Traditional or Digital Marketing? Is That the Right Question? Instead of making a choice, consider a mix of strategies, according to the specific offer and the time of year.

By Vin Gupta

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Navigating the world of direct marketing as a small-business owner can be a daunting experience. Just a few of the challenges a small-business marketer needs to surmount include limited budgets, having to address millennials who may be looking at life from new angles and innovative technologies opening up new communication channels.

Every day the world changes and marketers need to adapt to the new rules of the land. So, where does a tiny company put its limited marketing resources?

Well, there's a different answer for every business at any point in time. But by sticking to a few basics, small businesses can remain relevant and competitive.

Think about providing a mix, rather than trying to do digital or traditional marketing only.

Rather than thinking in terms of whether to pursue a digital strategy as opposed to a traditional marketing one, it can be more productive to adapt your approach according to the needs of your business, a specific product promotion or the time of the year.

Related: Integrate Social Media With Print Advertising to Boost Your Marketing

Digital marketing can bring you a high return on investment and access to large audiences. But receiving adequate page views for a local campaign can be a challenge and a digital-only approach may fall short in generating sufficient traffic to your site.

Because of its different ways to engage the audience, traditional marketing remains an important growth driver for many successful businesses and a key part of their marketing mix.

According to the Direct Marketing Association's Statistical Fact Book 2014, almost 80 percent of consumers will act on direct mail immediately compared with 45 percent who say they deal with email straight away.

Direct mail prices may be higher but you get the opportunity to engage your prospects faster and in a different setting.

The offer you have on the table is another factor in deciding the proper channel. The DMA found that direct mail is the preferred channel for receiving marketing from local shops (51 percent) and banks (49 percent), while email is favored for events and competitions (50 percent each).

Instead of trying to find one solution for your problems, think of the context for each campaign, your goals and financial constraints.

Related: What's the Big Deal About the 'Combined Campaign' Strategy?

Do the math.

Invest the time to gain a full understanding of your marketing's return on investment. Having a clear idea of the campaign's costs, the number of sales generated, how large the sales were and who purchased the product or service can help you invest your marketing budget wisely.

Maybe a direct mail campaign attracts a different type of customer who buys more, so your returns can be greater. Perhaps certain keywords bring more visitors to your website but those visitors are rarely buyers.

Analyzing in-depth the return on investment from different channels and the outcomes by customer type is a great starting point for optimizing your marketing spending.

Be relevant.

Approaching the right person at the ideal time with the right offer is a way to obtain good results, but how do you accomplish that?

If you're buying a sales list, be sure you spend the extra time to select all the criteria (such as age, income or house value) that describe your best customer. The effort spent on defining your target list will be rewarded with better results at a lower cost.

The same rules apply in the digital world, too. Put in the extra time to refine the keywords or addresses you are emailing to. The digital world provides you capabilities to target contexts, keywords or even specific businesses, just like traditional marketing lists can come with information about birth dates, divorces, new parents or net worth.

These are all opportunities to personalize your message to prospects' interests and make it more relevant.

Related: Do You Still Need a Marketing Plan? Yes, But Constant Updating Is Key.

Wavy Line
Vin Gupta

Founder of and

Vin Gupta is the founder of San Mateo, Calif.-based, which provides sales leads to salespeople and small businesses, and Database USA, a provider of big databases and database marketing to enterprise customers. He also founded Infousa and SalesGenie, which he sold in 2010.

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