A Guide to Better Advertising: Online Marketing vs Tradition Offline Marketing

By Tim Absalikov
Founder and Acting CEO at Lasting Trend
Tim is an expert in technical SEO, on-page optimization and linkbuilding. He has over a decade of experience in Digital Marketing for B2C companies in US and Europe.

In the world of small business, the goals are obvious, generate as much revenue as possible and expand your business as a local leader in a market niche. The problem? All too often small business owners fall prey to traditional thinking when it comes to marketing. They think traditional marketing is the wisest approach when it comes to boosting brand awareness and offering their products and services. When in actuality they have overlooked or forgotten that the world we live in is a digital one, and to market to that digital world requires a digital online marketing strategy.

Online marketing vs Offline marketing for Small Business

With its many facets and digital channels, online marketing can seem unapproachable to small businesses, even though many small businesses already have websites and a digital presence. It may happen that they don`t understand online marketing and are afraid to try something new. When in actuality online marketing is not only a handy tool but an effective and profitable way to expand the business.

Definition of Offline and Online Marketing

If your business is to excel at online marketing you should first know what digital and traditional marketing are and, more importantly, how they differ from one another.

Offline Marketing

Offline marketing is any advertising strategy that is published and released, in its entirety, outside of the internet. Offline marketing strategies can be implemented over a multitude of different media including through point, radio, television, banners, print media, and more.

Online Marketing

Online Marketing, or digital marketing, as it is commonly known, is a marketing strategy that utilizes the internet to deliver promotions, advertisements and solicit the attention of the target audience. The online marketing process includes utilizing web content, email campaigns, video advertising, and even virtual and augmented reality in order to drive direct sales to eCommerce or generate sales leads. We’ve used this approach for our project Handy Kith – handyman company in New York. The company gets all the leads ONLY from online marketing channels. More info below.

Online Marketing vs Offline Marketing: Advantages and Disadvantages


Online marketing tools like Google Analytics and AdWords make gathering data and analyzing the multitude of metrics available on the web easy and intuitive. They can show you the indirect and direct impact an online marketing strategy has on your ad visibility, clicks, and most importantly conversions to eCommerce sales.  Conversion is an easily measurable metric in which you can calculate the exact ROI and measure the effectiveness of a given digital strategy at converting clicks to sales.

When it comes to offline marketing there really is no effective way to measure the conversion, visibility, or overall effectiveness of an ad, because it’s impossible to tell from print media, radio, or TV ads whether the audience was, or was not, persuaded to make a purchase. Although it is possible to utilize a separate phone number to be shown only in that particular ad, an advanced tracking system would need to be established ahead of time to track sales and not mess with other promotions.

Long-Term Exposure

Online marketing and SEO in particular is a continuous process that can provide long-term exposure to a target audience if implemented properly.

Offline marketing strategies, on average, only run for a period you pay your broadcaster for it.

Advanced Targeting

Digital marketing makes targeting a specific audience incredibly precise. Sites like Facebook, Google, and Instagram can target ads directly to the chosen audience and even display how many people that the ad reached. Ads can be targeted to a very specific or broad audience and can even be set to run only during a certain period of time within a specific geographic area.

Traditional marketing strategies offer only limited ability to target a specific audience. This is done by running ads for home appliances in magazines or in commercials run during a show about home improvement. The goal is to reach the target audience who they suspect is more likely to be reading a home improvement magazine or watching a DIY show.

Real-Time Results

The opportunities available to online marketing campaigns in terms of speed of ad placement, adjustment, targeting, and data retrieval are invaluable and instantaneous. Online marketing can be a long process but it is possible and rather easy, to see and measure the result of an online marketing strategy immediately after its implementation.

TV, radio, and print media can only be measured, adjusted, and targeted at the speed at which the newspaper, billboard company, or radio station can run the ad, retrieve the small amount of data it was possible to collect, return that data to the customer for analysis and implement a new strategy.

To be fair…we are a little biased toward digital marketing over traditional marketing because we have been working in digital advertising for over a decade, but the numbers never lie so let’s calculate marketing budgets and return on investments for similar channels. We’ve used both of the strategies for our client Green Papas. Below you can find some calculations.

Direct Mail vs. Email

When considering the various ways to reach a target audience marketers should consider Direct Mail vs Email to determine whether online or offline will return the most on the investment.

Direct Mail

Before launching a direct mail campaign there are a few questions that should be considered. What is the budget? What is being sold? Who is the target audience of the campaign?

