Marketing Basics for Beginners: Traditional versus Online Marketing
The internet has so much information about online marketing that it’s hard to know where to begin, especially if you are a newcomer. The field alone has several different names – online marketing, digital marketing, website marketing, inbound marketing, omni-channel marketing.
Many names are actually used incorrectly or are a subset of a specialty fields. Some subcategories overlap into others, making it that much more confusing. Even the seasoned marketer can fall behind in the terminology as marketing influencers create new terms.
With such a complex field, it can be overwhelming, so let’s start by breaking down Marketing into two categories: Traditional Marketing and Online Marketing.
Traditional Marketing | Outbound Marketing | Push Marketing
Before the internet, “traditional” marketing consisted of reaching out to the customer by being in front of them wherever they were:
- Yellow Pages, phone books, directories
- Television, cable, & radio ads
- Direct mail – postcards, flyers, brochures, magazines
- Print media such as newspapers & magazines
- Tradeshows, conferences, Lunch & Learns, and other events
- Promotional items, product samples, giveaways, t-shirts, swag (something-we-all-get)
- Cold calls, sales calls, door-to-door, word-of-mouth and referral marketing
- Billboards, signage, and other out-of-home (OOH) placements (buses, transits, airports, shopping carts, grocery bags, skywriting, banners, blimps, displays, etc.).
The list could be exhaustive, but in a nutshell, wherever there was space in a public area, there was a possibility that space was available for ads. I remember decades ago, some people even sold space on their chests as walking billboards at televised sporting events. This form of advertising – reaching out to the customer would later be coined “outbound marketing.” It was also called “push” marketing as you would be pushing ads out to customers.
One pro to traditional marketing is reaching a large population with your message which would enhance your brand, thus brand or product recall would be strengthened. The cons are there was little direct interaction with your core customer as it is more of a blanket approach. Additionally, it’s more difficult to measure accurately, and the cost could be high for the investment made.
Then, mid-1990s: Enter the internet.
Online Marketing | Inbound Marketing | Pull Marketing
Now with a new method of communicating, customers had the power in their hands to seek solutions to their problems online. They would be drawn inward to a company by the content a company shares online – hence, “inbound marketing” was created.
Before the internet, this strategy was called “pull” marketing as you were trying to pull customers to you. Branding and loyalty programs were part of pull marketing strategies before the internet. Because this inbound method relies heavily on what a company publishes online to draw in customers, strategies for success in this area include content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO). Content marketing is basically a strategy that encompasses all content that your company publishes through social media, blogs and vlogs, white papers, online events/webinars, just to name a few.
A key component of inbound marketing is defining customer personas. This can be very time consuming if you have a large customer base, but even if you choose not to formalize the persona process (read more about creating personas here), you must have a solid understanding of your clients and their motivations to make a decision.
Another component of content marketing is learning about the many stages a customer goes through when considering a product – what is called the buyer’s journey. Someone looking to buy a new car will go through a different journey than someone wanting to purchase some shoes online, so it’s important to know your customers’ needs, habits, decision-making process, and what options are available to them as well as where they are in their journey. Hence, educating the consumer is a critical component of inbound marketing.
Many marketers agree there are five stages in the purchasing funnel:
Some marketers add additional layers to the funnel for more complex decision-making processes. These may include post-purchase layers:
- Repeat purchase
- Brand Loyalty
Marketers have different strategies for customers depending on where they are in their journeys, and it’s important to know what would be receptive to your customers and when.
The pros of online marketing are that you can reach your custom audience and measure results more accurately, which can prove your marketing investment to the higher-ups. The cons are the lack of access by audiences without internet access and lack of awareness that your services/products even exist, especially if you’re in a niche market.
Additionally, you have to continually optimize your organic online presence so it takes a lot of time and work behind-the-scenes. It’s not as simple as saying, “I spent 3 hours creating this blog page, it cost me nothing since it’s organic search, and I gained 30 customers from this, so my ROI is $x.” That is something you can do using analytics, goals, and sales funnels, but do you then consider how much time it took other departments to review, edit, and upload the blog? Making sure you track your time invested as dollars is part of that investment, unless you decide it’s just included with overhead and the cost of doing business.
Overall, a sound strategy for most companies includes a combination of both traditional and online marketing as well as agreed-upon goals and ways to measure success.
For new marketers, it’s important to understand Online Marketing Basics: social media, the difference between SEO and SEM, website design & management, analytics, email marketing, mobile marketing, and everything under the content marketing umbrella.
It’s also a critical step for every business to have some key Digital Assets. Learn more about essential assets by reading my blog post on Digital Assets Every Business Should Have.