Will digital marketing overshadow traditional marketing?

Aanya Khanna
4 min readJul 11, 2020
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

With the way that digital marketing is growing, more companies, marketers and start-ups often wonder whether the marketing industry is shifting towards becoming solely digital? We are seeing that traditional advertising companies are losing their revenues to social-media advertising or digital marketing companies. Furthermore, even many B2B and pharmaceutical companies which predominantly were traditional are now stepping into the field of digital marketing.

But does this mean that traditional has literally no role to play in this era?

Let’s figure this out.

Well, while digital marketing may seem to be the easy thing to do for many start-ups, it is the principles of traditional marketing that are going to allow them to benefit in this age. Let’s think about traditional billboards and home advertising. We can all see that even the traditional billboards are eventually all becoming digital billboards. But here, the important thing to notice is that the concepts of advertising are the same just the buying media has changed.

Nevertheless, whether traditional marketing would replace digital, depends on how the long companies are willing to make use of the traditional channels in the long run. With in-person events and stores being severely limited, digital ads are going to be huge in the coming future. It is because of the internet that digital marketing has become essential for companies as:

•Over 85% of consumers read reviews and feedbacks about a service or product online before making a purchase
•Nearly 60% of consumers use Facebook and Instagram every day
•Near about 94% of the B2B marketers use LinkedIn for online marketing purposes

But one needs to think about the impact of the increasing online clutter on smaller companies and whether they can beat out the rest of the field on such bids?

Wouldn’t traditional marketing have less clutter and therefore a better chance to stand out?

While we are seeing that digital marketing is currently the industry’s big thing, there are literally no companies going prime just by doing digital marketing. It is definitely essential but is not the only option. Traditional marketing still works better than anything else. Many big companies still use traditional channels and especially B2B, pharmaceuticals and technological industries. Exhibitions, live activations, bay signs and magazines are all forms of traditional marketing which are highly used in today’s era.

“Traditional mail has about a 60% open rate which seems like an interesting avenue for companies to take”.

But again, it is interesting to see how near about 25% of the marketers feel that the traditional form of marketing is very costly and around 50% of them think that traditional marketing leaves little or no room for audience engagement.

By keeping this in mind, and the fact that many marketers say that digital gets you better results and enables easy ways to measure attribution, it is interesting to see how many businesses are still mixing traditional channels with digital channels. One cannot deny that with the changing business landscape, companies are placing emphasis on digital more but this does not mean that traditional has zero value left.

Since a sustainable marketing strategy is the one which provides Omni-channel experiences, traditional marketing will be equally important to companies as digital marketing is. It is traditional that teaches marketers to interact with customers using different channels and mediums and permits the formation of a creative strategy.

But this brings a bigger question to my mind i.e, is marketing only limited to communications?

First of all, marketing is not just communications. It is a mix of diagnosis, strategy and tactics. Communications is a small segment in the whole mix, hence, once you really get down to it, you could either go for sophisticated mass marketing or go for the more traditional target, segment & positioning. But either way, the point is that marketing enables a firm to build a brand and attract a new audience, which means that companies will need to use digital to target people who may not immediately convert but might convert in a few years down the line and simultaneously use traditional to activate their brands and slowly build brand familiarity. Thus reflecting, that both the channels are important, but whether one should be given more importance than the other solely depends on the strategy a company is utilising.

Besides, I do believe that digital will significantly overshadow traditional marketing since we are seeing a huge boom in experiential advertising and e-commerce after COVID. But one cannot deny that digital is a growing segment of marketing and traditional’s importance depends on the company’s industry. Many startups including Uber, Airbnb are digital-centric but ultimately there are many industries which severely rely on traditional forms of marketing including Merck and Tata steel. Thus, eventually, it all depends on the kind of company you are looking for and while digital cannot overshadow traditional marketing, it will be interesting to see how quickly does it capture a huge proportion in the industry.



Aanya Khanna

Marketing Manager | Here to share my knowledge and real-life experiences with like-minded people!