Direct Mail Costs:

Marketing items sent via direct mail can cost anywhere from 30 cents to more than $10 per item, depending on how much was spent on design, marketing copy, mailing lists, printing, and distribution costs. Many businesses find it more cost-effective to conduct direct mail campaigns in house, where they only pay for the cost of the printing and distribution.

Breakdown of Individual Cost Factors:

Design Costs ($0 – $100) When designing your direct mail marketing piece there are a number of options available.

  • Do it yourself (DIY) – Basic marketing items like renewal letters can be made simple enough utilizing Microsoft Word or other publishing software like Google Docs.
  • Templates – Not everyone is born with design skills, in that case, there are numerous online sites that offer free templates, like Canva, and others that sell templates that cost around $10 on average.
  • Hire a Professional– Design can always be outsourced to a professional. Designers typically cost around $30-$50/h for a senior graphic designer.

Marketing Copy Costs ($0 – $100)

Mailing Lists ($0 – $0.30 / record) Free mailing lists are there for those businesses who gather it from the data they already have on file from current customers, initiating a trade of info with other businesses in your industry and, oftentimes, on a chamber of commerce websites.

Printing Costs ($0.03 – $2.00 / person) Printing costs will vary based on the following:

  • Black and white vs. color
  • Paper quality
  • Paper size
  • 1 sided vs. 2 sided
  • Number of pages
  • Quantity

Distribution Costs ($0.25 – $2.00 / piece)

Now that the individual costs of the various facets of a direct mail campaign have been established the approximate total cost of a direct mail marketing campaign can be determined.

Number of recipients targeted by campaign: 1000 people x

Design Costs:    $25 (average) +

Mailing Lists Costs: $0.15 / person +

Printing Costs: $0.15 / copy   +

Distribution Costs: $0.50 / item +

Total: $825 per 1000 potential customers

The drawbacks to a direct mail marketing campaign are obvious. The budget added here is an approximate expense calculation of a direct mail marketing campaign, but any business can see that $1.21 per campaign marketing item (1000 potential customers ÷ $825) is a high ticket. There are few ways to measure the results of a direct mail campaign and, as a result very little data can be extrapolated as to whether the campaign was effective, not to mention there is little to no engagement or feedback from the target audience.

traditional marketing campaign

Email Marketing

Launching an email marketing campaign is a relatively simple process. Potential marketers should consider the following when launching an email marketing campaign.

  • The email addresses of your current or potential customers. Many modern CRMs can save and export emails of your customers on the fly. You also can use leads emails from lead generation campaigns, like Facebook Lead Ads.
  • The email marketing content piece should provide value to the potential customers targeted by the campaign. This may require the use of a copywriter, however, the cost per article can vary, typically $15 – $60 or you can write it by yourself!
  • Subscription software is available and allows for scheduling and distributing an email marketing campaign to large numbers of recipients. Mailchimp works exceptionally well and is free for up to 2000 subscribers.
  • Email templates are available on a number of online sites for a small fee. Marketers may also hire a graphic designer who will professionally design the email for approximately $50-$75/h.

4 emails per month $160

Subscription Software $0 (Under 2000 subscriptions)

Email Design $150

Total: $310 per 2000 potential customers


The math doesn’t lie. Direct mail marketing campaigns at $825 per 1000 potential customer engagements is clearly the loser when compared to email marketing campaigns at  $310 per 2000 potential customer engagements. (with a free Mailchimp account)

Advantages and Disadvantages:

Direct Mail Marketing may return very little in terms of results, which are hard to measure and collect customer feedback. But here is one secret method to improve the performance of your direct mail campaign: send handwritten letters on holidays to your previous customers. In today’s digital age of printed materials, handwritten letters stand out.

The effects of online marketing, like email, are easy to measure through a variety of metrics like delivery rate, open rate, click-through rate, and link clicks. Email campaigns are an easily shareable marketing strategy that builds relationships with potential customers and garners feedback as to its effectiveness, as well as increasing brand awareness to a specific target audience.


The advantage of internet marketing over traditional marketing is easy to see. Email marketing is far more cost-effective, has a greater impact on the potential customer, and is easier to measure, share and produce than direct mail marketing.

Bus/Taxi Ads vs Google Display Ads

Advertising on large banners or on vehicles like a bus or taxi is a common enough marketing strategy for many businesses, but let’s take a closer look at the effectiveness of banner advertising when considered against online marketing.

Bus/Taxi Ads

Bus advertising is available in every city large enough to support a public transportation system. That may sound like a large number, but that is excluding a vast number of potential customers who live in rural areas.

The Cost of Bus Ads

The cost of bus advertising, like in most traditional marketing, outweighs that of online marketing. In order to compare, however, let’s take a look at the individual costs that make up a bus ad campaign.

