Digital Marketing: How Traditional Marketing has Shifted to the Digital Landscape

Helen Levinson
President of Desert Rose Design

Digital marketing has changed the way businesses advertise. While newspaper ads are declining, waves of digital advertisements are increasing at a rapid pace. Much like print, digital media provides businesses a way of advertising their product or service to the consumer. However, digital media also provides another level of advertising that is beyond print; it provides advertisers with the ability to reach consumers in more of a timely, relevant, personal and cost-effective manner. Most importantly, it’s measurable.

As I think back to my first job passing out flyers from door to door for a local drug store on Montrose Avenue in Chicago, it is evident that technology has changed our method of communication. The paper flyers I passed out every day after school were filled with business advertisements, sale promotions, product coupons and new product features. Mind you, I was ten years old at the time and the only thing I thought about was how profitable I could be, making 75 cents per hour, not the sale promotions I was dropping off. Now, 28 years later, as a small business owner, my focus has shifted. I take time to examine the sale and promotional ads in print and digital format. I must admit, I am a “coupon clipper” and always looking for a sale or fantastic deal on a specific product or service. However, in most cases I review these ads to see what my clients’ competitors are doing, how they are marketing themselves and what product or service they are promoting. I then think about what my clients are doing, how they position themselves and how they could be using digital marketing to gain brand visibility to foster relationships with measurable results.

In this sagging economy, small business owners need a different and more cost-effective route of advertising. Digital marketing is the perfect solution for businesses with a smaller budget. Digital marketing provides an opportunity to communicate one message across several different digital channels. Even more impressive is the way digital marketing has provided advertisers a new, more efficient way to capture information.

Just think back to those paper flyers I passed out from door to door. Was there a way that the advertiser could track the success of their sale ad? Back then, the most reliable method was to track the promotional codes printed on the coupon, but this could only be done when the consumer made an in-store redemption. We can assume that 2% of the consumers would have redeemed those paper coupons, but what about the other 98% of homeowners and tenants who received those flyers? The advertiser would never know if that sale ad was read, thrown in the garbage or even used for the kitty litter box.

Digital marketing not only assists businesses with the ability to track promotional codes, but they are also able to track what method of communication was most successful. This type of measurement provides the advertiser with real time metrics of whether the digital marketing tactics they’ve implemented have provided a return on their investment.

There are two basic strategies that are used in digital marketing: “Push” and “Pull”. While pull digital marketing draws the consumer to a specific product or service, push digital marketing consists of sending messages out to the consumer. Pull digital marketing is typically done through websites, blogs, search engine marketing (SEM), streaming audio / video and website banners. Push digital marketing usually consists of email campaigns, mobile texting, social media sites and in-game ads.

Today, consumers can view digital advertisements on outdoor billboards, alongside moving buses, within email promotions, mobile texting, website banner ads and in-game ads and, in some cases, motion-detecting sensors within retail store fronts. Consumers also have more control over the communication they want to receive. Take for instance those paper flyers I dropped off in each mailbox. There were times when the mailbox was jam packed with other sale ads, making it difficult to squeeze in more. Not all consumers were interested in these paper flyers, nor did they solicit them. While it was assumed that most were read, others were probably thrown out. In comparison to the digital world, the consumer’s email inbox is now flooded with communications in which consumers can opt-in or out as a subscriber for an email promotion.

Although, there are differences of fees incurred to design, print and distribute the paper flyers in comparison to email campaigns, which would only require design and an email marketing vehicle to distribute. There are significant cost savings using digital marketing versus traditional marketing.

Digital marketing is not always an easy sell to small business owners, especially with those who have built their business solely on customer referrals. Times are changing, and a new generation has emerged that requires a different method of communication. Add a poor economy to the mix and all the more reason to shift traditional marketing dollars into cost-effective, measurable digital marketing tactics.

If you are interested in developing a digital marketing plan, feel free to contact us at