged, such as organic search, affiliate marketing, and influencer marketing, further contributing to the significant rise in demand for digital marketing.

There are several reasons brands might prefer to invest their resources in digital marketing, rather traditional marketing.

Demographically varied audience: as mentioned above, while traditional marketing might be beneficial for targeting an older audience, digital marketing can successfully target all audiences – and yes, that includes those in the 50+ category. In 2023, 96% of 50 – 64 year olds regularly used the internet, and that statistic remained at a weighty 88% for those aged 65+.

Reaching global audiences: the name ‘world wide web’ is significant for a reason. Using the internet, brands based in the UK can quickly and easily market their products to audiences reaching as far as Australia and beyond. This has given small, locally owned businesses the opportunity to expand their reach beyond local or regional audiences and grow at a massive scale.

Alternatively, using methods such as local SEO and targeted advertising, brands can ensure that they are only marketing their products to the areas relevant to their business. So a small cafe located in Inverness can be sure that their paid advertising spend isn’t being wasted on views, clicks, or engagements for people browsing the internet in Sydney, or LA.

Targeted Advertising: expanding on the above, targeted advertising cannot only be used for targeting audiences in a specific area, but can also be used to refine a variety of demographics, user interests, online behaviours, search intent, and more! This ability to precisely target specific audiences increases the likelihood of reaching people who are more likely to purchase your product or services, leading to a higher rate of conversions.

Cost-effectiveness: digital marketing often provides a more cost-effective alternative to traditional marketing – with some organic methods, such as social media, having little-to-no costs involved. With less printing costs, wastage, and easier to measure ROI, digital marketing allows businesses to reach a large audience at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing channels.

Increased measurability: unlike traditional marketing methods, digital marketing offers extensive analytics and tracking tools. Marketers can measure the performance of their campaigns in real-time, allowing them to adjust strategies quickly for better results.

Adaptability: Digital marketing campaigns can be easily adjusted and optimised based on real-time data and feedback. Issues such as a spelling mistake found on a paid media ad, or a job title change on a video can be much more easily amended and re-uploaded, without much difficulty compared to the same on a poster, or a TV advertisement. This allows marketers to correct mistakes or changes, and respond quickly to market trends or adjusting consumer behaviour.

Selecting the ideal agency to execute your marketing strategies requires careful consideration of various elements. Below are pivotal factors to consider when evaluating potential agencies to partner with.


You will want to know that the agency you choose to partner with has a proficient level of skill and experience in both your industry, and the digital marketing services you are enquiring about.

If you are looking for a specific marketing method, you may want to consider choosing an agency that places a greater emphasis on that method, rather than one that offers a wide range of services. For example, if you are looking specifically for Paid Media, you might want to partner with a PPC agency, or one that has a strong portfolio of evidence of success for this service. If you are looking to target your audience using a variety of methods, then it is probably best to look at an agency that offers a variety of services.

Look for agencies that can demonstrate their success through a portfolio of previous (or current) successful clients (bonus points if those clients are in your industry), or case studies on their website that showcase outstanding results.

Have a browse of their partnerships, to get an understanding of their network and alliances; this can provide a valuable insight into their standing within the industry and their approach to collaboration and innovation.

Additionally, investigate whether they have been honoured with any awards or recognitions. Winning awards can be indicative of their excellence, and can offer valuable clues about their strengths, achievements, and the level of recognition they’ve received from peers and experts in the industry.

Audience engagement

Audience engagement is an extremely important aspect of a successful marketing strategy, for a number of reasons, including:

  • Increased customer loyalty to your brand
  • Improved customer relationships
  • Nurtures customers into returning, and repeat customers

Consider choosing an agency that has an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the best methods of engaging your target audience. Certain agencies will specialise in specific sectors – for example health & wellness, professional services, or eCommerce; partnering with an agency who have a proven track record for driving success in your industry could be the difference between stagnation and success.

Measurable results

Data-based decision making is crucial to marketing success. Analysis and reporting of data gives you:

  • A better understanding of ROI
  • The ability to A/B test marketing assets
  • Gives you an understanding of the best channels to use for your target audience
  • Cost effective method of understanding where to allocate budgets

Consider an agency that can not only showcase results during the discovery process, but can also provide regular updates on how your brand is performing across channels, and how your strategies will be adapted and improved in the future.

Adaptability & scalability

It’s important to assess the adaptability of the potential agency; consider whether the agency has the ability to swiftly pivot strategies, accommodating the shifting needs and priorities of your business.

Scalability is an equally important factor. When your business inevitably expands (if you choose the right agency to partner with, that is) you’ll want to be sure that the agency has the capacity to scale their services to your growing business needs. This includes assessing the agency’s ability to reach global markets, adapt to diverse industries, and manage increased demand.

Cost effectiveness

When it comes to ensuring that your investment in an agency provides you with the best value for money, look to partner with an agency with a proven track record of delivering high returns on investment (ROI) for their clients.

Consider an agency that leverages data-driven strategies and analytics to optimise campaigns for maximum efficiency.

The choice between digital marketing and traditional marketing agencies is pivotal in determining the growth of your brand, especially in our increasingly digital world. While traditional marketing methods still hold relevance for certain demographics and local targeting, the unparalleled reach, engagement opportunities, measurability, and cost-effectiveness of digital marketing make it a strategic investment for businesses aiming for success.

In our online-first landscape, brands can find considerable success by exclusively using digital marketing methods, however, realistically the same cannot be said for traditional marketing.

By choosing a digital marketing agency, you’re making a strategic investment in the growth and success of your business; and whilst digital marketing can be used in parallel with traditional marketing methods, the distinctive ability of digital marketing agencies to engage diverse audiences, provide measurable results, adapt swiftly to market trends, and offer cost-effective solutions positions your brand for sustained growth and competitiveness in the digital era.

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