Ad Format and Design

Bus advertising varies depending on where on the bus the ad is located, such as the exterior for “king, queen, and tail” size ad formats and in full wraps that encompass the entire exterior of the vehicle itself. Designs cost on average $1000 to $5000 per ad.

Calculate a Budget

Let’s use another client – Fancy Apple, a bike rental company in New York as an example. Calculating a budget is a critical step in the bus advertising campaign process as it will determine the size and format of the bus advertisement. For larger cities the recommended minimum spend amount is $10,000 per month, $5000 per month for medium-size cities, and $2500 per month for smaller cities

Choose a Start Date and Advertising Duration

As in all marketing, it’s important to launch a bus advertisement before the launch of the new product or service and run that ad for the most cost effective amount of time. The third and fourth quarters of the fiscal year usually sell out the fastest, while the first and second quarters generally have more availability. The minimum duration of a bus advertisement is 4 weeks on average, while the recommended duration is 12 weeks.

Contact a Bus Ads Company

The final step is to contact a bus advertising company to get a quote and check on availability, but bring your checkbook.

Bus Exterior Ads: $150 – $600 per ad per 4 week period.

Bus Stop Ads: $150 – $600 small size markets per ad per 4 week period.

Bus Interior Ads: $25 – $125 per ad per 4 week period.

Total: $3500 – $15000 per month

Google Display Ads

There are several ways to display your ad online.

  • Text: Google search ads display a headline two lines of text, and then a specific URL.
  • Banner: Banners can include images and other attention-grabbing media. Banner ads let can include customized layouts, interactive elements, animations, and more.
  • Gmail: Google will show custom ads in Gmail so people can save, forward, and expand on your ad in their inbox.
  • App: Online Marketers can create a campaign targeting specific mobile app categories and track the performance of in-app ads and purchases that are already running.
advantages of online advertising over traditional advertising

How to Create a Google Display Ad

  • Pick one or all of the aforementioned formats and create the ad. This can be done professionally by hiring a contractor for $35-$50/h or in-house, either way, making simple text ads or using images with the ad gallery included in the account will take only minutes.
  • Decide where and for whom the ads will run. Display ads allow for the creation of highly targeted campaigns based on what is already known about the customer, such as their interests, purchasing habits, and their demographic.
  • Set a budget. As always, it’s important to decide how much of the marketing budget is to be spent on reaching the target audience. Once a budget has been determined the ads can begin targeting the audience who will be most receptive. For less experienced online marketers who have never run display ads before it’s recommended to start slow, and not spend more than $500 in the first month.
  • Reach the right customers. With millions of websites, news pages, blogs, and Google-owned sites like Gmail and YouTube, the Google Display Network reaches 90% of Internet users worldwide. With specialized options for targeting, keywords, demographics, and remarketing, you can reach more customers by encouraging them to notice your brand, consider your offerings, and take action.
  • Never stop improving. It’s important to utilize the mountains of data that are available when running a digital campaign and determine what ads were successful, which audience was the most receptive, and whether it is cost-effective to continue the campaign. Whether looking to increase sales or get more calls, AdWords helps you measure campaign performance so adjustments can be made and campaign objectives met.


The cost of design can be alleviated by designing the ad in house. Google Adwords has very capable tools for designing display ads for free but professional design is always better (it may cost up to $300 on average). There are industry averages when it comes to cost per click. CPC (cost per click) on Google Display Ads ranges from $0.3 to $1, however, that average varies from industry to industry

CPC bid $0.01 – $100 per click

CPM bid $0.25  – $100 per thousand impressions

Total: $500-$800


Bus Banner Ads cost between $2500 – $6500 per undetermined amount potential customers (depending on city population) while Google Banner Ads cost between $500-$800 per 500-1500 potential customer website visits.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

Bus banner ads are impossible to target a specific audience and may return very little in terms of results unless your long term goal is brand awareness, which will require months or even years to see decent results. Like with direct mail campaign, it’s very hard to measure customer engagement, because there are no metrics available to collect and analyze.

Google banner ads are is easy to measure through a variety of metrics like impressions and click rate. Google banner ads are not only cost-effective when compared to bus and vehicle banner ads, but can be targeted to a specific audience.


After the math has been run and the comparisons made, there really are no questions as to which marketing strategy is superior in terms of cost, targeting, customer engagement, and measurable metrics. Running online Google display ads instead of vehicle banner ads is hands down, the right marketing choice for a business owner.

Seminars vs Webinars

The seminar and webinar industries are booming, and marketers are utilizing them for their effects on advertising campaigns. Let’s compare the two and see which one is better at reaching and converting the target audience.

