Traditional Marketing: An Investment or a Waste?

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Traditional marketing can only give you an estimate on impressions. Digital and web marketing technologies can take you all the way. Let me give you an example.


Let’s say that you purchased space on a billboard on the freeway. What information did the billboard company give you? Is it accurate? They can fairly accurately give you the amount of cars that drive past that point per month, but what does that tell you?

Of those cars that passed your billboard, can they tell you:

  • How many drivers looked at your ad?
  • How many people were in each of those cars?
  • What stage of purchase each was in?
  • How many visited your website/called you after viewing?
  • How many purchased as a result?

The short answer is “no.” This is the beauty of digital marketing. Let’s discuss the steps in paid search first, and then delve into organic.

Paid Search

Paid search provides fantastic feedback data natively. All three paid search platforms (Google, Yahoo!, and Bing) provide similar data:

  • Exact number of impressions of your ads
  • How many people clicked the ads
  • How many people purchased or converted because of the ad
  • Which keyword triggered the ad

You can tell by the keyword what stage of purchase the customer was in (i.e. when someone types ‘buy HP DV6000t’ vs. when someone types ‘laptop computer’).  You can see exactly what you paid for interested visitors online; with a billboard, you have no idea how much you paid per view, call, or purchase.

Organic Traffic

Any analytics platform worth its salt is going to be able to tell you a lot of stuff. For instance, analytics software can tell:

  • How many visitors came to your site
  • How many of those were unique (hadn’t been there before)
  • Which pages they visited
  • Which keyword they searched on the search engine to arrive at your site
  • What they purchased/How they converted

And all this for free!

Digital Funnel > Traditional Funnel

On your client’s path to purchase, they pass through various steps in the funnel. They pass through seeing your site, clicking through to your site, and conversion through your given metric. Each one of the steps sloughs off a percentage of your potential customer. Let’s see how traditional fares against digital.

How Many ImpressionsYesYes
How Many VisitsNo*Yes
How Many ConversionsNoYes

*Disclaimer: You can still measure the number of calls and visits to a website from traditional marketing, but it’s impossible to know how many came through the billboard.

This is the most simple of funnels, but the data speaks for itself. You know exactly what each customer in your funnel is worth in internet marketing, and you simply have to guess with traditional. Not only are more and more customers moving online, but you have solid data about them when they do.

Don’t misunderstand: Traditional advertising will always have its place, but the data you receive from it will likely always leave you wondering about your ROI. Digital will always be trackable.