10 Advantages of Online Marketing Vs. Traditional Media

(You're currently reading the previous version published in November 2009. To read the 2013 version, click here.)

A lot of small business people that I speak with are very curious about online or digital marketing, but don’t understand how it can directly increase their business. Many of them are seeing less return from their advertisements in traditional media like The Yellow Pages, newspapers and direct mailing campaigns, and are looking to explore new ways of expanding their market share. When the advantages of online marketing are laid out, it is easy to see how it is oftentimes a more cost-effective marketing solution for small businesses. These are some of the many advantages that online marketing offers over traditional media outlets:

  1. Reduced Cost

    The starting cost of online marketing is only a fraction of the thousands of dollars that Yellow Pages, television and radio ads cost. For example, you can get a free listing on Google Local that will be just as effective as a costly online Yellow Pages ad. In addition, while traditional ads may only run for a short time, a search engine optimization campaign can deliver long-term results. You can also save money with online Pay-Per-Click advertising where it is easy to experiment with small ad volumes until you perfect your strategy and then expand your marketing budget when you are assured of a positive sales return.

  2. Everything Is Measurable

    When you place an ad in the newspaper or a magazine, it can be difficult to assess the direct sales impact for your business. With online marketing, everything can be tracked and illustrated in detailed graphs that illustrate traffic growth, leads and sales conversions from your specific search marketing campaigns. Using a free traffic analysis tool like Google Analytics, it is easy to calculate your return on investment (ROI) so you can appreciate the excellent value generated from your online marketing budget. (To see how well your digital marketing programs are performing today, conduct a Digital Marketing Audit.)

  3. Brand Engagement

    In the crowded market, you need to establish and maintain positive brand awareness and client loyalty. Apart from word-of-mouth and leveraging your personal relationships with your established clients, a website is the most important marketing tool a business can have. A regularly updated website with well-written content that maintains people’s interest is essential to showing people exactly how your fast business funding is distinctive - and how you offer the best value to your clients.

  4. Demographic Targeting

    The degree to which an online marketing campaign can target and measure the response from specific demographics and regions is often astonishing to business owners who normally use traditional media. New demographic prediction and online advertising platforms allow you to specifically target the specific consumer demographics most likely to buy your products. In particular, if you want to target young people between the ages of 16-30, you'll need an online marketing strategy to reach them where they spend the bulk of their time: On the Internet and on social media sites.

  5. Real-Time Results

    With online marketing you don’t have to wait weeks to see a significant boost in your business. With a paid search marketing campaign you can experience real-time results that enable you to fine-tune your marketing message to achieve your desired effect. If your marketing strategy isn't working effectively, real-time monitoring tools allow you to easily pin-point exactly where you are going wrong.

  6. Easily Refine Your Strategy

    Using online marketing analytics and tracking tools you can test conversion rates at a fraction of the cost of a traditional media campaign. Online marketing levels the playing field and allows savvy small businesses to compete in competitive niches that previously would only be open to large corporations and their massive marketing budgets. If your marketing strategy is not bringing in the return on investment (ROI) that you desire, you can work to perfect it without having to launch an expensive new campaign as would be required with most traditional media outlets. (Check out Smartt's P.A.C.E. Digital Marketing Roadmap to learn more about refining strategies.)

  7. Long-Term Exposure

    The benefit of an organic search marketing campaign that optimizes a website for specific keywords is that you will achieve a long-term return on your investment. Once your website’s visibility is well-established with search engines, it is easy to do regular low-cost maintenance of your strategy. The early adopters of new online marketing platforms like social media marketing will have a significant head start over their competition.

  8. Product Information

    Today’s savvy consumers want to compare reviews and opinions of friends, trusted bloggers and industry experts before they make a decision. If you can provide quality, linkable information that is what people are looking for, then the next step of converting users into paying clients can be very easy. With social media networks like Facebook and Twitter re-enforcing the value of positive word-of-mouth exposure, trust is more important than ever in the marketing field.

  9. Less Intrusive

    Most savvy consumers dislike intrusive traditional marketing methods like direct mailing, print ads and television advertisements. When someone buys a newspaper or magazine, they want to read interesting articles not be bombarded with irrelevant ads. While mediums like television can still be useful for maintaining awareness of large corporate brands, it is not an effective medium for most small and medium-size businesses. With online marketing, you can target consumers precisely when they are searching for products and services that your business can provide.

  10. Holds Their Attention

    When people read the newspaper or a magazine they may scan over the advertisements beside the article but there is no way to engage their attention. With online marketing you can encourage them to take action, visit your website and read about your products and services which results in vastly increased “stickiness” of your marketing message.

    For more content about digital marketing, visit Smartt Insights.