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Traditional marketing vs. digital marketing. Where now?


August 27, 2020

As the name suggests, influencer marketing uses influential individuals to reach a target market through existing relationships. These are mainly digital – blogs and online ads – but can include TV and print. Traditional marketing also uses TV and print, but sometimes extends to outdoor via billboards.

Both create brand awareness, generate leads, increase sales and achieve customer loyalty. And both deploy promotional content to match brands to audiences – just think of George Clooney as the face of Nespresso coffee.

So, how do you weigh up the advantages of one over the other?

Influencer marketing benefits

Influencer marketing has the edge over traditional marketing by being more targeted, affordable and effective in building trust through social proof: simply, we trust our peers more than companies and are persuaded by subtle ‘show’ not ‘tell’ tactics.

The statistics are clear: not only doaround 93% of marketers use influencer marketing, making it the fastest-growing means of customer acquisition; businesses make $5.20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing and 63% of marketers will increase their influencer marketing budget in the next year.

Social media: the game-changer

While influencer marketing can use a variety of channels, it’s most successfully deployed through social media. Posts on-the-go, coupled with easy-to-create, relatable (real rather than polished) and quickly shareable video and other visual content, is driving success. A recent influencer marketing survey by MediaKix shows that 80% of marketers agree.

Influencer marketing examples: going micro

According to ExpertVoice, just 4% of people trust celebrity endorsement. As a result, there’s a major shift towards micro-influencers. What are they? Definitions vary but most describe them as influencers with up to 1,000 or 10,000 to 100,000 social media followers.

A good instance of micro-influencer success is Iceland. It switched from using celebrities such as Peter Andre to challenging online vloggers with smaller followings to try the supermarket for the first time. This authentic approach resonated with mums and boosted Iceland’s approval rating from 10% to 80%.

Research shows that micro-influencers have 60% higher engagement because niche appeal generates greater authenticity among followers. This is great for SMEs with small marketing budgets and low brand recall. By connecting with the right influencer in their industry, SMEs can access an audience that assumes a company provides a good product or reliable service, since the person they trust already endorses it.

Expanding into more channels

Another trend is a shift from Instagram (the most important influencer channel), to others that can accommodate longer video clips such as YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat and Pinterest. For instance, MAC’s TikTok challenge generated over 2.3 billion views from Generation Z when 18 hand-picked influencers led its #YouOwnIt campaign.

Using B2B customer influencers

We’re not just talking B2C here. B2B influencer campaigns can have a significant impact. Cloud software company Okta generated new business simply by getting high- profile customers to provide testimonial videos and share these as video and blog posts. This highlights another way influencer marketing is changing by focusing on customers as key influencers. Simple video testimonials cost very little, good news again for SMEs marketing on a shoestring.

Staying power

Influencer marketing is also shifting from one-offs to longer-term influencers relationships. In 2003, when footballer David Beckham signed an estimated $160 million-plus ‘lifetime agreement’ with Adidas, he probably thought it was going to be all TV adverts and other traditional forms of marketing. Fast-forward quite a few years and he’s now paid $300,000 for every sponsored Instagram post.

Traditional or digital: still a marketing mix

Right now, there’s much less development in traditional marketing, so should we rule it out? At first glance, the pendulum appears to have swung in favour of influencers. Like all good marketing, though, the trick is not to focus on one trend or tactic, but the right combination.

Traditional marketing also still has its place in the marketing mix given that not everyone is on TikTok, for instance. Magazines and other forms of print or TV advertising can reach new audiences to which influencers don’t have access.

Influencer marketing also faces challenges, with increasingly stricter standards, including new regulations published by the ASA as recently as July 2020. In addition, various technologies and software – like iFluenz and BuzzSumo – have emerged to help businesses identify and collaborate with influencers. After all, this can be a minefield if it goes wrong.

Learn how Hoxby can help

Hoxby Marketing can work with you to create effective influencer marketing programmes. Our marketing experts (both traditional and digital) add value to any marketing plan, in any discipline, anywhere. We’re in 43 markets, and growing, so our local and global knowledge is unparalleled.

Time to look at things differently? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch at

Clare Yau is a strategic and digital marketer in the Hoxby community.

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