Offline Seminar

Organizing a seminar can be an expensive, tedious and confusing process, which requires a lot of facets to work seamlessly in order to be successful.

  • Facility Location (Venue) range from free, if utilizing a public meeting area like a library, too expensive if conducted in a hotel, auditorium, or theatre.
  • Food and Beverage need to be considered. Some venues don’t allow any food or beverage consumed on the premises, so the cost for food and beverage will be nothing. Hotels and some theatres, on the other hand, require the use of their catering department and do not allow anyone to bring in food and beverage, which means the cost of the expensive catering falls on the host of the seminar.
  • Handout Materials need to be printed, passed out, and then cleaned up when they are inevitably thrown away. These are all costs that will be charged back to the seminar host.
  • Required Equipment like chairs, tables, and audio/video equipment can be overly expensive and will only increase as the number of attendees increases.
  • Travel and Time to seminars can double the overall cost. Airfare, rental car, and hotel are not cheap and are required for seminars outside of an attendees’ home city.
  • Marketing Strategies are always a good idea to get the word out about the seminar. These can range in cost depending on whether the strategy is online vs offline which can get expensive, as has already been made clear in this article.

Total: $1000 minimum


Webinars are a cost-effective and easy to set up digital marketing strategy in which marketers can provide a service to their audience instead of only offering an ad. One of our clients – a belly dance studio in Brooklyn has mastered this approach.

Choose A Date and Time Far in Advance

Successful webinars are booked far in advance of the webinar date. Generally, individuals who attend webinars are business leaders and busy entrepreneurs, so it’s important to provide them enough time prior to the webinar so they can be sure to attend. Holidays are a busy time and can fill a potential customer’s schedule rather quickly. On the other hand, many potential customers are eager to tie up loose ends before leaving for the holiday break. Booking and marketing a webinar far in advance ensures that both the webinar time slot and potential customers are secured during a time when both are scarce. Consider time zone differences as well, don’t forget that 10 am in New York City is 7 am in San Francisco

Choose A Webinar Tool

Most online meeting tools have webinar options, one must simply choose the plan that corresponds best with the number of expected participants. There are many webinar tools so it’s important to consider the webinar’s specific requirements and what you expect from a webinar tool before selecting one to use. Research the features from several different tools and test the various software available online and choose the one with the features and functionality that suits the webinar best. Once a webinar software or tool has been selected be sure to enlist the help of the software provider in understanding how to seamlessly use the software in front of potential customers and make the most of the webinar.

Invite the Audience

Consider carefully the target audience for the webinar. Inviting the correct audience to the webinar is critical to ensuring that the right amount of resources, time, and effort is targeted toward the audience who is most likely to provide a return on investment. Be sure to track responses to the webinar invite. Doing so provides the most accurate count of who is expected to attend. Closely monitoring the attendee list ensures that a follow-up effort can be direct toward those who actually attended the webinar.

Record The Webinar

Recording the webinar is a must for those who wish to revisit the material because they couldn’t attend, but also for posting the webinar online, and repurposing it as marketing material.

Total: $0 – $50 for unlimited attendees (if hosted on a standard webinar hosting site or service)


Seminars, on average will cost $1000 per 300-1500 people vs Webinars which are typically free and allow unlimited invites, with the option of “re-run” recordings.

Advantages and disadvantages:

The advantages presented by a webinar are obvious when compared to a traditional seminar. The costs of travel, accommodation, food, and drink, and the venue far outweigh even the most expensive and engaging webinar software for a small return, on a rather large investment. Not to mention the opportunities for customer re-engagement that are made possible with an online webinar that is simply out of the cards for a traditional seminar.


Although it’s much cheaper to run a webinar than an offline seminar, there is another factor to consider that every successful salesman knows: “It’s much easier to sell product or service in person”. So, even though the cost to run a webinar cheaper, the conversion rate may be higher on a seminar. We can’t decide the clear winner here.

Disclaimer: We did not associate the cost per webinar/seminar invite but, keep in mind, it does not matter how cheap/expensive is to run the webinar if nobody attends it. On an average cost per webinar/seminar acquisition can be between $5 and $15.

TV ads vs YouTube ads

TV ads are what most consumers first think of when considering advertising and marketing campaigns. As in any marketing campaign, it’s critical to first understand the campaign budget before jumping in and buying a commercial that can cost thousands and return little in terms of total investment. The costs of producing a commercial are great and include a number of costs that are not immediately apparent (save at least $500 for production of a 30-sec clip). Ads can be produced independently or by enlisting the services of a studio or television station. Costs can vary as widely as the plethora of different commercials currently on TV. On average, TV commercials cost a minimum of $2,500 and only climb from there. TV ads are no different from traditional offline marketing when it comes to their inefficiency and inability to effectively reach the target audience.

Purchasing a TV Ad:

  • Research the target audience to ensure the commercial aligns with the target demographics and with the appropriate television show.
  • Select TV stations or shows that reach your target market by requesting advertising media.
  • Develop the commercial by determining the key features it should contain in order to persuade the target audience to engage.
  • Determine the budget including video production, computer graphics, and voice-over talent.
  • Purchase the advertising time and consider a test run before committing the entire budget.

Total: $2500 minimum

Youtube Ads

Youtube ads are shown before or during a youtube video. They can be set to target as specific or as broad of an audience as needed and are easy to get started. Here are some numbers from our client Fortuna Visual Group, a sign installation company in New York City.

Production Cost

Select the video to be showcased and upload it to the account from YouTube. It’s at this point one should consider the production costs which run from as low as free, if done independently, or up to $500 if outsourced to a contractor or video production company.

online and offline marketing channels

Cost per view

Hopefully, this guide was beneficial and provided insight into the complicated world of video advertising. Advertisers on youtube are charged per view of the ad, typically $.10-$.30.

It recommended that online marketers spend over $500 in the first month of youtube promotion in order to fully reap the benefits of the ad campaign. YouTube ads are an excellent means of boosting your web presence at an affordable rate. For most ad units, potential customers actually CHOOSE to watch your advertisement. Boosts to overall views provide more credibility to the business and a better chance of ranking organically on YouTube or on other search engines.

Cost per view $.10-$.30.

Total: $1000 per two months run time


TV ads run, on average, $3000 and up considering the sheer scale of the production and minimal demographic targeting vs Youtube ads which cost around $1000 and provide targeted advertisements to as specific or broad demographic as desired.

Advantages and disadvantages:

TV ads are very expensive! Results are difficult to measure with very little customer engagement, minimal scope, and no specific targeting. Youtube ads, on the other hand, have easily measurable metrics, specific demographic targeting and are overall more cost-effective.


Utilizing online marketing for video advertising is a far easier, measurable, targeted, and cost-effective choice when compared to traditional offline video marketing.

Organic SEO vs…

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of improving a website, webpage, or web content ranking on a search engine. By utilizing various proven methods like keyword research, content management, backlinks, and more, SEO can vastly improve any online marketing campaigns standing on search engines and visibility to the targeted audience. You can check our case studies to see how digital marketing can improve the traffic to the website. For one of our clients – an employment law firm in New York, we’ve dramatically increased organic traffic for Google. SEO is a service that simply isn’t available to offline marketers. So, we won’t compare SEO to anything but just give you a short introduction of the idea, if you are not aware of it yet.

  • Increase brand credibility. Ranking well on Google searches creates an impression of trustworthiness and expertise.
  • SEO provides the opportunity to stand out amongst the millions of websites and content clogging the web.
  • SEO provides access to troves of data and online marketing expertise.

Cons of SEO

  • SEO is a long process and seldom returns results prior to six months of continuous implementation.
  • Effective SEO may call for a website redesign, which may not be what a lot of businesses want to hear, but it may be necessary in order to rank for the keywords desired and provide visibility to the target audience.
  • In many cases, an SEO expert or agency is required, but the potential benefit to the online marketing campaign, website, and overall business is too great to not consider.


When comparing online marketing channels like email, youtube ads, google banner ads, webinars, and SEO to any other form of traditional offline marketing the top five reasons to make the switch to digital marketing are obvious. Online marketing is overall cheaper and more cost-effective to produce, maintain and implement, as we’ve seen with an email of direct mail, webinars over seminars, and google banner ads over bus banner ads. But Online marketing also is more targeted, easier to measure, and returns more on investment than traditional offline marketing. As we’ve seen with YouTube ads vs TV ads and SEO tactics over traditional marketing data gathering.

Whether online marketing or offline marketing is better for a business is up to that specific business, but any business in possession of a website, which in the digital world we live in is highly recommended, should utilize the online marketing techniques, tools, and tactics that have been highlighted here. Not only will the online campaign reach a wider yet more targeted audience, but it will do so while saving some serious cash.

Online marketing is not just the way of the future, it’s the road that will take us there. The world is a digital one. Appeal to it by marketing online. Call us today. We provide free consultations and quick evaluation of your website. Feel free to write or call.  We don’t bite.

  1. rachna soni says:

    very good article. Useful for digital marketers.Thanks for sharing it

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